Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the top United Nations envoy to Sudan have welcomed today’s court ruling on the disputed oil-rich area of Abyei, and called on the parties to proceed with the remaining tasks under the peace deal that ended the country’s north-south civil war.
The demarcation of Abyei has been one of the outstanding issues related to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed by the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in 2005.
Today the Permanent Court of Arbitration, located in The Hague, reportedly set new borders for Abyei and left control of the Heglig oil field with the national government in Khartoum. It rejected the western and eastern borders for Abyei set by an international panel of experts in 2005, while leaving the northern and southern boundaries intact.
Mr. Ban, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, called the resolution of the Abyei dispute “a major step forward” in the implementation of the CPA.
“The Secretary-General calls on the parties to sustain this positive development by supporting the Abyei Administration to deliver the long-awaited peace dividend to the people of Abyei,” the statement added.
He also called on the parties to “keep alive the spirit of cooperation generated by the resolution of the Abyei dispute” by resolving the outstanding issues under the CPA, which include census results, border demarcation and preparations for a referendum on the final status of areas of southern Sudan.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, congratulated the parties for completing the arbitration process, and noted that their commitment to uphold the decision reflects their respect for the rule of law and their desire for peace.
“This decision clearly demonstrates that, even on the most difficult and sensitive of disputes, the parties can find a peaceful solution if they work together in good faith,” Mr. Qazi said, speaking in Abyei shortly after the decision was announced.
The Special Representative also underlined the importance of a clear and final resolution of Abyei’s boundaries, and called on all involved to cooperate to implement the decision and to guarantee the long-term interests of the people of the region.
“As always, UNMIS stands ready to assist the parties and the local communities in these efforts,” he added, referring to the UN Mission in Sudan which he heads.
He also noted that the ruling should in no way disrupt daily life in Abyei and surrounding areas. “The Ngok-Dinka and Misseriya will have all the rights guaranteed to them by the CPA and the Interim Constitution, as will all of Abyei’s people. The tribes and communities that have lived together and found ways to resolve their differences for so long will continue to do so,” he said.