Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
December 1, 2023
Thank you, Mr. President. I would first like to thank the United Kingdom, as penholder, for its strenuous efforts to try to find consensus on this text.
While the United States voted in favor of this resolution in order to enable a safe and orderly drawdown of the mission, we are gravely concerned that a reduced international presence in Sudan will only serve to embolden the perpetrators of atrocities, with dire consequences for civilians. If anything, the work of UNITAMS is all the more critical considering the ongoing open conflict, atrocities, human rights violations and abuses, calamitous humanitarian situation for tens of millions of Sudanese, and a growing risk of spillover that threatens regional security and stability.
Since the onset of the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, there have been reports of serious and widespread abuses. As of October 2023, UN and international media report more than 10,500 civilian deaths. In addition, according to OCHA, as of November 2023, more than 4.9 million individuals are internally displaced, and more than 1.2 million persons have fled the country since April 15.
The conflict has led to significant human rights abuses including credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings; abductions, physical abuse or punishment; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; and arbitrary arrests or detentions. There are also reports of continued atrocities, including killings on the basis of ethnicity, targeted attacks on human rights defenders, and the looting and burning of entire communities by the RSF and its allied militias in West Darfur. The atrocities occurring in West Darfur and other areas are an ominous reminder of the horrific events that led the United States to determine in 2004 that genocide had been committed in Darfur.
The SAF and RSF are not only failing to protect Sudan’s vulnerable populations, but are also abusing human rights. Women and girls face pervasive and ongoing gender-based violence including sexual violence, abduction and trafficking, and may be forced into manual labor or marriages. The belligerents, particularly the RSF, are involved in the vast majority of these violations. Children too have experienced the perpetration of human rights abuses, including sexual violence and abuse, killing and maiming, forcible recruitment, and unlawful use by armed groups.
Throughout the debate over this resolution, we put forth common sense recommendations to extend the UNITAMS mandate, and allow Ian Martin to conduct a thorough strategic review of the mission that would help refine and strengthen its continued role, working in support of the African Union and IGAD, in promoting an end to conflict, a coordinated humanitarian response, and the protection of human rights. However, other members of the Council did not agree, placing the narrow demands of Sudan’s military government ahead of the needs of the Sudanese people.
Other members of the Council also refused to allow this Council to speak clearly and loudly in support of Resolution 1591 that calls on all states to take necessary measures to prevent the sale or supply of arms and related materiel to actors operating in Darfur. This tragedy has gone on too long – we must unite to prevent external military support for either the SAF or RSF and stop the flow of weapons into and through Darfur.
While we believe the situation calls for a UN mission with a strengthened mandate, we welcome the announcement of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy to Sudan, Ramtane Lamamra, and hope that the Security Council can come together to support his work. We understand that the Sudanese parties have committed to engage seriously with the Personal Envoy and support his mission. We hope they will do so.
We also underline the necessity of an orderly UNITAMS transition and liquidation to ensure the safety of UN personnel and the effective functioning of all UN operations, including humanitarian and development assistance.
The Sudanese people expect and deserve more from this Council. The situation for Sudan and its people is dire.
Thank you, Mr. President.