U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 22, 2020
AS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
When the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur – UNAMID – was established in 2007, it was the largest peacekeeping operation of its kind. It was also the only peacekeeping operation led jointly by the African Union and United Nations.
Over ten years later, today we mark the end of UNAMID and the end of an era. The United States recognizes the contributions and leadership of the United Nations and the African Union, as well as the many troop and police contributing countries that helped protect civilians and advance peace in Darfur. We also recognize the 288 UNAMID personnel who paid the ultimate price in advancing peace and security for the region and the world. We will always honor their sacrifices and those of their families.
While UNAMID experienced many challenges, we have no doubt it is leaving behind a safer and more peaceful Darfur. UNAMID’s contributions to strengthen the Sudanese police and provide a voice for Darfuris in peace negotiations will continue to yield benefits over the long term. UNAMID’s State Liaison Functions, which worked to transfer rule of law and peacebuilding activities from the mission to the UN Country Team, now serve as a model for peace and conflict transitions around the world. We look forward to the UN Secretariat’s lessons learned assessment of UNAMID to further guide UN peacekeeping mission transitions moving forward.
Despite UNAMID’s achievements, the United States recognizes that the conflict in Darfur is not over. The Juba Peace Agreement is a key pillar in building a more inclusive governance structure in Sudan, yet it does not include the Sudanese Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid Faction, which continues to hold territory in Darfur. Fighting also continues in the Jebel Marra region, and over 1.8 million people remain displaced across Darfur. Many of these displaced persons live in camps where Sudanese authorities provide little to no security or support services. A generation has been born and raised in these camps, and they deserve a better future.
We strongly urge the Government of Sudan to cooperate with UNAMID as the mission draws down. Even though UNAMID will cease all operations effective December 31, the mission needs time and the continued ability to move freely throughout its current operational area in Darfur in order to remove its equipment and personnel from the 18 remaining team sites. UNAMID and Sudanese authorities must also take the time needed to ensure UNAMID team sites are handed over responsibly and proper precautions are in place to avoid previous problems with looting. Once they are handed over, the sites should be used for civilian purposes only, such as universities or training centers. All efforts should be made to ensure the security of these sites and their associated property and equipment.
As conflicts continue in Darfur, Sudanese authorities are now fully responsible for protecting civilians and preventing violent incidents from beginning in the first place. While we welcome the Government of Sudan’s National Plan to Protect Civilians, we strongly urge Sudanese authorities to step up its implementation, particularly in regards to developing community policing initiatives for displaced persons in Darfur.
We also call on Sudanese leaders to be fully transparent about the proposed members of the new Joint Security Force to enable vetting and to ensure exclusion of individuals responsible for human rights violations or abuses, or violations of international humanitarian law. Sudanese leaders must also ensure that all such abuses or violations are investigated, whether they date back to the early days of conflict or are more recent, and that those responsible are brought to justice. For true lasting peace, there must be accountability.
We look forward to learning how the United Nations Interim Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) – the new Special Political Mission – can and will support Sudan in protecting civilians and building trust between Darfuris and the new Joint Force.
Our governments and many others contributed significantly to UNAMID since 2007. Our combined contributions require continued vigilance and monitoring to ensure Sudan upholds its responsibilities as UNAMID draws down, most notably its responsibility to protect civilians.
The United States stands with the people of Darfur and Sudan at this momentous time. We remain a steadfast partner in support of peace and security in the region.