SUDAN WATCH: UN's Pronk continues blogging: "Persona non grata. Some facts"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

UN's Pronk continues blogging: "Persona non grata. Some facts"

Good news. UN SRSG Jan Pronk continues blogging even though he is no longer on the ground in Sudan itself. Here is a copy of Mr Pronk's latest commentary at Jan Pronk Weblog November 4, 2006:
On October 22 I was told by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister Karti, that the Government of National Unity of Sudan had decided to consider my mission as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the Sudan as terminated. They requested me to leave the territory of Sudan within 72 hours. I responded that I would report this to Secretary General Kofi Annan and that I would wait for his instructions. At the same time I informed Minister Karti that I would advise the Secretary General to instruct me to return to New York for consultations. I was indeed requested by the Secretary General to held consultations in New York and also to brief the Security Council. This I did on 27 October. See my address to the Council on this website.

In an official letter, signed by the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lam Akol (SPLM), the government presented a number of reasons for its decision. The letter has been made public. The Government is of the opinion that I have interfered unwarrentedly "in matters that do not fall within (my) mandate" and "acted in a way incompatible with the impartial and international nature of (my) duties or inconsistent with the spirit of (my) assignment". The letter then continues as follows: "Regrettably, Mr. Jan Pronk had developed a history of a pattern of hostility against the Government of the Sudan and its armed forces. He has repeatedly abused the powers of his office (and) violated his terms of engagement".

This is not true. I have never expressed hostility against the Government of Sudan and the armed forces. I have reported about their actions, criticized them when necessary and praised them when appropriate. I have even tried, more than once, to gain some international understanding for the position of the Government and have sought ways and means to foster cooperation between the Government of Sudan and the international community in order to protect innocent citizens.

The Government has illustrated its position by referring to my visit to Tawila, four days earlier. According to the letter I "made statements that the Government of the Sudan did not implement the Darfur Peace Accord (DPA) and is deceiving those who signed the DPA casting doubts about its achievements. He also stated that the Government of the Sudan is biased and is siding with the Arab Janjaweed with the purpose of cleansing the African tribes. ... Mr. Jan Pronk is now enticing, aiding and abetting the armed groups, signatories to the DPA to break away from the peace process".

It is a fact that I have criticized the Government of Sudan for violating the DPA and the cease fire agreement implied by this accord. I have also said, time and again, that the Janjaweed should be disarmed rather than allowed to continue attacking villages, raping women and killing unarmed farmers. I have expressed this criticism repeatedly, in my reports to the Security Council, in my press conferences as well as in numerous discussions with members of the government. I was not the only one. At the same time I have also condemned atrocities and violations carried out by rebel movements. However, I have never enticed them to break away from the peace agreement. On the contrary, I always told them: "stick to it, do not throw away the child along with the bathwater, unite with the other movements, signatories as well as non-signatories. Unite with them not in order to fight, but to negotiate further, in order to improve the text of the agreement. Unite for peace, not war".

In order to persuade the movements I told them that, though they might think having won two battles against the Sudanese Armed Forces, the latter would be able of defeating them, because the Government was mobilizing new forces, coming from Southern Sudan. The Government was also incorporating Janjaweed and militia into the paramilitary Popular Defence Forces. This is what I wrote also in my weblog nr 35, which has been objected to by the Government. It was not meant as a negative comment about the armed forces, but as a criticism of the Government itself and a warning against further violations of both the Darfur Peace Agreement and Resolutions of the Security Council that forbid mobilisation for hostile purposes. A few days before the Government took the decision to consider my assignment terminated, I had stated to government officials seeking clarification about my remarks, that I had not intended to provoke or insult the army. I regretted that such a perception had arisen. I added that, if I had written untruths, I would be willing to correct them. I also offered to clarify my statements in a meeting with the Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces.

This was taken for granted. The Government must have understood that my criticism did not refer to the army itself, but to the political leadership responsible for the instructions to the army.

The Government has stated that I have "actually engaged in activities incompatible with (my) status and had needlessly and recklessly endangered and undermined the nascent Darfur peace process." In the view of the Government "the ultimate effect of (these) recent actions ... abrogates the legal and moral responsibilities of (my) position as a Special Representative, violates the UN Charter and compromises the neutrality and integrity of he United Nations." The opposite is true. I did not endanger or undermine the peace process. On the contrary, I was able to convince those rebel movements who had continued fighting to refrain from launching further attacks on the Government forces. This was a breakthrough. During my visit to Birmaza the rebel commanders committed themselves to a non-aggression posture. Their political leadership confirmed this later on. However, before I was able to bring this message to the authorities in Al Fashr and Khartoum, the military had already bombed the very area where I had met the commanders. It seemed as if the Government was not interested in peace with these rebel movements, but preferred to cherish a justification for further military action. In order to make this point, one week later another bombing attack took place, on the very day that I reported to the Security Council in New York.

It is not up to the Government of Sudan to declare that I may have taken steps beyond my mandate. Only the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Security Council, which has given the mandate for the UN peace mission in Sudan and Darfur, are in a position to provide such a judgement. Both have rejected the decision of the Government to consider my mission terminated. In my most recent address to the Council, which I delivered on 27 October, I stated that in July this year I had already informed the Secretary General that I would not seek an extension of my present tenure after 31 December 2006. The Secretary General has decided that, in spite of the position taken by the Government, I should indeed continue my work till that date. This decision is meant to underscore that it is only up to the Secretary General himself to terminate an assignment. The Charter of the UN, the Convention on the Principles and Immunities of the UN and the Status of the Forces Agreement between the UN and the Government of Sudan do not allow for UN officials to be declared persona non grata. In the meantime Secretary General Kofi Annan and President Bashir of Sudan have agreed that I will return to Sudan for a short period, so that I can make orderly arrangements for handing over the leadership of the UN Mission in Sudan to the Officer in Charge, my present Deputy Taye Zerihoun. I intend to do so as soon as I receive the green light.

My position is not important. In the letter mentioned above the Government has "(reassured) the United Nations and the international community of Sudan's continued cooperation and commitment ... in accordance with the agreements concluded with the United Nations and the recognized principles of international law". That is a promise. The international community should see to it that this promise will be kept. The Mission of the United Nations in Sudan should no longer be hindered by the Sudanese bureaucracy or by National Security in the implementation of its mandate, its humanitarian work and the monitoring of the peace agreements. Even more important is that the international community should make clear to the Government of Sudan that adherence to principles of international law means that the signing of peace agreements and cease fire agreements implies an obligation to refrain from hostile military action.
So, thanks to Mr Pronk's blogging, we now we know that: "The Charter of the UN, the Convention on the Principles and Immunities of the UN and the Status of the Forces Agreement between the UN and the Government of Sudan do not allow for UN officials to be declared persona non grata."

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