Press Availability at the Sudan Consortium Conference
Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
March 9, 2006
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I was going to start with a brief opening comment because I know the session I spoke in was closed so I thought I'd mention some of the highlights.
First I want to thank the World Bank for organizing this event and France for hosting it. We're here obviously to support the CPA signed in January of last year, which was truly historic in ending a 21-year civil war. But a point that I've made here and on other occasions as well is that the CPA offers something even beyond the achievement of an end to civil war because it offers a framework for peace and development and democracy for all of Sudan.
There is no doubt that we together suffered a setback with the loss of Dr. John Garang, but I'm very pleased that his successor, Salva Kiir, is here stepping forward. The main purpose of this conference is to assess what has occurred over the last year in the CPA implementation, and to follow up on the pledging conference in Oslo last April, which I also attended almost a year ago.
As I think all of you know, in Oslo all the partners pledged about $4.5 billion over the course of three years. The United States pledged $1.7 billion over two years, 2005 and 2006. I was pleased to announce today that the United States has already met that pledge. I was also pleased to announce that with the support of our Congress, we would plan to exceed that pledge by about half a billion dollars for a total of about $2.2 billion over 2005 and 2006, with additional monies coming in the third year.
Much of that assistance is still being devoted to basic needs and humanitarian support in the south and in Darfur food, supplies, helping the displaced people or refugees return. One of the topics we've discussed is the need to also focus on development assistance. We do have a robust development assistance program in the south as well, whether it be with education or health or roads because we believe that a strong southern Sudan is vital for the success of a strong Sudan. The two have to come together.
There has been progress made in the CPA. It was reported on by a number of the participants. But there are also still huge challenges.
The implementation record is, frankly, mixed. So I called for the need for quicker implementation, more transparent implementation, and a greater partnership between north and south.
The keystone of the implementation effort is the Assessment and Evaluation Commission, which is chaired by Tom Vraalsen who is here, who I will have a chance to talk to later today. We're very pleased he assumed that role of chair. Mr. Vraalsen knows Sudan well, has worked with the issues, and he mentioned at this meeting that there was a discussion last week or early this week of the presidency in Sudan that agreed that the Assessment and Evaluation Commission should take a very proactive role. This is important because we don't only want monitoring, but we want them to identify the problems, make sure that everyone is aware of the road blocks that need to be overcome, and to come up with suggestions on how to do that.
Another area that I stressed was the National Petroleum Commission. I mentioned that the numbers that we've received from some in the government, some in southern Sudan, vary by hundreds of millions of dollars on where oil revenues come from. This is not only important for the people of Sudan, but for donor countries. We need to know how the money is being spent and how it's being allocated.
When I met Vice President Taha late yesterday evening in Brussels, he mentioned an accord that identified the different sources of funds so we'll need to make sure that has been followed through on, but the key message that I and others conveyed is the need to have this be transparent, have the books be open, and to make sure that there are no signs of corruption. I recommended here, as I've recommended when I visited southern Sudan, the need to have inspectors general to emphasize that.
We also talked about the security provisions implemented in the North/South Accord, developing the Joint Integrated units, moving the forces from the government of Sudan out of southern Sudan, and some of the other issues related to the Joint Defense Board. We talked about the border issues between north and south and particularly the challenges of some of the border states, Abyei, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile.
I emphasized here, as I have in Oslo and in other contexts, that international support depends on effective, honest implementation of the CPA, and as I also said in Oslo and have repeated over the past year, we need to bring peace and development to all of Sudan.
Last year I visited Khartoum four times. I visited Darfur four times. I visited the south, both Juba and Rumbek. And my conclusion is that Darfur remains in crisis.
Yesterday I had a chance, at the convening of my friend Javier Solana and also with Louis Michel and Pekka Haavisto, to meet with President Konare of the African Union, Vice President Taha, and Mr. Annabi, Assistant Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping of the UN.
As I mentioned there, there were three main points. First, we all agreed on the need to strengthen the African Union forces, the AMIS mission, which has performed heroic duty under difficult circumstances. But it needs additional help. We have talked with our colleagues in NATO and also the European Union about support that would come in the nature of a stronger planning support function, logistics, transport, intelligence so people know where to put the peacekeeping forces, training operations, and a series of other aspects to help extend the influence of the 7,000 person AMIS force.
We also all emphasized the need to have progress made now in the Abuja peace negotiations to try to achieve a reconciliation in Darfur, and we had a report from an African Union representative on that today. Tomorrow morning I am hoping to meet Salim Salim, former Tanzanian Prime Minister who is the mediator of that process.
I hope that coming out of this week there will be an additional impetus for those negotiations.
In addition, what the United States and the European Union emphasized is the need to move to a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur with the African Union force at its core. And our recommendation would be to have an African force commander.
The Peace and Security Council of the African Union made a step in this direction on January 12th. Early in February when the United States chaired the UN Security Council, we helped put forward a presidency statement to call for the preparation of the UN planning. You've seen the statements of Secretary General Kofi Annan about wanting to move forward with this. And tomorrow there is another meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council to decide about additional steps with the UN.
Here I would emphasize publicly as I emphasized in the room, we don't have time to waste. There are heartbreaking conditions in Darfur and they risk worsening. These are problems that have been exacerbated by the tensions on the Chad border. The African Union forces have done a tremendous job, but they came in to enforce a ceasefire and that ceasefire has broken down. And it's broken down because of rebel activities, it's broken down because of banditry, it's broken down because of the Jingaweit. It's a much more violent and dangerous situation.
The UN in West Darfur is at the highest level of insecurity, meaning that if the situation declined further you couldn't be sure you would have UN and NGO workers there to provide the basic food and supplies.
So this is a situation where we have to be acting now, both to strengthen the African Union forces and also bring together the planning so we can try to start moving expeditiously on a UN peacekeeping mission.
As I mentioned yesterday and today, this is after all a question about the people of Sudan and the people of Africa, and millions, and I underscore that number, millions of people are at risk here. We need to keep them at the forefront in our mind when we attend conferences. We need to provide security and food for these people and also security for the NGOs that are dealing with extremely difficult conditions to try to meet the needs of people. We have to provide security against rape and violence with these people. And we have to provide security against attack, whether it's from the Jinjaweit, whether it's from rebels or other groups.
In addition, there is the possibility of marrying the effort of these security forces, both African Union and UN, with the Abuja peace talks. This was an area that I thought there was a constructive discussion yesterday. If the Abuja peace talks reach an agreement, and we certainly hope they will, to create the conditions for people to return home, you're going to have to expand the security protection otherwise people won't leave those camps. You're also going to have to expand the security protection to demobilize the militia. So there is a possibility of these coming together and that's what I've been urging.
As I mentioned, later this afternoon and tomorrow I'll be meeting Salva Kiir. I'll meet Tom Vraalsen, the chair of the AEC. I'm going to have a session with our Troika partners that move forward the North/South Accord and that we work with on Darfur. I'm going to meet Salim Salim, another session I think with Pekka Haavisto of the European Union who's done a fabulous job with Javier Solana. I'll also meet some of my French colleagues who are dealing with Africa.
I'm happy to take your Questions.
QUESTION: Does this mean that the Sudanese [inaudible] African Union on the ground, a solution to this crisis?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: That's not my view. First off, you've got the AMIS mission now, which is providing help. While I think there's a general agreement on the need for, still not a sense of how to do it, is how to strengthen the AMIS mission. As I've said, we've discussed with some of our NATO colleagues, we've discussed with the European Union some of the things that I mentioned in terms of strengthening the logistics, the transport, the intelligence, the operational planning capabilities, and in addition the United States and the European Union are providing the funds for that operation which is a continued challenge as we go forward.
Part of the funding that we have asked our Congress for would also help some of those African Union forces meet the standard for UN peacekeeping.
So that is the near term issue, but at the same time, as your question suggests, that's why we need to move forward the UN process because that will take many months to organize the force.
But here again, I think we can expedite it. When President Bush was in South Asia recently, he was talking to the Indians and Pakistanis about possibly sending their forces for peacekeeping. We had the Egyptian Defense Minister in Washington the day I left, and Secretary Rice and I know my colleagues at the Pentagon were going to talk with them.
So again, I know there's been anxiety in some quarters about the nature of a UN force. We would envision this building on the African Union force, which we can make stronger, and we believe there can be some other African and Asian components to it. So I think that's not an issue for delay, that's an issue for now.
QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary Zoellick. The US is now playing a role in Africa and getting involved in post conflict. This morning I have met the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a very important role [inaudible]. You're doing the same in Sudan. So what is the prospect of the US policy in Africa for the coming years?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: President Bush has led a multi-faceted policy towards Africa and I'm very proud to have been a part of it, first as US Trade Representative and now at the State Department. Part of it is dealing with the conflict situations you've mentioned. Another one is the very huge contribution we had dealing with HIV/AIDS and now expanded to malaria. Another one is a broader economic development and trade. When I was our Trade Representative, we were trying to implement the AGOA process and expand that and work with both regional groups and ones that are African wide. So there are a host of efforts, but one point I want to stress is we know that we will be most effective if we do these in partnership with others, starting with the partnership of Africans in the African Union. That's one reason why in all our work we've tried to emphasize, for example, the mediating role of Salim Salim in Abuja, the process of strengthening the AMIS force so that Africans can help deal with African problems. But it's also with other partners as we've done here with the European Union, the World Bank, the UN, Norway, which has been a good partner although not a member of the European Union.
I think on a lot of these issues we're getting good multilateral cooperation, but we do believe the United States can play a catalytic role in some of them. In some we're playing a more supportive role. Next to Liberia you have Cote d'Ivoire. These are the areas where I've been having discussions with our colleagues in Paris about some of the challenges they've been dealing with. The European Union I know is focusing yesterday heavily on the Congo operation.
So there are a series of challenges, but the most encouraging thing in my five years back in public service is that we have a very strong African leadership on these problems and as you know, there are different sub-regional groups too as well as COMESA, ECOWAS and others, and we want to try to work to strengthen African capabilities while providing the support through activities like the one that I'm doing here.
QUESTION: [Inaudible], Paris. Excuse me, my English is very bad.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: It sounds good to me.
QUESTION: Is it true now that the position of Sudan is opposed to the UN takeover in Darfur. What about the position vis-à-vis Sudan's security?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: First, and I talked about this with Vice President Taha yesterday at length, there is a UN mission already in Sudan dealing with the north/south that is part of the comprehensive peace accord. There are approximately 6,000 UN forces from around the world. So, as Vice President Taha mentioned to me, Sudan doesn't have a conflict with the UN and shouldn't have a conflict with the UN, it is a member of the UN.
Second, as my friend Javier Solana emphasized, we urge the people in Khartoum to recognize that making the UN a point of conflict will be self-destructive. We're all members of the UN. We have members of the UN here trying to help save lives in Sudan. So by the close of the day I noticed that Vice President Taha said that even in the case of Darfur the government didn't necessarily object to a UN mission. They were trying to relate it to the Abuja peace process.
So one of the points that I emphasized yesterday but talked about today, and this is very important for your listeners, is that these are Muslims. These are Sudanese. These are Africans. They're the ones that are at risk and are dying. And if the government in Khartoum doesn't respond to that, it either looks as if they don't know or they don't care, and that's a terrible signal to send to everyone.
So what you have here are many other members of the international community, many other members of the African Union. You've got Senegalese troops there, which is a Muslim country. We're working with Egypt and others in the region to try to improve the security so these millions of people can be fed, so they can have their basic needs taken care of.
But at the same time, we do agree we need to push forward the Abuja peace process because the violence that takes place in Darfur has many causes. It has causes from rebels, it has causes from Jingaweit. Whatever the cause, we have to create a situation so people can at least get basic needs in peace, then reach an Abuja accord so that we can create the conditions for them to return home in peace.
One other point that I've discussed here and on other occasions is, the very type of development assistance we're trying to commit to help implement the North/South accord could also be part of a Darfur solution. Anyone who understands the problems of Darfur knows that these also relate to problems of developmental challenges, the spread of the desert. You're going to have issues to reconcile here between settled agricultural populations and herding populations. It's going to be a bigger challenge. But the start is the peace accord.
My strong request and urging for the government in Khartoum was not to make the UN a point of conflict, because I think it would divert from our common interests.
QUESTION: Do you have any your point of view the way the money has been used? Has it been used the way it should or do you think the Sudan government should get more freedom to use the money as they would?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Part of the purpose of this conference is to emphasize the need to be able to have clear follow-through by the Government of Southern Sudan, the Government of National Unity on the implementation, and then to link the international support to it.
The point that I've emphasized today and which the Norwegian Minister also emphasized is that for us to put the sums that we're talking about, $4.5 billion pledged in Oslo and, in the case of my country, over $1 billion dollars a year, we have to have transparency. We have to make sure that it's not going to corruption. And that is most important because Sudan has sizeable oil revenues. In the case of the oil revenues, a portion of this is supposed to go to the south and there's been a difference about how much money has actually gone to the south and what's happened to it.
Norway and the United States have both offered technical assistance based on Norway's experience as an oil-producing country and our experience globally, to try to help the Government of Southern Sudan and the Government of National Unity to be able to put in mechanisms to make sure that the oil revenue goes to the purposes of the people.
Thank you very much.
Released on March 10, 2006