Thank you, Mr. Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Chairman, and distinguished leaders. I appreciate this opportunity to share my government’s views on issues of international concern involving Sudan and South Sudan.
In recent days, serious protests have unfolded in Sudan. The initial reports are disturbing and demand our attention. We call upon the government in Khartoum to exercise restraint and to respect the rights of its citizens to speak freely, assemble peacefully, and communicate openly with the outside world. We have seen elsewhere in the wider region how quickly such events can escalate. It is essential that universal rights be respected and that peaceful protests not be met with violence, but again, with restraint.
My colleagues, we know that the signing of cooperation accords on September 27 of last year opened the door to a more productive relationship between Sudan and South Sudan. The United States welcomes recent evidence of cooperation between the two, and urges full implementation of both the September 27 agreement and of the proposal on the Final Status of Abyei made by the African Union’s High Level Implementation Panel. After so many years of conflict, violence against civilians continues. Much remains to be done before the citizens of Sudan and South Sudan can truly enjoy the benefits of soft borders, security, the free movement of peoples, and sustained economic development. We call on both governments to seize this opportunity.
My government also endorses the findings and affirmations contained in the September 23 communiqué of the AU’s PSC. The United States particularly shares the Council’s concerns about the very combustible, dangerous situation in Abyei, and we affirm the AU’s commitment to safeguard the rights of that area’s respective communities. These rights include the right of the residents of Abyei to determine their political future, as well, of course, as the right of continued access for migratory populations. We reiterate our full support for UNISFA’s role in enhancing security along the border and in Abyei, and we remind the communities concerned, as well as the governments in Khartoum and Juba, that no amount of violence or intimidation can be allowed to prevent or delay indefinitely the realization of these rights.
We also endorse the expedited establishment of temporary administrative institutions in Abyei. We stress that these institutions should indeed be temporary and, to that end, we echo the Council’s call for creation of the Abyei Area Referendum Commission. That step should lead, in turn, to a legitimate, safe, transparent and timely referendum that will resolve the final status of Abyei.
Further, we encourage the two governments to build confidence among Abyei’s communities through mutual cooperation in disarmament, economic rehabilitation, and enabling a safe migration this dry season. Any attempt to block the migration could lead to direct and perilous confrontation. In general, the tensions in Abyei must not be allowed to fester, lest they spark renewed conflict between the two states and retard further prospects for shared progress.
Given the urgency of the situation in Abyei, we fully support the PSC’s decision to visit the area, and we hope that such a visit could take place in October; we will look forward to the Council’s assessment and further recommendations at that time.
With regard to the safe demilitarized border zone, we urge both parties to complete the withdrawal of their forces and facilitate the full deployment of their border monitors. This should be followed swiftly by the re-opening of border crossing points so that both countries can enjoy the benefits of cross-border transit and trade and the free movement of people.
We also stress that a sustainable peace between Sudan and South Sudan is heavily dependent on democratic reform, good governance, and stability within the two countries. Accordingly, we welcome yesterday’s renewal of the mandate of the independent expert on Sudan at the HRC. We also welcome the Council’s decision to extend the mandate of the High Level Implementation Panel and to provide additional resources. The diversity of the population in both countries demands that their governments be inclusive, broadly representative, and respectful of minority rights and minority concerns.
In this context, I note that the ongoing conflicts in the “Two Areas” of South Kordofan and Blue Nile and in Darfur remain in a state of crisis – a crisis that has been cruelly exacerbated both by the Sudan government’s continued indiscriminate bombardment of civilians and by its refusal to allow international humanitarian access. In Darfur, despite the efforts of UNAMID, security conditions have deteriorated and a climate of impunity continues. My government joins with others in the world community in, again, insisting that Sudan immediately end aerial bombardments and permit full and unfettered access to segments of the population that are affected by violence.
In this regard, we also urge the government in Juba to continue striving to consolidate and strengthen its democratic institutions, to work with UNMISS to protect civilians and hold accountable those who commit serious human rights abuses or violations, and to prevent attacks on civilians in Jonglei. That crisis there – that conflict there – has taken lives and caused significant displacement.
My colleagues, we are all aware of the intense and prolonged human suffering that has taken place and continues in Sudan and South Sudan. The United States has been and remains deeply committed to working with our international partners and with democratic forces in these countries to bring about a halt to conflict, unfettered humanitarian access, the growth of economic opportunity, and improved governance and accountability — including international efforts to bring to justice those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur.