Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA P. O. Box 3243 Tel : (251-11) 551 3822 Fax : 551 9321
Email: [email protected] / [email protected] website : www. africa-union.org
BRIEFING BY DR. SALIM AHMED SALIM, AU SPECIAL ENVOY
AND CHIEF MEDIATOR FOR THE DARFUR CONFLICT,
TO THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL
ON 13 JANUARY 2006
BRIEFING BY DR. SALIM AHMED SALIM, AU SPECIAL ENVOY AND CHIEF MEDIATOR FOR THE DARFUR CONFLICT, TO THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL ON 13 JANUARY 2006
I wish at the outset to express appreciation to H.E. Dr. Augustine Mahiga, Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania and President of the Council for the month of January 2006, for the invitation that was extended to me to brief the Session of the Council on the ongoing negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria, to end the conflict in Darfur. It is good to be back in New York and in this Council Hall. As I went down memory lane, I could not help reminisencing about the time, 30 years to the month this January, when as Permanent Representative of my country to the UN, I was privileged to preside over the deliberations of the Security Council. The coincidence and symbolism of being in New York, when a distinguished and worthy compatriot is presiding over the meeting of Council, can only make me hope that these fortuitous circumstances, will lead to successful deliberations by this august body.
Let me preface my briefing to Council on the status of the Darfur Peace Talks, by underscoring the unparalleled commitment of the African Union to the attainment of lasting peace in Darfur through a negotiated settlement. Indeed, I do not recollect any other time, whether in the history of the erstwhile Organization of African Unity or the African Union, where a deployment of the magnitude that the AU launched in Darfur, had ever taken place under the aegis of the Continental Organization. Many of us accepted the calls to join in facilitating the process, out of our honest conviction that Africans had not only to take the lead with the full and active support of the international community, to put an end to the senseless killings in Darfur, but to address the abuses which had become an indictment on our collective conscience as Africans, especially after things had gone dramatically wrong in Darfur.
Darfur therefore, represents an exemplary and new case of the African Union taking the lead as a Regional Organization, to tackle a complex humanitarian emergency. The African response to the tragedy unfolding before us in Darfur, also symbolizes our collective determination to respond effectively, as against an attitude of indifference to problems in Africa. Such a response is totally consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which makes it hardly surprising, to see the overwhelming support of Africans and the wider international community in Abuja and Darfur itself. Let me therefore express appreciation for the strong support that this Council and the international community at large, have extended to these African initiatives.
We are now in the 7th Round of the Talks. I began my current role during the 5th Round. At the end of that Round, a Declaration of Principles to end the conflict in Darfur was adopted. That significant development, paved the way for the commencement of negotiations on the substantive issues that had been identified by the Mediation. It was therefore our collective hope after that Round in July 2005, that when the 6th Round was convened in September 2005, progress would be made on the issues of Power Sharing, Wealth Sharing and Security Arrangements. That expectation was not realized as the Talks could not cover much grounds on account of the division in the armed opposition – the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) where the threat of fragmentation was more serious.
The 7th Round of the Talks has been in continuous session since 28 November 2005 in Abuja, arising from the stated commitment of the Parties to make the Round a decisive one. Apart from short breaks to celebrate Christmas and the Eid El Kabir, we intend to ensure that the Parties are continuously engaged until a Comprehensive Agreement is reached on all the major issues that separate the Parties.
Prior to the convening of the 7th Round, concerted efforts were deployed to resolve procedural issues that were impacting negatively on the progress of the Talks. These problems included in particular, the fragmentation of the Armed Movements, JEM and SLM/A and especially, internal leadership divisions in the SLM/A. I am happy to report that following the initiatives spearheaded by the AU, the USA, Chad, Libya, Eritrea and the UN, the problem has been contained, at least for the time being. Consequently, the SLM/A has been able to participate in the negotiations during the current Round, as one Movement, with emerging joint positions (along with the JEM), on many of the issues under the Agenda of the negotiations. We remain grateful to all those who were directly and indirectly involved in that and other constructive initiatives. The net effect has been that even though that arrangement for a single delegation is still experiencing some tension, the task of the Mediation was greatly expedited, as negotiations began in earnest in all the three Commissions of Power Sharing, Wealth Sharing and Security Arrangements. The absence of total unity among the ranks of the Movements, have resulted in the hardliners holding the process hostage and the results have therefore, been very mixed.
In the Wealth Sharing Commission, substantial progress has been made in the consideration of its Agenda. The negotiations are being conducted in a professional and serene atmosphere. The Parties are demonstrating a high degree of cooperation both among themselves and with the Mediation. The discussions were facilitated by the fact that most of the delegates are highly qualified professionals in the relevant technical fields. So far, the Commission has considered 8 out of the 10 items on the Agenda. Agreements have been reached on about 90% of the issues.
Unfortunately, the level of progress in the two other Commissions, Power Sharing and Security Arrangements has remained frustratingly low, and the discussions extremely difficult.
In the Power Sharing Commission, the gap between the positions of the Parties, remain wide and extremely divergent, especially on the following issues:
Status of Darfur - that is whether it should become a Region now as demanded by the Movements, or should retain the status quo of three States and facilitate a process whereby the people of Darfur can decide whether they want a region through a referendum or other consultation mechanism as articulated by the Government. While both the Movements and the Government accept the notion of a referendum, the difference lies in the fact that the Movements want a referendum after the establishment of a region, while the Government’s position is to have a referendum to decide whether a region should be established;
The demand by the Movements for the post of Second Vice President;
The demand by the Movements for Darfurians to control the Capital City of Khartoum, given the population of Darfurians in the City;
The demand by the Movements to return to the Darfur border of 1st January 1956;
The other Power Sharing issues that remain unresolved, include, power sharing in and at the National level during the Interim Period. These include the question of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary appointments, as well as the representation of the Movements in the Civil Service, the Military, Police, Security, and, the Transitional Institutions such as the Electoral Commission, the Census Board and the Implementation Commissions established under the Naivasha CPA.
In the Security Arrangements Commission, the negotiations have been more problematic as would be expected. Security is at the heart of the problems in Darfur. Apart from the current deterioration of security on the ground in Darfur, other deep-rooted set of problems have combined to complicate the discussions on Security Arrangements.
It has taken the Parties more time, over a period of a month, even to agree on a five-point Agenda for the negotiations. The delay was partly due to the stated desire of the Parties (mainly the Movements) to put their detailed positions on the Agenda and to negotiate those positions with the Mediators. These problems have been compounded by current and historical experience of the deep mistrust of the Movements, arising from their perception of the unwillingness or inability of the Government to negotiate in good faith or even implement Agreements reached. In effect, the Movements are negotiating on the basis of their worst fears, as against their best hopes. Given such a situation, it became necessary for the Mediation to proceed patiently and cautiously, in order to win the trust of the Parties. Moreover, the Parties are now falling back on the decisions of the UN Security Council and the AU Summit, to either articulate or dig in on their positions, losing sight of the fact that those decisions were intended to facilitate the negotiations in the first place, instead of complicating them.
In the light of the engagements with the Parties, the Mediation has been able to identify the major issues that would have to be resolved before any realistic Security Arrangements for Darfur could be agreed upon. These include, but not exclusively limited to the following:
Enhancing the existing Humanitarian Ceasefire, which Agreements are not being faithfully implemented by the Parties, thereby resulting in a serious deterioration of the security situation on the ground in Darfur. Here issues such as disclosure, mapping, assembly and redeployment of forces, creation of a buffer zone for humanitarian assistance, safe supply routes for non-military supplies and the enhancement of the Ceasefire and Joint Commissions, would have to be addressed;
Negotiations for a permanent cessation of hostilities and Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement.
These would incorporate issues such as the disarmament of the controversial Janjaweed and other tribal militia, as well as the status of forces of both the Government and the Movements (DDR) and final security arrangements for Darfur.
Given the foregoing, the assessment of the Mediation could be summarized as follows:
The approach of the Parties to the negotiations on the substantive issues, still leave a lot to be desired. So far, the negotiations have been characterized by an unacceptable level of inflexibility on the positions of the Parties, suspicion, absence of even the minimum level of confidence and deep distrust. In fact, in many instances, a deliberate policy of stalling by the Movements in the expectation of some dramatic developments in the country and externally, could be detected:
The Movements do not appear to view the negotiations as a strategic arena. The battlefield remains the strategic arena and the negotiations are a tactical arena. This does not mean that the negotiations are unimportant; it means that they are not yet sufficiently important to the Movements;
The Movements might be waiting for a deal in the Power Sharing Commission before negotiating in earnest on security arrangements. This would be a logical negotiating posture since, in general, military force is a means to political objectives and security is an outcome of political arrangements.
The current estimates of the Mediation are that the Darfur process is still some weeks away from a settlement. The Parties, both the Government and the Armed Movements, need to show more flexibility and willingness to compromise, if a settlement is to be achieved. Some of the extraordinarily high expectations and demands of the Parties, especially the Movements, have to be addressed and reduced to more realistic positions.
The issue and place of the Naivasha CPA on the Darfur peace process poses a unique challenge. Interestingly, the Movements have adopted an eclectic approach to the CPA. On the one hand, they refuse to accept its validity as a reference for resolving the problems of the Sudan, including the conflict in Darfur. On the other hand, they want to pick and choose those aspects of the CPA that would accord them the same arrangements as were secured by the Southerners, unmindful of the differences between the two situations.
Given the foregoing, it may be desirable to consider the following as the way forward and as a means of providing fresh momentum to the Abuja Peace Talks, which pace is disturbingly and agonizingly slow:
1) All possible efforts should be made to ensure the effectiveness of the Mechanisms established to implement the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement, notably, the Ceasefire Commission and the Joint Commission. Consideration should be given to re-organizing and revitalizing the Commissions with appropriate and credible sanctions for any of the Parties that persist on violating provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement;
2) The Parties should be left in no doubt, that if their approach to the Abuja Talks, continue to delay progress towards a settlement, the Security Council will hold them responsible for prolonging the suffering of their people. In such an eventuality, the threat and application of carefully targeted sanctions should be credible and evident and should enjoy the strong support of a united Security Council.
3) The role of the neighbouring countries especially, Chad, Libya and Eritrea, should be recognized and commended. At the same time, there is a strong need for greater cohesion, transparency and coordination between the regional countries, facilitating the peace process and the mediation, to ensure cohesion, consistency and progress;
4) Other external conditions need to be consolidated and accelerated if a peace agreement on Darfur is to be achieved. A particularly urgent concern is the current state of relations and tension between Chad and the Sudan. Chad as a Co-Mediator in the Talks is in the best interest of the process as evidenced by its initiatives and contributions. However, there are reasons to be concerned over the fact that an escalation in the crisis in Chad and between Chad and the Sudan could render any potential political settlement to the conflict in Darfur, extremely problematic, especially in the short term.
5) The International Partners in the process have continued to play a constructive role in the Abuja negotiations. This should be welcomed, commended and strengthened. However, cohesion and greater coordination between the African Union Mediation and International partners remain most desirable and more so now than ever before, as an important component and sina-qua-non for successful negotiation. Most importantly, it is important for the International Partners and the AU, to speak with one concerted voice in their engagements with the Parties.
As the experience with other mediation efforts clearly teach us, whenever the international community speaks with one voice, the chances for success are enhanced. On the contrary, where conflicting signals are sent to the Parties, the prospects of securing an Agreement are made much more difficult. Additionally, the Partners need to enhance the level of their representation in Abuja and to facilitate high profile visits by political leaders, to encourage the Parties to reach an early Agreement.
6) The funding situation of the Talks remains extremely precarious. Peace processes are by their very nature, expensive undertakings. While appreciating the contributions made by some countries to support the Abuja Talks, it is clear that the current level of funding of the Talks need to be increased substantially, to accommodate the extended and final phase and to relieve the AU of a major constraint.
7) Last, but as a matter of priority, the AMIS should be strengthened, supported and well-funded to assume its mandate along the lines recommended by the recent Joint Assessment Mission, that undertook a comprehensive review of that deployment. It is vital that for the duration of AMIS’ role in Darfur nothing should be done to undermine it. This is both in the interest of the efforts aimed at ending that sad conflict but also in the long-term interest of future AU peace support operations. I realize that a major constraint as far as financing is concerned is the feeling quite justified, on the part of those supporting the operation financially, that there is need for greater burden sharing. Yet I believe it is not impossible to devise a way in which this can be addressed;
The African Union and those of us in the Mediation, actively seek a negotiated settlement to the Darfur conflict that is just, democratic, sustainable and consistent with the letter and spirit of the CPA and its most important provisions, which were negotiated to help stabilize the process of peace-building, security, unity, cohesion and good governance across the Sudanese Nation. Without a doubt, these are also the expectations that have motivated the involvement and decisions of this Council, for which we are highly appreciative.
The Mediation is confident that a just and lasting settlement of the conflict in Darfur is achievable, but such optimism needs to be guarded, given the action of the Parties and some development within, around and outside Darfur. It is for this reason, that I wish to strongly appeal to this esteemed Council to remain actively engaged and to send very strong signals of its support for the Abuja peace process, so that a Comprehensive Agreement can be concluded in the shortest possible time.