Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC on Sudan
Statement14 September 2021
Thank you Special Representative Perthes for your briefing. I also want to welcome Sudan’s representative with us today. And of course, I want to sincerely thank Ms. Hala Alkarib for your truly powerful testimony. Your work and voice, alongside those of so many Sudanese women, have played a vital role in Sudan’s historic political transition.
The leadership of Sudanese women in bringing about peaceful change is one of the most emblematic examples of women, peace and security in action in recent years. This is what we mean when we speak about the transformative power of women’s participation. The courage of women in standing up against oppression was powerful in ways that no gun, bullet or bomb could ever be.
And in Sudan, we saw, as we see so often in our work here at the Council, that the cause of women’s rights is the cause of peace and democracy. As Alaa Salah told this Council, women in Sudan spoke out against public order laws that restricted their rights and in doing so opposed a system built on quashing dissent.
Historic as it is, progress on Sudan’s transition is, as we have heard this morning, slow and uneven. Crucially, however, the power-sharing agreement at the centre continues to hold. I am also encouraged by the Prime Minister’s new initiative to reinvigorate the process.
The success of this transition will ultimately be based on the Transitional Government’s ability to maintain the power sharing agreement and strengthen Government institutions. As we heard today, much more needs to be done across the reform agenda, from human rights to the security sector. It is critical that key democratic institutions, such as the Transitional Legislative Council, are urgently established.
The success of Sudan’s transition will depend therefore on broadening the political agreement, and investing in the country’s marginalised and conflict-affected areas. We simply cannot expect real buy-in if those at the peace table and in the new institutions do not represent the diversity of the people of Sudan. Women were at the forefront of the protests that lit the spark of change. They must also be at the forefront of the government that will deliver that change. It is crucial that Sudan meets its own commitments, both on the full, equal and meaningful, as well as the safe participation of women.
The current representation of women in the transitional government is far below the 40 percent quota agreed. As Hala said, only one woman sits on the Sovereign Council. I want to underline that this representation is a right, not a request. Youth should also be represented in such peacebuilding processes.
Sudan’s transition is taking place against a backdrop of a stark economic crisis. The commitment to implement exceptionally difficult, but necessary, economic reforms is admirable. With the cost of many food commodities having doubled in one year, and 3 million children under five suffering from acute malnutrition, our support for Sudan’s response to humanitarian needs is vital.
We welcome progress on implementing the Juba Peace Agreement, including the formation of key Committees, such as the Darfur Permanent Ceasefire Committee. What is needed now is swift operationalisation of the work of these bodies. Meanwhile we continue to urge all remaining non-signatories to join the Juba Peace Agreement. I want to add that UNITAMS’ support to women peacebuilders in this negotiation process has also been commendable.
Despite some progress, the security situation in many parts of the country remains deeply concerning, especially in Darfur. The full implementation of the Government’s integrated National Protection of Civilians Plan is therefore a matter of real urgency. While we welcome the establishment of state-level Protection of Civilians committees and deployments of the joint protection force in some areas, addressing the root causes of insecurity is the only way to break the cycle of civilian harm.
Finally, as we heard earlier and graphically from Hala, we are seeing alarming levels of sexual and gender based violence across Sudan, including evidence of targeting politically active women, intended no doubt to silence their voices. In this regard, I welcome the Government’s enhanced cooperation with the ICC. Perpetrators must be held accountable if we are to end impunity – and this is a vital step in that direction.