I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Perthes, for his presentation. I also welcome the presence of the representative of Sudan at this meeting.
Sudan is at a critical juncture to restore its democratic transition. The hopes of the Sudanese people for freedom, peace and justice rest on this process. Switzerland welcomes the constructive engagement and progress made in recent weeks in addressing the five key issues identified in the 5 December framework agreement. We call on the signatories to continue their dialogue efforts and on the political forces that remain outside the framework agreement to engage constructively. The renewed commitment of the leadership of the Sovereign Council to hand over power to a civilian government is a further encouraging signal.
We recognize the key role that the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), as well as the African Union and IGAD are playing in facilitating this process.
Now is the time for this progress to be translated into a political agreement. There are three key reasons for this:
First, a political solution at the national level is essential to improve the humanitarian, economic and security situation across the country. We remain deeply concerned about the continuing violence in Darfur, Kordofan and Blue Nile. This violence, which primarily affects the civilian population, is unacceptable. We call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law. Switzerland welcomes the work of the Darfur Permanent Ceasefire Committee, one of the few mechanisms of the Juba Peace Agreement which have been established. This Committee, supported by Switzerland since its creation, plays a key role in defusing tensions. However, more needs to be done to tackle insecurity, as human suffering continues to increase. Nearly 16 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance - the highest number since 2011.
Second, with the imminent return of civilian leadership, we need to invest in strengthening an inclusive transition, backed by broad public support. The efforts of the civilian and military signatories to broaden the participation of various actors in the five dialogue processes are an encouraging signal. However, despite their engagement, women remain under-represented throughout the process. This must change: women have been at the forefront of the Sudanese revolution, and their full, equal and meaningful participation remains absolutely crucial to the success of the political transition. We call on all parties to keep their promises to ensure at least 40% representation of women in future transitional institutions.
Third, a strong commitment to justice will be fundamental to restoring the trust of the Sudanese people in the country's authorities and breaking the cycles of violence. Those responsible for human rights violations and abuses must be held accountable. We remain deeply concerned about recurring reports of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in the IDP camps in Darfur. The recent visit of the expert on the human rights situation in Sudan is an important step. We reiterate his call for a comprehensive and inclusive transitional justice process, tailored to the different regions of the country, focused on the needs of the victims and taking into account the gender dimension.
Although a political agreement is a significant step forward, the real work will only begin thereafter. Switzerland will continue to support the transition in Sudan and to engage with the Sudanese people on the road to a more peaceful future.
I thank you.