Kofi Annan Statement on Sudan

New York, 7 March 2005 –

Secretary-General’s statement on Sudan:

The members of the Security Council came to see me this morning, at my request, to discuss Sudan.

I asked them to come and see me because I am worried that we are not moving fast enough to deal with the appalling situation in Darfur. There have been a lot of efforts on the humanitarian side, and by the African Union on the security side, which go in the right direction. But they are not enough. We keep getting reports which show that the killing and raping and burning are still going on.

I was glad to hear from Council members that they hope to have a new resolution in the course of this week, which will include agreement on a mechanism for holding individuals accountable for these dreadful crimes. That is good. We must send a clear message that the world is not going to tolerate them.Meanwhile, everyone agrees that a stronger international presence on the ground is crucial. Where the African Union troops are, things are better for the population. But there are far too few of them.

What can be done? Can the AU presence be beefed up, with our help, or do we need a UN force, which could either include the AU troops or work alongside them?

I discussed those options with the Council members. We all agreed that it’s vital to keep the north-south peace process on track and treat Sudan’s problems in their totality. So we urge all donors to come through with their promises of aid for the south, and we don’t think it would be a good idea to “cannibalise” the UN peacekeeping mission there for the sake of Darfur.

Clearly everyone’s first preference is for the AU to stay in the lead in Darfur, but for the rest of us to give it more effective help, while keeping other options open. Council members were glad to hear that the UN, along with the European Union and the United States, will be joining an on-the-spot assessment mission led by the AU starting later this week.

Let me add that I welcome the pressure from the public and the media for stronger and faster decisions on this issue. We here are getting thousands of letters from people urging stronger action. I am sure national governments are getting them too. I will hold a meeting next week with some of the leading NGOs, to discuss with them the best ways of canalising this pressure so that it results in effective action by governments.