December 2005 Monthly Forecast

Posted 23 November 2005
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AFRICA

Darfur

Expected Council Action

The Council is expected to:

  • Renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts on sanctions; the resolution may also address the recent harassment of Panel members in Sudan.
  • Receive a briefing from the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC); agreement on a statement urging cooperation with the Court will require complex negotiation but may be possible.
  • The Panel’s final report and the Secretary-General’s monthly report are also expected and are likely to trigger informal discussions on the wider deterioration of conditions in Darfur and the reasons for the ineffectiveness of the Sanctions Committee. Some reference to these issues in the resolution is possible but, in the absence of dramatic further developments in the region, new substantive action to address them is not expected at this stage.

Key Facts
The conflict in Darfur started in 2003, pitting the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) against the Government of Sudan. The Government responded by sending troops and recruiting Arab tribesmen, known as the Janjaweed, who engaged in brutal attacks against the civilian population of this western region of Sudan.

The April 2004 ceasefire is monitored by the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), with support from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

In 2004, the Council imposed an arms embargo against non state actors and in 2005 expanded it to all parties to the conflict. It later established a travel ban and assets freeze and, to monitor compliance, established a Sanctions Committee and a Panel of Experts.

In December, the Panel’s mandate will expire and as such it is expected to present a report and brief the Committee by then.

The sanctions regime only covers Darfur, and not the entire country. Sanctions violations are reportedly ongoing, especially Khartoum’s failure to cut support to the Janjaweed or disarm them.

The Council referred the situation to the ICC on 31 March, per the recommendations of the International Commission of Inquiry (ICI), which reported gross human rights and international humanitarian law violations in Darfur. The ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo briefed the Council in June 2005 on the status of ongoing investigations. He will brief the Council again in December, and is expected to address the level and quality of cooperation the Court has received from the Government of Sudan. Khartoum has decided to establish a new specialised tribunal, in the hopes of eliminating the ICC jurisdiction over the case.

The situation in Darfur deteriorated significantly in October and November. In his November report, the Secretary-General drew attention to the dramatic nature of the situation on the ground, with increasing lawlessness, ceasefire violations, fragmentation of opposition groups, suffering of civilian populations and attacks against AMIS troops and humanitarians. He also pointed to the possible internationalisation of the conflict along the Sudan-Chad border.

In this context, little progress has emerged in peace talks, largely due to fragmentation of the opposition groups. The United States undertook high-level efforts in November, led by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, to bring the factions of the opposition groups together. These talks were not successful. The next round of peace talks is expected to commence late November. 

Key Issues
The immediate question for the Council is the mandate renewal for the Panel of Experts. To date, the Panel’s effectiveness has been hindered by the lack of cooperation on the ground, including difficulties with AMIS and hostility aimed directly at Panel’s members from Sudanese officials. On 5 November, two Panel members were roughed up. Following a demarche from the head of UNMIS, the Sudanese foreign ministry promised that the Panel’s work would not be further hindered. An important secondary question for the Council will be how to respond to this incident, which not only challenged the Council’s authority, but also violated UN norms regarding the safety and security of UN personnel.

The broader issue facing the Council is how it can be more effective in ensuring the protection of civilians from violence and encouraging long-term prospects for peace. The Council has passed several important resolutions on Darfur, but has been reluctant to engage more closely to ensure the implementation of actions called for in these resolutions. The Council’s focus has been diverted by the tension between the desire to preserve the North-South peace process on the one hand and the need to curb violence and impunity in Darfur on the other. The problems with the sanctions regime (including getting the sanctions Committee operational), the resumption of attacks on civilians and the difficulties facing AMIS remain on the table as important, ongoing issues. The possible merging of the mandates of AMIS and UNMIS has already been raised by NGOs.

The briefing of ICC Chief Prosecutor Ocampo will also shed some light on the implementation of one of the Council’s other decisions: the referral of the situation in Darfur to the ICC. But it will raise new issues for the Council, including how far it should go in supporting the ICC investigation or calling for cooperation with its investigation. In this regard, recent Council pressure on Syria to cooperate with the investigation of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), while not an exact parallel, sets a very important benchmark.

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Council Dynamics
Council members have been divided on several issues that will need to be addressed in December. 

All along, Russia, China and Algeria have been reluctant to see the imposition of sanctions on Sudan. It took several months to reach agreement on the creation of the Sanctions Committee after the adoption of the first Council resolution establishing sanctions. Furthermore, that Committee has been essentially inactive. This is largely due to the fact that it has not yet agreed on guidelines for its operation. With no guidelines, the Committee thus lacks the capacity to target sanctions against individuals. In this context, recent remarks by the United States about the need to energise Council’s sanctions committees generally may signal some new momentum toward making Darfur sanctions work.

With respect to the ICC, the United States’ entrenched opposition to the Court’s very existence was an important factor in Council discussions back in February and March. Eventually the US decision to abstain rather than veto the resolution permitted the referral of the situation in Darfur to the ICC. It is likely that any move in the Council that could institutionally or legally strengthen the ICC would be opposed by the US, as well as others such as China and Algeria.

Options

  • The extension of the mandate of the Panel of Experts when it expires at the end of December is highly likely. In light of the numerous stumbling blocks encountered by the Panel in Sudan and the recent assurances of cooperation from Khartoum, the mandate’s extension would afford an opportunity for these promises to be tested and, possibly, for the sanctions measures to begin to have an impact.
  • Condemning the harassment of Panel members and demanding future cooperation is also an option.
  • Action to approve the Sanctions Committee guidelines is a further option.
  • Another possibility is to extend the arms embargo to Sudan’s entire territory, rather than have them limited just to Darfur.
  • Regarding the ICC, the Council could urge full cooperation with the Court, as it has done in the past in the cases of the ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and very recently with the UNIIIC.

Underlying Problems
Darfur remains extremely unstable. The ceasefire has not held in the past few months, and there have been recent rebel and government attacks against the civilian population. As a result, the UN decided to stop some of its aid delivery in October.

The main risk comes from fragmentation among the rebels and also, to some extent, within the government. In particular, the SLM/A has effectively fragmented, largely along ethnic lines: an ethnic Zaghawa faction is leaded by SLM/A’s current President Minni Arko Minnawi, while the Fur faction is leaded by the former movement’s President Mohamed al-Nur. Minnawi’s election in November was marked by the absence of Nur, who refused to participate.

There is increasing concern about whether AMIS will be able to sustain its activities in Darfur. With the situation worsening, difficulties from the lack of funds and experience on the part of AU peacekeepers become increasingly noticeable.

UN Documents

 Security Council Resolutions
  • S/Res/1593 (31 March 2005) referred the situation to the ICC.
  • S/Res/1591(29 March 2005) strengthened sanctions, and established a Sanctions Committee and a Panel of Experts.
  • S/Res/1590 (24 March 2005) requested the Secretary-General to report on options for the UN Mission in Sudan to assist AMIS.
  • S/Res/1574 (19 November 2004) expressed support for peace processes in Sudan.
  • S/Res/1564(18 September 2004) established the International Commission of Inquiry.
  • S/Res/1556 (30 July 2004) deemed the situation in Darfur a threat to international peace and security, established an arms embargo, requested monthly Secretary-General’s reports and expressed intention to take action against Khartoum.
 Presidential Statements
 Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2005/719 (16 November 2005) is the latest report of the Secretary-General.
  • S/2005/285 (03 May 2005) detailed options for UN assistance to AMIS.
  • S/2004/703 (30 August 2004) noted that the Sudanese government did not fulfil its obligations under Resolution 1556 (2004).

Historical Background

 3 November 2005 Minni Arko Minnawi elected SLM/A President.
 20 October 2005 Peace talks suspended for a month.
 15 September 2005 Peace talks resumed in Abuja.
 30 June 2005 The Secretary-General appointed the Panel of Experts
 29 June 2005 The ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo briefed the Council.
 6 June 2005 The ICC Chief Prosecutor announced his decision to investigate atrocities in Darfur.
 20 June 2005 The special Sudanese court began trials of government-allied Popular Defence Forces on charges of killings in Darfur.
 28 April 2005

The AU Peace and Security Council increased the authorized strength of AMIS to 7,731 military and police personnel.

 31 March 2005 The Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC.
 29 March 2005 The Council authorized travel and financial sanctions. 
 25 January 2005

ICI report concluded that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed in Darfur. 

 09 January 2005  

Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed to end the North/South conflict. 

 19 November 2004   The Council convened in Nairobi to discuss Sudan, including Darfur.
 20 October 2004

The AU decided to expand the mandate of AMIS to include the protection of civilians.

 18 September 2004

ICI established.

 01 September 2004 Parties called for the deployment of AU peacekeepers.
 30 July 2004   The Council imposed an arms embargo.
 08 April 2004

Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement signed.

 February 2003 Insurgency started in Darfur.

Other Relevant Facts 

 Panel of Experts
 Gerard P. McHugh (Ireland)
 Ernst Jan Hogendoorn (Netherlands)
 Sherrone Blake Lobban (Jamaica)
 Eustace Mainza (Zambia)
 AU’s Chief Mediator
 Salim Ahmed Salim (Tanzania)
 Head of AMIS
 Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe (Nigeria)
 AMIS Force Commander
 Major-General Festus Okonkwo (Nigeria)
 Size and Composition of AMIS
 Total authorized strength:  6,171 military and 1,560 police personnel
 Strength as of 31October 2005: 5,577 military personnel and 1,191 police personnel
 Key troop-contributing countries: Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Ghana
 Cost (requested budget)
 $466 million ($290 million pledged)
 Largest donors: Canada, EU, US

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