Thank you President, and thank you to Special Envoy Hanna Tetteh for your insightful briefing.
Norway remains deeply concerned about the high level of tension in and around Abyei. We call on the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka to refrain from attacks in connection with the seasonal migration. We appreciate all local initiatives aimed at conflict prevention and resolution. Moreover, we appreciate the Force Commander’s efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts, in accordance with his mandate.
It is of the utmost importance that UNISFA remains fully operational and ready to use force when required to protect civilians at risk of physical violence. This includes the deployment of Formed Police Units. We urge Sudan and South Sudan to support the work of UNISFA.
Let me add three additional points to today’s discussion on UNISFA and the situation in Abyei:
First, Abyei is a contested area with a very troubled past. There is no doubt that UNISFA plays an invaluable role in providing security and stability. There is, however, no progress on the most contested issue: if will Abyei belong to Sudan or South Sudan. While this remains unresolved, the implementation of joint mechanisms - as stipulated in the June-2011 agreement - is important. It will strengthen cooperation, and build trust between the communities on the ground. We urge the parties to resume meetings of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee.
It is also critical that efficient visa procedures are applied, to ensure timely recruitment and replacement of police and military personnel, as well as human rights expertise and other civilian personnel. In addition, it is critical that the Athony airstrip is accessible.
Second, we value the continued efforts by UNISFA in building dialogue and trust between the communities of Abyei. And we strongly encourage the continued engagement by UNISFA in supporting women-led peace initiatives, as well as Rule of Law, and Human Rights work. A closer cooperation between UNISFA, UN agencies, and civil society should be considered in this respect.
And for my third point: it is important to recognise that the current impasse on the final status of Abyei reflects the severe democratic challenges that mark the transitions in both Sudan and South Sudan. We encourage the governments in both countries to promote inclusive political processes, that consider the views of the local populations. Cross-border cooperation is, and will be, key to a future where the people enjoy security and development. Practical confidence building measures also create a conducive environment. Neither side should see ‘the final solution’ as a zero-sum-game.
In conclusion, President,
Norway strongly supports the renewal of UNISFA’s mandate. We urge the parties to implement the joint mechanisms. We call on the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to redouble their efforts towards an agreement on the final status of Abyei.