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Ambassador Susan Rice on the crisis in Sudan

US Representative to the United Nations Dr. Susan Rice delivered an address today at the Security Council’s Sudan briefing. Here are her remarks as delivered:

Let me begin by thanking President Thabo Mbeki, Special Representative Menkerios, Joint Special Representative Gambari, and Joint Chief Mediator Bassole for their very helpful assessments and briefings to the Council this morning. The United States strongly supports their efforts to address the situation in Sudan.

Mr. President, I will focus today on three areas: remaining tasks for CPA implementation, the Darfur Peace Process, and the overwhelming importance of protecting civilians.

With the referenda fast approaching, all parties must redouble their efforts to begin referenda planning for Southern Sudan and Abyei.  Referenda commissions must be appointed immediately to begin the difficult work of operational and budget planning, voter registration, education, logistics, and administration.  This includes resolving the difficult and sensitive issue of who is eligible to vote in Abyei.  We must also continue to press the parties to completely demarcate the North-South and Abyei borders.  And we must continue to urge them to prepare for popular consultations, which provide a vital outlet for the people of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile to express their views on the CPA and their states’ relationships with Khartoum.  Progress depends not only on the political will of the parties but also on support from the international community.  We must lay the groundwork now so we will be prepared to provide as much immediate assistance as possible as conditions on the ground allow.

Regardless of the referenda outcomes, attention should be paid now to the steps that must be taken to promote a sustainable relationship between the parties to the CPA beyond July 2011.  Progress must be made towards reaching agreements on post-referenda wealth-sharing and citizenship, among other issues.  The international community stands ready to provide diplomatic and technical support, but the parties themselves must be willing to negotiate in earnest to resolve these difficult issues.

With respect to elections, let me reiterate that the April elections were characterized by serious irregularities, including restrictions on political freedoms, reports of logistical and administrative challenges, harassment and intimidation by security forces, and concerns regarding the tabulation process. Thirty-three constituencies still need to conduct or re-run elections, including the Southern Kordofan legislative assembly.  Without these elections, Southern Kordofan cannot conduct its popular consultations.

We also remain deeply concerned by the atmosphere of increasing political repression in Khartoum by the Government of Sudan and the deplorable environment for civil and political rights in the north. This includes the arrest of opposition leaders, journalists, and peaceful demonstrators.  There have been reports of restrictions on basic liberties in the south as well.  We remind the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan that they must honor their international obligations to respect human rights, including freedom of expression, assembly, and the press.

Mr. President, we hope for a renewed focus on the Doha Peace Process and strongly believe that the best way to end conflict and resolve Darfur’s marginalization is by finding a comprehensive political solution.  The situation in Darfur affects the stability of the region as a whole, and we urge the international community to continue to support the negotiation process in Doha.  And we reiterate our call on all parties to come to the negotiating table.

Accountability and peace are inextricably bound together. The United States strongly supports international efforts to bring those responsible for genocide and war crimes in Darfur to justice, and we firmly believe there cannot be a lasting peace in Darfur without accountability and justice.  So we call again on the Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court and its Prosecutor, as required by Security Council Resolution 1593.

This Council heard a disturbing briefing from ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo on Friday.  It is clearer than ever that the Government of Sudan continues to violate this Council’s resolutions, including its obligation to cooperate with the ICC under Resolution 1593.  We are deeply concerned by the May 25 Pre-Trial Chamber decision informing this Council of the Government of Sudan’s failure to cooperate with the Court.

We call again on the Government of Sudan and all parties to the conflict to cooperate fully with the ICC and its prosecutor, as clearly required by Resolution 1593.  Moreover, we urge all states—including those not party to the Rome Statute—to refrain from providing political or financial support to Sudanese suspects indicted by the ICC.

Mr. President, we have repeatedly emphasized, and will continue to emphasize, the need to place the highest priority on the protection of civilians.  We are gravely concerned by the continuing insecurity and violence faced by the civilian population in Sudan.

In particular, we are deeply disturbed by the Sudanese Armed Forces’ recent large-scale offensive against the Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur. The Government of Sudan continues to conduct aerial bombardments in Darfur.  These actions kill and maim civilians and result in additional displacement of innocent Darfuris.

We are also deeply concerned about continued violence in the south, including intercommunal violence and attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Since last January, 440,000 people have been displaced in the south.

The United States further deplores continued attacks against UNAMID personnel and the Government of Sudan’s continued obstruction of access for UNAMID and other humanitarian actors, which hinders independent monitoring in Darfur. Despite direct attacks on its peacekeepers, UNAMID has played an essential role in ensuring security for humanitarian-assistance providers in Sudan.  But security is the primary responsibility of the Government of Sudan. It must make increased efforts to bring those who attack civilians and peacekeepers to justice.

It is important that the Government of Sudan provide unfettered access to UNAMID.  Neither UNAMID nor humanitarian organizations have had adequate access to areas of continued conflict in Darfur. With the lives of more innocent civilians at stake, this is unconscionable and unacceptable.

It is also important to redouble efforts to end the sexual violence that plagues Darfur. During the recent fighting in Jebel Marra, UNAMID documented nine cases of such violence, including rape, attempted rape, and assault. This is part of a trend that has continued for far too long.  It must end. The Government of Sudan, UNAMID, other UN entities, as well as the NGO community must strengthen prevention and tools to respond to sexual and gender-based violence.  We urge UNAMID to increase its reporting on sexual and gender-based violence to the Council and we call upon the Government of Sudan to ensure that such crimes are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We urge UNAMID and UNMIS to utilize also the full extent of their mandates and capabilities to protect civilians in danger.  In Darfur, accelerating the training for community police services for the internally displaced in camps and those voluntarily returning to their villages of origin would help promote peace and security.

In the South, we urge the Government of Southern Sudan to develop a security framework ahead of the referendum and to ensure its capacity exists to protect its own population. UNMIS must also increase efforts to ensure that civilians are protected from violence. Finally, we urge the Governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan and all others to lift any and end all restrictions on UNMIS’s activities and movements.

Mr. President, we have less than seven months until the referenda, and there is still much work to be done. But the United States remains hopeful that with the necessary political will of the parties and with adequate international support, the referenda can be conducted peacefully and successfully.

Thank you, Mr. President.

On can only hope that “much work will be done.

HT: Martha Heinemann Bixby

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Welcome! Who am I?

Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.