Thank you, Mr. President. I also thank the Under-Secretary-General and Special Envoy for their briefings. Parfait, the United States welcomes you to your new role, and we look forward to working together.
The United States was pleased to see that the Secretary-General’s recent report on UNISFA noted that the security situation in Abyei is generally calm. We welcome expanding economic activity, including cooperation on development of oil resources in the border region, and appreciate the commitment between local populations to preserve peace.
The United States would like to extend particular thanks to Ethiopia for its contributions to UNISFA. Without Ethiopia’s efforts, the generally positive trend of developments in Abyei would not have been possible.
While the political situations in Khartoum and Juba remain fluid, warming relations between Sudan and South Sudan and a stabilized security environment indicates that there is great potential for these two countries to capitalize on shared interests along their border and work together to resolve border disputes.
While we commend the African Union for its engagement in support of addressing outstanding border issues, we note that this Council has not received a status update on the AU’s efforts despite repeated requests to the AU High-Level Implementation Panel.
Sustained political engagement by the AU on Sudan and South Sudan’s border issues is essential to ensuring the two countries remain committed and engaged on resolving these issues. Taking advantage of recent trends to resolve border issues at this time would promote stability in the region, and could be an easy win for the AU and the nascent governments in Juba and Khartoum.
In November 2018 the Security Council unanimously agreed in the UNISFA mandate that the improved security situation in Abyei necessitated adjustments to the peacekeeping mission. The United States notes with disappointment that the troop reduction and increase in police that was agreed upon by this Council and the parties has not yet been implemented. We call on Sudan to provide visas to incoming UN police without delay, and on Ethiopia to withdraw peacekeepers in line with the current mandate.
In continuation of the initiative of the Secretary-General to recommend reconfiguration of UNISFA, for the upcoming mandate renewal, the United States supports further advancing the efforts that this body made last fall:
First, the United States calls for a reasonable reduction of uniformed personnel in UNISFA. The improved security environment and positive bilateral developments between Sudan and South Sudan must be reflected in UNISFA’s force levels and composition.
Second, the United States calls for increasing the number of police relative to troops in UNISFA. As the Secretary-General has observed, a reorientation towards a police-style Mission is needed to ensure that UNISFA continues to fulfill its primary role of protecting civilians and reducing predominantly criminal threats.
Third, the United States calls for a civilian leadership component within UNISFA. This civilian leadership component can further facilitate engagement between the parties to create space for political resolution.
These recommended changes will appropriately reconfigure UNISFA to better suit the security and political environment on the ground.
And finally, regarding the Secretariat’s reporting on UNISFA’s performance, the United States calls for improvements in the quality and quantity of information provided to the Council in line with Resolution 2436, which mandates clear, detailed, and standardized reporting across all UN peacekeeping missions.
In conclusion, Mr. President, the United States remains committed to peace and security for Abyei and the region, and looks forward to working with this Council and the parties to ensure UNISFA is adapted to the current political and security environment.
Thank you, Mr. President.