In Final Briefing to Security Council, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative Says Sudanese “Need Our Support and Solidarity More Than Ever”

Politically Speaking
3 min readSep 13, 2023


Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan Volker Perthes briefing the Security Council, 13 September 2023. Credit: UN Web TV.

Five months since deadly conflict erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the fighting shows no sign of abating, and neither side appears close to a decisive military victory, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, Volker Perthes, told the Security Council today. Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in the country, Perthes, who announced his resignation, said at least 5,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict, and over 12,000 injured.

“These are conservative numbers,” he said, adding that in Darfur, violence has worsened dramatically, and that the warring parties have demonstrated “blatant disregard for human rights and international humanitarian law.”

The United Nations will never stay neutral when it comes to war and human rights abuses, he said. “We are on the side of the Sudanese civilians,” Perthes went on, “women and the vulnerable populations who bear the brunt of the conflict. There is little doubt about who is responsible for what: Often indiscriminate aerial bombing is conducted by those who have an air force, which is the SAF. Most of the sexual violence, lootings and killings happen in areas controlled by the RSF and are conducted or tolerated by the RSF and their allies. Both sides are arbitrarily arresting, detaining, and even torturing civilians and there are reports of extrajudicial killings. We need to impress on the warring parties that they cannot operate with impunity, and there will be accountability for the crimes committed.”

“The descent into fighting on 15 April could have been avoided if the warring sides had heeded multiple calls of both Sudanese and international actors for de-escalation, and continued with dialogue,” Perthes continued. Sudanese civilians, the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and regional and international partners all made efforts to help the parties resolve their differences through negotiations, he said.

Announcing his resignation after two and a half years in the post, Perthes said: “The Sudanese people inspired the whole world when they bravely upended three decades of dictatorial rule. They need our support and solidarity more than ever, in pressuring the military leaderships to end this war and holding them to account, and in empowering civilians for an eventual transition towards democratic governance.”

The Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Sudan

In his report to the Council, the Secretary-General writes that the ongoing hostilities have led to a breakdown of the rule of law and the protection of civilians. He strongly condemned ethnically motivated attacks in Darfur and the heinous murder of the Wali of West Darfur and countless other Sudanese. “Perpetrators must be brought to justice,” he says, pointing out that the prevailing impunity and the lawlessness that has emerged during the conflict “continue to expose civilian vulnerabilities, destabilize communities and institutions, and increase ethnic polarization.”

The Secretary-General calls on the warring parties and non-state armed actors to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law to refrain from attacks against civilians and civilian objects and to respect the right to life. He also calls on the parties “to engage with my Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict on measures to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence, such as declaring zero tolerance for sexual violence, establishing accountability procedures and granting unimpeded access for monitoring and the provision of services.”

The Secretary-General welcomes mediation efforts led by the African Union and IGAD to end the conflict. “The United Nations,” he writes, “remains committed to strengthening its support to these processes. I also commend the critical efforts of Saudi Arabia and the United States to facilitate ceasefires, which enabled the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance.”




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