Progress on Sudan political transition, but challenges remain, Security Council hears

Developments in Sudan continue to move along a positive trajectory, while planning for a UN mission to assist the transitional government is progressing, the UN Security Political Council heard on Friday.

Ambassadors met in person in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber at UN Headquarters in New York, where they were briefed by UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, and the head of UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

“As the Secretary-General highlights in his report, Sudan’s political transition continues to move in the right direction”, said Ms. DiCarlo, speaking via video link.

Developments on the political front

After nearly a year of talks, the transitional Government of Sudan and two key armed movements from Darfur - the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM) - initialed a peace agreement at the end of August.

Signing is scheduled for 3 October, and the parties have agreed to a 39-month transitional period effective from that date.

A faction from another group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), has also signed a declaration of principles agreement.

Significant work ahead

Ms. DiCarlo outlined other recent developments in Sudan, including the appointment of interim civilian governors in all 18 states, two of whom are women.

She said the parties should be commended for persevering with the peace process, adding that “it is not too late” for others to join.

“As we embrace the recent progress in the peace process, we are also mindful of the significant work ahead”, she cautioned.

“The various accords and respective peace agreements on regional issues must be moulded into a single, coherent framework. Additionally, the parties and the Government must form a joint vision on the way forward and to uphold their respective commitments.”

Goodwill into action

For the UN’s peacekeeping chief, the initialling of the agreement marked an important milestone for Darfur, where years of brutal fighting have left some 300,000 people dead and millions of others displaced, according to UN estimates.

Mr. Lacroix hoped the goodwill expressed by the parties will translate into lasting change on the ground, although some “key players” have yet to join the peace process.

He urged the international community to work to bring all stakeholders on board.

“Furthermore, the implementation phase which is now beginning will be just as crucial as the drafting of the agreement itself”, said Mr. Lacroix, who also briefed ambassadors via video-link.

Among the key provisions is a 12,000-strong joint security force for Darfur, to be deployed within 90 days of the signing. It will be made up of equal numbers of members of the Sudanese security forces and from the signatory armed groups.

“As forces are deployed and resources are mobilized in support of the implementation, it is essential to ensure that local Darfuri communities feel ownership of the agreement and fully participate in the implementation,” he stressed.

Progress on new UN mission

Meanwhile, planning continues for the new UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Ms. DiCarlo told the Council.

UNITAMS will assist the political transition, and support implementation of peace accords in conflict areas, national-led peacebuilding efforts, and strengthening of human rights, among other tasks.

“Gender issues are mainstreamed throughout the mandate of the mission, which will have dedicated gender expertise, including at the senior level, to implement our commitments to advance gender equality and the women, peace and security agenda”, said Ms. DiCarlo.

UNITAMS is a follow-on to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The Security Council authorized the establishment of the new mission in June and the start-up team is set to deploy to Sudan next month.


We learnt lessons from the Ebola outbreak; DR Congo President says country moved swiftly to curb coronavirus spread

Learning its lessons from the Ebola outbreak, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) took swift and decisive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, when the first cases were detected in March, the country’s President told world leaders, gathered virtually, at the UN General Assembly.

Addressing, via a pre-recorded video, President Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi said that quick action by the Government brought down the mortality rate in the DRC from 10 per cent in the first days of the pandemic to 2.5 per cent today.

Acknowledging the role of the UN, including the World Health Organization (WHO), in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, President Tshisekedi urged greater support in the areas of capacity-building and technical assistance.

He also called for international efforts, including cancellation of debts and “no-strings-attached financing” to help developing countries recover from the pandemic and to build back better.

The President also informed the Assembly of his Government’s efforts to promote human rights, while acknowledging that much remains to be done to combat sexual and gender-based violence.

He also called for the Security Council to be reformed to make it more transparent, democratic and representative of the Organization’s make-up.

Need for climate action

The President of the DRC also highlighted the threats posed by climate change.

The effects are increasingly visible throughout the world, he said, adding that climate action and building a green economy is “not merely a necessity, but an urgent duty.”

He underscored the DRC’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change, including through the preservation of its forests through a system of school gardens that aims to plant 1 billion trees in the coming years.

Worrying security situation

Expressing concern about the security situation in the east of the country, President Tshisekedi said that residual elements of armed groups continue to spread death and desolation, attacking not only civilians and national armed forces but also peacekeepers serving with the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO.

The funding of such groups through the illicit exploitation of natural resources which are then sold abroad must be neutralized through international sanctions, he urged.

Pending the outcome of the strategic review of MONUSCO, he said that the DRCs wants to see more cooperation on the ground between the UN mission and the national armed forces, particularly in those areas where armed groups are present.

“My determination is to put smiles on the faces of those living in the east of the country as soon as possible,” said President Tshisekedi.