Speech by H.E. Ambassador Robert van den Dool
Head of Delegation of the European Union to Sudan
On the occasion of the International Day of Peace 2021
Tuesday 21 September
Salaam maleikum dear Friends of Peace,
Today, we celebrate the international day of peace. And not only that, today is also the international day of cease fire and non-violence. In 2012, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing the cause of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe and the world. After 63 years of progress and development achieving peace in Europe, the European Union has become an example and model for peace and prosperity. Today, I want to share some of this experience with you in four messages. We can always learn from each other, and acquire what suits our local circumstances best.
With the 2019 revolution, which called for freedom, peace and justice, Sudan chose the path of peace and prosperity by overthrowing the NCP regime and setting off on a transition towards democracy. Sudan is thus not far from the example of the European Union. The EU has supported this transition from the start and also supports the efforts to achieve comprehensive and lasting peace. Following the peaceful revolution in 2019, a peace agreement was achieved. The EU was a proud witness to this peace on 3 October 2020, and I was personally honored to be present at the signing in Juba.
After this milestone, Sudan has continued to make positive headlines in the world:
All those are positive signals. However, peace in Sudan is by no means a done deal. There are many steps still to be taken to ensure equal participation of all Sudanese, particularly in the peripheries, and even more particularly women and youths, in the making of a peaceful and prosperous Sudan.
We have to understand that military solutions are not the answer to political problems. At the heart of many violent conflicts lie issues of inequality, injustice and exclusion. The solution for those issues is dialogue, compromise and inclusivity, not violence. Violence only brings more violence. Military solutions will only complicate the situations. Force cannot resolve profound underlying political, social, economic and governance problems or sustain peace.
My first message today, therefore, is that peace in Sudan has to remain the priority in every ones agenda and I call upon all parties, whoever they represent, to work together towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace for the country.
Dear Friends of Peace,
Sudan also lies at the heart of Horn of Africa, which is one of the most complex and conflict-ridden regions of the world. In the European Union, we remain concerned about the violence, civil wars, political instability, humanitarian emergencies, devastating environmental degradation, economic hardship and regional competition which the Horn has seen for many decades.
More concretely, today, we are all aware of the violent conflict in Ethiopia, which has come at a huge human cost, with thousands killed, millions displaced, more than 50,000 refugees in Sudan and many in desperate need of assistance.
More generally, we have to remember on this international day of peace that the effect of any conflict is far-reaching. There are more than 20 million refugees fleeing their countries or risking their lives as a result violent conflicts insecurity or political repression. War has economic, social, humanitarian and international repercussions. A conflict in a country can drag a whole region because the world is more connected and interdependent than ever.
My second message today is, therefore, that conflicts in the region are as bad for the country as internal conflicts. Therefore, together with the EU and other peace loving partners, Sudan must also continue to make every effort to achieve peace in the region.
Therefore, on this international Peace Day, we acknowledge and support Sudan’s transitional government who is also the current president of Intergovernmental Authority on Development” (IGAD) to continue to play a constructive role, engage in active diplomacy, promote conflict resolution, assist and guide all the countries of the region towards peace, cooperation and stability.
Today, I would like to thank his excellency Mr. Mohamed Hasan Al Taishi, member of the Sovereign Council who will address this event later. His participation reflects Sudan’s resolve to strengthening the ideals of peace not only in Sudan, but in Horn of Africa and the world too.
Dear Friends of peace,
Building peace is not easy. This is a very complicated process. It requires wisdom, patience, good will and hard- work by all the partners of the government to bring the peace agreement to the ground.
My third message today, however, is that the achieving peace is not only the responsibility of the government and the political elite in Sudan. Peace cannot be simply imposed from the top to down. Real peace comes bottom-up. Peace comes from the people, by the people, and for the people.
Therefore, all the religious leaders, women’s groups, youth organizations, civil society, human rights defenders, tribal leaders, native administrations, the private sector, intellectuals and all sectors of the community have a role to play.
Dear friends of peace,
The European Union strongly believes that young people have a tremendous responsibility to spread the values of tolerance and co-existence. Young people should not be excluded because of a perceived lack of experience and qualifications. Engaging the young people of Sudan in the peace building process is very important and key to building a resilient and inclusive society.
That is why at the European Union we support today the project of Sudanese artists for peace, a project that started in 2020 and brings together Sudanese young artists and musicians who write poems, compose music, design choreography and sing songs. They carry the heritage which reflects the diversity and unity of a peaceful Sudan. Through their music and art, they want to deliver a message to all the Sudanese people saying that peace is doable in Sudan.
Dear friends of peace,
My fourth and last message today, is that peace is a collective responsibility and that we should all give peace a chance because it is an ongoing process.
I thank you for listening and I wish you all Happy International Day of Peace. Let the celebration begin!