Norway urges parties in Sudan to accept ruling on oil region

Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague

Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague

Norway urges the parties in Sudan to respect the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to redraw the boundaries of the important oil region Abyei.

Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim said:  “The resolution of the boundary issue in Abyei is very important for the follow-up of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Northern and Southern Sudan. Norway is urging the parties, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), to respect the court’s ruling. We are also encouraging the authorities to follow up the decision.”

The Court issued its decision on the Abyei region on July 22. The decision entails an adjustment of the disputed 2005 border proposals.

“It is also important that the court’s ruling is made known and explained to local groups that are affected in Abyei,” continued Mr Solheim.

The Abyei Border Commission submitted its report on the region’s boundaries in July 2005. The National Congress Party dismissed the report on the grounds that the Commission had gone beyond its mandate. Due to the disagreement over the boundaries, no local administration was appointed for the area as set out in the peace agreement of 2005.

In May 2008, armed conflict broke out in Abyei, after a long period of tension in the area. The fighting stopped when the parties agreed on a roadmap for resolving the crisis. This included requesting the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to decide where the boundaries should be drawn. Norway assisted the parties in negotiating the roadmap.

“Now that the court has made its decision, it is particularly important that the parties work together to resolve local conflicts, and cooperate with the UN. I also urge them to do everything they can to ensure that Abyei’s local administration is able to function effectively for the local population,” Mr Solheim added.

Under the peace agreement of 2005, the local population of the Abyei region were given the right to determine by referendum whether Abyei is to be part of Northern or Southern Sudan. Under the same peace agreement, the people of Southern Sudan will have the opportunity to decide, in a referendum in January 2011, whether they want independence from the rest of Sudan and to establish their own state.

The UN has recently increased its presence in the area, where a large proportion of Sudan’s oil is produced. Other international observers are also present.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s Final Award.

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