Rodolphe Adada's Address to Africa Synod

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2009 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address given Friday afternoon by the specially invited guest Rodolphe Adada, the former joint special representative of the secretary-general of the United Nations and former president of the Commission of the African Union in Darfur, Sudan. He is currently Minister for Industrial Development and Promotion of the Private Sector for the Republic of Congo.

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It is a great honor for me to address, in the presence of Your Holiness, this Areopagus of Princes of the Church, Assembled in this sacred enclosure.

As you know, I am no longer in charge of the MINUAD and the opinions I express now are mine alone. The discussion on Darfur has become so polarized, making it difficult to remain objective. This is even more regrettable because only a neutral approach could guarantee lasting solutions.

I would like to bring the most impartial witness possible before you, Your Holiness. I know that I may speak in all serenity because the Church is the force of peace and that peace requires truth.

At the end of 2005, Congo was elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations for the years 2006-2007 and in January 2006, the President Denis Sassou-Nguesso was elected Acting President of the African Union. These two decisions made the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Congo, which I was at that time, a privileged observer of the serious problems shaking Africa to its foundations, the crisis in Darfur being the most serious.

Thus, I was able to follow the evolution of the Dossier very closely. When the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and the President of the Commission of African Union Mr. Alpha Oumar Konare chose me as the person entrusted with directing the first United Nations/African Union hybrid mission and that President Denis Sassou-Nguesso agreed to this, I considered myself as honored with a threefold trust. I had to be worthy of it.

The Conflict

It is generally agreed upon that the conflict in Darfur exploded in February 2003 when a rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army – SLA – lead by Abdulwahid Mohammed Al Nur attacked Gulu, the main town of Jebel Marra. Later, in April, this group attacked the airport in El Fasher, the capital of Darfur. A second group known as the Justice and Equality Movement – JEM – led by Khalil Ibrahim was then created.

The Sudanese government’s response then takes the form, which nobody would have defined as a “low-key counter-insurrection”, with extreme violence, exploiting the ethno-sociological rivalries, using the infamous “Janjaweeds”.

The consequences are terrifying: hundreds of thousands of dead, millions of displaced persons (IDP and refugees), numerous human rights violations. An unprecedented humanitarian crisis .

Taking place less than 10 years after the genocide in Rwanda, the Darfur crisis immediately raised the “genocide” question. You know the controversies around this sensitive point.

This is a rapid summary of the situation.

However, a deeper analysis would show that the Darfur conflict has its roots in the history of Sudan. The history, the marginalization of surrounding areas and their under-development, the degradation of the ecosystem should all be taken into consideration. This is a “Sudanese crisis in Darfur”. This crisis was also linked to the history of neighboring Chad. For example, the FROLINAT created during the ‘60s to fight President Francois Tombalbaye of Chad was founded in Nyala, in Darfur and it was no coincidence that the first Mediator in this conflict was the President of Chad, Idriss Deby. The lengthy conflict in Chad also contributed to the flow of light weapons into Darfur.

It has been said that “the Darfur of the 1990s lacked water, but was on the other hand inundated with rifles.”

Well before 2003, today’s crisis actually begins with a civil war between the Fur and the Arabs, where each faction accused the other of attempted genocide.

Here are two quotations:

1. “This dirty war which has been imposed on us began as an economic war but very quickly took on the characteristics of genocide, having as its goal chasing us from our ancestral land (…). The aim is a total holocaust and (…) Complete annihilation of the people of Fur and all that was Fur.”

2. “Our Arab tribe and the Fur have coexisted peacefully for the entire known history of Darfur. But the situation was destabilized towards the end of the ‘70s when the Furs launched the slogan ‘Darfur to the Furs’… The Arabs were depicted as foreigners who were to be expelled from Darfur. It is the Furs who, in their quest for expansion of the alleged “African belt”, want to chase all Arabs from this land”.

These hate-filled words were spoken at the Conference on Reconciliation held at El Fasher from May 29th to July 8th 1989.

So, this ethnic dimension is only the tip of the iceberg. This conflict is much more complex than the Manichean description which is commonly given.

The International Community’s response

Apart from the humanitarian organizations that continue to work admirably at the service of the Sudanese people of Darfur, the African Union was the first to react. In April 2004, it organized the talks which ended in the signing of the humanitarian Cease Fire Document of N’Djamena between the Sudanese Government and the two rebel groups, the SLA of Abdulwahid El Nur and the JEM of Khalil Ibrahim. This pact would allow the creation of the MUAS, (Mission of the African Union in Sudan), with the support of many donors among which, it is only right to mention, the European Union, the United States of America and Canada.

The MUAS began with 60 observers and a peace force of 300 soldiers, which later was increased to 7,000 men. This was the first mission to guarantee peace as organized by the African Union and it was not one of the easiest.

The MUAS was the object of a lot of criticism by the Western media. This criticism was unjustified and unjust.

The work accomplished by this mission was enormous and is praiseworthy. Under conditions other peoples would not have accepted, these Africans ensured the presence of the International Community in Darfur with abnegation and devotion.

They bore witness to human compassion. They created the foundations of what is today the MINUAD. Sixty one of them made the supreme sacrifice.

From the MUAS to the MINUAD

From the end of 2005, it became difficult for the African Union, faced with complexities of all types in the management of the MUAS, to continue to take on this responsibility. The African Union then made the decision to transfer this burden to the United Nations, whose mission this really is. The Sudanese Government firmly opposed this decision. All of 2006 was spent in convincing the Sudanese Government of the need to transfer this responsibility.

Only on November 16th 2006, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, almost at the end of his term, proposed a hybrid mission. So the Sudanese Government accepted and this is the act that gave birth to the MINUAD, the Mission of the United Nations and the African Union in Darfur.

MINUAD was formally created by Resolution 1769 of the Security Council of the United Nations, on the Joint Report by the Secretary General of the United Nations and the President of the Commission of the African Union. It was to be comprised of 20,000 military, 6,000 policemen and the same number of civilians, thus becoming the largest peacekeeping force in the world. It was to have all the necessary equipment to accomplish its mandate provided for by Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations. In fact, it was to be preceded by two “support packages” (light support package and heavy support package) for the MUAS to reinforce it before the transfer of authority.

By its mandate, MINUAD:

— Contributes to the re-establishment of security conditions necessary to bring humanitarian aid,

— Ensure protection for the civilian population,

— Follow through and verify the application of the various cease-fires,

— Contribute to the enactment of the Abuja Peace Pact and of any later pacts.

Deployment of the MINUAD was a great challenge. It is the largest mission in the world in the most inaccessible e
nclave of the largest country in Africa. In Africa, the furthest point from the sea is Darfur. The infrastructures for transportation are non-existent. The MINUAD follows the MUAS, which did not benefit from the promised “support packages”. This all created a series of obstacles that had to be overcome.

The reticence, if not the resistance of the Sudanese Government, to the presence of a United Nations Mission in Darfur was another problem to be resolved. The conditions of the international debate on Darfur were stigmatized by the Sudanese Government who, for its part, only saw the “international community” as a force whose goal was to overthrow the regime. However, with the help of the African Union, it was possible to alleviate the suspicion with regards to the MINUAD. For this, they had to work closely with the Government. I believe that today, the Sudanese Government is convinced that the MINUAD is a peacekeeping force and not a forerunner of invasion. A triple Commission (UN-AU and Sudanese Government) was created to resolve all problems concerning the deployment of the MINUAD.

My commitment towards the Sudanese Government was not always looked on favorably or understood.
Most peacekeeping missions are deployed in “failed states”, where government is non-existent, or powerless. (Bosnia, Kosova, Timor, etc…). In those cases, the Mission of the UN becomes a true government and the special representative almost the head of government. This is not the case in Sudan. In this case, the United Nations must carry out a true “cultural revolution”.

Today, we can consider that the most of the troops will be in place by the end of the year. However, we must note that certain promised technical means, promised since the “support packages” have not always been supplied and in particular the military helicopters which would permit increased mobility in a territory the size of France, have not been delivered. This is one of the results of the decisions of the international community.

The MINUAD also had to face the mistrust and even hostility of the displaced persons. To make the displaced persons and armed movements trust the MINUAD was more difficult. Many of them refused to accept their “African-ness”.

On the other hand, their hostility towards the Abuja Agreement, which the MINUAD was to enforce, complicated the situation even more, as did our actions on the ground, and especially during the crisis in the Kalma camp where a “police operation” led to the death of 38 displaced persons, the expulsion of 13 international ONGs and the battle of the Muhajeriya and Umm Baru between the JEM and the government armies. The MINUAD brought in aid for the wounded of both factions, while protecting the thousands of civilians who had found refuge there. Our action on the ground, as I was saying, convinced the displaced persons of MINUAD’s impartiality in the exercise of its mandate. In a moving letter, they declared that we were considered truly valuable.

Today the MINUAD is present throughout Darfur. All those making up the Mission, the military, the police, the civilians (political affairs, civil affairs, human rights, and the DDDC [Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultations]), maintain regular relations with all the parties and civil society as well as the population in general. They observe the situation on a day by day basis and can give a faithful rendering of events. They successfully participate in the resolution of local quarrels.

The situation in Darfur today

During the 26 months I was in Darfur at the head of the MINUAD, I saw a progressive improvement in the security situation in Darfur and this despite the persistence of two major threats: the continuation of military operations between the JEM and the government forces on one hand and the worsening relations between Chad and Sudan on the other. To this we should add inter-tribal confrontations and the rise in banditry, basically caused by the collapse of law and order.

Criminality and banditry are today the main concerns regarding security. We also have seen a new tendency of kidnaping people for ransoms. The MINUAD’s strategy for the protection of civilians aims at attacking all these sources of danger for innocent civilians. This means that the MINUAD must reinforce its presence in the camps for displaced persons (it is now present 24 hours a day in 15 camps) and increase the number of military and police patrols in the villages and towns.

Having said that, the situation has changed radically since the intense period in 2003-2004 when tens of thousands of people were killed. Today, in purely numerical terms, we could say that the conflict in Darfur is a low intensity conflict. I would not like to insist on this macabre accounting which the media thrives on; one death is one too many and the numbers quoted to the Security Council were only to support the analysis.

In no way does this mean that the conflict in Darfur has ended! In fact, the conflict in Darfur continues. Civilians continue to run unacceptable dangers. Millions of persons are still in camps for the displaced or refugees. As for the lack of security, they cannot return home and return to normal life. No solution has yet been found for the serious injustices and crimes committed, especially during the heavier hostilities in 2003-2004.

The progress we have seen on the ground must be consolidated by an agreement for peace that is all inclusive. It should consider not only the armed movements but also all those making up society in Darfur, including the civil society, the displaced persons, refugees, without forgetting the Arabs who too often are assimilated into the Janjaweeds. In fact, only a political agreement accepted and shared by all would be able to bring lasting peace to Darfur.

In reality, this is what MINUAD is missing most today: an agreement for peace. In fact, this peacekeeping mission has no peace to keep.

There is no military solution to the problem in Darfur, this is simply not possible. Nobody has the means to win a military victory. Therefore, the only option is a political agreement and this agreement must take into consideration all the aspects of the problem, local, regional, political, socio-economic, without forgetting the serious humanitarian question.

The different attempts at negotiation since 2003 have not reached a solution. The Abuja Agreement, signed May 5th 2006, was not all inclusive and was rejected by a majority of Darfurians. Today’s UA-UN mediation must keep this in mind and get everybody’s participation.

The next two years will be crucial for Sudan. General elections will take place in April 2010, and in 2011 there will be a Referendum for the self-determination of Southern Sudan. Darfur must participate in just and transparent elections for the self-determination of the South to progress under the right conditions, the Darfur problem should be resolved. Time is pressing.

Peace, Justice and Reconciliation

Terrible violations of human rights were committed in Darfur, especially in 2003-2004. These problems have not been dealt with. Peace and justice are the two faces of the same coin. The question is not in knowing if justice must come, but how.

The Procurator of the International Penal Court (IPC) asked for and obtained an arrest warrant for the President of Sudan.

The MINUAD has always insisted on the fact that this question was outside of its mandate and never commented on this decision of justice. However this question dominates the discussion and the entire process of dealing with the problem of Darfur. The African Union, while stating that it will not tolerate any case of impunity, asked that the arrest warrant be deferred to give more chances for peace, but the Security Council of the United Nations did not reach an agreement on the application of article 16 of the Statute of Rome. This led the African Union to ask its members not to execute the arrest warrant.

On a strictly personal level, I consider that t
oday we are at a standoff. The implementation of an arrest warrant against an active Head of State is not an easy thing to do, we can also understand a reticence to negotiate, expressed by certain armed movements. “Why negotiate with a criminal who is about to be arrested?”

The African Union established the AU High-Level Panel on Darfur, presided by President Thabo Mbeki (former President of South Africa) and including among others President Abdulsalami Aboubakar (former President of Nigeria) and Pierre Buyoya (former President of Burundi), to study this question of Peace, Justice and Reconciliation and to give advice. The Panel is composed of eminent specialists and people who know well the problems of Darfur, Sudan and Justice. The Panel listened to me, as well as 3,000 other persons. The MINUAD and in particular its Darfur-Darfur-Dialogue and Consultations component gave this Panel its support.

The Panel was to present its Report yesterday, October 8th. This Report was to include the paths to break this deadlock. The international community should consider this Report with an objective and constructive spirit. The Church, a peace force, a major moral authority, could look into the work of this panel. Perhaps we could find a way out of this deadlock.


The MINUAD is an exceptional instrument of peace, unique in its typology inasmuch as it was born by the will of two organizations, the African Union and the United Nations. The “international community” must use it properly. There was a time when hybrid was synonymous with bastardization and defects, but today, when we speak about hybrid cars, we are at the forefront of progress.

The MINUAD represents the International Community in its whole and not only this or that other country.
Therefore, the MINUAD must be reinforced, giving it the means it needs, and especially a Peace Agreement. The men and women who serve the international community on this front never cease to demonstrate their devotion and abnegation.

The most important fact is that the cooperation between the promoters of the MINUAD, the African Union and the United Nations, is a sincere one. The hybrid nature of the MINUAD, which was the United Nations’ entry visa into Darfur, must not be seen as a simple ruse, like the “Trojan horse”. The African Union should not be a mere “sleeping partner” but should play its role. Otherwise, failure is certain.

Sudan is the largest country of Africa. It is the crossroads of two worlds, Africa and the Arab World; it borders nine African countries. Since its independence on January 1st 1956, we could say that it has only known peace sporadically.

The Global Peace Agreement (WPA), which ended more than 20 years of civil war between the North and South, has created great hope. For the first time a democratic Sudan could be glimpsed.

At a time when violence seems to be decreasing in Darfur, it is worrisome to note that now in the South killings have begun again; is Peace the “Rock of Sisyphus” that, to the great misfortune of the Sudanese, rolls back down the moment we think we have reached the summit?

Sudan is one. The international community must look at “Sudan” and not at “Darfur and Sudan”. In this holistic vision, the Church has a major role to play in a plural Sudan, between the Christian and animist South and the Muslim North, that is, Darfur.

This was the dream of a great Sudanese man, John Garang, the dream for a new Sudan, in peace, in an Africa at peace.

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