Chairman Kerry Opening Statement At Sudan Hearing

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Washington, DC – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) this morning held a hearing on “Two New Sudans: A Roadmap Forward” with Ambassador Princeton Lyman, United States Special Envoy for Sudan.

“Both of these nations are fragile, and they will remain that way until they reach an agreement that allows them to live separately but work together. Sudan and South Sudan share more than a poorly defined border and a bloody history. They share traditions of migration that must be respected; they share trade routes that need to be re-opened; and they share a mutual interest in not merely avoiding a return to all-out war, but in crafting a lasting and genuine peace,” said Chairman Kerry.

The full text of his statement, as prepared, is below:

We’re privileged to welcome Ambassador Princeton Lyman back to the Committee. He’s the President’s Special Envoy to Sudan and a tireless public servant. He’s here this morning to discuss the remarkable and rare event that took place last week: the birth of a new nation, the Republic of South Sudan.

Six months ago, when the referendum set this event in motion, I had the honor to be in Juba. Millions of Southern Sudanese stood in line for hours to cast their votes for independence. Person after person told me that they did not mind the wait. They had been waiting, they said, for over 50 years—what were a few more hours? Last Saturday, five and a half decades of waiting came to an end. And today, South Sudan becomes the 193rd member of the United Nations.

We should recognize, though, that while only one country is joining the community of nations, the reality is that two nations emerged on July 9th: the newly independent South and a greatly changed North.

Both of these nations are fragile, and they will remain that way until they reach an agreement that allows them to live separately but work together. Sudan and South Sudan share more than a poorly defined border and a bloody history. They share traditions of migration that must be respected; they share trade routes that need to be re-opened; and they share a mutual interest in not merely avoiding a return to all-out war, but in crafting a lasting and genuine peace.

Abyei is at the heart of this conflict and of any lasting resolution. Tomorrow, international peacekeepers will begin to arrive there. And I hope that they can pave the way for the return of the tens of thousands of displaced Ngok Dinka who call Abyei home and for a resolution that addresses the needs of the Misseriya migrants as well.

Abyei is one crisis point. Southern Kordofan is another. Once again, we are hearing chilling reports of serious human rights abuses by government forces. There are new and serious allegations of mass graves. Shells are falling in the Nuba Mountains, and people in need have been cut off from humanitarian relief. Sudan must not go down this road again. Southern Kordofan needs a United Nations monitoring mission and both sides need to agree to and abide by a ceasefire. If atrocities are occurring, they must stop and there must be accountability.

Despite these grave worries, there are positive signs. Sudan was the first country to recognize the South as an independent state. It’s worth pausing to acknowledge that fact—not just because it suggests hope for the relationship between North and South, but for the relationship between Sudan and the United States as well.

Because of the successful January referendum, President Obama initiated a review of Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Completion of that process rests on the review itself as well as the resolution of all the major issues outstanding from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including Abyei. Obviously this process will not move forward if gross human rights violations are taking place.

Finally, the true transformation of the U.S.-Sudanese relationship runs through Darfur. Khartoum needs to reject its recent return to old destructive patterns and recognize that reform can bring with it a new relationship with the international community, including the United States. I very much want to see that happen. 

We are also entering a new relationship with South Sudan. Along with President Salva Kiir, we hope that July 9th will “mark a new beginning of tolerance, unity and love,” in which cultural and ethnic diversity can be a source of pride and strength, not parochialism and conflict. South Sudan bears the scars of war in many forms—including roads, schools, and hospitals that were never built. It must also overcome internal corruption and internal rebellions. But as they have already showed the world, the people of South Sudan are capable of rising to a challenge.

America has stood with the peoples of Sudan throughout these struggles. We helped to broker the CPA. We have provided billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance. Our representatives, including Ambassador Lyman, are working tirelessly to bring the parties together. And we must remain involved until there is lasting peace in the region.

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