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Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Dai Bing on the UN Security Council Resolution on Sudan Sanctions

2023-03-08 23:20

Mr. President,

China abstained in the voting on the proposed resolution. I would like to explain our position. 

The Security Council sanctions on Darfur in Sudan, which began in 2004, are aimed at ending the armed conflict in Darfur and helping Sudan return to peace and stability. With the joint efforts of all parties, the Sudanese transitional government and the armed opposition signed the Juba Peace Agreement in 2020. UNAMID completed its mandate and withdrew from Darfur at the end of 2020. Those positive developments pointed to a fundamental shift for the better in the situation in Darfur, and the fact that the Council sanctions against Sudan are outdated and should be lifted in light of the improved circumstances on the ground. Keeping those sanctions in place is not only untenable in the context of the country’s political and security realities, but also limits the government’s security capacity, negatively impacting its ability to maintain stability in Darfur and protect civilians and combat crimes there. 

On January 27 this year, Sudan sent a letter to the Council describing the government’s efforts to resolve inter-communal clashes and implement the POC plan in Darfur. The letter also lists the restrictions that the Council sanctions have on Sudan’s ability to maintain law and order in Darfur and to be deeply involved in international affairs. The letter requests in no uncertain terms the Council to lift the sanctions immediately and without conditions. On February 3, Qatar on behalf of the Arab group, on February 10, Egypt on behalf of the African group, and then on February 10, Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, sent successive letters to the Council, acknowledging positively the remarkable improvements of the situation in Darfur and supporting Sudan’s legitimate requests for the immediate and unconditional lifting of sanctions by the Council. These reflect the voice of justice of the broad membership. 

Under such circumstances, the right course of action for the Council is the immediate lifting of the sanctions without conditions. Regrettably, however, the first draft submitted by the penholder completely sidestepped this issue. During the consultations, this draft was rejected by Council members. The A3 members, namely Gabon, Ghana, and Mozambique, and the UAE proposed a constructive proposal to incorporate a sunset clause, specifying that the sanctions would terminate in February 2024. This could have been a compromising proposal to bridge the gaps, but the penholder dug their heels in and held on to their national position on this matter. The subsequent drafts, which first advocated extending the sanctions for 24 months and then for 18 months, were contrary to the Security Council's usual practice of extending the sanctions, and did not provide any guarantee that the sanctions would be automatically lifted by then, hardly a true "sunset clause".

The draft resolution also endorses two benchmarks for the adjustment of sanctions. This appears to be a roadmap for lifting sanctions, but in practice it is neither realistic nor feasible. China and some members initially proposed discussing benchmarks aimed at creating the conditions for lifting sanctions as soon as possible. But discussions in the Council over the past two years led us to believe that the members concerned have no intention of lifting the sanctions and instead want to make them permanent by setting benchmarks that can never be met. The draft resolution introduced by the penholder does not address our concerns in that regard.

Mr. President, 

In recent years, the controversial nature of the Council sanctions regime has increasingly raised concerns. Sanctions are an important tool entrusted to the Council by the UN Charter, originally intended to create conditions for the political settlement of relevant issues, but in practice, they have increasingly become a substitute for diplomatic efforts and even a means of political pressurization for some countries. Some individual member has also abused its penholdership to impose its national position on the Council. All of this should not have happened, let alone continued. China once again calls for a comprehensive assessment of the existing Council sanctions regime and the formulation of clear and feasible exit criteria. The Council should conduct periodic reviews of relevant sanctions, and once the criteria are met, sanctions should be adjusted or lifted timely. We should use this discussion on the Sudan sanctions to reflect seriously on what measures to take to improve the design and implementation of Council sanctions. 

Thank you, Mr. President.

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