The United Nations Security Council today endorsed Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal for an advance team to travel to Sudan ahead of a planned political mission as expectations rise that a peace deal will soon be signed to end a long-running civil war in the country’s south.
In a unanimous vote, the Council’s 15 members approved a resolution saying they were ready to consider creating a UN peace support operation to help implement a comprehensive peace agreement in Africa’s largest country.
Representatives of the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) last month initialled protocols aimed at ending the conflict has engulfed southern Sudan since 1983.
More than 2 million people have been killed since the war began, at least 440,000 others are living as refugees in neighbouring countries, and between 3 and 4 million people have become internally displaced.
The negotiators of both sides, who have been meeting in Kenya, now say they expect to reach a full peace agreement within the next few months.
As soon as possible after a deal is signed, the Council said it wanted Mr. Annan to inform it of the proposed size, structure and mandate of a political mission.
In a report to the Council earlier this week, the Secretary-General said Sudan’s sheer size – it is about as large as the whole of Western Europe – and its relative lack of infrastructure mean any mission there would face daunting logistical challenges. For example, each one of the planned sectors in a future UN mission would be the size of Austria.
The Council said it was important that Sudan’s radio stations, television channels and newspapers be used in a public information campaign to explain the peace process and what role the UN would play post-conflict.
The Council also backed Mr. Annan’s call for the parties to the southern Sudan conflict to do all they can to bring an end to the separate civil conflict taking place in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
Video of Council meeting [16mins]