The United States is deeply concerned about the fighting that broke out September 1 between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N) in Blue Nile State in Sudan, as well as the ongoing troop mobilization on both sides. We call on both parties to cease hostilities and for the SAF to end aerial bombings. We also call on both parties to protect civilians and engage in dialogue to prevent further escalation of violence.
These clashes in Blue Nile follow fighting that has been ongoing since June 5 between the SAF and SPLM/A-North in Southern Kordofan, about which we also remain deeply concerned. The United States continues to call on both sides to allow unfettered humanitarian access and human rights monitoring of affected populations in Southern Kordofan, as well as Blue Nile.
The spread of fighting into Blue Nile further highlights the urgent need for negotiations between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North to reach a political settlement that brings peace and stability to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. In this regard we are particularly disappointed that there has been no follow through after the meeting between President Bashir and SPLM/N Chairman Malik Agar in Khartoum on August 21. We also reiterate the need for a peaceful relationship between Sudan and South Sudan and for resolution of outstanding issues between the two countries.
This week’s announcement by the Government of Sudan to establish a two-week unilateral ceasefire in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state is a positive initial step toward bringing stability and relief to those affected by violence since early June. The United States strongly urges the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North to show the same leadership and declare a two week ceasefire as well.
While we are encouraged by this announcement of a unilateral ceasefire and renewed discussions between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, the parties must immediately return to talks to agree to a full cessation of hostilities and a resolution of the political future of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Framework Agreement signed on June 28 in Addis Ababa is a strong foundation for these talks.
The Government of Sudan must allow immediate and full access to humanitarian organizations so that they can provide much needed relief to the people of Southern Kordofan. We strongly urge both sides to refrain from using a ceasefire to strengthen any military positions.
The United States supports the call by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for a full investigation of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Southern Kordofan. Those responsible for attacks on civilians must be held accountable for their actions.
Assistant Secretary Posner’s Remarks at Afhad Women’s University “Civil Society and U.S. Foreign Policy”
I wish all of you a happy and blessed Ramadan. At this time of self-reflection and renewal, I am especially pleased to be invited here. I wanted to come to Afhad Women’s University today to speak to you but also to listen to you and engage in a dialogue. I believe that Sudanese youth, and particularly Sudanese women, can and must play a leading role in building peace, stability, and broad-based economic growth in your country. I hope that some of you will do this within government, but that all of you will do it as members of civil society.
The United States government and particularly my boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — have been emphasizing the importance of civil society in crafting strong constitutions, building stable societies and developing sustainable democracies.
In our country, and in a growing number of countries around the world, it is no longer unusual for young people to work in non-governmental organizations — NGOs — and then go into government. And after serving in government, many go back to being active in civil society.
As you may know, Secretary Clinton began her career in an NGO. She was a lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund. And President Obama started his political career as a community organizer in Chicago. In those roles, both of them represented vulnerable populations, and both urged the U.S. Government to serve its citizens better.
Now, that’s not to say that in a democracy, governments and NGOs always see eye-to-eye. They don’t — and they shouldn’t. But there is a common recognition that it takes the work of many different kinds of citizen groups to improve democracy and governance. They do it by informing governments about issues that may not yet have hit the radar of busy officials. They do it by advocating for vulnerable people whose needs are not being met through existing government policies or programs. They do it by pushing government to do better, to work more efficiently and to spend its time and resources on the issues that matter most to the people. And they do it by holding those of us in government accountable for our actions.
These functions are indispensible. I say that from my personal experience. I began my career as a lawyer and then did human rights work at NGOs for more than 30 years before joining the government. Over these three decades, I have been able to see with my own eyes how the interplay between civil society and government has helped countries emerge from conflict and corruption and become stronger.
Let me give a few examples:
– When I first started working in sub-Saharan Africa in the mid-1970s, there were virtually no NGOs except in South Africa and Zimbabwe, which was then called Rhodesia. Now there are civil society groups on every part of this continent, trying to turn weak democracies into truly representative and strong ones, and make strong democracies grow more transparent and responsive. The new constitution that was adopted by Kenya last year was the result of a decade-long struggle by civil society and government to create a constitution based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. And William Matunga, the former head of the Human Rights Commission, a leading NGO, has become the new chief justice.
– As an American, I find many parallels with civil society in my own country’s history. Of course Kenya’s constitution is an entirely Kenyan document, which is why the people have placed their hopes in it. But the open, consultative nature of the constitutional process was much the same in spirit. And by the way, the framers of the U.S. Constitution were at it for a decade. There were sharp regional divisions and different political histories and wide differences of opinion among the original 13 states. And if you think that process was easy, I encourage you to read their papers. Their debates over such questions as how to enforce the rule of law, how to put checks and balances on power, how much secrecy a government should be allowed and how much transparency should be required are still being reread and re-argued today.
That Constitution was in the broadest sense the product of civil society at its best. Of course it was flawed – it allowed slavery and failed to give women voting rights. Though we amended the constitution to abolish slavery in the 1860s and to give women the right to vote 60 years later, today we are still constantly working to build a more perfect union.
I have had the privilege of seeing civil society transform other countries in my own lifetime. In the Philippines, which grappled with serious problems with corruption, flawed elections, and lack of rule of law, I was involved with several human rights and legal organization that became part of a broader an open, electoral system. That resulted in the 1986 election of Corazon Aquino, the first woman leader and freely elected president of the Philippines. Civil society organizations pushed the government to create an independent electoral commission that presided over her historic election.
Likewise in Indonesia, hundreds of civil society groups are working on promoting democracy, human rights and religious tolerance and a range of other issues. Their efforts have been central to transforming a country with a history of ethnic conflicts into a vibrant young democracy. It’s a pluralistic system and one that respects religious diversity. Indonesia’s political stability has created as an environment that has attracted domestic and foreign investment. The economy has boomed. And this month Secretary Clinton flew to Bali to take part in a Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society.
This dialogue is part of a broader U.S. diplomatic effort to reach beyond government-to-government relationships and engage directly with the people of other countries. We seek to find ways to cooperate on issues of mutual interest, whether it’s human rights or environmental issues, improving education and employment opportunities for women and girls, or cooperating on global heath issues.
And finally, I’d like to say a word about the critical role we have seen women play in building peace and security around the world. Women suffer disproportionately in wartime and they continue to be grossly underrepresented in peace negotiations. Yet women have played a critical role in resolving conflicts, from Northern Ireland to Sri Lanka, especially by insisting that peace settlements address the chronic unresolved issues that tend to make conflicts simmer on and then reignite again in a few years.
It is also worth studying the examples set two women who have helped countries wracked by violence build peace from the ground-up: former President Roza Otunbayeva of Kygyzstan and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. And as you may know, President Otunbayeva set an interesting precedent for her young democracy by taking office and then declining to run for re-election in order to create a tradition of peaceful and prompt transfer of power. But I will leave you with a quote from President Sirleaf. She said, “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
So I hope you will dream big dreams, and then get involved. Democracy is not a spectator sport, and young people around this inter-connected world understand this intuitively. Most of those I meet are eager to get involved in shaping their societies, making them more inclusive, more respecting of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in doing so, making them stronger. The United States will support you in these efforts.
Thank you. And I’m happy to answer questions.
Mr. President, The United States supports the peacekeepers of UNAMID who continue to play a critical role in the safety and security of the people of Darfur.
We are extremely concerned by the situation on the ground in Darfur. In light of the dangerous situation, we are pleased that the Council has recognized that the enabling environment necessary for a Darfur-based political process does not yet exist.
For any process to achieve lasting peace in Darfur, the ability of the participants to express their free will without fear of harm or retribution must be guaranteed. In Darfur, however, those who speak out are regularly arrested, tortured, or killed.
Mr. President, It is first and foremost the responsibility of the Government of Sudan to create these enabling conditions, and we strongly demand all parties to the conflict agree to an immediate ceasefire and engage in direct negotiation.
UNAMID’s role in bringing peace to Darfur is critical. It’s role, first and foremost, is to protect civilians and secure humanitarian access for millions of vulnerable people.
We are pleased that this resolution affirms that, based on reporting from the field—including UNAMID’s reporting on political, civil, and human rights — the Security Council, taking into account the views of the African Union, will determine whether the enabling conditions necessary for UNAMID to engage in further efforts related to the Darfur-based Political Process have been met.
As civilians continue to be targeted and bombs dropped in Darfur, the United States welcomes UNAMID’s focus on protecting civilians and ensuring humanitarians have the access they need to provide lifesaving assistance. And we call on all parties to the conflict to recommit themselves to serious, comprehensive political negotiations to bring an end to these atrocities.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Chairman Kerry, Ranking Member Lugar, Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here to discuss the historic achievement symbolized by South Sudan’s independence and the opportunities and challenges ahead as Sudan and South Sudan seek to define their future relationship with each other and the international community.
I will discuss below the many tasks and challenges that lie ahead. But first we should recall that a fundamental objective of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was to provide the people of southern Sudan a choice whether to continue within one country or to separate. The people made that choice in January, voting for separation, and the independence of South Sudan was achieved July 9 without major conflict and with the recognition of the Government of Sudan. All those, in the Congress, among the many public organizations and advocates, the government entities and individuals over two administrations, all those who worked for this over many years should take pride and joy in this achievement.
I was in Juba last Saturday for South Sudan’s independence ceremony. It was a very moving occasion. As President Obama said in his statement recognizing South Sudan, the day reminded us “that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible.” Tens of thousands of people endured sweltering heat for hours to celebrate the birth of their new nation. Sudan was the first country to recognize South Sudan’s independence. This was a historic achievement that represents a new beginning for the people of South Sudan as well as those of Sudan.
Mr. Chairman, this achievement was far from inevitable. Just a year ago, the peace process between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement was stalled. Many doubted whether it would be possible to have an on-time, peaceful referendum for Southern Sudan and whether the Government of Sudan would ever accept the results. A return to open conflict seemed very possible. During that time, President Obama committed to reenergizing the peace effort, and since then, we have intensified our diplomatic engagement with the CPA parties as well as our partners in the African Union, IGAD, Europe and the United Nations. The President himself, the Vice President and his entire national security team have been involved in this effort around the clock. We are grateful for the support that this committee and you in particular, Mr. Chairman, have given to this effort. We also appreciate the efforts that so many Americans have made to keep a spotlight on the situation in Sudan.
Over the last year, the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have demonstrated their capacity to work together on the major task of separation and to overcome great odds in their search for peaceful completion of the CPA. Nevertheless, this period has also been marked by armed clashes along the border, a crisis in Abyei, and fighting currently under way in the northern state of Southern Kordofan. Several critical issues regarding relations between the two states that were to be negotiated by July 9 have not been resolved. Thus the situation remains fraught with serious threats to peace. The two states must work to rekindle the spirit of cooperation that was so evident after the referendum of January 9 and which was promised again by the two leaders in the ceremony of July 9.
The CPA parties have made some progress in their negotiations over the past few months, but as I indicated above some of the most important issues namely oil, Abyei and citizenship remain unresolved. How these outstanding issues are managed over the near term will define the future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan. At the IGAD Summit on July 4, President Bashir and President Kiir committed to continue negotiations beyond July 9. We are urging the parties to quickly return to the negotiating table in the coming days and set a firm deadline for completing this unfinished business. The parties should work with the support of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to finalize mutually-beneficial arrangements, in particular, oil revenues, citizenship, Abyei, and their shared border. Allowing these issues to linger without resolution for too long could destabilize the future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan.
Of particular importance is the contentious issue of Abyei. After months of rising tensions and a buildup of forces by both sides, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) forcefully took over the disputed area of Abyei in May. An estimated 100,000 people were forced to flee their homes. After weeks of intense negotiations, the parties signed an agreement on June 20 outlining temporary arrangements for Abyei, to include the establishment of a new UN peacekeeping force in Abyei and the redeployment of all Sudanese military forces from the area. Secretary of State Clinton met with the parties in Addis Ababa during these talks and played an important role in finalizing this deal. We then led efforts in the UN Security Council to quickly secure a resolution authorizing this new peacekeeping force, which will consist of up to 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers.
The violence that flared in Abyei cannot be allowed to return and jeopardize the larger peace. It is critical that the parties move forward with genuinely implementing this agreement over the coming weeks as they continue to work toward a final arrangement on Abyei. The Ethiopian peacekeepers have begun deploying to Abyei. The SAF and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) must follow through with their commitment to withdraw their forces. Conditions must be put in place to allow those displaced from Abyei to voluntarily return home in safety and dignity as soon as possible. Enormous damage was done to homes and other structures in Abyei and much was looted during the SAF take-over. Considerable assistance will therefore be needed for those returning home. We are working closely with the Ethiopian peacekeeping force, the United Nations humanitarian agencies, and our own USAID to arrange support for a safe, voluntary return. At the same time, as part of their negotiations, the parties need to resolve Abyei’s final status. Negotiations on this matter were delayed by the SAF take-over of the area and the extensive negotiations for assuring the departure of military forces from there. This delay was costly. It will take weeks for the Ethiopian forces to be fully deployed and some time for the displaced to feel it safe to return.
Negotiations on the oil sector are equally important, but they must move on a quicker timetable. By the end of July, there has to be an understanding of how oil will be marketed and sold and to what extent the SPLM will provide some tapering off of reductions of income to the north. Agreement is made more difficult, however, because the SPLM does not want to make such a decision without final agreements on Abyei, the border, and perhaps some other issues. We are thus faced with conflicting timelines. In this situation, it is imperative that if there is no final resolution of oil revenue distribution, there must be an interim agreement by the end of July. Each side has claimed it is ready to shut down the oil flow if there is no agreement, positions that if acted upon would only hurt both sides and above all the people of all Sudan. Thus this issue demands action very soon.
Mr. Chairman, beyond their negotiations with each other, Sudan and South Sudan must also work to establish peace within their respective borders. Despite their separation, both countries have significant diversity and must decide how they will manage that diversity over the coming years. Most immediately, we remain deeply concerned about the situation in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan, an area that is home to tens of thousands of SPLA fighters. The people of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile were promised in the CPA that their political interests would be addressed in a process of popular consultations. Unfortunately, those consultations have not occurred in Southern Kordofan. Tensions increased in Southern Kordofan following the state’s heavily-contested elections in May. The SPLM refused to accept the results of the election in which the sitting Governor was declared the winner. It was in this atmosphere that the Government of Sudan issued an order to the SAF to dissolve the Joint Integrated Units and forcibly disarm SPLA units that remained in the state. On June 5, intense fighting broke out between the SAF and SPLA forces in the state. To date, the fighting has continued, with the SAF carrying out aerial bombardments of SPLA areas. We are extremely concerned by credible allegations of targeted and ethnic-based killings and other gross human rights abuses. These abuses must end, an investigation must be conducted, and perpetrators must be held accountable. The UN estimates that 73,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, and critical access and resupply routes for humanitarian agencies have been blocked.
Negotiations over Southern Kordofan began in Ethiopia in late June under the auspices of the AUHIP. The Government of Sudan and the SPLM-North signed a framework agreement on June 28 outlining new political and security arrangements for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. This agreement has the advantage of calling for addressing political issues at the same time as security ones, which is indispensable for reaching an agreement to cease hostilities and lay the groundwork for a longer term settlement. Unfortunately, President Bashir has raised problems with the framework agreement, which puts negotiations at risk. We continue to call on the parties to return to the negotiating table, to recognize the need to address both political and security issues, and to agree on a cessation of hostilities which would allow unfettered humanitarian access. Despite the opposition of Khartoum, we also continue to call on the Government of Sudan to accept a continued UN presence in the two states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile to support a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access, and the establishment of new security arrangements. We believe, and we know that much of the international community agrees, that it is in their interest to do so. The Security Council has expressed its readiness to authorize continued UN operations if Khartoum consents.
Within Sudan, we also remain deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Clashes continue to occur in North and South Darfur between the Government of Sudan and an alliance of Darfur rebel groups, notably the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. The SAF continues to use aerial bombardments as well as proxy militias as part of its military strategy against the movements, thereby resulting in civilian casualties. Conflict and widespread insecurity impact the humanitarian situation negatively and hamper humanitarian organizations from carrying out their activities in the deep field. The GOS continues to obstruct access of UN-African Union peacekeepers and humanitarian organizations struggle to obtain visas and travel permits from the GoS, which undermine the effectiveness and independence of humanitarian efforts. We have consistently pressed the Government of Sudan to provide full and unfettered access for aid workers and peacekeepers, in order to deliver humanitarian assistance across Darfur. Our own humanitarian staff is only able to access Darfur with high level visits. Otherwise, operational access is simply not possible. Although there has been some limited IDP resettlement in West Darfur and a significant increase in seasonal IDP returns for cultivation, around 2 million Darfuris overall remain in IDP camps. Approximately 70,000 additional persons have been displaced since December 2010.
We have invested considerable efforts in pushing the Government of Sudan and the armed movements to commit to serious negotiations in Doha. Two of Darfur’s rebel groups, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have participated in the Doha negotiations. The LJM may sign a peace agreement with the Government of Sudan this week; however LJM has little military strength on the ground. Negotiations between JEM and the Government of Sudan have been suspended since early May, and JEM is currently reconsidering its position on the results of the Doha process. We have emphasized to the Government of Sudan that an agreement with the LJM would be a positive step toward peace, but that it must continue to negotiate with the other armed movements. We also will be applying pressure on the non-negotiating armed movements to return to peace talks.
The position of the armed movements is also of concern. Several of them insist that they do not wish to negotiate on Darfur so much as on changes to the regime in Khartoum, and in some cases are determined to pursue that objective through fighting in and beyond Darfur. This position does not permit realistically peace talks with the Government of Sudan. We will also continue to encourage the non-negotiating armed movements to return to peace talks on Darfur. While the Doha process has now come to an end, other venues can be developed if talks are possible. In this regard, we are currently consulting with the AU, the UN and our international partners on a way forward after Doha that builds on progress achieved in Doha and leads to a more comprehensive settlement.
Any successful peace process must engage not only the armed movements, but also the people of Darfur. The UN and the AU have put forward the initiative of a Darfur Political Process, through which Darfuris would express their views on the way forward for a political settlement. However, we feel strongly that the current security and political environment would not lend itself to a credible or legitimate peace process in Darfur. For this reason, we will be coordinating with the AU and the UN on the necessary enabling conditions that we believe must be in place before the U.S. will support a Darfur-based process.
Mr. Chairman, Sudan needs to end its isolation in the international community and secure a more prosperous future for its people. It has a historic opportunity to do so with the completion of the CPA. Sudan faces an uncertain economic future as it adjusts to a significant loss of oil revenue and continues to shoulder nearly $38 billion of debt. Undoubtedly, Sudan is in need of debt relief, access to the resources of the International Financial Institutions, and a sustainable climate for private investment. Provided Sudan fulfills its obligations under the CPA, the United States is prepared to help.
We have laid out a roadmap to normalize our bilateral relations and taken initial steps in that direction. In February, following a successful referendum, the President began the process of reviewing Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. Last month, the President dispatched Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan to Khartoum to discuss this review and to demonstrate our commitment to this process. Additionally, we have been actively involved in the World Bank technical working group to review the process for Sudan’s debt relief. We have also approved licenses for several American companies wishing to participate in agricultural development in the north.
However, we can only move forward with improved bilateral relations, as outlined in the roadmap, if the Government of Sudan fulfills its obligations under the CPA and demonstrates its commitment to peace within its borders and with its neighbors. A failure to reach a cessation of hostilities will negatively impact this process. U.S. government action to lift remaining U.S. economic sanctions and to request legislative assistance with the removal of applicable foreign assistance restrictions also will be dependent on Sudanese actions in Darfur. We will expect to see concrete actions on humanitarian access, freedom of movement for UNAMID peacekeepers, engagement in peace talks, an end to the use of proxy militias and targeting of civilians, and an improvement in justice and accountability so the reign of impunity in Darfur does not continue. This is not just the position of the United States. It is also the view of other members of the international community and international creditors.
Mr. Chairman, the Government of South Sudan will also depend on international support as it seeks to address its many challenges. South Sudan has some of the lowest development indicators in the world, and its people have high expectations that their lives will improve with independence. Many of its people also remain vulnerable to the activity of armed militias in the border states of Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile to the North, and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the state of Equatoria regions to the south. The United States has provided significant support for South Sudan over the years, and we will remain a steadfast partner as South Sudan seeks to peacefully meet these challenges. The strong ties between our peoples go back many decades, and we want to continue to build on that partnership.
Over 15 countries have offered capacity building assistance to the GOSS. Following the Troika development ministers’ visit in May, USAID is working closely with the AU, UN, ADB, EU, India, China, South Africa, Uganda and others to ensure that the ROSS has a viable human capital plan in place to build capacity for key functions in Juba and state governments. This builds upon the work USAID has done over the last 7 years in the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of South Sudan, health, education, and agriculture. USAID is working with partners to scale up to ensure that stop gap measure along with medium to long term capacities are being addressed. The United States, the UN, the UK, and other donors will focus on building a human rights culture throughout the GOSS, including the SPLA. All the donors will help in economic development. The United States plans in particular to make a major effort in agricultural production, which can help the vast majority of South Sudanese and for which there is much promise.
To succeed and to sustain international support, the Government of South Sudan must demonstrate its commitment to building an effective, democratic and inclusive government that embodies South Sudan’s diversity, respects human rights and delivers services with transparency and accountability. The eyes of the world will indeed be on South Sudan in the weeks and months ahead. The government must deliver on its commitment to a broad-based, inclusive process to write its permanent constitution. The government must also put in place safeguards to prevent corruption and avoid the pitfalls that have befallen many other oil-producing nations. President Kiir made a strong statement in his inaugural address on these very issues. The United States will work with other international partners to provide advice and support for the government to help him implement those pledges.
Mr. Chairman and other members of the committee, the challenges ahead are great, but the historic occasion last Saturday offers a new beginning for the people of South Sudan and Sudan. Now it is up to the leaders and people of South Sudan and Sudan to turn this moment of promise into lasting peace. We will continue to assist them in this hard work. Over the coming months, the Obama administration’s engagement will be unwavering, and we will be a steadfast partner to all those in Sudan and South Sudan who seek a better future of peace and prosperity.
I would like to thank Richard Solomon and the United States Institute for Peace for inviting me to speak today. It’s an honor to be here. My colleagues and I are avid readers of your reports and policy papers, and we greatly appreciate the regular opportunities to participate in the Institute’s many enriching seminars and conferences. You play a vital role in shaping the public’s interest in foreign policy and in keeping the international community focused on the most critical and important global issues. In Africa, the work the Institute has done on Sudan in recent years has complemented our efforts to support the negotiations, promote local conflict resolution, and bolster civil society. We hope you will continue your work on Sudan and South Sudan in the years ahead.
This afternoon I’d like to make some brief remarks about the opportunities and challenges facing the world’s newest nation, South Sudan. Today’s event comes at a critical time as we look ahead to the opportunities and challenges for Sudan and South Sudan. Independence presents a new opportunity for the people of South Sudan, an opportunity to build a new nation that embodies their values and aspirations. It also presents an opportunity for the people of Sudan to redefine their relationship with the international community and pursue a more prosperous future.
We want to see the people of Sudan and South Sudan seize those opportunities and succeed. But to do that, they must establish a stable and durable peace between their two states, and they must work to promote stability and development within their borders. This will not be easy and it will not happen overnight, but it is doable. The Sudanese have demonstrated their capacity over the last year to work together and overcome great odds. The United States is committed to being a steadfast partner as they continue to work out their remaining differences and build the peace and stability that all Sudanese people desire.
This past Saturday, I joined leaders from around the world in recognizing and celebrating South Sudan’s independence. It was one of the most moving occasions of my time as Assistant Secretary. In Juba, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese endured sweltering heat for hours to celebrate the birth of their new nation. The Government of South Sudan organized a day of pageantry and substance. The proclamation of independence was read. President Salva Kiir took the oath of office and unveiled a statue of John Garang. President Kiir spoke eloquently of the sacrifices endured by millions of Sudanese and the challenges South Sudan faces as the newest and one of the poorest states in the world. Sudanese President Bashir was in attendance and congratulated his hosts, and Sudan followed through on its pledge to be the first country to recognize South Sudan’s independence.
It truly was a historic day for the people of South Sudan.
Just a year ago, last Saturday’s celebration appeared impossible. The peace process between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement had stalled. A return to open conflict seemed possible. Many analysts warned the Southern Sudan referendum was at high risk of delay or would be mired in bitter controversy. Little if any preparation was underway, and many observers doubted northern leaders would allow the referendum to proceed or would accept its results.
Recognizing that the CPA and the Southern Referendum were in serious peril, President Obama committed last year to reenergize the peace effort to make sure that the North and South Sudan did not return to a state of conflict. We intensified our diplomatic engagement with the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as well as our partners in the African Union, IGAD, the United Nations, the EU, and others. The President, the Vice President and the entire national security team were involved in this effort around the clock. The U.S. Special Envoys for Sudan, first Ambassador Scott Gration and then Ambassador Princeton Lyman, shuttled back and forth to the region, working with the parties to move the process forward. A number of Americans – acting individually and through civil society groups – also deserve a vote of thanks for keeping a spotlight on the situation in Sudan.
Against the odds, the people of Sudan and their leaders came together and organized an on-time referendum in January that was peaceful, credibly and reflected the will of the people. And despite moments of tension and crisis, they have worked together over the past months to enable a peaceful separation. For those of you that have followed Sudan’s history over the years, you know the significance of this achievement. But you also know that the situation remains fragile. Serious threats to peace and security remain, and great challenges lie ahead. The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan must continue to foster a spirit of cooperation as they work to resolve these threats and challenges. This is essential. Because even though they are now two separate countries, their peoples share historic, geographic, and economic ties. And they share common interests. The fate of Sudan and South Sudan are intertwined.
Challenges in the Relationship between South Sudan and Sudan
The challenges are formidable. South Sudan has achieved its independence, but it has not secured its future. First and foremost, Sudan and South Sudan must resolve outstanding issues between them. Over recent months, with the support of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the CPA parties have made progress in their negotiations. However, they failed to reach final resolution on several key issues before July 9. The recent fighting in Abyei and in the border state of Southern Kordofan has added additional complexities to the unresolved issues. President Bashir and President Kiir committed at the IGAD Summit on July 4 that they would continue negotiations on the outstanding issues after July 9. They must now turn those commitments into action. Both the parties must return to the negotiating table. They must work to resolve these issues in the shortest possible timeframe. Allowing these issues to linger without resolution for too long could destabilize the future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan and lead to tensions and potentially renewed conflict.
Abyei: Abyei remains a crucial issue for resolution. On May 20 the Sudanese Armed Forces invaded and occupied Abyei, following an unprovoked attack by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army on a UN convoy escorting Sudanese armed forces. The North’s takeover of Abyei brought widespread looting and caused the displacement of an estimated 100,000 people.
The Obama Administration strongly condemned Khartoum’s actions in Abyei and worked with President Mbeki and his team and the UN Security Council to persuade the parties to reach an agreement on new security arrangements for Abyei that would lead to the withdrawal of Sudanese troops and the protection of Abyei by a neutral force. The parties agreed that a new UN peacekeeping force, consisting of roughly 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers, would be established to maintain security in Abyei, and that all Sudanese military forces would redeploy from the area. It is critical that the parties fully implement this agreement. The violence that flared in Abyei cannot be allowed to return and jeopardize the larger peace. The parties must work with the AU Panel to reach agreement on the area’s future and final status. They also need to resolve the status of five other disputed areas along the border.
Oil: In addition to Abyei, the parties have not sorted out how they will handle oil assets and other financial transition arrangements. Oil and the revenue it generates are indispensable to the prosperity and welfare of all Sudanese – both North and South. Negotiations on oil are of particular urgency. By the end of July, there must be an understanding on how oil in the South will be marketed and sold and to what extent payments will be made to the North. The parties must reach an interim agreement to keep the oil flowing. We have strongly encouraged both parties to refrain from any unilateral actions that could destabilize the oil sector and cause severe economic shocks.
Citizenship: Another crucial issue is citizenship. There continue to be hundreds of thousands of southerners living and working in the North, and a smaller but significant number of northerners in the South. The parties have agreed to work to ensure that no one is left stateless, and they have agreed in principle on a nine-month transition period in which people can adjust their citizenship status. It is critical that both states follow through on this commitment. We have also called on Sudan and South Sudan to guarantee the rights of work, property, residency, and movement for all former and current Sudanese citizens. We continue to discourage any action that might cause people suddenly to become aliens in areas where they have resided and raised their families for decades.
Internal Challenges and Opportunities for South Sudan
Beyond resolving the outstanding issues of its separation from the North, South Sudan also must address its own internal challenges as a newly independent state. The continued activity of armed militia groups and the proliferation of weapons pose an ongoing security threat. South Sudan needs to make substantially more progress on security sector reform and the demobilization and social reintegration of former fighters over the next year. The United States and South Sudan’s other international partners are actively supporting these efforts.
Without question, South Sudan has some of the worst human development indicators in the world. Much of the country has little transportation infrastructure, no formal educational system, limited health services, and no judicial system. There is very little industry or economic infrastructure outside of Juba.
To build a new nation, South Sudan will need coherent and realistic development plans that build local capacity so that the South Sudanese people can, over the long term, do the building themselves rather than become dependent on outsiders and the donor community. USAID along with South Sudan’s other international development partners have been providing technical expertise aimed at increasing the capacity of the new South Sudanese Government. We have worked closely with the Government of South Sudan from the local to the national levels and will continue to do so.
Transparent and democratic processes need to be put into place so that the Southern Sudanese people can hold their government accountable and have adequate input into decision-making. This is also critical if the Government of South Sudan is to sustain international support. The eyes of the world will indeed be on South Sudan in the weeks and months ahead. It must demonstrate its commitment to avoiding the pitfalls that have befallen many other oil-producing nations. President Kiir said the right things in his inauguration speech, and now his Government must deliver. The United States is committed to helping his Government do so.
Internal Challenges and Opportunities for Sudan
Sudan too must address its own internal problems in the months and years ahead. First and foremost, the Government of Sudan must bring an end to the ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan and Darfur.
Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile: At the same time that crisis was unfolding in Abyei, fighting broke out in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan, an area that is home to tens of thousands of SPLA fighters. Some 73,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, which continues. Humanitarian access has been severely restricted, and UN peacekeepers have been harassed and blocked from patrolling. On June 28, with the help of the African Union Panel, the parties signed a framework agreement on political and security arrangements for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but they have not agreed on a cessation of hostilities. And unfortunately, President Bashir has since raised problems with the framework agreement, which puts negotiations at risk. We are continuing to press the parties to bring an end to the fighting, allow unfettered access to humanitarian agencies and to accept a continued UN presence.
Darfur: The Government of Sudan must also finally bring an end to the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Darfur. A just, inclusive and durable settlement in Darfur is critical for a viable and prosperous Sudan in the future. To achieve such a settlement, the Sudanese Government should find ways to improve the economic situation of the Darfuri people while addressing their political concerns. The government must also seek to bring an end to the culture of impunity that has taken hold in Darfur.
One of Darfur’s rebel groups, the Liberation and Justice Movement may sign a peace agreement with the Government of Sudan this week; however one other major group is still on the fence while other rebel movements have refused to take part in the Doha process. We have emphasized to the Government of Sudan that this agreement would be a positive step toward peace, but that it must continue to negotiate with the other armed movements.
The armed rebel movements in Darfur have contributed to the continuation of this conflict and they must take responsibility for working toward its end. During the days ahead, these groups must choose peace over war and recognize that long-term stability and recovery cannot be gained through additional conflict. We believe the non-negotiating movements must return to the peace talks and seek to conclude an agreement with the Sudanese Government.
Economic situation: In addition to resolving the conflicts in Southern Kordofan and Darfur, the Government of Sudan faces considerable economic challenges. With the loss of oil revenues from the south and a crippling debt estimated at $38 billion, the Government of Sudan needs debt relief, access to the International Financial Institutions and a new infusion of foreign investment. It also needs to revitalize its once promising agriculture sector.
The Government of Sudan showed an encouraging commitment to peace in signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, allowing the referendum to take place, and being the first nation in the world to recognize the independence of the South.
The United States has told the Sudanese Government that we are prepared to improve our bilateral relations if they continue down this path of peace. We have presented them with a roadmap toward normalized relations and taken initial steps in that direction. In February, the President initiated the process of reviewing Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and in June the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan traveled to Khartoum to discuss this review and to demonstrate our commitment to this process. We have also approved licenses for several American companies wishing to participate in agricultural development in Sudan.
The United States has told the Government of Sudan that we are prepared to help with the country’s challenges, and we have already taken initial steps to that end. However, in line with our roadmap, we can only implement this support if Sudan lives up to its CPA obligations and demonstrates its commitment to peace within its borders. This is not just the position of the United States; it is also the position of many other members of the international community and key international creditors.
The Government of Sudan now has a historic opportunity to end its isolation and redefine its relationship with the international community. We hope that Khartoum will seize this opportunity to secure a more prosperous future for its people.
Opportunities for a Shared Future of Partnership
The challenges ahead are daunting, and a great deal of hard work remains to be done. But in closing, I recall the scene I witnessed in Juba on Saturday. The spirit of hope that permeated the air can be built upon for a better future.
As President Obama noted in his statement, South Sudan’s successful independence is “a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible. A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn. These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people.”
Indeed, the light of a new dawn is possible. The people of Sudan and South Sudan have a historic opportunity today to chart a new future based on partnership, cooperation and shared prosperity. We are committed to working with Sudan and South Sudan toward the goal of two viable states at peace with another. The two nations cannot prosper unless the other is stable and economically viable. While they may be two nations, their fates are linked together by their shared history, people, and economics.
The Obama Administration will work with both countries in the weeks and months ahead to realize this promise of a better future for the people in both the South and the North.
The United States is deeply concerned about alarming and credible allegations of violence committed by Sudan Armed Forces and aligned groups in Southern Kordofan. These include acts of extreme cruelty and abuse against civilians that, if true, may constitute crimes against humanity – extra-judicial killings, house-to-house searches, abductions, arbitrary arrests, and violence motivated by differences of religion or ethnicity.
The United States strongly supports an investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights into these allegations and calls on all parties to provide unfettered access and cooperation to any investigation. We condemn in the strongest terms any deliberate targeting of civilians, including UN humanitarian personnel. The United States will not tolerate impunity for such acts of violence. We have called repeatedly for a cessation of hostilities in South Kordorfan, and we have called on the Government of Sudan to stop aerial bombardments, which continue to hit civilians. We are particularly disturbed by the decision of the Government of Sudan not to honor the June 29 agreement on political and security arrangements in the region. These developments are deeply regrettable.
It is past time for an end to the violence. Today, we call upon the Government of Sudan to agree to a robust UN presence in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile that will assist the parties as they agree to future political and security agreements.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Last Saturday, I had the honor of heading the U.S. delegation to Juba to celebrate South Sudan’s independence. It was a deeply moving day. After a half-century of war, at a cost of more than two million lives, the Republic of South Sudan can now finally determine its own future. The United States salutes the courage and sacrifice of the people of South Sudan, who never abandoned hope. After so many years of bitter conflict, South Sudan’s independence occurred peacefully and democratically through referendum—a heartening way for the world’s newest nation to be born.
Vice President Machar, welcome and congratulations to the people of the Republic of South Sudan. We are delighted that you are here to represent your new government at this meeting where the Security Council unanimously recommended that your country be admitted as the United Nation’s 193rd member state.
Ambassador Osman, we also commend the Government of Sudan’s decision to be the first country to recognize South Sudan’s independence. We welcome all efforts to forge a relationship between Sudan and South Sudan that is rooted in mutual respect and cooperation—a relationship that strengthens the viability, security, and prosperity of both states. By continuing on the path of peace, the Government of Sudan can redefine its relationship with the international community and secure a brighter future for its people.
Mr. President, the Security Council remains fully engaged in helping both countries towards their shared goals of peace and stability. On July 8, this Council unanimously authorized a new UN peacekeeping mission in the Republic of South Sudan. UNMISS will assist the government as it builds a new nation, including on issues of peacebuilding, development, security, and protection.
But as we all know, this moment of promise is also fragile and fraught. Sudan and South Sudan must work hard to secure an enduring peace and two viable states coexisting as peaceful neighbors. It is vital that both countries work with the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel to swiftly resolve all outstanding issues. The parties need to finalize arrangements on the border, citizenship, oil, and other issues if they are to forge an enduring peace.
A permanent resolution of Abyei’s status remains elusive. Despite an agreement on temporary security arrangements and the imminent deployment of a UN interim security force, the situation in Abyei is still extremely volatile. An estimated 100,000 people remain displaced from their homes.
Meanwhile, brutal fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the troops of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army-North has displaced more than 70,000 people in Southern Kordofan. The Sudanese army is continuing and intensifying aerial bombardments that are killing civilians. On June 28, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-North agreed to a framework of political and security principles for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but the Government of Sudan’s commitment to this agreement has wavered. Both parties need to agree immediately to a cessation of hostilities. The violence, the human rights abuses, and the deliberate obstruction of access for humanitarian agencies must end.
Given the ongoing hostilities and abuses in Southern Kordofan and the vulnerability of neighboring Blue Nile, we deeply regret the Government of Sudan’s decision to compel the United Nation’s departure from these two states. The United Nations should be allowed to maintain a presence in these areas to help distribute humanitarian aid, protect civilians, and implement any cessation of hostilities agreement.
Mr. President, the challenges are great, but they are by no means insurmountable. The Security Council has done its utmost to support this process, and this Council and my government will remain deeply engaged in supporting the Republic of South Sudan at this crucial juncture and into the future.
My own country’s history has taught us that it takes moral courage to attain freedom—and make freedom’s promise real for all citizens. We’ve learned that this work is never done. We have great faith in the people of South Sudan. We expect they will create a government that works for the good of all people and for the stability of the region – and thereby create a country that strengthens this community of sovereign nations. As I said in Juba on Saturday, “a nation born from conflict need not live in conflict.” In this spirit, and with great hope for the future of the world’s newest nation, the United States wholeheartedly supports South Sudan’s application for membership in the United Nations. Congratulations, and we look forward to welcoming you.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Deputy Spokesperson Toner On the Signing of an Agreement by the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement
The United States expresses its gratitude to the Government of Qatar for its extraordinary efforts to bring peace to the troubled region of Darfur. For more than two years, the Government of Qatar has generously hosted African Union/United Nations-sponsored talks between the Government of Sudan and armed rebel movements. The United States appreciates the hard work and important contributions of the former AU/UN Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé during this process. We are also particularly grateful for the contributions of Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Bin Abdallah Al Mahmoud.
We welcome the agreement concluded today between the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) and the Government of Sudan. This agreement is a positive step forward on the road toward a lasting solution to the crisis in Darfur. We will continue to press those armed movements which refuse to participate in the peace negotiations – particularly the Sudan Liberation Army factions of Abdel Wahid Al Nur and Minni Minawi – to engage fully in the peace process. The United States urges the Government of Sudan to affirm its openness to additional international negotiations so that a comprehensive peace agreement can be reached with all armed movements.
The conflict in Darfur has inflicted a severe toll on the Darfuri people. The United States continues to advocate peaceful negotiations and political compromise among all parties in order to achieve a durable, just, inclusive, and comprehensive solution to the Darfur crisis.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Excellencies, Vice President Machar, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On Saturday, I had the privilege of standing in Juba and watching as the huge, beautiful flag of the Republic of South Sudan was raised for the very first time. The crowd roared, and in that wave of joy, you could hear a new nation claiming its voice.
Today, that same flag will fly proudly among 192 others. South Sudan will take its rightful place among the community of sovereign nations. On behalf of the United States, and the American people, as host country to this organization, I warmly welcome the Republic of South Sudan as the newest member of the United Nations.
This historic and hopeful day was reached only after great suffering and almost unimaginable loss. The independence of the world’s newest country is a testament to the people of South Sudan. It is also an inspiration to all who yearn for freedom. May the memory of your own struggle, for liberty, always serve as a reminder to insist on the universal rights of all people, to remember those still in shackles, to lift up the hungry and the desperate, and to bring hope to the broken places of the world.
Your statehood is new, but your friendship is not. The bonds between the American people and the people of South Sudan go back many decades. The United States will remain a steadfast friend as South Sudan works to pursue peace, to strengthen its democracy, and provide opportunity and prosperity to all its citizens. We look forward to working alongside South Sudan as it shoulders the rights and responsibilities of a full and sovereign member of the community of nations.
At the United Nations General Assembly last September, President Obama said, and I quote, “After the darkness of war, there can be a new day of peace and progress,” end quote. Today, like Saturday, is such a day for the people of South Sudan. We will support you as you work for an enduring peace rooted in coexistence between two viable states. We will stand by you as you forge the conditions for lasting democracy, prosperity, and justice. And we will partner with you as you seek to meet the high hopes of your citizens that have been raised along with your flag.
On behalf of the United States of America, let me say again: congratulations, and welcome. Thank you very much.