Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on progress in the implementation of Resolution 2046 which is concerned with outstanding bilateral issues between Sudan and South Sudan, and, the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.
As relations between the two countries have continued to be tense, it was hoped that the meeting between Presidents Bashir and Kiir that was planned to take place in Khartoum during the reporting period would provide guidance on the way forward, at best on the stalled implementation of the 2012 Cooperation Agreements, but this did not materialize- at least during the reporting period.
The internal conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan, coupled with mistrust between the two countries, have continued to impede the full implementation of the Agreements and the normalization of their bilateral relations. At the extraordinary meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) held in Addis Ababa from 14 to 15 May, both governments recommitted to the resumption of regular meetings and to the implementation of the decisions taken at the last JPSM held in Khartoum in June 2016. However, the ordinary JPSM meeting agreed to be held in Juba by the end of June did not, take place after both governments exchanged, once again, accusations of harbouring each other’s rebels. An extraordinary JPSM meeting, convened by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel(AUHIP), is expected to take place on November 1st. In my engagement with the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan, I have reiterated that the agreements on Security Arrangements cannot be implemented without regular meetings of the JPSM, the main bilateral mechanism empowered to take decisions regarding security and the border.
The monitoring of the border remains critical to peace efforts as border violations have the potential to be a flashpoint of military confrontation between the two countries. In line with the July 2011 “Agreement on the Border Monitoring Support Mission”, both sides acknowledge the importance of border monitoring. If fully implemented, the JBVMM can help them prevent violations and cross-border incursions by armed groups, contain the cross-border circulation of weapons and assist in building mutual trust, particularly in the light of mutual accusations of harboring rebels. It can also serve to protect the flanks of the Abyei area.
While there has been limited progress on security and border issues, the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan have continued to show more appetite for sustained bilateral cooperation in the oil sector. In September, the Ministers of Petroleum of the two countries agreed, in Khartoum on the resumption of oil production in the Unity State oilfields, which had stopped with the outbreak of the war in 2013. Sudan would provide technical assistance and electricity, and accommodate oil workers at its base camp in Heglig.
In line with “The Agreement on Trade and Trade Related Issues”, the two Governments agreed in September to boost border trade and approved the export of 54 Sudanese products to South Sudan through five border crossing points yet to be identified. It is expected that a meeting of customs and immigration officials will be organized to operationalize the agreement, while the branch of Sudan’s central bank at Kosti has been identified to facilitate transactions. The contemplated JPSM meeting at the end of this month is intended to expedite the establishment of the first crossing points.
Sudan also continued to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to South Sudan by allowing the World Food Programme to deliver food assistance on 5 October to Aweil.
With the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Sudan, South Sudan has expressed interest in a joint approach to the international community, including a creditor outreach strategy arrangement as contemplated in the “Agreement on Certain Economic Matters”, which has not been implemented so far. In my future engagement with the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan, I will encourage them to build on their sustained cooperation on oil, and their interest in enhancing their economic and commercial cooperation to implement, in a timely manner, the Agreements on Security Arrangements and Border Issues.
Since the independence of South Sudan, the most prominent outstanding territorial issue between Sudan and South Sudan has been the question of sovereignty over the Abyei Area. After an interval that followed the upsurge of violence in 2011 in Abyei resulting in the displacement of the population, and following the independence of South Sudan later in the year, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2046 in May 2012. This urges the parties to cease all hostilities and withdraw their forces. The main concern of the members of the Security Council was to avoid the risk of greater conflagration and, in the words of the Resolution, “returning to the horrors of the past, taking the entire region with them”.
Today, thanks notably to UNISFA’s sustained and fruitful efforts for which Ethiopia should be commended, the risk of relapse into conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is low. The stabilizing role of UNISFA, described in detail by my colleague ASG Alexander Zuev in his briefing, should inform any decision the international community is considering taking regarding Abyei and the JBVMM. The conflict prevention and mitigation strategy adopted by UNISFA and its engagement with both communities to foster dialogue and reconciliation have also been critical in averting an escalation of tensions.
This enabling role of UNISFA is, in my view, crucial for any future progress on the implementation of the transitional agreements and the arrangements on the border, as well as the resumption of talks about the final status of Abyei. In my continuous engagement with the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan, I have urged them to build on the relative improvement in their relationship, including through bilateral meetings between President Omar al-Bashir and President Salva Kiir, to take concrete measures to achieve progress on the joint administration of Abyei and resume discussions about its final status.
Turning my attention to the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, the Roadmap Agreement brokered by the AUHIP last year can, if fully implemented, lay the ground for lasting peace in Sudan as it contemplates a comprehensive solution to the conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas through peace negotiations and national political dialogue- resulting in a new inclusive social contract.
Humanitarian aid delivery to the territories under SPLM-N’s control remains a major contentious issue, a road block, between the Government of Sudan and SPLM-N. The Government of Sudan has reiterated readiness to implement the US proposal on humanitarian access which consists of the US undertaking the delivery of medicines from within Sudan to South Kordofan and Blue Nile by air. The new SPLM-N leadership stated that the position of the movement on this matter has not changed and that it sticks to the delivery of some percentage of the humanitarian assistance directly from a neighboring country to the areas under its control. In my future engagement with the parties, I intend to urge them to build on the current unilateral cessation of hostilities declared by both sides in the Two Areas, to resume talks on the basis of the US proposal on humanitarian assistance, under the auspices of the AUHIP.
Thank you for your attention.