Planning for Peace in DarfurAndrew S. Natsios, Special Envoy to Sudan
Remarks to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
September 19, 2007
There has been measurable progress over the past few months on resolving the crisis in Darfur - the GOS has accepted UNSCR resolution 1769 and released Suleiman Jamous, the major rebel factions met in Arusha in August, and talks are now set for Libya.
But we have a lot of work to do between now and the start of talks in late October
What do we want out of the talks?
These are the issues that IDPs raised with me and other envoys in the camps.
Finally, we need to carve out a clear role for AU-UN peacekeeping forces in implementing the peace agreement.
We have two important earlier agreements, the CPA and the DPA, which serve as evidence that it is possible to negotiate a political settlement to resolve Sudan's profound problems.
Who will participate?
Still others continue to use violence to enhance their position prior to the talks. Particularly disturbing in this regard is the recent attack by the JEM and SLA/Unity in Kordofan that killed over 40 police officers and triggered retaliatory government bombings in Haskanita.
For those rebels who are committed to talks, we must ensure that they have the help and space they need for internal dialogue so that they can consolidate their positions prior to the start of negotiations.
Despite important progress in Arusha, there are still serious divisions among rebel groups and between political leaders and field commanders. We must work to find a way to help the rebel groups repair these divisions and establish effective channels of communication.
One of the most encouraging developments has been watching the international community come together in support of current AU and UN efforts. China has played a very useful role behind the scenes in using its leverage to get the government to accept UNSCR 1769 and to participate in upcoming talks. It has also committed 300 engineering troops to the Hybrid Force.
We have also used our influence to press rebel leaders to attend talks and to encourage the GOS to take constructive steps, such as the recent release of Suleiman Jamous. One of the major topics of discussion for the upcoming New York talks will be how we as an international community continue to use our influence and leverage to keep the talks on track and keep all the parties at the table.
Together with our allies, we are discussing measures, including sanctions, to discourage anyone, on any side, from taking actions that jeopardize the talks. This includes the Government of Sudan, rebel groups, and breakaway rebel factions who signed side deals with Khartoum for personal gain.
We must all do our part to get the CPA back on track, and we are hopeful that incoming SRSG Ashraf Qazi will be helpful in this regard. We also must reinvigorate the Assessment and Evaluation Committee (AEC) mandated to monitor CPA implementation.
In closing, let me say that I am more optimistic now than I have been in a long time. But it is a guarded optimism. We have seen some improvement on the part of the Government of Sudan - they have accepted the Hybrid, improved the operating environment for aid agencies, and have agreed to talks - something I was not sure would happen several months ago.
Many important rebel factions are committed to talks and are doing the hard work necessary to build unity and develop a common negotiating position. Important voices that were not included in the Abuja round of negotiations - IDPs, women's groups, tribal leaders, and local NGOs - are explicitly included in this round of negotiations.
And the international community is united behind the AU-UN team and is committed to taking necessary positive and negative measures - including the possibility of new sanctions - to ensure that talks stay on track.
Released on September 28, 2007