Statement by the United States on the Report of the Independent Expert on Sudan
Human Rights Council, 18th Session
Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
Geneva, September 19, 2011
Thank you, Madame President. We also thank the Independent Expert for his report, and for his work to raise awareness about human rights violations in Sudan.
The Independent Expert’s report comes at a crucial time. South Sudan is now the world’s newest independent state. Northern and southern leaders enabled the people of southern Sudan to cast their ballots freely in last January’s historic referendum. The Government of Sudan recognized South Sudan before any other state.
With these developments some now argue that reports like the Independent Expert’s are no longer needed and that the international community should turn its attention elsewhere. We strongly disagree. There remains an urgent need to promote human rights and accountability in Sudan.
Now more than ever, at this important period of transition, the Human Rights Council and the international community need the Independent Expert in Sudan.
Hostilities and serious human rights violations persist in Sudan. We are particularly alarmed by the deteriorating situations in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile States.
In Southern Kordofan, hundreds have been killed, and tens of thousands have been displaced since fighting began in June. Both the Independent Expert and the High Commissioner have reported aerial bombardments of villages, forced displacements, abductions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and summary executions.
In Blue Nile State, fighting broke out September 1. The government continues to mobilize troops. Thousands of people have been displaced. Meanwhile, the Government of Sudan impedes humanitarian access, compounding the suffering.
In Darfur, violence and human rights violations continue on a large scale. The Government of Sudan continues to restrict civil society, expression and the media in this region, and arbitrary detentions are common.
Throughout the country, the Independent Expert reports that media restrictions, harassment and arrests of journalists, and arbitrary detentions continue. He also reports that the Government of Sudan has suspended the Khartoum and Darfur human rights forums. These bodies had allowed the UN and international partners to engage the Government about human rights issues.
In light of these reports, the expiration of UNMIS’ mandate in July, and its cessation of operations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, is all the more troubling. The loss of the efforts of thousands of UNMIS peacekeepers, including the civilian human rights component, leaves the Independent Expert as the only international human rights monitoring mechanism for these regions, and for all of Sudan.
So long as hostilities and human rights violations continue, this Council must continue the Independent Expert’s mandate. The Independent Expert is now the UN’s sole resource to monitor human rights abuses in Sudan. The United Nations cannot lose this valuable tool.
I would like to turn now to South Sudan.
Independence presents a new beginning for the people of South Sudan, but it also presents new challenges. We remain deeply committed to helping South Sudan develop its nascent human rights institutions and address its many ongoing human rights concerns.
The United States shares the Independent Expert’s concern over reports of civilian deaths in Upper Nile and Unity regions. We are also deeply concerned by the recent violence in Jonglei and by reports of hundreds of casualties and many thousands displaced.
We support efforts by the Government of South Sudan to end this violence and urge it to take additional steps to protect civilians and mitigate conflict.
The international community should continue to help South Sudan meet its challenges. It is essential that we support the efforts that the Independent Expert has highlighted. We must help South Sudan promote accountability, strengthen its justice system, and build up the institutions needed for the protection of human rights.
The Council is uniquely placed to support the people of South Sudan in this endeavor. It is our responsibility to make every effort to help South Sudan shoulder the obligations of a full and responsible member of the international community.
Thank you, Madame President.