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Archbishop calls for commitment to sustainable peace in Sudan

Thursday 18th June 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has issued a statement in support of today's 'Sudan Day of Action' which calls for a renewed commitment to sustainable peace in Sudan.

The Sudan Day of Action, organised by Baroness Cox and the Sudan Action Group, aims to raise awareness for the desperate plight of the people of Sudan.

The Archbishop's statement is below:

This Sudan day of action is a crucial reminder of the need for renewed commitment to achieving sustainable peace in Sudan.  With only 18 months left before the scheduled referendum on the future of Southern Sudan, it is essential that all parties are reminded of the obligations contained in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in January 2005.

The CPA brought to an end 21 years of bitter civil war in Southern Sudan in which over 2 million people died.  I saw the first benefits of peace myself when I visited Sudan in February 2006, just one year after the signing of the agreement.  The CPA brought new hope to Southern Sudan after long and destructive conflict.  Families could be reunited after long years of separation.  New development opportunities opened up such as the church's widespread programmes of teacher training and classroom building.  For the first time, Southern Sudan had the opportunity to establish its own government as an autonomous region within the country.

However, delays in implementing the CPA and unfulfilled commitments have threatened the sustainability of this peace.  There is now an urgency for both parties to the agreement and the international community which helped to broker and support it to demonstrate their renewed commitment to implement the agreement fully.  This includes proceeding with disarmament and addressing the widespread problems of insecurity; establishing a workable infrastructure of roads and energy supplies in the region; settling the overdue issues of border demarcation; making timely progress towards free and fair elections; and ensuring the process is on track towards the referendum in which the people of Southern Sudan exercise their right of self-determination in February 2011.

It is understandable and right that the continuing horrors of Darfur attract international attention.  But we need to recognize that unless the commitments around the CPA are honoured there is no chance of settling the conflict in Darfur.

I therefore urge a renewal of commitment and a readiness to work for measurable results as soon as possible. Meanwhile I hope there will continue to be the most widespread support and prayer for sustainable peace to be achieved throughout Sudan.

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