Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle addresses the German Bundestag regarding the UNMIS and UNAMID missions in Sudan/Darfur

10.06.2010 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Madam President,ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,

2010 and 2011 will certainly be defining years for the Sudan. Just a few weeks ago, on 11 April, elections were held in the Sudan for the first time in over 24 years. The people exercised their fundamental democratic right to vote in substantial numbers and civil society displayed courageous engagement.

However, we also know that the election definitely did not meet international standards. The international community rightly criticized the numerous manipulations as being unacceptable. Along with the international community, we call for the Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. Very serious crimes, such as those committed in Darfur, must be punished; I would like to clearly reiterate that here.

The situation in Darfur continues to be characterized by violence. Time and again, the Doha ceasefire between the government and the rebel groups is broken. The people of Darfur fall victim to the civil war and to criminals who take advantage of the strained security situation.

In Southern Sudan as well, there continue to be bouts of violence between the different ethnic groups. There are countless extralegal militias. There is a threat that these conflicts could be further escalated by extremist forces from northern Sudan. Observers and experts do not exclude the possibility of a renewed outbreak of civil war between north and south.

Given the situation, the Sudan needs greater commitment from the international community – not less. This is also what the interparty proposal on this issue before the German Bundestag rightly calls for. The Federal Government will make this proposal and its constructive recommendations the foundation of its policy. On this basis, we will advocate in international forums and bodies the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as well as a peace treaty for Darfur. In this respect there are five points that are especially important for our engagement that I would like to mention here.

First, the referendum on Southern Sudan’s independence must be transparent and peaceful. It is decisive for the future of the Sudan that the outcome be accepted by all parties. The conditions for this must be created now. According to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the referendum must be held by 2011. Providing security for the referendum is one of the key tasks UNMIS has to perform. To ensure that election standards are met, in the European Union we are pushing for a large and comprehensive election observation mission.

Second, Southern Sudan needs stronger state structures. This is essential for the stability of the entire region. During my trip to Africa, my interlocutors in Djibouti and Tanzania stressed the risks an unstable Southern Sudan would present to the entire region. Alongside preparations for the referendum, training security forces in Southern Sudan and disarming extralegal militias is UNMIS’s primary task. The southern part of the Sudan will only have a peaceful future if national authorities can guarantee the protection of the civilian population. The German Government can continue to make important contributions to strengthening state structures. There will also be a huge need for advice in the event that the majority of voters vote for Southern Sudan’s independence in the referendum. It is necessary to prepare for this possibility even before the referendum because an overwhelming majority of observers believe this is the probable outcome of the vote. We certainly do not want to anticipate the outcome of the vote, but we must be prepared.

Third, we need a successful outcome in the peace talks on Darfur. In the long run, only an agreement among all the conflicting parties will restore calm to the situation. In Berlin this May I assured the United Nations and African Union Chief Mediator Bassolé that he had the full support of the German Government. Despite all the setbacks, he is confident that the negotiations will make progress by the end of this year. Of course we hope he is right and that his efforts are successful. Until there is a negotiated solution, and probably even after that, UNAMID in Darfur faces a very difficult task. That is why we will continue to do all we can to support the mission.

Fourth, we cannot reduce our humanitarian assistance and reconstruction efforts. The people in Darfur depend on the support of the international community. Even if it is not possible to prevent violence everywhere, at least it is possible to alleviate the consequences.

Fifth, and finally, there has to be long-term improvement in the human rights situation across all of the Sudan. We will only see progress here if the security forces in both the north and the south are guided by rule of law criteria. Therefore I repeat that extralegal militias must be disarmed and reintegrated into civilian life. Better education and support within the framework of a demobilization programme is indispensable.

Through the peacekeeping missions, the United Nations is assisting the Sudan in conflict resolution. Germany wants to and will continue to contribute in this regard. The Bundestag mandate for UNMIS is to be extended without any changes to its content. For UNAMID the Federal Government is requesting that the personnel ceiling be adjusted from its current 250 soldiers to 50 soldiers. Within the framework of the mandate, it is no longer necessary for us to arrange flights for the Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces) because UNAMID has found reliable solutions for air transport. These are the facts behind the reduction. This adjustment does not mean Germany is reducing its commitment to UNAMID. The mandate is simply being adjusted to future requirements. This serves to maintain the true purpose of the mandate and its clarity, which the German Bundestag rightly values.

Finally, I would like to expressly thank our soldiers, police officers, humanitarian aid and development cooperation workers, as well as our diplomats for all of their hard work. They are making a very important contribution, as I believe we can all imagine, under extremely difficult living and working conditions.

I ask you to support this mandate.

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