Expected Council Action
In February, the Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee by 12 February, in advance of its expiration on 12 March, as set out in resolution 2508.
The mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) expires on 3 June in accordance with resolution 2524.
Key Recent Developments
On 16 and 17 January, 160 people were reportedly killed and 215 injured in clashes between the Masalit and Arab communities around a camp for internally displaced people in West Darfur. The clashes also led to the mass displacement of over 50,000 persons from the camp and nearby villages. Sudanese authorities responded by declaring a state of emergency and imposing a curfew in the region. The government also deployed military units to West Darfur. In South Darfur, 72 people were reportedly killed and 73 injured on 18 January in clashes between the Falata and Reizigat tribes.
In an 17 January statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the Sudanese authorities to end the fighting and ensure the protection of civilians, in accordance with the government’s National Plan for Civilian Protection. (The plan was transmitted to the Council in May 2020.) On 21 January, the UK, along with Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, and the US, raised the violence in Darfur under “any other business”, discussing the government’s response and possibilities for UNITAMS to support the government.
The violence in Darfur comes less than a month after the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2559, on 22 December 2020, on the exit of the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The resolution terminated the mandate of UNAMID as of 31 December 2020 and requested the Secretary-General to complete the withdrawal of all uniformed and civilian UNAMID personnel by 30 June, other than those required for the mission’s liquidation. (For more see our What’s In Blue story of 21 December 2020.)
On 8 December 2020, the Council received a briefing on UNITAMS and UNAMID from Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare. On 11 December 2020, Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia) provided the most recent quarterly briefing in his capacity as chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, during which he highlighted several aspects of the panel’s reporting. He also reiterated that the sanctions regime “is not to punish the Sudan, but to support the attainment of sustainable peace”. Sudan made a statement expressing its position that sanctions should be lifted.
In a 30 December 2020 letter, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Volker Perthes (Germany) as Special Representative for the Sudan and head of UNITAMS.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Following the violence in Darfur in January, the spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement on 22 January that “the lack of security and chronic impunity in the region leaves it vulnerable to further serious violence”. The spokesperson added that there “are severe gaps in protection by state authorities, as well as a lack of accountability for violations” and that “local health facilities have reported being unable to cope with the high number of casualties”.
Women, Peace and Security
On 14 December 2020, the Informal Experts Group (IEG) on women, peace and security met on Sudan, attended by all Council members. Among the key topics discussed were points related to the peace agreement signed by the transitional government of Sudan, the Sudan Revolutionary Front and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi in Juba in October 2020, including the fact that only 10 percent of negotiators involved were women and all mediators were male. Speakers stressed that lockdown measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic had made documenting cases of conflict-related sexual violence harder. (UNAMID reported 191 cases of such violence in 2020.) They also noted the transitional government’s adoption of Sudan’s first National Action Plan on women, peace and security. During the meeting, UN entities provided Council members with recommendations. They asked the Council to ensure that civilians were adequately protected in Darfur; this included protecting women from sexual and gender-based violence. They also requested that the Council retain and support women protection advisors and gender advisors in UNITAMS.
Key Issues and Options
An immediate issue for the Council is renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts. Another issue is to consider reviewing the sanctions measures on Darfur, as signaled in the past three resolutions that renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts. A further issue is to consider establishing clear, well–identified and measurable key benchmarks to guide the Council in reviewing the sanctions measures on the government of Sudan, an intention expressed by the Council in resolutions 2455 and 2508.
An option for the Council is to consider, in the resolution renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts, including a request that the Secretariat provide a report assessing the role of the sanctions regime and specifying options for the elaboration of benchmarks, as was done in relation to South Sudan with the adoption of resolution 2521 on 29 May 2020. A less likely option is to consider expanding the regime’s designation criteria to include acts of rape or sexual violence. In assessing the options, Council members are likely to be informed by the final report of the Panel of Experts, which at the time of writing was yet to be released publicly.
A key issue that Council members will want to follow closely is the security situation in Darfur, particularly in light of the violence in January and the drawdown and exit of UNAMID currently underway, as set out in resolution 2559. Another key issue is what role UNITAMS can play, within its mandate contained in resolution 2524, in supporting the government to fulfil its obligation to protect civilians, including implementation of its National Plan for Civilian Protection. Council members could consider holding an Informal Interactive Dialogue with Sudanese officials to discuss how the Council and UNITAMS could best support implementation of this plan.
It appears that members continue to hold divergent views on the utility of the sanctions regime. Those members that would like the Council to review and ease the sanctions measures, including developing benchmarks in this regard, may encourage that this be done now by emphasising positive developments in the country over the past year, such as the signing of the peace agreement in Juba in October 2020. Following the adoption of resolution 2508 in February 2020, China said that regular review of the sanctions regime was necessary and urged Council members to consider developing a road map towards lifting such measures. Russia, too, said it was time to formulate a road map towards the lifting of sanctions. However, other Council members may take a more cautious approach in reviewing the sanctions measures, including as a result of the violence in Darfur in January and the findings contained in the final report of the Panel of Experts. At the time of writing, Council members had been unable to agree on a statement condemning the violence in Darfur in January.
The UK is the penholder on Sudan, and the US is the penholder on Sudan sanctions. Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia) chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee. The vice-chairs are Ireland and Viet Nam.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SUDAN
|Security Council Resolutions|
|22 December 2020S/RES/2559||This was on the expiration of the mandate of UNAMID on 31 December 2020.|
|3 June 2020S/RES/2524||This established the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).|
|11 February 2020S/RES/2508||This resolution extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts for one year.|
|1 December 2020S/2020/1155||This was the 90-day report on UNITAMS and UNAMID.|
|Security Council Letters|
|30 December 2020S/2021/11||This was a letter that announced the appointment of Volker Perthes (Germany) as Special Representative for the Sudan and head of UNITAMS.|
|30 December 2020S/2020/1319||This was a summary of the meeting on Sudan of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security on 14 December 2020.|
|15 December 2020S/2020/1209||This was the annual report of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.|
|11 December 2020S/2020/1235||This was a record of the quarterly briefing on 11 December by the Chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.|
|8 December 2020S/2020/1183||This was a record of the briefing on 8 December on UNITAMS and UNAMID.|