Remarks by Secretary of State Clinton at UN Security Council Ministerial Meeting on Sudan

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–November 16, 2010.  

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, and thank you for that excellent statement.

I want to commend the United Kingdom for calling this important session, giving us the opportunity to help chart a way toward a durable peace for all of the people of Sudan. And I want to commend the Security Council for their recent visit to Sudan, which was extremely important.

I also want to thank the Secretary General for his excellent briefing and his personal involvement in the efforts to find a durable peace, Special Representative Menkerios for his skillful efforts on behalf of the people of Sudan. I commend the work of the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel, led by President Mbeki, as well as the efforts of the African Union-UN Joint Mission for Darfur, especially Joint Special Representative Gambari and Chief Mediator Bassole.

I particularly appreciate the excellent presentations by both His Excellency Minister Karti and Mr. Pagan Amum. I thought both of them, if we could translate their words into action immediately, would have demonstrated unequivocally the commitment to find a way toward a durable peace that we seek.

Yesterday marked a milestone in the history of Sudan. Voters from Southern Sudan began lining up to register for the referendum by which they will decide their own future. Holding this referendum, resolving the status of Abyei, and all of the conditions of the CPA represent the promise of self-determination made to the Sudanese people under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005. The United States believes that these are promises that must be kept. It is critical to peace and stability, not only for Sudan but also for the neighbors, some of whom are here today, and the rest of Africa represented by others, that the referendum for Southern Sudan be held peacefully and on time on January 9th. And regardless of the outcome, the will of the people must be respected by all parties in Sudan and around the world.

Because we have already seen the alternative. The alternative, the unacceptable alternative, is Sudan’s past, more than four decades of recurring conflict, two million people dead, millions more displaced, simmering tensions that stall development and perpetuate poverty, then erupt again to darken the lives of another generation of Sudanese children.

In the next 55 days, the Government of Sudan can ensure a brighter future, one that does offer peace, opportunity, and hope. But there is a huge amount of work to be done in these next 55 days. And I agree completely with Minister Karti and with Mr. Amum; each member state must do its utmost to help. None of us should look back and wish we had done more. As President Obama has said, although no outsider can dictate events on the ground in Sudan, it is up to the political leaders and the people of Sudan whether they will choose peace or confrontation. But it is up to all of us to help them not only make the right choice but then to implement it to the benefit of all their people.

It was particularly heartening last week to see the defense ministers from Khartoum and Juba hold a rare joint press conference to say that no matter what differences and disputes might arise from the referendum process, they will be resolved through political dialogue. The minister said, and I quote, “There will be no return to war.” And we all fervently hope that is the case.

But to fulfill that promise, the North and South must promptly forge agreements on the crucial issues that will arise in 2011: oil revenue distribution, border demarcation, international treaties, security arrangements, citizenship rights, and the protection of vulnerable civilians, including Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South. The fate of 44 million Sudanese depends on their leaders’ willingness to work together to resolve these issues.

Most urgently, the parties must make the tough compromises necessary to settle the status of Abyei. They must find a way forward that both upholds the rights of the Ngok Dinka and the other residents of Abyei as well as the nomadic peoples like the Misseriya who regularly pass through the area. And they must do so promptly because preparations for the referendum on Abyei have fallen behind schedule and tensions will continue to rise.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement agreed to by both parties calls for this referendum. It also states that the parties themselves can agree to change it. However, unless the parties reach a mutual agreement that is acceptable to all the people of Abyei, the United States and the international community will continue to hold them to their commitment to an on-time referendum, as promised in the CPA.

But even as we focus on the future of Southern Sudan, Abyei, and all of Sudan, we remain deeply concerned about Darfur. Violence is intensifying, human rights violations continue, arms flow despite the embargo, journalists and activists are arrested – some merely for speaking to members of this Security Council – UN peacekeepers are kidnapped. This is all unacceptable.

The United States stands ready to work with the Council to support peace efforts in Darfur and we call on all parties to participate in the Doha talks without delay or preconditions. We urge the government not to target civilians or use proxy militia or support the Janjaweed and other irregular forces, or prevent freedom of movement of UN personnel and aid workers. In Darfur and elsewhere, the Government of Sudan must live up to its international obligations to respect human rights; to allow humanitarian assistance; to protect civilians, including victims of sexual violence; to ensure that refugees and internally displaced people can return in safety and with dignity; and to bring those responsible for atrocities to justice.

As President Obama said here in New York, accountability sends a powerful message that certain behavior, including genocide, is not acceptable. Because in the 21st century, we must uphold universal rules and values. Officials throughout Sudan, both North and South, have a particular responsibility in the run-up to the voting. They must avoid inflammatory rhetoric, quell rumors, and dampen animosities. They must allow unfettered campaigning by all sides and ensure that voters can travel safely to their polling places.

The voting must take place on time, without violence, and in an atmosphere of calm. I commend the Sudanese people, North and South, and the international community for working hard to make that possible. And we are beginning to see results. Nearly 33,000 voter registration books have been printed and delivered, enough to register nearly 5 million Southern Sudanese voters in the North and South. Booklets to register another 350,000 voters believed to be living abroad have also been shipped. More than 1,000 Sudanese election observers have been trained. And the Carter Center and European Union are also deploying monitors. Russia has generously committed to providing four helicopters that will be used to assist UNMIS in its many critical tasks.

But more must be done, and so we urge all UN member states to support the UN mission in Sudan, and we hope that the Government of Sudan will continue to fund, with help from others, the South Sudan Referendum Commission going forward.

Now, as we plan this effort, it is essential to include women. It’s unusual that I’m the only woman at the table for the Security Council, so speaking on behalf of all women, let me just say that women are critical to every step of building, negotiating, and keeping the peace in Sudan. Lasting peace and prosperity will not be achieved if half the population is excluded from that process. In country after country, as we discussed with the implementation of Resolution 1325, we have seen that the underlying issues that cause conflicts are more likely to recur and less likely to be resolved if women are not involved at the peace table. In both the North and the South, we certainly hope that women will be brought in to the highest levels of government.

The Sudanese people want peace and the United States wants to help them achieve it. We have engaged in intensive diplomacy to help accomplish that. We have spent more than $200 million to help mitigate conflict, provide election security, create economic opportunities, and fund voter registration, education, and observation. We have sent Special Envoy Scott Gration, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, Ambassador Barrie Walkley, and a whole raft of people to try to increase our presence in Southern Sudan as well as to work with both the government in Khartoum and the SPLM in Juba.

And this month, the Chairman of our Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry, traveled to Khartoum with a special message on behalf of President Obama. The message was this: If Sudan chooses the path of peace, the Government of Sudan can have a dramatically improved relationship with the United States, including normalization of relations between our two countries.

To demonstrate our commitment to improving U.S.-Sudanese relations, the United States has already taken two steps. First, we have changed our policies to ease the sale of agricultural and irrigation equipment to Sudan, which will boost food production and decrease the need for international food aid. Second, to help Sudan’s economy grow, the United States has supported the creation of a group to work on ways to ease Sudan’s national debt, consistent with international debt relief practices.

Now, these are steps we’ve already taken, but we are prepared to do much more. If the Government of Sudan fulfills the CPA, if it resolves the future of Abyei, if it holds Southern Sudan’s referendum on January 9th and then recognizes the will of the Sudanese people in the South, then the United States is prepared to begin the process of withdrawing Sudan from our list of state sponsors of terrorism. This would be done in accordance with our laws on terrorism. If the Government of Sudan commits to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Darfur and takes other steps toward peace and accountability, the Obama Administration is prepared to offer Sudan a path to the ending of U.S. sanctions, working toward international debt relief, increasing trade and investment, and forging a mutually beneficial relationship.

We are well aware that it takes not only skill, but courage for Sudan’s leaders in both the North and the South to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to promote dignity and human rights, to ease suffering and work toward a durable peace, and to include in that peace Darfur. But the world will stand with both of you if you can and do take these steps. We think that the path to peace and prosperity, to good neighborliness, to partnership and cooperation for all Sudanese is clear. It is up to the Government of Sudan, it is up to the SPLM in the South to decide whether to walk that path. If it does, the United States stands ready to assist you and, most importantly, to assist the next generation of Sudanese children so that they can have a future without war and conflict. Thank you, Mr. President.