Statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Situation in Sudan
Statement20 May 2021
Thank you Mr. President. I want to also thank SRSG Perthes for his briefing. Let me also welcome the Ambassador of Sudan to the Council this morning.
Sudan is in the midst of a historic transition, with an unprecedented opportunity to build lasting peace and prosperity for its people.
The progress made by Sudan and the significant reform efforts undertaken by the Government are very welcome.
Let’s be frank however, as we just heard from others, much work remains to be done. It is thus vital that key aspects of the political transition, such as the establishment of the Transitional Legislative Council and other remaining institutions, are urgently completed.
Sudanese society is rich in its diversity. But we cannot expect real buy-in from across the country if that diversity is not reflected in its government’s make up and actions. We therefore encourage the Government of Sudan to be as inclusive as possible during this transition, listening carefully to the views of women, young people, civil society and IDPs, and striving to ensure that their priorities are understood and integrated as appropriate.
The transition, furthermore, cannot be considered a success unless commitments towards the meaningful and safe participation of women throughout society are met. This includes 40 percent female representation in the Transitional Legislative Council.
And I want to underline that this percentage should be considered as a baseline, and not a ceiling.
The establishment of the National High Committee to support the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement is very welcome, but it is regrettable that progress remains slow overall. Swift implementation is urgent, in particular regarding the security arrangements and ceasefire mechanisms. As envisaged by the parties, the participation of the witnesses and guarantors in these structures, will contribute to confidence building. Seeing these commitments implemented will bring hope and encouragement to the communities on the ground.
We join the SRSG in welcoming the Declaration of Principles signed between the Government of Sudan and Abdelaziz Al Hilu’s SPLM-North. We sincerely hope for a positive outcome from the peace negotiations starting on the 24 May. The successful conclusion of these talks will be another milestone for peace in Sudan and a beacon of hope in a region undergoing conflict and upheaval. We urge all remaining non-signatories of the Juba Peace Agreement, including SLM-Abdel Wahid Al Nur to join the peace process.
Sudan’s transition is of course taking place against a backdrop of a stark economic crisis. This is further exacerbated by the impact of Covid 19 and, as in so many situations on this Council’s agenda, the threat of the climate crisis also looms large. Given the scale of these challenges, we commend the commitment of the Government of Sudan to implement difficult, but necessary, economic reforms. As a supporter of Sudan’s debt relief process, we hope that others will join Sudan on its path to reaching Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) decision point, we hope, next month.
Despite the progress being made in Sudan, the security situation in many parts of the country remains deeply concerning, particularly in Darfur. Recent clashes have caused large-scale casualties and displacement.
While the renewed commitment by Sudanese authorities, as we heard today from Sudan, to address the security situation is welcome, we urge swift implementation of the National Protection of Civilians Plan. The deployment of the joint protection force is an important part of this, but consideration will need to be given to appropriate training and vetting, safeguards and oversight, and importantly community consent.
As we have heard this week from SRSG Gamba, the killing and maiming of children in Darfur continues with impunity. This is utterly unacceptable. We strongly support the vital role played by UNITAMS in ensuring that child protection concerns are central to the ongoing peace process. I would add that children’s needs and rights should be considered during all phases of conflict, from prevention, to mediation through to recovery and sustainable, inclusive peace.
Likewise, reports of sexual and gender based violence across Sudan are also deeply disturbing. Perpetrators must be held accountable if we are to break this recurring cycle of violence. Strengthened reconciliation efforts, and the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms to address the root causes of the conflict, are also vital.
Tensions are high in the wider Horn of Africa region, with numerous ongoing crises. In this context, we urge the peaceful resolution of the Sudan-Ethiopia border crisis.
All parties must avoid further escalation and reach a peacefully negotiated settlement. Sudan has shown great warmth and generosity by welcoming over 70,000 refugees displaced by the conflicts in Tigray and Benishangul-Gumuz regions of Ethiopia.
Finally, Mr. President,
The transition in Sudan from UNAMID to UNITAMS is amongst the most complex transitions that this organisation has ever undertaken. We look forward to the UNITAMS mandate renewal and welcome theproposed prioritisation of the mission’s objectives as well as the mission’s new benchmarks, which will allow us to measure progress on strategic objectives. The mission has Ireland’s full support in achieving these critical objectives and in supporting Sudan’s transition.