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UN Security Council calls emergency meeting on Sudan

October 27 - 2021 NEW YORK
Dame Barbara Woodward, UK permanent representatives to the UN, speaks to reporters ahead of the UNSC meeting in New York on Tuesday (UN TV)
Dame Barbara Woodward, UK permanent representatives to the UN, speaks to reporters ahead of the UNSC meeting in New York on Tuesday (UN TV)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held an emergency meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the developing situation in Sudan, and to consider a joint response. The representatives of the United Kingdom, Norway, and Estonia largely concurred in condemning the power takeover as a ‘coup’, however the Russian representative stopped short of agreeing to the term. All delegates agreed that the violence in Sudan must end.

Speaking to reporters in a broadcast via UN TV before the meeting, Dame Barbara Woodward, UK permanent representatives to the UN, emphasised that “the UK condemns the coup outright.. and we are very concerned by the violence, in particular the recent reports about beatings of women and girls.” Ambassador Woodward said that the UK wants “to see the release of all those who have been detained, in particular Prime Minister Hamdok.”

‘Two years ago, the people of Sudan put their lives on the line for democracy, and they should not have to do so again’ – Dame Barbara Woodward, UK Ambassador to UN

Referring to the popular revolution that deposed the 30-year Omar Al-Bashir dictatorship in 2019, Ambassador Woodward said that “fundamentally, two years ago, the people of Sudan put their lives on the line for democracy, and they should not have to do so again”.

Dame Barbara reminded reporters that “the Security Council has been very clear in the past about our support for the constitutional arrangements, for the democratic transition, and the purpose of this afternoon’s discussion is to discuss how we can best move forward here, and see where we agree”.

‘Up until now, we’ve managed to have Sudan as almost a cause for optimism among the Security Council and we have managed to reach a consensus’ – Dame Barbara Woodward, UK Ambassador to UN

In response to questions from the press corps, Ambassador Woodward pointed out that “up until now, we’ve managed to have Sudan as almost a cause for optimism among the Security Council and we have managed to reach a consensus, so the most important thing we have to do this afternoon is work in support of the people of Sudan…”

The representative for Norway remarked that “we find this meeting very timely in the Council this afternoon”, underlining that Norway strongly condemns the coup, and demands the immediate release of PM Hamdok and all other detainees.

‘The right to peaceful assembly must be respected in Sudan’ – UNSC Representative for Norway

“We are extremely concerned about the use of violence against peaceful protestors... the right to peaceful assembly must be respected in Sudan,” the representative said. Citing Monday’s joint statement by the Sudan Troika (USA, UK, and Norway), the representative pledged that the Troika “will continue to support the democratic Sudan with a fully legitimate civilian government”.

Andre Lipand, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN for Estonia, explained that “Estonia together with several other Council members has called for this consultation today to condemn the military coup that has taken place in Sudan, and to urge for the restoration of the civilian government and return towards the path to democracy”.

‘Putting the Prime Minister, other Ministers, and civil society leaders under house arrest or detaining them is entirely unacceptable’ – Andre Lipand, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN for Estonia

Representative Lipand emphasised that “putting the Prime Minister, other Ministers, and civil society leaders under house arrest or detaining them is entirely unacceptable… and the use of military against protestors, which has resulted in deaths, is entirely unacceptable”.

First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, was hesitant to describe the developments in Sudan as a ‘coup’, but underscored the necessity for all violence to cease.

‘To stop the violence for all sides is the most important thing…” – First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy

“Violence is unacceptable from all sides,” Polyanskiy said. When asked whether he considers developments in Sudan as a ‘coup’, he said it is difficult to say. “A coup has a concrete definition. There are situations like this in many parts of the world, and they are not being called ‘coups’, so… It’s up to the Sudanese to decide whether it is a coup or not.”

‘It’s up to the Sudanese to decide whether it is a coup or not’  – First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy

Asked what the UNSC can do, Polyanskiy stressed that “first and foremost, the UN should appeal to stop the violence, and to resume dialogue.” Asked whether he agrees with the USA suspending aid to Sudan, Polyanskiy said “no, I don’t, because we need to assist Sudan in any case in the transition”.

Commenting after the meeting on the possibility of a joint statement by the UNSC, Polyanskiy quipped that “it takes 15 to tango in the Security Council.”

As a permanent member of the UNSC, Russia enjoys the right of veto. When reporters asked Representative Polyanskiy what Russia, the USA, and the UK agree on, he argued that “it is too premature”, but assured that all countries are preoccupied with what is happening in Sudan, and are of a consensus that the current violence must end.


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