6251st Meeting (AM)
Members Hear Briefings by African Union Commission Chief, Chairperson of Regional Body's High-Level Implementation Panel on Darfur
Welcoming the report of the African Union High-level Panel on Darfur, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called today for the continuation of efforts to encourage the Government of the Sudan and rebel movements to make concessions and embrace the consensus being built by United Nations-African Union Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé.
"By giving Mr. Bassolé our unequivocal support, we will send a strong message to all parties that they must engage in the negotiations he is leading", said Mr. Ban, who had just concluded a meeting with representatives from the regional organization, including Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa and Chairperson of the regional body's High-level Panel on Darfur, both of whom briefed the Council this morning before going into a private meeting on the matter.
The Secretary-General described the Panel's report as a revealing assessment that looked at the Sudan in its totality, articulating the links between the crisis in Darfur and efforts to implement the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended the civil war between the North and the South. He underlined the importance of upcoming elections in the country, stressing also that the parties must engage in genuine cooperation following the polls, no matter what the outcome.
Briefing the Council, Mr. Ping said that Darfur occupied a special place among efforts deployed by the United Nations and the African Union to maintain peace on the continent because it was the site of the first joint operation of the two organizations. In the Sudan, as in other places of crisis in Africa, the future would increasingly depend on joint action with regional organizations, particularly the African Union.
The High-level Panel had worked for six months, interacting with all Sudanese and international stakeholders, he said. It had spent more than 40 days in Darfur, not only visiting Government-controlled areas but also those controlled by the armed opposition. That had granted the Panel unequalled authority since the people of Darfur had rarely had the chance to speak on their own behalf. The Panel had articulated a comprehensive approach, based on the conviction that the aims of peace, reconciliation and justice in Darfur were closely linked and that reconciliation and justice must be implemented in an integrated way.
Ratifying the Panel's recommendations, he continued, the African Union Peace and Security Council had asked to set up a high-level panel to facilitate their implementation and help the Sudanese parties implement the CPA and other processes. The resulting Implementation Panel had visited the Sudan, where it had met with all stakeholders and drawn up a plan of action for Darfur and implementation of the CPA.
Requesting United Nations support for the Panel's recommendations, he noted that the Sudan stood at the eve of two major events that would determine its future: the general elections in April 2010 and the self-determination referendum in January 2011. What was at stake was of existential importance for Africa as the Sudan was its biggest country, and, given its melting pot of diverse religions and cultures, emblematic of the continent. The Sudan shared borders with nine States, which would be the first to suffer from negative developments, Mr. Ping warned.
In his briefing, Mr. Mbeki said the Panel had started out from the position that it was neither possible nor desirable to impose a solution to the Darfur conflict on the Sudanese people, and, for that reason, it had consulted heavily with Sudanese stakeholders in producing its report. There was a broad consensus in Darfur about what must be done for the speedy achievement of peace, justice and reconciliation, in addition to broad support for the Panel's recommendations. Leaders had emphasized that the situation was ripe to accelerate the peace process.
In that light, the Panel attached great importance to concluding negotiations in Darfur before the impending general elections, so the region's people would not further be marginalized, he said. Towards that end, the Implementation Panel would be engaging the parties in Darfur and the rest of the Sudan and encouraging them to respond expeditiously to the Chief Mediator's initiatives. Any lasting solution must take the form of an integrated package that achieved a balance among the objectives of peace, justice and reconciliation. As that had been true of other situations on the continent, the Darfur negotiators could draw on the wider African experience.
He said the Panel's report explained that the Sudan crisis had been building over a long time, spanning both the colonial and post-colonial periods. It had arisen from the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a Khartoum-centred elite and the consequent marginalization of the so-called periphery, including Darfur. It was, therefore, necessary to restructure the country, he said, pledging that the Implementation Panel would work closely with the people to build what had been described as "the New Sudan". While the planned 2011 referendum in South Sudan could result in secession by the South, , he noted, historical power relations in the North could still remain, making democratization there critical.
Turning to the "groundbreaking partnership" embodied by the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), he voiced hope that the necessary steps would be taken to ensure that the mission would have the capacity to carry out the additional tasks required of it once there was a comprehensive political agreement in the region. In conclusion, he called for all the challenges in the Sudan to be addressed simultaneously and as a matter of urgency.
The meeting began at 11:10 a.m. and ended at 11:55 a.m.
For information media - not an official record