Transcript

PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite
Style:MLAAPAChicagoClose

loading...

The Prospect for Peace in Sudan: A View from Religious Leaders on the Ground

Speakers: Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Daniel Adwok Kur, Auxiliary Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Khartoum, John Ashworth, Director, Denis Hurley Conference of Churches, Ramadan Chan, General Secretary, Sudan Council of Churches, and Samuel Kobia, Ecumenical Special Envoy to Sudan, All Africa Conference of Churches
Moderator: Linda E. Watt, Chief Operating Officer, Episcopal Church
October 14, 2010
Council on Foreign Relations

Media

Share

LINDA E. WATT: Good morning, everyone. I think we're almost all situated. My name is Linda Watt, and I'm the chief operating officer at the headquarters of the Episcopal Church, and a member of the council.

On behalf of everyone at the Council on Foreign Relations, and especially the Religion and Foreign Policy Program, it is my privilege to welcome all of you, and especially this distinguished panel, to the Council on Foreign Relations this morning.

A couple of housekeeping items, one the inevitable "please turn off your cell phone" remark. We are on the record today. That means we are being audio -- audio'ed. And that's a particularly important issue for the cell phones, so if everyone would please do turn off your cell phones.

As I said, we're on the record. We have several members of the press here, which is a particular privilege to have them.

So I think with that, we can move on.

You also have a stack of excellent materials on Sudan, which you're welcome to take with you for your homework and your future study.

We have a wonderfully distinguished panel from Sudan today, and I will introduce them each. Starting to my right, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, who is the primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan.

And across the table we have Bishop Daniel Adwok Marko Kur, auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Khartoum. Also part of this delegation is the Reverend Ramadan Chan, is the pastor of the Sudan Interior Church, and the general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches. The Reverend Dr. Sam Kobia, who is from the Methodist Church, and the general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches. The group is also being supported very capably by John Ashworth, who's the director of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute in South Africa, and has been an expert on Sudan for 20 years or more. And it's an honor to have all of you here with us.

The -- this delegation is on a two-week trip to Washington and New York to really raise consciousness about the situation in Sudan, and about the upcoming referendum. Their purpose is to educate all of us about that -- this ticking time bomb, I believe as Hillary Clinton called it, and to encourage a robust international effort to support peace with justice in Sudan.

They have met with the secretary-general of the U.N., and have a number of other high-level appointments during this period. So it is a special privilege, too, that they have made time in their schedule for the -- for this -- for this roundtable.

I think by way of introduction, I'd just like to very quickly point out that the referendum in southern Sudan is scheduled for January 9th, and it is one of the -- one of the principal elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was signed in early 2005. Over the past -- the intervening years, there's been considerable criticism of the north for not living up to a number of the terms of the agreement, most notably with regard to the sharing of oil revenues and development of democratic governance that were considered to be critical in that -- in the process toward leading up to the referendum.

So I think with that just very quick background, I could possibly start off by asking Archbishop Daniel and Bishop Daniel to -- each of you give us a couple of minutes on what you -- what your perspective is on the situation in southern Sudan as the referendum approaches. And how would you define a positive outcome, and what are the prospects for that? Maybe that will start us off.

ARCHBISHOP DANIEL DENG BUL: Thank you very much, Linda Watt, for this opportunity that you have given us as religious leaders from the church in the Sudan and our partners who have been accompanying us. Our coming to United States is to come and ring the bell to the international community and to all our partners. That time has come; the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is coming to an end on the 9th of January, 2011. And with that, there was a schedule which was set at the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that will come and -- to bring the peace to the country of Sudan. Referendum is one of the important (which made ?) the people of the southern Sudan to agree to sign the agreement, because they are waiting to be asked whether they will be part of the united Sudan or to go as a separated state.

The situation now has changed. The situation (is aground ?). Most of the important things we supposed to be -- have done in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement have not been done. And that has gave others here as a -- churches, as a civil society that Sudan is slipping back to war. And the -- why we say we are ringing the bell is that in the Abyei border between the north and south, you know, it has been -- it was taken to herc (ph), and a ruling was done -- that giving much of the land back to the people of -- (inaudible).

And both sides accepted, but until today the government in the north has not demarcated the border.

Whenever people go to demarcate, the Misseriya is sent to the area to disrupt the work being done by the people there. That is giving us a worry that one day you'll find that the government in the north and the people of the southern Sudan may go back to war.

The other thing is that we are very much worried is about our people in the north. We have over 2-1/2 millions in the north, southerners. And now we are receiving threats to their life, threats to their properties, because it came to be clear that the northerners are not going to allow anything called "referendum" to happen. And they begin to threat if the southern Sudan opted for a separation, they will expel and they will deny our people a citizenship, or a life of human dignity will not be allowed to be given to them. Their properties will be taken.

We are afraid of the -- of the IDPs who -- either they may be pushed to the south by force -- and it is a big number, over 2-1/2 million. There's no cooperation on the ground at the moment. How international community and our partners in the government in the north and the government in the south -- nobody is preparing, if such a situation happened, how are these people going to be received, because, as you know, the government of southern Sudan -- at this very moment, they have no capacity; they have no money to receive such a number of people who will be displaced from the north, if they are not killed.

So for us as a church, we feel to come and inform the world that we should not allow again the genocides to take place like what happened in Rwanda. The world will be sorry at the end of the day.

And for us as a church, we move with the people. We know what is happening on the ground. We know the feeling of our people. We know the actions being taken by the people in the north; that has given us the fear and made us to come to inform the United Nations, United Kingdom, United States of America and all the (troikas ?). Let them -- it is something else to discuss on the table, but something else is happening on the ground. So they are not (merging ?).

So we want to inform the people what is happening on the ground is different from what is being discussed in the lobby in the United Nations or with the government in the north; that new things are happening on the ground. The week we've been -- we have been here, some soldiers just came to Abyei and they start shooting. This is the way of -- to (make ?) -- to provoke a situation that the war has to come back.

So we are afraid because the soldiers between the north and south are very close to each other at the moment. Anything can happen from today on. And that's what we are coming -- we are worried. We want to inform the world. We want to inform our partners. We need your help. These people should not be allowed to go back to war.

I leave this to Daniel Adwok.

BISHOP DANIEL ADWOK MARKO KUR: Well, thanks, Your Grace. And taking from your analysis, the signing of the peace agreement, it was hoped that the two parties would work towards a united Sudan. But there was a condition that was given that this unity is to be made attractive, and this meant that the root causes to the conflict needed to be addressed.

And unfortunately, these root causes were not addressed.

And that is the feeling of the people in southern Sudan now and the reason for which they are crying and preparing themselves just to tell the international community, at the end of the day, in -- on the 9th of January, that they are people different from the people in the north.

It is true that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and even the interim constitution does acknowledge Sudan as multicultural, multireligious and multiracial. And these multi aspects of the people of the Sudan should have really come out as a way through which the two parties would have -- the two, the north and the south, would have related to one another. And therefore, to push on toward a united country now without addressing the key issues that triggered the conflict 50 years ago would mean that really 50 years of war in Sudan was just fought for nothing; there was no reason why they should have fought for.

The north has not given any possibility of relenting its policy of Islamization and Arabization, and (it stands as such ?). And therefore the people of southern Sudan cannot be held hostage to a system that does not really appeal to them. They are people who practice traditional religion. They are people who are Christian. There are also Muslims in the south. But they would like to live in harmony, in respect to each and every cultural, religious and ethnic diversities that are there. And I thought and we thought, many thought that this should have been the attitude that the government in Khartoum would have also adopted.

Thank you.

WATT: Thank you.

Reverend Chan, would you like to comment?

REVEREND RAMADAN CHAN: Well, I think His Grace and Bishop Adwok have highlighted most of the things that we are calling the international partners to rally behind as to prevent the possible --

WATT: Can you stand (by the mike ?).

STAFF: Use the other mike.

WATT: (Inaudible) -- it. Yes.

CHAN: What I'm trying to say is that most of the things have been highlighted, and I will only focus on one area. And that is that area of the border areas between the north and the south -- the area of Blue Nile, the area of Southern Kordofan. Some of -- some people from these areas actually have fought alongside the southern Sudanese -- for freedom, for dignity and for human rights.

Unfortunately, the CPA, the agreement, did not give them the choices for them choose to whether to be with the south or to be with the north. They were given what is called the popular consultations, and their popular consultation was to be popular by allowing the people from this area to choose what they felt is appropriate.

So far, that has not happened. One is that the process, the tools, that was to be used to elect a legislative assembly that will establish a commission that will go to people.

Unfortunately, the elections that took place in April -- as some of you know, it was not free and fair. And therefore those or most of those that are in the assembly do not actually represent the people. And so the fear is that they may -- they may not listen to the people, and they may impose their party's interest on the people, and therefore these people's aspirations will not be met at the end.

And in Southern Kordofan, the process has not yet started, and the time is running out. And so it is a concern that if things do not change, and change for positive, that this area will go back to violence because they would like to get their aspirations met. And if they feel that whatever is being used is not meeting their aspirations, they may look for ways to express it. And that may lead the country back to violence.

The other area of concern for our churches is the area of the churches in the north, should the south secede. We know that if the south secedes, the northern government may opt for an Islamic country. So far, the church has suffered under the government, the present government, and we feel that if secession happens, the north will opt for a(n) Islamic country, and therefore the Christians and the churches in the north will suffer persecution. And we want the international community, our partners, to be aware that the rights of the minority in the -- in the north, including the churches, need to be taken care of in the constitution, so that they are protected.

Thank you.

WATT: Dr. Kobia, is there anything more to add?

SAM KOBIA: Well, thank you. I'll (add ?) maybe one or two points to what has been said by the church leaders from Sudan. And that is the concern that we have, that whatever the outcome of the referendum process, the report will be disputed. And the -- it is important for us and the international community to anticipate these disputes and help to put together mechanisms for resolving the disputes, which would be a greater (point ?) before the referendum takes place.

Secondly, I think it is, of course, very clear that there is -- the (schedule ?) for the referendum is very much behind. And therefore, we are concerned that this has happened not by default, but by design on the part of the government in the north that has shown very clear signs that they would rather that the referendum does not take place. And so there was an attempt to try to ask for postponement of the referendum. But I think with the way the international community has reengaged the CPA process, and the way that the churches in Sudan have mobilized even the public opinion to state that the credibility -- that the CPA was in danger of collapsing, that now we fear that what might happen is a very sophisticated way of (reading ?) the referendum, so the referendum will take place but the reports could be not only disputed, but wholly discredited on technicality. And of particular concern is the 60- percent voter turnout threshold.

And as it has been mentioned, the concern about the southerners in the north in fairly big numbers. Should the referendum date come when they are there, there are chances that many of them might not be able to vote. But also, there are chances that there could be many -- (inaudible) -- the voters, so that then the 60-percent turnout threshold will not be -- will not be met. So that's the other concern that we have as churches.

Then the third -- the third point concerns the post-referendum negotiations. I think it's important that the international community should be very much concerned about post-referendum arrangements.

The AU high-level panel, headed by former president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki, has helped to suggest some of the many factors for these post-referendum negotiations. I think it is very clear that they feel issues concerning the border identification, oil, citizenship, the minority rights and security are still some of the concerns that we have, and that therefore it's important for these to be discussed ahead of time.

The final point I want to make is really concerning -- is simply to underline what has been said. Without the international community taking their role and their responsibility seriously and to try to use whatever leverage that we have, we are likely to see that this process and the framework of the CPA, which has been the best way of resolving the conflict in Sudan peacefully, will not lead to the results that are being anticipated.

And as has been said, if -- and the referendum as a mechanism is not at the moment the most important thing, is really a question of self-determination, whether the people of southern Sudan will have exercised their right of self-determination, because as we say, the referendum's going to take place, (it's going to be ?) observed by international community, and at the same time (could be ?) defeated on a technicality; therefore, I think it's important that the international community should take the responsibility. And the United States, I think, is taking a very important lead as part of the troika. We are happy to see this, we are very much encouraged to see this, but there's a lot more that we feel needs and should be done.

Thank you.

WATT: You all have laid out a very daunting situation, and one which would be a challenge even if there were months or years left before the referendum. So I would just like to ask you specifically what you think the international community needs to do in these less than three months to support the process.

DENG: I think the international community from the very beginning, from the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha in 2005 -- the two parties were not ready to sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, until the international community pressurized them until they had to sign it. That has given us five years peace, and that was because the international community was behind this Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

We feel that it is still an obligation to the international community at the moment to defuse the same situation. The child is a child of the the international community. International community is the midwife of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and they have to make sure that this child can walk, not to kill -- the child should not be born and die, but it should be born and walk.

(Inaudible) -- mechanism of protecting the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, I think there are a lot of things which the international community could do. One, the international community can mount a pressure of the both sides so that the referenda takes place in time. This two months left still is a big time. The -- I mean the international community has to make sure, to identify, who is not doing what.

This is supposed to be the time now to hold somebody responsible for the (delayment ?) of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by the international community. Because always, if the two parties are fighting, somebody must be held responsible. Who caused -- who is the cause of that?

Until now, we have not heard international community that it's making somebody responsible for anything going to happen. Things are going as they are. People are talking of compromising. But the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was a compromise, that is already compromise. One more compromise is needed. So we feel that it is high time for the international community and our partners really to point it out, who is not allowing the people of our country to have peace.

I will ask Daniel also to add on the question, and then Ramadan.

ADWOK: Okay. The international community knew that at the signing of the peace agreement, the two parties to the agreement agreed to work (from/for ?) the unity of the country as incumbent to this issue.

Unity has not been made attractive. Why was unity proposed? I mean attractiveness of the unity: Why was it proposed? It was proposed because the people of the south in the current system of government did not identify with the Sudan as it is promoted by the government in Khartoum. And therefore the five years passed without any sign of change. And the international community was observing.

Now we have come to the end road of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and (demand ?) process that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in fact has, the referendum. And which -- can we hold the people of southern Sudan to opt for unity? Because if at this present moment everybody would have stood for unity, I don't think there would have been any fuss made by the government in Khartoum. But seemingly the people of the south have decided that if such is the case, no change in the system and the policies of the north, we are seceding. And there the tension comes up.

So I think the -- what the international community can do is to support the people of the south in their quest for dignity, in their quest for their right, their human right to be people who cannot (admit/amend ?) to be people -- who are not really enslaved by anybody.

And I think this is where the -- I mean the -- any kind of negotiation can start in the first place. Without these, people in southern Sudan would be very, very, very surprised as to -- I mean, how can they be forced to Islamize? How can they be forced to be looked at as Arabs when they are not Arabs, when they are not Muslims and -- or not all of them are Muslims? They are not against Islam. But they are against a system that is imposed on them, only that.

CHAN: Well, thank you, Bishop Adwok and His Excellence and His Grace.

I think what they have said (has been plain ?), and I just want to add some points regarding what we feel the international community can do.

One. The area of funding is a key area.

Originally, the process, the referendum process, is supposed to be supported by the pledges from the international community, by the national government and by the government of southern Sudan. As far as now is concerned, what we are hearing is that the international community did not honor the pledges to support the referendum. And if that can be encouraged, it will be a help to rescue the situation. The national government, as we hear, are not interested that the referendum goes forward; and therefore, we don't expect support from them. So the funding is left for the international community and the government of southern Sudan, that is already struggling economically.

The other area is the area of monitoring. The CPA says that the referendum is supposed to be an internationally monitored process. And that is actually needed now more than even the time when the CPA was being signed because, as it has been mentioned, the north has taken a position that they will not accept anything but unity, and the south has taken a position that they will not accept anything but separation. And so, if the -- if the vote turns this way -- which we feel that the south will vote for separation -- the north will not accept it, because they will feel that there was a power play, or there was a rigging.

And so it will take the international community to be the referee between these two people and actually monitor the process so that when the results comes out for any of these options, and the other party turns against it, the international (sic) can say, well, we were there, we have seen what happens, and this is a fair representation of what actually took place.

The third area -- or the fourth area that the international can intervene is the area of security. As we speak now, the -- both sides -- the government of southern Sudan, the government of the north, have actually moved heavy armies to the border, and they are just, you know, a little distance between them. As His Grace mentioned, it will only take two or three soldiers to fire arms, and then we have a war. And so the international community as -- we feel can play a bigger role, by creating a buffer zone between these two armies, so that they are not -- you know, they are not facing each other. And that may help the situation. Otherwise, we may end up getting back quickly to violence, having these two big giants looking at each other.

And the fourth -- or maybe the last point that I feel the international community can help us is to push for dialogue on the post-referendum arrangements. We know that one of the main things that is facing us is the use of the oil revenue. The oil is mainly discovered in the south, but there is -- it has been supporting the national budget by 80 percent. So if the south secedes today and says, "Well, we are a different country, and now we are not going to allow the north to use part of the revenue," then we know how that will affect the north. And therefore, it's a big tension. It's a(n) issue like "do or die," you know: if we are left without support, we are dying; and therefore, it's better we die fighting.

And so the international can help in that, in pushing this dialogue so that before, or even after a referendum, the north feels that they -- you know, they have -- they are not left without support, and that they will still have a share. And that can create, you know, a friendly atmosphere and kind of peaceful transition that the church is pushing for. I think I will leave it there.

WATT: In a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof, in a -- posited a highly pessimistic scenario in which he suggested that unless the United States threatened decisive action against the north -- sticks, instead of just carrots -- that a very sad scenario would play out. I wonder if any of you care to comment on that, agree or disagree?

MR. : (Off mike.)

KOBIA: Well, I would agree with that. I think that it's time for more sticks than carrots. Too many carrots have been to the government in the north. There are very clear indications that unless that kind of threat we -- earlier on, we talked of pressure. I think it's more than pressure; it's threats. Then the government in the north will not move, unless and until they know that the international community is very serious. And that seriousness should be translated into, I think, as you have stated, really more sticks.

We have talked of the importance of the governments of both north Sudan and south Sudan -- government of southern Sudan as well -- to fulfill their obligations as far as international standards are concerned. And one of -- what has been mentioned is security. The president of the government of southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, has said very publicly that all people of Sudan, including those from the north, who would want to opt to be in the south, they will be protected, they will have equal protection, whether they are religious minorities or ethnic minorities or any other minorities.

On the other hand, in the south, what we have heard is statements from government ministers who are saying, as His Grace, the archbishop said, that those people from the southern Sudan will have -- if they are left in the north, they will have no rights whatsoever, including even rights of being treated in hospital when they are sick. And we haven't heard this being denied by the government. And therefore, there are certain expectations that must be there. And I think that the United States and the troika who clearly are expected to play their role as guarantors of the -- of the CPA, should be putting -- put more pressure. But at the same time, there are (threats ?).

MR. : (Off mike.)

JOHN ASHWORTH: I would agree with (Dr. Thurmond ?), and to follow up with just a couple of points. One is, I really question the international community: What leverage do you have at the moment on Khartoum? What does Khartoum want that you can offer, or what threats can you give to Khartoum? And clearly, at the moment, the international community is in a weaker position, I think, than it was when the CPA was negotiated. That was post-9/11. I was in Khartoum on 9/11, and the feeling on the street within days was that we were about to be bombed by the United States because we had been identified as part of the axis of evil and clearly military action was going to be taken against the axis of evil. And so there was a very real threat which the USA could use at that time. I'm not sure that threat exists now.

But I think there are two areas, at least, where the international community needs to, let's say, pull their heads out of the sand and see what is really going on, listen to the voice of reality on the ground. The first is to stop trying to be so evenhanded that you become totally ineffective. We keep on hearing -- in these diplomatic missions we are visiting this week, we keep on hearing: Both parties must fulfill their obligations to the CPA. Well, of course, that's true. But the reality is that one party is fulfilling, or trying to fulfill, its obligations to the CPA.

And where it's failing, it's usually due to lack of capacity, not to lack of will. And the other party is failing deliberately and in a very systematic way to fulfill its obligations. And then when we do get this impasse where the two sides disagree, we get told to compromise.

And yet, as Archbishop said very clearly, the compromises were made five years ago. The CPA is not a perfect agreement for either side, but it is a compromise which was signed by both sides and accepted by both sides. And President Salva Kiir, when he was here a couple of weeks ago, he said, why is it that when compromises come up again, it's always the south that is expected to make the compromise?

And in some of our other talks, our bishops have pointed out to people these compromises are not just political games. We're talking about the lives of people on the ground and we're talking about the human dignity of people on the ground when we talk about these compromises.

So, stop being even-handed. Recognize -- again, as the bishop said earlier, point the finger at the party which is failing.

The second issue, I think, goes back to the difference between referendum and self-determination. It is a nuance which our church leaders have and which Sam picked up on earlier. Self-determination is what southerners want. That's their human right. The referendum is a means, it's a political tool, it's a technical process by which they indicate their -- which choice they have made.

Now, all the indications are -- and again, we've heard that this morning -- that if the referendum takes place, it may not reflect the will of the people. We've talked about the 60-percent threshold. There are other ways in which an outcome may be technically legal, it may meet the niceties of those who play political games, but it does not represent the will of the people. And we've also heard very clearly that the popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan will almost certainly not meet the aspirations of the people, even though they may technically fulfill the legal process.

Now, what is the international community going to do? What is it going to say on the 10th of January when we hear the result that the referendum was for unity, and yet we clearly know that southerners do not want unity, they want secession? What is the international community going to do?

We were in a diplomatic mission yesterday where we were told, oh, unilateral declaration of independence is unacceptable. So actually, we've already told Khartoum that if you rig the election, if you manage to find a way that the referendum gives a result which doesn't respect the rights of the southerners, don't worry, because we've already told the southerners that they can't find any way of expressing their self-determination.

So I think there has to be a very clear message from the international community that, yes, we want to respect the process; but if it becomes clear that the process is not respecting the human rights, the human dignity, the right of self-determination of the people -- and let's not just be idealistic. We're not only saying that because we're idealistic about the rights of the people; there will be a war. If the rights of the people are not respected, there will be a war, because, as Bishop Daniel says, those wars -- the (two ?) wars we've already fought over the last 50 years did not come from nowhere. They came because of reasons. Now, if those reasons are not taken away, then there will be a third war.

So on the 9th of January, on the 10th of January, if you want to avoid war, the international community has to be very clear with the government in Khartoum that the rights -- the choices of the people will be respected; not the legal niceties, but the actual choice of the people will be respected.

WATT: I think it's time to open the floor for questions. If you just indicate by raising your that you'd like to ask a question, and then identify yourself with your affiliation, that would be wonderful. Yes.

QUESTIONER: Hi. The Reverend Chloe Breyer. I direct the Interfaith Center of New York and am part of the occasional gathering of Anglican women at the Commission the Status of Women at the United Nations. And so thank you so much. And we've had the pleasure of one of your colleagues with us on a number of occasions.

I'm just curious also about -- we're coming up on an anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 recognizing the disproportionate impact of violent conflict on women and also the need for women's voices around any peace agreement or attempt.

And I'm curious, you know, who your colleagues, who your women colleagues are and what their role is right now in approaching this, you know, ticking time bomb.

DENG: Ramadan, could you try to answer that?

CHAN: Well, in the -- in Sudan Council of Churches, we work and mobilize women for peace. We have a department that mobilize women to -- and youth to work for peace, and that is -- you know, is from the belief that -- or from our experiences that wars in Sudan mainly affect the women and youth, children and elderly people. So we have a -- we used to have a desk that addresses issues of women and employment of women -- in peacemaking and peace-building.

So we have women's groups in each denomination that is a member of the Sudan Council of Churches, and that is empowered and trained to work for peace and support the peace-building and reconciliation. So that is -- that's how we operate in any -- in each member church, we work through the women groups.

DENG: In addition to that, I may say it now, if you look at our crisis in the Sudan, when men who have been fighting or killed, the only society which was very strong in advocating for peace was the -- was the society of women in our country. And that, from another denomination like the Episcopal Church of Sudan, which has given women almost 50 percent of their rights, ordination, and given them to hold important positions in the church, and because of that, we feel that if you look at the society in the country, there are many, many -- the number of women is higher than the men, and they have taken a very strong position. And that -- they have been recognized of that.

And I tell you now, even in the parliament of the southern Sudan, the chairlady -- the chairperson is a lady for peace. So that is to show that they have been given that very strong position within the government of southern Sudan. Of course, women are now leading in ministerial position, and they are now organizing.

Before I came here, they organized a big conference, organizing for women -- mobilizing, as you put it correctly -- for women for peace. And they have been marching throughout in the whole of southern Sudan.

CHAN: Well, maybe if you just give an example of what the women's are actually doing in churches. We have a group -- two communities in southern Sudan that have been fighting each other, one another, you know -- under the pretense of cattle-raiding. And many people died, most especially last year. There were over, you know, 8 (hundred) or 700 people killed, including women and children. And women from both communities came out and joined together, and went to the -- to the men and told them that we are no more going to have children if you people are killing them. And therefore, you have to agree that if we give birth to children, you are not going to kill them again. Otherwise, there's no more men with us.

And that affected the, you know, the communities, and the men sat down, and because of that they reached an agreement that there will be no more fighting.

And that is an example of what, I mean, women are doing to influence peace and reconciliation.

WATT: Thank you.

Yes, sir.

QUESTIONER: I'm Dennis Frado with the Lutheran Office for World Community, the Lutheran Church representation at the United Nations.

It appears from your remarks that some of the member states that you've been speaking with this week are trying to brush this crisis aside. And we know that several of the current five member states have clear interests in the region. So my question is, what can be done so that the Security Council takes concrete action sooner rather than later?

MR. : Sam --

KOBIA: Yes. There's no doubt that the U.N. Security Council has a very, very important role to play here. There was a reference earlier on by General Secretary of Sudan Council of Churches Ramadan, that it will be necessary to have -- (inaudible) -- along the border, because both sides are mobilizing the armies. And the Security Council should be take over as far as providing security, if concerned, because without security we know the referendum will (come to ?) take place. And we are aware that, yes, some of members of the -- some permanent members of the Security Council have a lot of interests, economic interest and other interests in Sudan.

Therefore, we have -- we have even written and called upon all the members of the Security Council, particularly the permanent members, to -- while of course they should pursue their interests, to know that historically, Sudan has reached a point where it is really the interests and aspirations of the Sudanese people that should be given priority now. And that the economic interests, the political interests and any other interests could be on the agenda and can be discussed, but at the moment, the Security Council has this historic role now to play to make sure that this referendum process and the actual voting takes place in a peaceful manner.

We have intentions to continue to lobby the members of the Security Council to bring this clear message from the people as it has been indicated here, that they should now be looking beyond the mechanics of a referendum and talk of the human dignity, the self- determination of the people of southern Sudan. And we feel that when the churches bring this kind of message -- because the churches know the people better than anybody else, the people trust the church leaders and the churches -- and I think this message is sinking now, as it has been clearly shown, and because the representation of the Security Council during the visit a couple of -- you know, last week, I think that it became very clear to them that yes, those who are speaking or are bringing the voice of the people to the international community are the churches.

And I think this is a -- some of the confidence-building process that we have seen in not only just a advocacy basis, but also in talking with the missions of those countries, both in Africa, in Europe and here in North America.

I think it is with this idea of going beyond the mechanics of referendum that the Security Council needed to listen carefully.

DENG: In addition to that, as the Security Council, what is their job, I think the scenarios which have happened in the Sudan is not the first time in the world. There are other scenarios which have taken place before, and the Security Council took a position that they need to protect the people; they need to protect the right of the people.

It is their obligation that these people of the southern Sudan -- they are part of the people of the world. They are human beings. They need their rights. And if they have the right, then the right has to be protected by the people of the Security Council. If their rights are not protected, and if they feel that they have been disowned, then they will tend to riot. That's what they're saying now, and that -- whether that riot will kill them, then this is why we have come as a church to raise the bell and alarm that these people have decided, if the right is not decided -- if the right is not protected.

Therefore, it is the obligation for all of us -- the international community, our partners like you, the churches -- we need support so that the right of the people (is seen ?).

QUESTIONER: Hi. Neil MacFarquhar. I'm the U.N. correspondent for the New York Times. There's two points I'd like to run past you. First of all, you sort of described this as a moment of both great exhilaration because you're going to get what you -- the south has been looking for 50 years, and also great trepidation because you feel like the whole thing's going to erupt in a war. I wonder how that -- those sentiments play out on a day-to-day basis in the south; I mean, as people go about their daily lives, how you feel that.

And secondly, you know, I'm a little bit -- the Security Council has been trying to influence the fight in Darfur for seven years now with not very visible results. So I'm wondering how much you can rely on them to put -- bring pressure to bear in this case. And in that context, what role do the African leaders and the Arab leaders play in influencing Khartoum on this issue? Because, like, when Musaveni was here at that meeting at the Security -- the General Assembly, he was talking about, like, he felt reassured that, you know, the referendum was going to go ahead.

So I'm wondering, you know, how -- yes, the Security Council's going to bring pressure to bear, but -- and also Qadhafi has said he thought that splitting Sudan was a mistake. So within the African- Arab context, how can they influence what happens?

DENG: Daniel, could you try that?

ADWOK: It is a real difficulty, and I think it is connected with the first -- the question of the Security Council, because there is also the original dimension that needed to be taken into question here. The -- all of Arab world is in support of the -- of Khartoum government.

We are not really sure how many of the African countries who are members of the African Union who really do support the quest for self- determination and for the recognition of the human dignity of the people of the south. And this, of course, plays a lot.

And that is what brings in the question as to how effective will the Security Council really handle this issue? And I think there is a need to really find a formula through which what the people of southern Sudan are looking for is given to them.

As to the preparedness on the ground, what I know is that in the south, every 9th of the month now -- every 9th of the month, there is a rally. And it's a rally which is -- where quite a good number of people in the -- (word inaudible) -- towns, they join, and -- I mean, they get species of people who would talk about conciliation among themselves and the need to prepare now that on the 9th of January, they will be free and they will be people of their own fate, of their own destiny.

And there is need to pull together and work for the betterment of their new state.

And so, really, going back -- I mean, going back to the things that I have been saying at the beginning, the people know nothing has changed in the system in Khartoum. And therefore, if nothing has changed, then we have to pull out. We cannot be part of the proposal that Khartoum gives of Islamizing and Arabizing the Sudan.

MR. : Yes.

KOBIA: And to that, first of all, yeah, can we rely on the Security Council when we know they have failed on Darfur? I think the difference we see here -- and we wanted to take the Security Council seriously when they decided to visit just recently -- the CPA, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, I think is an instrument that is -- was arrived at through a very careful process. And the U.N. clearly followed the date, support the date, and therefore one could say that there are clearer mechanisms provided for that Security Council use here, than in the case of Darfur. And therefore we really hope that we can rely on the Security Council here, but we know, as we said, that there are members of the Security Council who have other interests.

Let me also add to this that we have seen some of the members of the Security Council actually using their leverage over Khartoum. First, when it came to the elections in April, there were indications that Khartoum was dragging their feet on some areas, and I think some of the members used their own leverage over Khartoum on this.

As far as the countries -- the Arab League and the African countries are concerned, in April we had a visit with Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, in Cairo. And he was very clear on the official position of the Arab League, that they fully support and respect the integrity of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, if implementation, including the timeline for the referenda, et cetera. That is official position.

We know that individual Arab countries, some of them have expressed other views. I think we need to hold them to account as -- collectively, as Arab League, because this sentiment by its secretary- general was made publicly and it was reported in the media. And so we can -- we can clearly quote this as the official position.

As far as the individual country members are concerned, there I would say yes, we have clear indications that many of them would support the Khartoum position and not the South.

The African countries, particularly in the region, the IGAD member countries, also have their own concerns and interests. But the IGAD, as represented by the Kenyan government, would chair the CPA implementation commission of the IGAD. Have they -- we have visited them, we have talked with the president of Republic of Kenya and the minister of foreign affairs, who have clearly shown us how, as the IGAD grew, they also fully supported the CPA.

Do they have influence over the Khartoum government? Some of them do, others don't.

Just a month ago or two, the government of Kenya invited al- Bashir to the promulgation of the new constitution of Kenya. We took this issue up with the Kenyan government, and we wanted to know how -- of course, al-Bashir -- (inaudible) -- for crimes by the -- by the Hague. And the impression we were given and the answer that was given to us is that, "Look, we feel that the referendum for the -- for the southern Sudan is so important that we have to find ways of working with al-Bashir on this particular issue."

And we felt, you know, that the government of Kenya said that they felt that they -- by having them -- by having him come to the promulgation in Nairobi was one way of increasing their leverage over al-Bashir. And therefore they want us to believe them, that they are actually working on this, at putting the referendum as the top priority and that they wanted to continue to put pressure on Khartoum on this.

As far as working with the -- Juba, the government of southern Sudan, I would say that many of them have shown some clear indications that they are very much supportive of a process that would lead to the people of southern Sudan exercising their rights of self- determination. I think beyond that, it would be a question of lobbying each of them separately. And that's the -- those are the plans we have.

Following this visit here, we have a plan to visit strategic countries I would say that we know (is ?) -- do have leverage or they could have put pressure. And we shall visit several of them. We know we don't have much time, but we have committed ourselves that we'll be undertaking this visit in the coming weeks.

WATT: Mark.

QUESTIONER: I'm Mark Edington from the Kennedy School at Harvard, and I'm an Episcopal priest in Massachusetts.

I have a question, but first I just need to come back to this comment about "stop being even-handed," and that even-handedness in some ways related to ineffectiveness.

I don't see the two as necessarily related, and I guess I'm confused about how you see they might be. I think if you could help us to understand how the United States and the international community could be effective in this situation, then the effectiveness, the search for that would lead to the approach taken.

But in the absence of a clear path toward effectiveness, we -- there's a general tendency to want to be even-handed. So I don't -- what I think I heard was that the moment of our greatest effectiveness was on September 12th, and it was a result of fear of the United States. And that does not seem to me a useful recommendation for our effectiveness going forward.

My question has to do with a different dimension of this that hasn't yet been addressed. And I'm curious to hear this group of religious leaders look at this country. Since the summer, here in this city and across this country, we've been having a debate, sometimes a bitter debate, about the role of Islam in our religiously pluralistic society. As I listen to the conversation we've had this morning, it's really difficult for me to imagine how I would take it home to my parish community and not sound as though what I was saying was we have to adopt what is essentially an anti-Islamic stance.

How would you explain to a community in this country how to understand this? Because it's going back to the reasons why this has been a 50-year-long struggle. And naturally religion is a very important one. And it's difficult to see how this does not come off being a struggle against Islam.

DENG: Thank you. First of all, I will start with what I (guess ?) -- I wrote a letter recently when somebody -- one of the priests in America wanted to burn the Quran. I think I was the only primate in the Anglican world who wrote against it. I hope you got that letter.

QUESTIONER: I did. (Chuckles.)

DENG: That is indication that we have no problem with Islam as Islam, as a religion. We know, as a religion -- we live with them for a 1,000 years. But we have to make the difference when religion become politics.

In our case, religion has been used: the Shari'a law has been used as a system. I have been made a second-class citizen -- which you don't have it in this country. You have put everybody within. What will be your reaction if you are in my position?

So when we are saying Islam, we have been what they call "al- dhimma." We are being -- we are there to be protected by an Islam. That is essential. So when you are talking to a system mixed up with a religion, then this is where there is a problem.

So for me, I am very clear: We have no problem with the religion. But when you make Islam as a system of ruling, denying me -- making me not to be a guide, not to be a headmaster of a school, not to be a president of a country, what will your people say here? So these are the kind of things you need to suppress when we are talking of Islam, which is made a politic (sp), as separate from Islam as a religion. So these are the two things you don't put them together.

We are not against Islam. This is wrong. So when we are talking we don't want to be made a second-class citizen, we are not saying we don't want Islam. We are saying: Let us be equal. If we are to be made equal in our country, southerners -- (inaudible) -- will not be thinking of separation of a -- of the -- of a country. So if your country will have an influence in Khartoum to take away the Shari'a law, we will accept the unity of the Sudan. So that I become tomorrow a president of the -- of Sudan; so that I become a judge in the country -- in the Sudan. Why should I not be, given those rights?

So in terms when you talk to your people, these are our rights. And our rights are not the rights you have given to your people here. Complete -- Muslims, Christians are the same here, but we are not the same in our country. That is the reason. So we need you people in America -- you need to understand you are dealing with a (sophisticated ?) people. And they use Islam as a way of suppressing your thinking, not to think -- oh, don't touch Islam. But, no, let us respect Islam as a religion. But anybody using Islam as a tool of suppressing others, that will -- that's what we are saying.

CHAN: Yeah, I think in the -- in the area of effectiveness, I think -- I think what we are saying is that we have peace monitors, or peace observers, in Sudan. And in fact, we are made to know that Sudan has, you know, a larger number of peacekeeping in the world today.

But I think the -- what will actually bring effectiveness from now on is a mandate. The peacekeepers in Sudan today are there to see what happened and try to -- you know, to talk about it when it happens. And therefore, it is -- I mean, even protecting civilians, to me, is -- is not what is happening now, because civilians are killed, and they are being killed and the peacekeepers are there. So, how do you protect them? In fact, you know -- it is not to criticize anybody -- but sometimes these civilians are actually killed in the back yards of the peacekeepers. And so you wonder how they are protecting the civilians.

So I think the mandate needs to change, I mean, most especially now that there is intention -- or there is possibility that war can break out. In fact, if this war breaks out in Sudan, it will be the most destructive war, because the civilians will be targeted like combatants. And what we are saying, we need a new mandate where we have army who will be there for people, should it means fighting back, so that civilians are protected.

That's the type of protection that we are talking. The mandate has to change. Otherwise, you know, there's nothing. There is nothing that will happen.

The other thing that -- the international or the -- you know, the Security Council needs to also understand is that -- you know, like in Southern Sudan today, the peacekeepers in southern Sudan are from the countries that the people feels are sympathizers of the government that is persecuting them. We have some people from Bangladesh. We have people from Pakistan. We have people from -- you know, from East Asian countries who are Muslims, and they are in the south to protect the southerners from the Muslim government that wants to kill the southerners.

So there's no difference, you know, between them and those that are, you know, killing them. And so what we actually want is people who are going there to protect the rights of the people, the dignity of the people, no matter what that means. It's not -- you know, it's not people who are going there to watch to see what is happening and when it happens, they tell the international that this is what is happening, even when people are being killed. I don't think that's what we need.

We need forces that will go there to challenge -- (inaudible) -- think there are no rights -- (inaudible) -- the government of Sudan is trying to harm the civilians that stand against it, and that, you know, the right of the people -- (inaudible) -- people exercise their rights. That's what we feel should be put in place as soon as possible.

WATT: We've come to the end of our time. And I think before we go, I'd just like to say that the Episcopal Church has called for a season of prayer for Sudan, which is -- involves prayer, study and action. So anyone is welcome to join us in that effort. And I hope that by that means and others, you will all feel very supported and lifted up by us.

I'd like to thank you all for being here, for the courage and the powerful witness that you are giving to us here at the council and also in all of your visits here in the U.S.

And I'd also like to especially thank Irina Faskianos, who is seated at the end of the table, who is vice president of the council, and is responsible for allowing us to be here. So thank you so much, Irina.

Thank you. (Applause.)

(C) COPYRIGHT 2010, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1000 VERMONT AVE.

NW; 5TH FLOOR; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.

FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.

FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL CARINA NYBERG AT 202-347-1400.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

More on This Topic