Posted by: APO | 7 May 2008

DARFUR FOCUS SHOULD NOT ECLIPSE WORK FOR COUNTRYWIDE PEACE, EMPHASIZES DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL AT OSLO OPENING OF SUDAN CONSORTIUM

7 May 2008

 

darfur focus should not eclipse work for countrywide peace, emphasizes Deputy Secretary-General at oslo opening of sudan consortium

 

Following is the text of Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the opening session of the Sudan Consortium in Oslo, yesterday, 6 May:

 

I am honoured to address this third Sudan Consortium.  Three years ago, the initial pledging conference for Sudan convened in Oslo.  It proved crucial in mobilizing resources for the initial phase of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).  It is timely that, three years later, we return here to energize our efforts in support of the CPA.

 

On behalf of the Secretary-General, let me express warm thanks to the Government of Norway for its generosity and commitment, and for hosting this event.  You have provided excellent planning support for the United Nations and World Bank, particularly given the short time available.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to convey my sincere condolences to the Government of South Sudan on the tragic plane crash four days ago, which took the lives of SPLA Affairs Minister Dominic Dim Deng, Presidential Adviser Justin Yac Arop and other officials.  We extend our deep condolences to their families.  May they rest in peace.

 

I am heartened that so many Governments are represented at a high level here today.  This speaks to the enduring commitment of the international community to the Sudanese people in their transition to peace, recovery and development.

 

The presence of Vice-President Taha and of Minister Luka Biong reflects the commitment of Sudanese leaders to the successful implementation of the CPA.  It will help ensure that the international community aligns its support with the priorities and needs of Sudan, as identified by its Government.

 

Three years ago, the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement took a bold and courageous step to end the longest civil war in Africa.

 

They pledged to bring security and development to areas destroyed by conflict; to end political and economic disparities; and to realize a vision of a country in which the rights, customs and culture of all the people of Sudan would be respected.  They agreed that Sudan’s diversity would be a source of strength, and its differences overcome through peaceful dialogue.

 

And we, the international community, pledged to support them.  It is fitting that we take stock as we approach the midpoint of the interim period for peace implementation.

 

Much has been achieved in implementing the CPA.  Day by day, the parties continue to cooperate and resolve their differences through dialogue.  At the same time, both parties face a number of challenges.  These will require them to demonstrate political will to overcome differences and reach compromise solutions.

 

There have been some improvements in living standards for those affected by the war.  In Southern Sudan in 2005, fewer than 350,000 children were enrolled in primary school.  At the end of 2007, that figure had already risen to 1.2 million.  One and a half million children had been vaccinated against measles.  The number of children dying in infancy has fallen by 40 per cent since the end of the war.

 

This is a beginning, but it is not enough.  The Sudanese people need to see the dividends of peace.  They have already waited for too long in too many parts of the country.  International support, political as well as financial, is critical.

 

At the same time, also of grave concern to the international community is the continuing violence in Darfur.  Despite all our efforts, peace remains a distant dream for the people of Darfur, many of whom depend on the United Nations for assistance through the world’s largest humanitarian operation.  This situation cannot continue.  We must all contribute in good faith to a move from conflict towards security, reconciliation, and long-term development.

 

At the same time, it is of critical importance that the focus on Darfur should not eclipse our work for peace throughout the rest of Sudan.  That is why this Sudan Consortium is so important.  It provides an opportunity to refocus international efforts on the CPA, and to mobilize additional support for the war-affected regions in Sudan.  Time is short, and if the CPA falters, progress in Darfur will become even more elusive.

 

The theme of the Consortium, “Sustaining Peace through Development”, is central to the work of United Nations family in Sudan.  Peace and development are intimately linked in UN activities across the country.  With a peacekeeping operation providing support to the CPA, and a broad portfolio of recovery and development programmes, there is a paramount need to mobilize resources for sustainable peace.

 

I, therefore, warmly welcome the joint programmes presented to this Consortium by the Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan.  We must strongly support all efforts to build peace by expanding road, rail and river connectivity between North and South, and by integrating delivery of basic services at the community level on both sides of the 1956 border.  These projects are vital to help strengthen ties between North and South, as well as to contribute to development and stability in the most war-affected areas of Sudan.

 

I hope that donors will pay particular attention to the challenges of reintegration.  This year, the authorities in North and South have announced their intention to begin a campaign of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants that is crucial to stability in Sudan.  The UN will play its part.  But if DDR is to take place peacefully, reintegration funding must be in place before demobilization begins.

 

The United Nations is working hand in hand with the Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan.  In close collaboration with them, we have just completed a United Nations Development Assistance Framework, centred on the Millennium Development Goals and peacebuilding programmes.  The Framework is closely aligned with the five-year strategic plan of the Government of National Unity and the three-year budget sector plans of the Government of South Sudan.

 

At the heart of our collective development planning lies the goal of growth that empowers the poor.  This is critical in sustaining peace in the longer term.  Like many other countries, Sudan faces additional challenges posed by soaring food prices, which may affect several regions of the country.  Already this year, costs for the World Food Programme in Sudan have increased by more than 30 per cent, meaning that aid operations in Darfur face a serious shortfall.  I would like to invite colleagues also to consider these issues in their discussions here today.

 

In these challenging times, I particularly commend the Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan for allocating more than 50 per cent of their development budgets to poverty reduction and the achievement of Millennium Development Goals targets.

 

It is critical that these plans are translated into real results for the Sudanese people.  Sudan’s children and young people are highly vulnerable to the impact of conflict and poverty.  They are also the country’s best resources for peace and development.  To make the most of their potential, we must work hand in hand with civil society throughout the country.

 

In particular, I would like to emphasize the central role of women in peacebuilding.  I would like to acknowledge the important role women are playing in Sudan’s national institutions, including in the women’s caucus of the National Assembly, which is the sole cross-party caucus involving all political parties.

 

In 2005, women from all regions in Sudan and across party lines united around a set of priorities that received high-level commitment from the international donor community.  While some progress has been achieved on these policies over the past three years, both national and international authorities have fallen well short of what is required.

 

Much more must be done to improve women’s access to education and health, and justice, to combat sexual and gender-based violence, and to assure women’s inclusion in decision-making structures that allocate and monitor the use of development funding.

 

That is why I hope that the pledges made at this conference will be matched with accountability mechanisms to track progress.  Women in Sudan are demonstrating the pragmatism and collaboration for which the international community has long advocated.  Their efforts deserve acknowledgement and support.

 

I look to this Consortium to reinvigorate international attention and scale up support for recovery and development in Southern Sudan, the Three Protocol States and the East.  Our goals must include:  improving security and standards of living; rebuilding infrastructure and providing basic services; advancing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; strengthening good governance and the rule of law; and creating a stable and secure environment to enable political and economic growth and development.

 

Already, we can point to significant achievements.  Two million refugees and internally displaced persons have returned home after more than two decades of displacement.  More will follow over the coming years, spontaneously and with the support of the Government, the United Nations and its partners.  But much more needs to be done.

 

A unique but narrow window of opportunity exists which, if grasped, can help Sudan move into the second half of the interim period with both the vision and tools necessary to achieve a lasting and broad-based peace.

 

The United Nations is strongly committed to doing all it can for the people of Sudan.  At the same time, the Sudanese must take the lead in the search for peace and prosperity within their country.  The CPA provides a road map and it must be the heart of our strategy.

 

I am confident that this Consortium will continue to support the efforts of the Sudanese people and the international community.  Together, we will realize the legitimate aspirations of all Sudanese for peaceful and more prosperous lives.


 


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