PRESS CONFERENCE BY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SUDAN
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
13 January 2006
At a Headquarters press conference today, Jan Pronk, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission there, stressed that no security arrangement reached between the parties in the Sudan would be sustainable without an international security guarantee and urged the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping force in that country with the “Chapter VII-mandated” authority to disarm militias.
Those parties -- the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) -- have been meeting since 28 November 2005 in Abuja, Nigeria, hoping to reach agreement on, among other things, security arrangements and power and wealth sharing.
Prior to meeting with correspondents, in a briefing to the Security Council, Mr. Pronk had praised the African Union Mission in the Sudan, but said it had been provided with inadequate resources and means to prevent attacks. The death of young African soldiers who had gone to Darfur to help save the lives of innocent civilians, but had themselves become targets, was to be deplored.
He added that the force needed to provide the necessary security guarantees should be much bigger than the present one -- perhaps between 12,000 and 20,000 troops. It should not be “on call”, but in place and present wherever people might be attacked. It should be strong, able to defend itself, able to deter attacks on civilians and able to disarm militias and the Janjaweed. Also, the force should be supported by sanctions, including on arms deliveries and those who had caused atrocities.
In response to reporters’ questions, he said the sanctions in resolution 1591 were weak. [In response to the failure of all armed parties in the Sudan to comply with previous Council resolutions, the Council adopted resolution 1591 on 29 March 2005, by which it imposed a travel ban and a freeze on all assets for human rights violators in the Sudan.] If the parties felt that Council resolutions were not being implemented and that sanctions did not mean anything, the Council was weakening its own position, especially vis-à-vis other conflict situations, he stated.
Also, he continued, the fact that other parties were not at the table in Abuja meant that a security arrangement between the Government and the SPLM would only hold if there was a major international security guarantee, deterring and disarming all the other parties. People would not return to their homes if they were not certain that there would be reliable troops present to receive and protect them.
Asked if a “somewhat western-faced” United Nations intervention in Darfur would find itself a target, Mr. Pronk said that the first reaction was often not positive, but there was a lot that could be done to create a good situation. He hoped there would be many African countries, in addition to western and other countries, participating in the international force.
Mr. Pronk was asked whether the United Nations had a position on the Sudan taking over the chairmanship of the African Union. He said the United Nations did not have a public position on that issue, and that a decision regarding the chairmanship would not be taken at the upcoming summit. The summit was expected to find a temporary solution, such as President Obasanjo of Nigeria continuing as Chair.
As for the prospects for reaching agreement in Abuja on two of the key areas: security, and power and wealth sharing, Mr. Pronk said that, at the current pace, it might take a year or two to reach agreement. His advice had been to make a distinction between the security chapter and the power and wealth sharing chapter. Power and wealth sharing were important issues for the long term, but “if you don’t have a solution on those issues … it doesn’t result in people being killed”. Security was different, and should not wait until there was a solution to the power and wealth sharing issue.
He added that the Ceasefire Joint Military Committee (CJMC), chaired by the African Union and Chad, was supposed to monitor, discuss and address violations of the Ceasefire Agreement. That was not being done due to Chad, which was not an independent mediator, since it was a party to the conflict. Chad was not a credible co-chair of the Committee. He was in favour of a rethinking of the modalities of the security talks. If the international community wanted the United Nations to take over, then the Organization had to be involved in the security talks.
In response to another question, he said the International Criminal Court needed to work quicker with the list of perpetrators of atrocities in Darfur, and begin with the commanders and political leaders. Doing so would be crucial to ending impunity and to setting an example, in order stop further atrocities.
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For information media • not an official record
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