Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 9, 2021
I would like to welcome Special Representative Perthes to your first Council briefing in your new role. The United States is committed to the success of UNITAMS and the UN’s efforts in Sudan. We look forward to working closely with you and your team in the months and years ahead.
Under-Secretary-General Khare, thank you, as well, for your time today and for your efforts over the last several months to draw down UNAMID and carry out the transition of UN responsibilities from UNAMID to UNITAMS. Drawing down a mission of 7,000 in six short months is a demanding task.
And thank you to Ms. Kholood Khair for your informative briefing today. Your voice, and the voices of other members of civil society, is vital to the future of your country. Thank you very much.
And I welcome the Representative from Sudan who is here with us today. I have followed Sudan’s evolution for many years, dating back to my time as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Today, it’s clear that Sudan finds itself in a pivotal moment. After decades of autocratic rule, the Sudanese people – notably, many strong, courageous Sudanese women – have opened a new door for the country.
The time is now ripe for inclusive, representative government. This a moment to build a comprehensive and sustainable peace. And it’s an opportunity to support those on the margins, and to help those who have suffered achieve justice.
One such specific opportunity is the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement. Six months have passed since the signing of this historic agreement between the civilian-led transitional government and the rebel groups. And yet, the Sudanese people have not seen the commitment and engagement by signatory parties necessary for progress. It is time for Sudan to take basic steps to make it clear it is committed to the long-term stability of the country.
Sudan should complete the formation of an inclusive Transitional Legislative Council – including at least 40 percent women representatives. It should establish the necessary security forces in Darfur and implement the JPA’s security arrangement in the Two Areas.
It should create the rule of law and other transitional justice mechanisms, including the Special Court for Darfur Crimes. And it should finalize the mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the JPA. In this moment of transition, Sudan’s government must now assume full responsibility for protecting civilians. Sudan does have a comprehensive plan for protecting all civilians in the country. But a plan is just a piece of paper. It’s only useful or good if it’s enacted.
The shocking attack in west Darfur in January is a tragic reminder of the ongoing threats that civilians face in Sudan. The attack reportedly killed 163 people and displaced 50,000 more. The government must do more to ensure its protection plan will prevent future violence and hold the perpetrators of this terrible attack accountable.
We strongly encourage national-level authorities to coordinate with local authorities and cooperate fully with UNITAMS and the UN Country Team. They should especially coordinate to build capacity and support to implement the plan to protect civilians. We are dismayed that Sudan has yet to sign the Status of Mission Agreement, or SOMA – an essential document to ensure the safety of UNITAMS staff.
Furthermore, mobile monitoring teams, early warning systems, and local crisis mediation are essential mechanisms to protect civilians. They promote human rights and ensure appropriate oversight and accountability for alleged abuses. The government must work with UNITAMS to establish these mechanisms as soon as possible.
The United States was also very concerned to see a former UNAMID team site looted on February 17th, and you’ve heard this from other Council members, as well. We call on the Sudanese authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable and to step up security to prevent looting of the remaining team sites once handed over.
Finally, we are deeply concerned about rising tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia around their border, including the recent bellicose rhetoric and the positioning of additional forces around the el-Fashaga area.
We’ve seen frequent skirmishes, which have resulted in displacement and casualties, and the risk of miscalculation is high. So, we call on both sides to expand direct communications to prevent any further military escalation and commit to discussions – without preconditions.
The United States stands willing to work with partners in the region to support efforts to de-escalate and find solutions. We stand with the people of Sudan. We will continue to work closely with them, and the international community, to help create the peaceful, prosperous future they deserve.