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Statement by Ambassador Flynn at the UNSC Briefing on the UNAMID Drawdown

Thank you Madam President,

 

And I would like to thank USG Khare for his briefing and also welcome the participants participating today from Sudan. This kind of follow-up reporting, Madam President, to the Council is a vital element of protecting gains made by the mission towards achieving sustainable peace. Before I begin, like others, I would like to take this opportunity to commend all of those peacekeepers and staff who served in UNAMID over the years, and to remember particularly those who lost their lives doing so. As others have said, UNAMID has achieved a lot in its years of operation.

 

Madam President, Moving from the UNAMID peacekeeping mission to the UNITAMS special political mission has been amongst the most complex and challenging transitions that this organisation has undertaken.  It has highlighted the need to plan and execute the drawdown, reconfiguration and exit of UN Peacekeeping Missions in a way that helps maintain progress towards sustainable peace. Transitions should take place in a responsible, coordinated and graduated manner responsive to the needs on the ground.

 

Transitions must engage with host state governments to reinforce national ownership. So the engagement by Sudanese authorities with USG Khare is very positive. It is vital to have high-level political engagement, but also support from a representative range of national stakeholders. Engagement with civil society, including women and youth, reinforces local ownership and supports peacebuilding objectives.

 

We note that UNAMID is currently on track to complete its closure by 30 June 2022. Until that time, all stakeholders must comply with the provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement – this is essential for the safety of all remaining personnel, as well as for the continued protection of civilians.

 

Regrettably, the drawdown has not been without incident. We condemn looting of former team sites on multiple occasions this year. All armed elements positioned around the El Fasher site and steps taken to avoid further looting. As USG said, UNAMID assets must not be used to fuel insecurity.

 

Despite the significant progress in Sudan's political transition toward democracy, the security situation remains deeply concerning, particularly in Darfur. In the past six months, the vacuum created by the withdrawal, and delays in implementing the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA), have fuelled new struggles for power and resources. Armed clashes have caused large-scale casualties and displacement as well as worrying reports of rising sexual violence. . This again underlines the necessity of a comprehensive transition process that incorporates appropriate risk assessment and mitigation.

 

As part of the drawdown of UNAMID, responsibility for protection of civilians now rests solely with the Government. We call for the full and immediate implementation of the National Protection of Civilians Plan and the security pillar of the Juba Peace Agreement.  The work of the Joint Protection force is important, but it must be accompanied by community-negotiated deployment agreements, civilian oversight, and effective mechanisms to ensure accountability for crimes against civilians. This is vital to breaking the cycle of impunity.  Particular attention must be given to the protection of women in Darfur from sexual violence. Services for vulnerable women must be available at the local level, and women’s organizations should be actively involved in the implementation of any protection initiatives in the context of the roll-out of UNITAMS.

 

Madam President, the transition from UNAMID to UNITAMs illustrates that the key to creating sustainable peace rests on finding long-term and nationally owned political solutions. I encourage all Council Members to consider the lessons learned from this transition and to continue to engage and help Sudan find political solutions.

 

Thank you, Madam President. 

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