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Diplomacy in Action

Diplomacy Briefing Series: Sudan and sub-Saharan Africa

Tim Shortley, Deputy to the Special Envoy to Sudan
Washington, DC
June 14, 2010


MR. CROWLEY: I should mention in passing that one of the cameras in front of us is from C-SPAN that is taping this for – to be played later on today, so you’ve got to look your best. (Laughter.)

As Johnnie Carson said, one of the areas of enormous significance for the future of Africa is what happens to the future of Sudan. And we are committed to full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the CPA, as the best way to resolve the violence that has racked Sudan in recent years including in Darfur. Scott Gration, our special envoy in New York today engaged, along with Ambassador Susan Rice, in important meetings as seek full implementation, the CPA, and critical steps that have to be taken over the next several months leading to a referendum in Sudan in January. And as I said earlier, the most likely outcome being the emergence of a new country, South Sudan, in only July of next year.

Scott’s Deputy, Tim Shortley, is here to be able to kind of quickly outline what we are engaged in right now and the important milestones that we are looking to push Sudan and encourage South Sudan to do before the referendum early next year. And Tim, thank you very much for coming. (Applause.)

MR. SHORTLEY: Thank you, P.J. Thank you very much. It’s a great honor to be here and I appreciate all the words that Ambassador Carson said earlier about Sudan and P.J.’s introduction. What I’m going to do is focus on being brief so that we can have a lot of question and answer as much as we can get in, and make sure I answer your questions which I think are the idea of the whole event.

First, the special envoy does send his regrets. He is in New York as P.J. mentioned, with Ambassador Rice. They are a UN Security Council briefing by Special Representative to the Secretary General Haile Menkerios and former President Mbeki, the AU High Level Panel for implementation on Sudan and having meetings afterwards. And they’ll also be coming to Washington here Wednesday, and they’ll be doing events at the Woodrow Wilson Center, or co-hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center and USIP Wednesday. There will also be a meeting with the Secretary, the National Security Advisor, and others. And so we look forward to getting them here, getting them around town, and making sure everyone gets a chance to hear them. I’ll keep my points focused on the CPA and Darfur, and then if you have questions broader than that we can do that.

First, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was significant in helping to change the cycle of violence, conflict, and suffering in Sudan. The CPA parties have made great strides over the last five years, but the final and most difficult challenges are still to come. The referendum on independence for Southern Sudan and self-determination for Abyei are just seven months away. The process of popular consultations for Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states is just gearing up. And the parties have not yet begun to seriously discuss what a post 2011 Sudan looks like, whether as one state or two.

This includes crucial issues such as the management of Sudan’s oil sector, security arrangements, cross border migration rights, and citizen issues. We are ready to support this dialogue if called upon during negotiations. Special Envoy Gration was very instrumental last year, as was his team in country and here in Washington. In doing the tri -- in organizing the tri-party talks between North and South that helped to get to the legislation that occurred at the end of last year, paving the way for the elections and the referendum, and we expect to be part of that same small group of people to help both North and South get through these issues.

The -- while the responsibilities are on the parties to deal with these issues, to negotiate a way for it, the United States expects to be very helpful. In addition to Special Envoy Gration’s role, Ambassador Carson is deeply involved as is the national security team here in Washington. There is much work to do to prepare for the July 9, 2001 [sic] potential independence of Southern Sudan, whether this marks the day of its independence or recommitment to Sudan’s unity. Vice President Biden met with the president of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, June 9th, and they discussed the issues of importance regarding that possible independence. The Vice President committed to the United States’ support for the Government of Southern Sudan, in addition to what we’re doing already on an annual basis there to put increased staffing into Juba, including a senior Foreign Service officer who will arrive in just a few weeks with a team of nine experts to bolster our current effort in Juba and to make our Department of State team more than 14 people.

This will be looked at over a period of coming weeks with USAID and others to see what other needs are required. USAID already has a great presence in Southern Sudan, and it’s a matter of looking beyond Juba and the other capitals and into the rural areas to see how we can further our efforts.

On Darfur, it’s also a critical period. We continue to focus on ending the conflict. June 6th marked the reopening of the Doha talks in Qatar. We have a team of people that regularly support that negotiation. We hope the Government of Sudan -- and we are pressing the Government of Sudan and the LJM to close an agreement in the coming weeks and to help us bring peace to Darfur. In addition to the negotiations between the rebels and the Government of Sudan there’s also a situation on the ground that is distinct and unique. And that is a situation where Arab tribes are having a conflict amongst themselves outside of the rebel groups or the Government of Sudan that needs significant attention. And you see an effort in Doha on the one hand, but you also see an effort now increasingly on Darfur on the ground itself. And we’re playing a significant role in that effort, and we look forward to continuing that role.

A significant part of our effort is also focused on supporting UNAMID and supporting UNAMID’s capacity. We are looking into seconding a number of people to UNAMID in the area of security and stabilization. Secretary -- Special Envoy Gration has come up with an idea to work with UNAMID on increasing their ability to patrol the corridors between El Fashir, El Geneina, and Nyala while the international community supports local peace programs; those that were envisioned under the Darfur Peace Agreement but never implemented because the Agreement didn’t take the ground that -- didn’t take the road that we expected it to.

The international community cannot wait for a peace agreement and Doha to take actions to stabilize these communities. In an effort to improve the lives of 2.2 million Darfuris that remain displaced from their homes, we will work directly with UNAMID to improve the conditions on the ground. We believe that it’s critical to plan now for the transition from the present state of crisis to early recovery, and are taking some steps to help that situation. We applaud the reopening of the talks between the GOS and the umbrella group of Darfur called the Liberation and Justice Movement. We continue to work closely with key regional countries to coordinate our efforts. Special Envoy Gration just traveled to Cairo and to Libya. I went to China as part of the Secretary’s team in the strategic dialogue a few weeks ago, and we’ll continue to do much, much more. We must do everything we can so that peace between the North and South will prevail and that peace will come to the people of Darfur who so rightly deserve it.

I’ll end my comments there, and if it’s okay we’ll go into some question and answer, please. (Applause.)

MR. CROWLEY: I’ve been favoring this side of the room, so we’ll start over here. Wait for the microphone; it’s coming from behind you.

QUESTION: I could speak loudly. Richard Lobban from the Sudan Study Association. Hi, Tim.

MR. SHORTLEY: Hi, professor. How are you?

QUESTION: One of the questions that we have in our group is the role of civil society in the future Sudan. If course this year’s election was somewhat problematic and the CPA will presumably run out. So what do you envisage for the future where we hope peace will be maintained both in Darfur and North/South for reconstructing a role for civil society, traditional parties and so forth?

MR. SHORTLEY: Right. Thank you, very much. On Darfur, the current peace process in Doha has a significant component for civil society. And currently the talks in Doha include about 100 representatives. It’s not enough, it’s not exactly what we need, but it’s an improvement over the process in the last few years. The idea of the Darfur-Darfur dialogue that we expect to begin in June and July will increase that – greatly increase the role of civil society and the discussions there.

In the South, we’re not only encouraging the government to bring in those independent political candidates that won or lost in the election into their government, but obviously, to include others who lost, but also civil society to reach out to them and to incorporate them as part of their program. And that was part of the message from Vice President Biden.

In the North, we’re seeing the space close unfortunately. And there was a statement the Department put out about a week and a half ago or so on the increase of political repression – the dwindling space in the North. And we made our position clear on how we felt about that, obviously. And we called upon the government to open that space and to allow those voices to be heard. We’ll continue that dialogue with the members of the National Congress Party on the next visit as Special Envoy which we expect in July, which will include a visit to Darfur as well as North and South. And we’ll continue to press the case for open and constructive conversations with the civil society in the North. I think we’re getting what we need in the South and much better in Darfur. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you. P.J., it’s good to see you again. Let me ask you, where is the oil in Sudan? Is the resources – are the resources in Sudan in the North and the South that you could have an agreement? If you have independence in the South, what’s going to be there to establish peace with the North? I mean, if they lose the election, would they still want to get involved with controlling the South and the resources? So my question is where are the resources? Thanks.

MR. SHORTLEY: Right, right. Thank you. The permanent court of arbitration in the Hague had identified the Abyei border that helps to outline most of where the oil resources are between North and South. And the 1956 North-South border is also well-known, and not all of it is in dispute. In fact, most of it is not in dispute. And so, there’s a process to demarcate both of those borders so that the oil – so it’s very known – it’s known exactly where the oil reserves are in North and South.

Right now, the way I would describe it is that a significant amount or most of the oil is in the South. But without the border demarcated it’s difficult to have an exact process to identify that split or that difference. But it’s clear on what the ruling of the permanent court of arbitration was and the agreement between the North and South on the 1956 border. What we need is implementation of border demarcation, which would continue to press both parties to, to finalize. And we need the implementation of the border demarcation coming out of the decision of the PCA.

QUESTION: Steve McDonald from the Woodrow Wilson Center. We’re looking forward to hosting President Mbeki and Secretary -- Special Representative Mekerios. And good to see you again, Tim. Thank you for your remarks.

The CPA in 2005 mandated a -- both the North and the South governments to make a fair presentation of the options on the referendum for both succession and unity. That doesn’t seem to have been done. And for the most part, any knowledgeable observer today as it’s been said in this room, would recognize that the outcome of the referendum will probably be a succession of the South.

However, it concerns me that in your remarks just now and in the presentation we’ve heard today, that the U.S. Government is assuming that result, saying it out loud. That -- you’re not talking about a referendum itself and the process of the referendum and trying to educate the South in terms of the options of unity versus the options of succession. Can you elaborate on that a little bit more for us?


QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. SHORTLEY: The decision is obviously one for the Southern Sudanese to make. I think in your question you also answered the question you’re asking me, because you also said that you expect the Southerners to decide for independence. There’s been some polling that has indicated that this is the case and that the percentage would likely be very high. But the process is significantly complex with Southern Sudanese diaspora, whether they’re in Khartoum or outside. Obviously, in about eight or fourteen additional countries globally that will vote, and their known choice is not as readily available. So it is difficult to know exactly how the referendum will turn out, but a significant exercise has been done to understand the likely vote of the Southern Sudanese.

The thing that we’re focused on is the process. We want to implement the peace agreement fully, and that means have a referendum on January 9th, 2011 to get the vote of the people of Southern Sudan and to understand their will through a credible and secure and peaceful process. And then from that, have that process recognized internationally and then carried out. And if it were to vote for independence, that would mean it would be very likely that in July 2011, then we would have this new independent state. If it were to be a vote for unity, this current situation would continue. In both cases, there’s going to be significant negotiations on issues of citizenship, the boundary, oil, economic issue between North and South, and obviously security and relations issues as well. I hope that answers your question.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Scott Stedjan with Oxfam. So whether or not they split, whether there is an independent South Sudan or a semi-autonomous region of South Sudan within the greater Sudan, the governor is Southern Sudan or going to play a significant role in the everyday lives of the people of Southern Sudan. And while I appreciate 10 new people coming to Juba, I see it as entirely insufficient for the task at hand.

We have a government that has been struggling to be on their feet for about five years. Before that, they were a rebel movement for 25 years in the bush, and they have almost no firsthand experience in governing. Ten people is great, but are we going to see after the referendum or leading up to the referendum from contingency planning of expanding that even more getting out to the rural areas playing -- giving more technical assistance at the state level. Because Juba is not the only problem; it’s really the local localities in the state level that also needs lots of assistance.

MR. SHORTLEY: All right, thank you. The expansion of the – our diplomatic presence is as you said, focused on about – bringing about ten additional people. But that includes a senior Foreign Service officer, former ambassador in Africa and two countries, with a significant resume of post from Somalia to Gabon and many others, and many high level posts here in Washington as well. His team is made up of experts that will expand the normal role and focus of State Department in terms of reporting and liaison, and managing U.S. presence and working with Americans overseas.

But there’s another group that will focus on conflict mitigations, stabilization, security sector reform, to deepen our current discussions with the Government of Southern Sudan with – regarding our ongoing programs. And you know, Scott, for many years we’ve been sending significant amount of resources into Southern Sudan since the CPA. We’ve been putting over 300 million of development and resources in there annually. And we have a significant level of security sector reform resources in there working with the SPLA, the army in Southern Sudan, as well as resources working with the police now in Southern Sudan which is, just in this year alone, it’s $50 million.

The idea of moving from Juba out to the rural areas is one that we’re looking at right now. We want it to be field-based so Ambassador Walkley, who’s going out there just in a few days, will look at the situation on the ground, make a decision based on an assessment on the numbers of people that he would like to see and what kind of specialists he would like to see out in the rural areas. But I think that we can see that you could need a significant number. You could need 30 or some other higher number, and we’re working with the coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization, Ambassador John Herbst on just that effort. And there’s a real team effort between Ambassador Carson and Ambassador Herbst and Special Envoy Gration, under the leadership of the Secretary and the White House looking at this very issue. But in addition to us, remember there’s the United Nations who now have their mandate to prepare for the referenda, and they’re putting four people at each county in Southern Sudan with over 75 counties in the South; that’s a significant presence. And we’re working also with our allies, the United Kingdom and others, to also put additional personnel in Southern Sudan, so we’re not alone. And this has also been going on some time states -- the neighboring states. Ethiopia has been providing significant assistance to Southern Sudan, as has Kenya and others -- Uganda for example. So it -- to say that it’s just ten people is a big understatement. It’s a significant bump up in our representation, our technical level of expertise, and it leads to another phase which will be a significant leap into the rural areas and to those regional states.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll make this the last question.

QUESTION: Thank you. Sarah Pray from the Open Society Institute. This is a bit of a piggyback on to Scott’s question. But we’ve seen some indications, particularly with the crackdown in independent media in Southern Sudan, that perhaps in a newly independent state, the Government of Southern Sudan wouldn’t necessarily uphold free and fair media and other fundamental human rights. So I’m wondering if you could comment on how the U.S. Government while balancing the need for capacity building and institution building in Southern Sudan, would ensure that the government -- a newly formed government in Southern Sudan would not be given a free pass on human rights and would be held to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.

MR. SHORTLEY: Right, thank you. Well this was also a topic of the discussion between Vice President Biden and President Salva Kiir. It really did cover a wide range of issues. It’s a concern for us because security in the South not only comes from the threat of the North, but also from within the South itself. And so our focus is – is not just on leveraging peace by putting pressure on the North and building the capacity of the South, supporting the negotiations between North and South, but also trying to facilitate the Southerners to reach out to their statesmen.

The -- we have a significant conflict mitigation effort that’s going to focus on the South, looking to not only build capacity in the rural areas, but also build a capacity of the government to deal with conflict. And that will include how the army interacts with people, how the police interact with people, and the kind of dialogue that occurs. The United Nations has been significant helpful in the last few weeks with General Athor, others coming out of the election. There’s been some insecurity.

Now that will continue but we’re also going to play a significant role, and we look to also talk to the government about they interact with their population to support human rights and to ensure that the protection of civilians, protection of women’s rights, and others are met. That’s significantly also the effort on media. I think that if you look at where we were in 2005 and where we are now, we’ve come a very long way and they have come a very long way. And the international community has assisted but they have done a lot on their own, and our input has not been as far as their advancement. I would say we need to do a great deal more as well, as do they. And so I’ll just leave it there. Thank you. (Applause.)

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