Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Volker Perthes’ remarks at the opening of the peace talks between the Transitional Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – Abdalaziz Al-Hilu faction (SPLM/A-N)
General Salva Kiir, President of the Republic of South Sudan and patron of the Mediation Committee,
General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereign Council of Sudan,
Dr. Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of Sudan,
Commander Abdelaziz al Hilu, Chairman of the SPLM-North,
Honorable Tut Gatlauk, Vice Presidents of the Republic of South Sudan, Excellencies,
Peacemaking is often harder than the alternative. But you have decided to make the first step today and we, the United Nations and the international community, are happy to accompany you along the way to peace.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a few remarks on this important day. I very much appreciate the role of President Kiir and of the entire South Sudanese Government to convene these talks with the goal to achieving a fair and comprehensive peace in Sudan, a goal which all of us strongly support.
The convening of these talks offers a historic opportunity to reach a settlement to the conflict that has divided Sudan for much too long, a conflict that has inflicted unbearable harm on too many people.
I want to commend both the Sudanese Government and SPLM/N for the courage in making important compromises to reach this stage. Finding a sustainable peace, based on the commitments made in the Declaration of Principles as well as earlier commitments, will yield critical peace dividends for all the Sudanese people.
Today, Sudan and the Sudanese people, are at a historical juncture. The Sudanese revolution and the ongoing political transition in Sudan have been creating new possibilities for all the people of Sudan, be they government or opposition, to come together and create a sustainable peace and a sustainable future. A peace which embraces the beautiful mosaic of peoples, identities, landscapes, languages and beliefs that together embody Sudan; a peace that offers hope for the future. This is a real opportunity for a new Sudan to make peace for all its people. An opportunity that must not be lost.
Some of us here have recently returned from the Paris Conference. Women men, civil society and businesspeople from throughout Sudan articulated their vision of a new Sudan – A Sudan based on freedom, human rights, economic opportunity and prosperity for all. That Conference in Paris also clearly demonstrated continued international support, as witnessed here today too, a commitment to Sudan’s return to the international community. But without a sustainable and just peace, without peace and justice, inclusive economic development and prosperity will not materialize.
We all agree on the goal for the talks that begin today but we know there will be differences over the details - real differences, but not unsurmountable ones. We also know that years of war, isolation and feelings of betrayal have left a deficit of trust. This will not automatically go away, but it can be alleviated and overcome through good will, leadership, political guarantees and strong and credible security arrangements.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
We welcome and we support the active participation of women in the process, including the women’s rights leaders who are present here with the support of the UN, the Government and the SPLM – North.
Women have been the source of stability in times of instability, conflict and war. Women have paid a heavy price. And women have been the drivers of the revolution, and they have been the peacemakers - continuing to call for, and to build peace, in their local communities. Women have the right to contribute meaningfully to the decisions that will shape the future of their country. We count on the leadership of the Sudanese Government and the SPLM/N to ensure their active participation in the talks.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I hope that these negotiations will also encourage all remaining non-signatories to also engage in good faith to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in Sudan that will address the root causes of the conflicts and that reflects the aspirations of the people.
UNITAMS, in collaboration with other partners and our South Sudanese hosts and mediators, is committed to facilitating and supporting the peace process in line with our mandate.
But it’s not only about facilitation. UNITAMS and the entire United Nations family will also assist in the implementation of an agreement once it is reached. Aside from political aspects, any agreement will need to address local peacebuilding, humanitarian and development needs, as well as security arrangements and challenges. The UN is ready to support in all these aspects.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Everyone here seeks to find a solution. Let me urge all parties to engage in these negotiations with the same constructive spirit that you have displayed before the talks started, taking the courageous decisions that are still needed to find common ground. All of us – the leaders, the stakeholders, and the international community– all of us have a responsibility to grasp the chance for peace and to bring a comprehensive settlement home to Sudan.