Remarks by Ambassador Jürgen Schulz during the UN Security Council VTC Meeting on UNISFA, April 28, 2020

28.04.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

UNISFA is crucial for stabilizing the Abyei area as long as there is no lasting political settlement and hence no governance structure that can address the many challenges for the population arising from a lack of socio-economic development, humanitarian needs, and a rise in criminality and intercommunal violence.  The Mission must be adequately equipped to address these challenges. In this context, let me express our gratitude to Ethiopia for contributing high quality peacekeepers.

We agree with the SG’s recommendation that the mandate should be extended by 6 months. However, we have said it here again and again: The Mission must be calibrated to effectively respond to the changing realities on the ground. In our view, it is necessary that the Mission has the capacity to 1) address rise in criminal activity, 2) support community-level peace processes, mediation and dialogue, and 3) advance its support to the African Union Commission and the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AU-HIP) as well as to the two parties.  

To address rise in crime rate and security situation overall, we underline the urgent need to strengthen the police component of the Mission. We note with great concern and disappointment that the adaptations of the mandate made by this Council have not been implemented. On a positive note: the Police Component consists of almost 30 per cent female officers. This percentage should be maintained once the enlargement of this component is finally implemented. We strongly urge Sudan to issue visas without further delay, particularly to allow the mandated increase in UNISFA’s police personnel – as soon as the current restrictions posed in the context of COVID-19 allow for their deployment.  

Also we see the continued need to strengthen the civilian component of the Mission, in order to support the efforts of the communities in Abyei to reconcile and create enduring peaceful relations. Particular support of initiatives for full and effective participation of women at all stages of the peace process is required.

The mandate needs to ensure continued effective human rights monitoring, including of any sexual and gender-based violence and violations and abuses of human rights, including those committed against women and children. We therefore welcome the SG’s recommendation to deploy more human rights expertise to UNISFA. 

Madame President, Abyei needs a political solution, and both parties – the Governments of Sudan and of South Sudan are in the driver’s seat. Sustainable peace in both countries, which are so closely intertwined, cannot be achieved without a constructive solution to the Abyei question. Up to now, little progress was made by the parties on the issues of border demarcation and on the process leading to a final status of Abyei. And as we have heard from USG Lacroix, it is highly unlikely that the final status issues will be resolved any time soon.

On the other hand, we do commend efforts by UNISFA leadership to convene peace conferences in the Abyei Area to bring together the traditional leaders of both the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriya and urge the parties to support these efforts. We further urge the parties to jointly investigate the attacks of 19 and 22 January, that left 36 civilians dead, and to jointly bring the perpetrators to justice. Such action would be a sign of responsible ownership by both parties. 

It is not the international community who can solve the question of Abyei – it is only the Governments of Sudan and of South Sudan who can do this. We offer our support, but local stakeholders must not operate under the false impression that they can hide behind the international community forever.

We encourage regional actors to actively engage the parties on the Abyei question. We would welcome more detailed reporting on the AU-HIP’s and the Special Envoy’s engagement in the SG’s reports. 

We need to make tangible progress; we need to have a finite timeline. We call upon the parties to hold regular meetings of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee and the Joint Political and Security Mechanism and to consult on Abyei on ministerial level. 

To conclude and to echo the Secretary General’s appeal for a global ceasefire, we feel it is paramount that differences be resolved with a view to dedicating all efforts to curbing the spread of COVID-19.

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