U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan E. Rice, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs Johnnie Carson, and USAID Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg held a special press briefing on the New Republic of South Sudan at the Department of State on July 7, 2011. Ambassador Rice will lead the U.S. presidential delegation to the Republic of South Sudan to attend the ceremony to mark its independence on July 9.
Ambassador Rice said, "I'm very honored to lead the delegation that will travel on behalf of the United States to Juba to welcome the new Republic of South Sudan into the community of sovereign nations.
"As you know, the delegation will also include Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Brooke Anderson, the Deputy National Security Advisor and Chief of Staff and Counselor at the National Security Staff; General Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command; Deputy Administrator of USAID Don Steinberg; Congressman Donald Payne of New Jersey, who is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, and formerly chairman of that subcommittee; Ambassador Princeton Lyman, who of course is our Special Envoy of the President to Sudan; Barrie Walkley, who is the U.S. Consul General in Juba; and Mr. Ken Hackett, who is president of Catholic Relief Services, an NGO that's been very active for many years throughout Sudan.
"I'm particularly honored, in addition, that we'll be joined on the delegation by General Colin Powell, who as you all know, along with one of my predecessors, John Danforth, worked so hard to lay the groundwork for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. And obviously, General Powell did that while he served as Secretary of State.
"So as you can see, this is a very strong and bipartisan American delegation. It reflects the President's deep commitment to developments in Sudan and to supporting the new Republic of South Sudan. And we will be active, all of us, all members of this delegation, in our time in Juba, pushing forward on the issues that are so important and remain to be resolved."
Ambassador Rice discussed the importance of the visit and what the delegation will be doing on the trip. She said, "...Our trip will, of course, focus on the celebration of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan. Our day will include, in addition to the ceremonies, a meeting with President Salva Kiir and a ribbon-cutting to officially transform the U.S. Consulate in Juba into the U.S. Embassy to the new Republic of South Sudan.
"As you know, this independence celebration is a deeply significant event for the people of South Sudan, who, after a half century of war and more than two million people lost, finally will have the ability to determine their own future. By any standard, this is a historic moment, and the fact that it's occurring as a result of a democratic exercise through a referendum that occurred peacefully and on time is itself all the more remarkable.
"The United States has worked tirelessly to help make the promise of this moment a reality. First, it would not have been possible without the steadfast leadership and personal engagement of President Obama, who raised his voice consistently and eloquently as he did before what was a historic gathering at the United Nations last September, where he spoke in support, quote, "of a future where, after the darkness of war, there can be a new day of peace and progress.”
"Our efforts have also been championed by Secretary of State Clinton and bolstered by the hard work of General Scott Gration, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, Ambassador Carson, and many others who have logged dozens of trips to the region and countless sleepless hours on the phone and around the negotiating table. Thanks to these efforts and the hard work of many others in the international community and at the United Nations, the moment is approaching when a future of peace is finally possible.
"But let's be absolutely clear: This is a fragile and fraught moment as well. It cannot and must not be taken for granted, least of all by the Government of Sudan and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, who will have to still work exceptionally hard to achieve an enduring peace and enable the emergence of two viable states that are peaceful neighbors.
"A number of core issues remain to be resolved. A permanent resolution of Abyei's status is still elusive. And the situation there, in spite of an agreement on temporary security arrangements signed on June 20th and the imminent deployment of a UN interim security force for Abyei, is still extremely volatile. An estimated 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Abyei.
"And meanwhile, of course, we've seen brutal fighting in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan between Sudanese armed forces and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army North troops who come from that state. And the Sudanese army continues to carry out aerial bombardments that are hitting civilians. And on June 28th, the government and the SPLM North agreed to a framework of political and security principles for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but they haven't agreed yet to any cessation of hostilities.
"The United States clearly has condemned the escalating violence, especially by the Government of Sudan against civilians, and the detention and targeting of UN national staff and the deliberate obstruction of access for humanitarian agencies. In light of this situation, the United States is extremely concerned by the government's decision to compel the departure of the UN mission in Sudan from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and elsewhere in the North on July 9th. It's vital that the United Nations be allowed to maintain a full peacekeeping presence in these areas for an additional period of time in order to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, support the implementation of any cessation of hostilities agreement, and vitally, to protect civilians.
"Furthermore, we're concerned that the parties haven't finalized arrangements on major outstanding CPA issues, including the border, citizenship, and oil. We believe the parties need to urgently resolve these remaining issues. In the meantime, it's critical that the parties cooperate on such key issues as oil and citizenship in order to avoid major economic shocks or social upheaval. Allowing these issues, including the final status of Abyei, to linger without resolution for any length of time could swiftly destabilize the future relationship between these two states. So for our part, the United States will continue to be extremely active in supporting the implementation of the CPA in all of its stages, as we have since its inception, and particularly over the last 12 months. And we will continue to deliver the same consistent message on behalf of President Obama.
"Saturday's celebration is above all a testament to the people of South Sudan and secondly to the parties to the CPA. But as we've made very clear, the success of the CPA and the resolution of the larger issues in Sudan, including in particular Darfur, will remain a strong and consistent focus of the United States. As we mark progress for the Republic of South Sudan and an important new chapter in the history of what has been a very troubled region, the United States will remain resolute and clear-eyed about the road ahead."
Assistant Secretary Carson followed Ambassador Rice. He said, "July 9 marks the technical conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, an accord that ended over two decades of conflict and suffering in Southern Sudan. The people of South Sudan can now look forward with great hope and expectations to the future, despite the enormous challenges that still must be addressed to secure the peace and to preclude another outbreak of conflict.
"The United States remains deeply committed to helping South Sudan achieve its political and development goals, as well as working constructively with the government of Khartoum to improve and normalize our relations. To realize their dreams of peace and stability, we believe the leaders of both South and North will need to collaborate intensely and sincerely to achieve these goals. This means a reinvigoration of their efforts to ensure that their separation is characterized by dignity and mutual respect and in a manner that strengthens the continued viability, security, and economic prosperity of each of the two states.
"The governments of North and South Sudan still need to reach agreement on critical issues from the CPA that have not yet been resolved. These are, among others, oil and transitional financial arrangements, citizenship and citizens' rights, the resolution of the five areas along the North-South border, and the future status of Abyei. We also expect Sudanese leaders to implement fully their June 20 agreement on Abyei, which includes a full withdrawal of Sudanese armed forces from that territory.
"We also expect the North to fulfill its obligations to hold and conclude in a timely manner meaningful popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. It will be critical for the parties to work together to resolve the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis that now exists in Southern Kordofan. The current situation is deeply troubling. We call on the parties to reach agreement on and immediately implement a cessation of hostilities and allow for aid workers to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians affected by this conflict.
"After years of fighting, the people of South Sudan have earned their right to peace. Their children deserve a more promising future that leaves the conflict of generations of the past behind. We hope that their leaders will seize this unique opportunity to establish a durable and self-sustaining peace that will provide a solid foundation for two viable states sharing a prosperous and stable future in which their people can realize their long-delayed hopes and aspirations.
"The United States, acting in concert with the United Nations, the African Union, and the European Union and other international partners, will continue to play its part in assisting the new state of South Sudan to strengthen its sovereignty, build its capacity for enlightened governance, and contribute to its economic development. This will be a challenge for all of us. The United States stands ready to work with the people of South Sudan to meet that challenge."
In closing, Deputy Administrator Steinberg said, "We have a real challenge ahead of us in supporting the process of a new state in Africa, and the United States has had a long history of supporting South Sudan both before the completion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and subsequently. At the explicit instructions of President Obama, we have worked to provide the people and the Government of South Sudan with the tools that they need to build a nation. And we often shy away from the phrase 'nation building,' but in this case it is particularly appropriate.
"Ambassador Carson spoke of the expectations of the Sudanese people, and indeed they have high expectations for what peace will mean for them. And already over the course of the last few years, we have worked with the Government of South Sudan to move themselves from a concept into a viable, functioning government. We've helped provide a million people with access to water. We've helped expand from school enrollment rates of about one in five to now 68 percent. We have financed the construction of roads, bridges, electrical power stations. And perhaps equally significant, we supported the January 2011 referendum on self-determination, which was overwhelmingly in support of independence.
"In this effort, we're working in partnership with a variety of agencies, the World Bank, our Troika partners, the United Kingdom and Norway on developmental and humanitarian assistance. And in that regard, we are prepared to host in September an international conference that will draw together the international community with the Government of South Sudan as a platform to demonstrate their vision and their future for their country and to engage with the international community. That will be held here in Washington towards the end of September.
"In line with that effort, we have identified four key pillars for USAID and the whole of government to engage in, and these pillars are the following: to create an enabling environment for the promotion of private investment in South Sudan; to strengthen the agricultural sector to become a true engine of growth for South Sudan; to develop a common platform in institutional structure for the international community to engage in this new country; and to build the human capital necessary to govern and deliver services.
"And it's important to remember that this is a facilitative role, largely, that we're performing. South Sudan has ample resources from its petroleum reserves and other assets to provide the basic needs for its development. However, in order to make sure that occurs they need the governmental capacity to ensure that resources are well used, that corruption doesn't take place, and that bottlenecks and other impediments to development don't occur.
"I need to highlight as well that we're responding to large humanitarian needs throughout South Sudan, and in particular now in Southern Kordofan, in Abyei, where we're seeing probably a total of about 200,000 people displaced by recent fighting. Many of those are traveling to the South, and we are working with the Government of South Sudan to provide resources to them. I myself was in South Sudan about six weeks ago and met with a variety of Northerners who had come south and who were looking for a new life in the South but had very high expectations for what that life would provide to them. We're concerned about their safety. We're concerned about the citizenship questions in the North, which need to be resolved, otherwise we may see a massive flood of new IDPs coming South. And as Ambassador Rice said, we continue to press for humanitarian access to assist those in need in places where access is restricted, especially South Kordofan, the Nuba Mountains, and Darfur.
"So we're very excited about the future. As of July 9th we will have a full USAID mission in Juba along with a mission in Khartoum. And we are delighted to be pursuing the vision of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to help this country emerge as a prosperous and free country."
You can find a transcript of the briefing here.