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Rice Remarks before the UNSC on Darfur, Sudan

Remarks before the United Nations Security Council on Darfur, Sudan

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York City
September 22, 2006

(4:00 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. Members of the Security Council, I would like to thank Mark Malloch Brown for being here, Under Secretary General Guehenno, High Representative Solana, African Union Chairman Konare, and fellow ministers.

We meet here today, united in our commitment, firm in our resolution, and mindful of our obligations, to help end the suffering of the people of Darfur. The violence in Darfur must end – and it must end now.

The Darfur Peace Agreement, signed in May, provides a political framework to end the conflict and to open a path to peace, freedom, and opportunity for the people of Darfur. The future of this agreement, however, is now at risk. The Government of Sudan has launched a military offensive, and the security situation in Darfur is deteriorating.

The continuing violence is also threatening humanitarian access to the people of Darfur. International aid workers, at present, can reach only half of the people in need – leaving hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children stranded in the camps, without access to new supplies of food, or water, or medicine. For these people, and for so many others, our support is truly a matter of life or death.

It is the responsibility of the international community to continue – indeed, to increase – our humanitarian assistance to the people of Darfur. The United States will continue to lead this international effort, and we look to our many partners to continue turning their compassionate intentions into compassion actions.

Without greater security and stability, however, our humanitarian efforts, and with them the hope of peace in Darfur, cannot and will not succeed. We commend the African Union for its efforts to increase security and to protect the people of Darfur, as well as the many humanitarian aid workers who are helping to ease their plight. We also appreciate the African Union's commitment and willingness to extend its mission in Darfur, assuring that not a day goes by without peacekeepers on the ground. The African Union has done as much as it can under the circumstances, and it has now asked publicly for international support – not once, not twice, but three times.

Last month, the international community answered this call and the Security Council passed Resolution 1706 – authorizing the deployment of more than 20,000 UN troops and police to Sudan. Transitioning the current AU force, without further delay, into a larger, more robust UN peacekeeping force is absolutely vital to the security of Darfur and to the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

The one remaining obstacle is the Government of Sudan, which thus far has opposed a UN presence in Darfur. I would be quick to note that this opposition has not been unanimous within Sudan's Government, and we welcome the support of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement for the deployment of a UN force to Darfur.

It is now time for the Sudanese Government to accept the will of the United Nations, to work with us fully in implementing Resolution 1706, and to meet its obligations under the Darfur Peace Agreement.

Our intention – I want to underscore -- is not to impinge upon Sudan's sovereignty. But let there be no doubt about our resolve. As President Bush said on Tuesday, "If the Sudanese Government does not approve the peacekeeping force quickly, the United Nations must find a way to act."

Ladies and Gentlemen: Time is running out. The violence in Darfur is not subsiding; it is getting worse. The international community has pledged to end the conflict in Darfur. It pledged to help end the suffering of the people of Darfur. And we have committed to a course of action that can achieve these goals. Now we must match the strength of our convictions with the will to realize them.

If the notion of the "responsibility to protect" that we all agreed to last year – if the notion of the responsibility to protect the weakest and most powerless among us is ever to be more than an empty promise, then we must take action in Darfur. This is a profound test for the international community, and we must show that we are equal to it.


Released on September 22, 2006


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