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Rice Remarks at the UNSC Ministerial on Sudan

Remarks at the United Nations Security Council Ministerial on Sudan

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York City
May 9, 2006

(2:25 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, fellow Ministers, members of the Security Council, I would like to thank all of you for responding to the call for this meeting and convening a special session of this body on such short notice. The Darfur Peace Agreement, signed just days ago in Abuja, represents an historic opportunity for the people of Darfur to secure real peace and lasting justice. The United Nations has a vital role to play at this hopeful moment and the United States urges the Security Council to quickly pass the resolution that we circulated yesterday.

I have visited Darfur. I have seen the unspeakable suffering and heard harrowing stories of survival, stories that are shared by 2.5 million men, women and children who were driven and displaced from their homes and who now live in camps in Sudan and Chad. For tens of thousands of others death came brutally at the hands of Janjaweed marauders. The United States has characterized this wanton campaign of violence as genocide and yesterday President Bush reaffirmed that judgment.

With the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement, we are now -- we really have an opportunity to help in the long nightmare that has befallen the people of Darfur. The source of the conflict in Darfur is a political problem, as old as Sudan itself. Historically, the Government of Khartoum has not been able to rule all of its citizens justly. The recent civil war with rebels in southern Sudan killed millions of people. It was ended only with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, one that addressed the deeper political problem of how the Sudanese government would share power and wealth with the people of its southern region.

In this way, the Darfur agreement is a worthy complement to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. We applaud the Government of Sudan and Minni Menawi's Sudan Liberation Movement for embracing the promise of peace. This accord would not have been possible without the leadership of the African Union and the individual contributions of President Sassou-Nguesso, President Konari, Dr. Salim Salim and especially Nigerian President Obasanjo. The United States was proud to join with other international partners as well in this effort.

The Darfur Peace Agreement is the foundation on which to begin building a future of freedom, security and opportunity for the people of Darfur. Each of the parties has pledged to cooperate in meeting its unique and important obligations, from disarming and demobilizing militias, to building an inclusive political process, to sharing wealth and generation development in Darfur.

Most importantly, the agreement sets out a path that can return the people of Darfur to their homes. It is now vital for all of Sudan's neighbors to support this peace agreement as well. In addition, the international community must insist that all parties remain accountable and that the agreement is completely and verifiably implemented. It is now more important than ever to have a strong United Nations effort to ensure that the agreement's detailed timelines are monitored and enforced. The accord clearly states that neutral peacekeepers have an essential role to play in this process.

We applaud the heroic efforts of the African Union mission in Sudan, which has helped to reduce large-scale violence. This is an extremely difficult job and the AU troops have performed admirably. Recognizing this, the African Union expressed its desire on March 10th to transition its mission in Sudan to a larger UN-led force that can do more to protect the people of Darfur. The resolution now under discussion would honor this request. It would strengthen and transform the AU force into the effective core of a more robust UN-led mission and it would empower this new peacekeeping mission with the mandate and the capabilities to protect civilians.

Just as UN peacekeepers play a central role in helping to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South, we now need a UN peacekeeping force to help implement the Darfur peace agreement. We would expect the Government of Sudan to be a partner in this effort, lending its full support to the United Nations, the African Union and others that might assist, like NATO.

As we work to realize the hope of the Darfur Peace Agreement, the international community must do more to alleviate the suffering of the people in Darfur. Hunger and disease are still claiming innocent lives and the World Food Program has announced that it is beginning to cut rations because it is not receiving sufficient contributions. The United States has provided nearly all of the support that the World Food Program's mission in Darfur has to date received. President Bush has requested of the Congress an additional $225 million for Sudan, $150 million of which would be for Darfur.

Today, I call upon all nations to do their part to help the World Food Program feed and care for the people of Darfur. The United States appreciates the Dutch offer to host an international conference in a few months to support development and reconstruction in Darfur. The United States will attend and we urge others to do so as well.

This is a time of testing for the international community, especially for the United Nations. The plight of the people of Darfur stirs the conscience of all human beings. But conscience alone will not feed starving people and save innocent lives or bring peace to troubled lands. This is not a challenge for Africa alone or for America alone. This is a challenge for the entire community of nations and it is one that cannot be taken lightly.

If the idea of an international community is to mean anything, if the founding principles of the United Nations are to be more than just dreams, and if the notion of our responsibility to protect the weakest and the most powerless among us is ever to be more than just an empty promise, then the Security Council must act. We must pass this resolution and we must seize this momentous opportunity to restore hope to the people of Darfur.

Thank you very much, Mr. President. 2006/T13-4

Released on May 9, 2006

ENDS


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