Thank you, Mr. President.
We appreciate UNISFA’s successful work to stabilize Abyei. The mission’s efforts in working with local communities to strengthen ties, resolve disputes, and increase stability have greatly contributed to the general calm in this contested area between Sudan and South Sudan. We commend Ethiopia for its contributions to UNISFA, and for successfully achieving the mission’s core mandate – stabilization of the Abyei area.
Since 2011, however, Sudan and South Sudan have made little concrete progress on implementing their agreements related to Abyei and the border. As a result, UNISFA has been regularly prevented from fully implementing its mandate, particularly with respect to supporting the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, JBVMM, which has not functioned as intended for almost six years.
When the Security Council unanimously renewed UNISFA’s mandate in May 2017 under Resolution 2352, the Council gave the parties a final six months to show their commitment to fully operationalize the border monitoring mechanism. While we continue to support the JBVMM concept, the Security Council cannot continue to support and resource a mechanism for which the parties themselves do not expeditiously take tangible steps to implement.
The parties agreed to take several important steps in this regard at the May 14-15 extraordinary Joint Political and Security Mechanism meeting. We acknowledge there has been limited progress in completing these steps – for example, authorizing UNISFA to use the helipad at Gok Machar and conducting aerial reconnaissance patrols to establish JBVMM team sites. We note that a Joint Political and Security Mechanism meeting was held on October 31, which reaffirmed the parties’ previous commitments. It is unfortunate, however, that it took more than five months for this meeting to take place – especially considering the deadline the Council had given.
In addition, we remain seriously concerned about reports that armed forces continue to occupy areas within the agreed Safe Demilitarized Border Zone and that Sudanese armed police still surround the Diffra oil complex. These actions are inconsistent with the June 20, 2011 Agreement and several Security Council resolutions.
In consultation with regional and international partners, and in view of the mixed results since the Council last renewed UNISFA, we support today’s resolution to renew the overall mission mandate for another six months while giving the parties a final four months to complete the steps to which they have previously agreed with respect to fully implementing the JBVMM.