SC –Debate on UNAMID - Ambassador Mayr-Harting
Statement by Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations
New York, 24 July 2009
I would like to thank Under-Secretary General Alan Le Roy for his briefing. Austria fully aligns herself with the statement to be made in the course of this meeting by the Swedish Ambassador on behalf of the European Union.
Austria welcomes progress in the deployment achieved by UNAMID, which now stands at 68% and hopes that the mission will reach full deployment level by the end of the year. We are also encouraged by the improvement in cooperation in the framework of the Tripartite Committee between the Government of Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations. Some improvement is required, especially concerning the issuance of visas, customs clearances for equipment and freedom of movement of the mission.
A negotiated political settlement of the crisis in Darfur remains the only solution. I would like to reiterate Austria’s full support for the Joint African Union – United Nations Mediation. We are concerned about the lack of progress in the implementation of the Doha-Agreement and call upon the signatories to engage in substantive negotiations without preconditions. An inclusive approach that involves all stakeholders, including civil society, is essential. Particular efforts should be made to include women. Regional actors and the international community need to make continued efforts to bring non-participating groups to the negotiation table.
In this context, we are also concerned by the increased instability along the Sudan-Chad border and the deterioration of relations between the two countries. We fully support all efforts by countries in the region to ease tensions. We understand that there are discussions concerning the implementation of the border observation plan as outlined in the Dakar agreement. We would welcome a monitoring of the border, and if there can be a role for UNAMID and MINURCAT it should be positively considered.
The matter of Darfur cannot be seen separate from other open issues in the context of the Sudan. The Permanent Court of Arbitration announced its decision regarding the boundaries of the disputed area of Abyei on 22 July. Both parties accepted the decision of the Court as final and binding. This is a major step in the implementation of the CPA. Both parties need to avoid confrontation and have to work together now to inform the population of the decision and see to it that it is implemented.
The position of Austria on the issue of cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) is well known. At the same time, Austria welcomes the African Union initiative to establish the High-level Panel on Darfur under the leadership of President Mbeki and hopes that this initiative will also help to address the issue of accountability. Austria believes that the question of judicial reform and transitional justice mechanisms need to be addressed in any settlement.
Small scale but consistent returns of IDPs have occurred in some places in Darfur. Large scale conflict has decreased. Security conditions have to be created which are conducive to the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.
The security situation remains volatile and poses an ongoing threat to civilians as well as UN and humanitarian staff. Austria is concerned that banditry and sexual violence continue to plague civilians throughout Darfur. To protect the civilian population it will be important to maintain the security and civilian character of IDP camps, and to prevent any recruitment of individuals, including children in or around the camps by armed groups. All parties to the conflict must show restraint and abide by their obligations to protect the civilian population under human rights and international humanitarian law. We expect the Government of Sudan to continue to ensure the safety and security of all UN personnel as well as of humanitarian workers.
The decision by the Government of Sudan to expel and dissolve 16 humanitarian and human rights NGOs had a detrimental effect on the work of UNAMID. Efforts by the United Nations, the Government of Sudan and remaining NGOs have narrowed some of the gaps. However, the number of aid workers remains below pre-expulsion levels. Particularly in remote locations it is difficult for humanitarian assistance to reach those in need. The Sudanese Government has to assume its responsibility to safeguard and provide food, shelter and healthcare for the population of Darfur and of other areas affected by the expulsion of the humanitarian NGOs.
Last but not least, we would like to commend the work done by UNAMID personnel and humanitarian staff in Darfur under such very difficult conditions. Austria fully supports the extension of the mandate for one year until 31 July 2010. We thank the United Kingdom for their work on a Security Council resolution in this regard.