March 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 24 February 2006
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Expected Council Action
The Council will renew the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). But the major focus of attention will be the transition from the AU operation in Darfur (AMIS) to a new UN operation.
If the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) ministerial meeting on 3 March endorses the transition, this will open the way for the Council to work on the details of the mandate for the UN operation in March.

At the time of writing, it seems possible that Council members will adopt an interim resolution or presidential statement before the end of February reinforcing the momentum in favour of a transition.

The sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts mandate, which expire on 29 March, will be renewed.  But sanctions issues are likely to become controversial and it is unclear whether the focus on the transition issue will lead to delays on listing violators.

Key Facts
Encouraged by the 12 January AU decision to support in principle a transition to the UN, the Council adopted a presidential statement on 3 February giving its blessing to active planning for the transition.  But the statement also showed a degree of caution. It:

  • reflected some members’ concerns with costs;
  • acknowledged the need for clear acceptance from the AU; and
  • recognised the vital importance of progress in the Abuja peace talks (if there is no agreement this will have a very significant impact on the complexity, mandate and size of any new mission.)

By contrast, the Council failed to acknowledge at all AU wishes to see the transition as a UN-AU “partnership.”  AU concerns in this regard have intensified as discussion of an enhanced NATO role has emerged.  The AU decision to bring forward the PSC meeting from late to early March is a reflection of their concern to maintain a leadership role.  It may be that AU concern in this regard is beginning to shift from how to secure a real partnership to consideration of a delayed or phased transition.

The Secretary-General has shown strong personal leadership on this issue, most recently pressing both the Council and potential troop contributors on the need to rise to the Darfur challenge. Having received the support he was looking for from the Council, he has:

  • stepped up planning;
  • carried forward consultations with the AU;
  • initiated lobbying to ensure that any UN force has sufficiently robust capacity to carry out the mandate effectively (including a meeting with President Bush at the White House); and
  • emphasised the need to secure funds for AMIS for the next few months (the UK has already confirmed that it will provide twenty million pounds.)

The Secretary-General will present his recommendations on the transition in March following the PSC meeting and further planning sessions with the AU. It is expected that the recommendations on mandate and force structure will be flexible enough to accommodate both the possibility that no peace agreement is reached and that the situation on the ground worsens, particularly regarding Chad.

The Sanctions Committee finally transmitted the report of the Panel of Experts to the Council. The Panel found that the parties, Libya, Chad and Eritrea violated the embargo. It recommends (i) strengthening the embargo with an arms inventory, and/or extending the embargo to the entire Sudan; (ii) adopting a list of violators; and (iii) establishing a no-fly zone over Darfur. Discussions on the list of violators are ongoing within the Committee. However, it has not yet adopted guidelines and thus it is unclear when it will approve any list.

Key Issues
Recent developments suggest that the main issues that need to be addressed by the Council are:

  • Responding to outstanding issues from the PSC meeting, including the AU position on partnership and timing of the transition.
  • Developing a mandate, command and political leadership framework that will give effect to the AU position. There are indications that, for the AU, this means retaining leadership on the political side, including in the Abuja talks and in the political aspects of the mandate, while perhaps leaving most aspects of peacekeeping to the UN.
  • Obtaining support in the Council for a highly mobile and more robust force. The Secretary-General has made it plain that simply “rehatting” the existing AMIS force is not adequate. However, this does not mean that only western countries are being sought as troop contributors.
  • Securing financial support is a key issue. Strong political support from the US (including Congress) and Japan will be essential. But it is also important to secure voluntary funding, particularly to AMIS for the near future.
  • Securing Sudan’s acceptance.  Success in the Abuja talks would facilitate that. Recent Sudanese statements suggest some equivocation in the Sudanese position. Sudan’s consent would mean a simpler mandate and logistics and less risk.
  • But in the absence of a peace agreement, the operational planning may need to include flexibility for a situation of tacit consent.

Another set of issues relates to the sanctions regime, particularly:

  • the adoption of a list of individual violators;
  • the recommendations made by the Panel of Experts, especially the imposition of a no-fly zone (currently, there is a ban on “offensive military flights,” but its terms are unclear and it is not enforced); and
  • the relationship between lists of violators and those that may be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Council Dynamics
The 3 February statement showed an important consensus among members. But there are still considerable divisions.

  • The US, the UK and others strongly support the transition, and have made consistent efforts to expedite the process.
  • But most Council members have rejected any firm decisions in advance of the AU finalising its position.
  • China and perhaps Qatar, will be sensitive to Khartoum’s position and this could result in pressure for delaying a decision even further.
  • It remains to be seen whether there will be US support for UN budget funding. However, President Bush’s support for a much larger force probably signals that the US will not allow financial issues to block a decision.
  • The overall costs of a UN operation in Darfur will be a factor in the minds of delegations such as France and Japan. However, in the face of the clear need for increased resources, this is unlikely to be a fatal obstacle.
  • Congolese President and AU Chairman Denis Nguesso has indicated that the transition should have a leadership role for the AU. African members of the Council will be particularly sensitive to this issue.

There is also US interest in an increased NATO role in providing extended logistical support, perhaps also enforcing a no-fly zone in Darfur. While there is strong opposition, particularly within the AU, to NATO-commanded troops on the ground in Darfur, it may be that an enhanced support (and perhaps a ready reaction reserve role outside Sudan) for NATO could be viewed more favourably.

The sanctions issue is likely to become a controversial element.  Some members-the UK in particular-are expected to campaign for the adoption of a list of sanctions violators to step up pressure on the Abuja negotiations. Opposition from China, Qatar and Russia is likely on the basis that applying sanctions at this stage will complicate the UN’s position vis-à-vis Khartoum.  They are also likely to oppose the Panel’s recommendations on strengthening the sanctions regime.  It remains to be seen whether Council members supporting strengthening of the regime will continue to press on that front or whether, in light of the efforts being made to secure agreement on the transition, they will choose not to press at this time.

Options for the mandate for a new mission include:

  • monitoring a new, or the previous 2004, ceasefire;
  • protecting civilians;
  • maintaining a deterrent presence, particularly along the border with Chad;
  • seizing arms;
  • monitoring compliance with the sanctions regime;
  • assisting with the implementation of a future peace agreement; and
  • specific mandate provisions to confront LRA elements in the south.

Options to increase pressure in the Abuja negotiations include:

  • sending a small Council mission to the talks; or
  • strengthening the arms embargo, particularly by establishing a no-fly zone over Darfur.

Options on timing of decision making include:

  • early approval of a flexible mandate, capable of adjustment as events develop; or
  • proceeding with a series of Council decisions starting with a general framework resolution followed by subsequent decisions as aspects in contention are resolved.

Underlying Problems
While the focus will remain on Darfur, the existing UNMIS mandate also faces problems:

  • some armed groups are not participating in the process, especially in eastern Sudan where peace talks have been postponed indefinitely;
  • implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement may upset traditional power structures;
  • the south will be able to decide whether it desires to secede in 2011, but the north’s ability to make unity attractive remains uncertain;
  • the north still controls key ministries such as energy and defence;
  • there are growing divisions between north and south over oil revenues; and
  • regional factors threaten the peace, including the LRA.

The security situation between Sudan and Chad has been a persistent problem, including cross-border militia attacks and Chad’s increasing political instability. Libya hosted a mini-summit on 8 February to defuse the crisis. Both signed a declaration pledging to normalise their relations and to deny haven to rebels, but implementation remains uncertain.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1651 (21 December 2005) renewed the Panel of Experts mandate until 29 March 2006.

  • S/RES/1627 (23 September 2005) renewed UNMIS until 24 March 2006.

  • S/RES/1593 (31 March 2005) referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC.
  • S/RES/1591 (29 March 2005) strengthened sanctions in Darfur.
  • S/RES/1590 (24 March 2005) established UNMIS.
  • S/RES/1556 (30 July 2004) established an arms embargo in Darfur and requested monthly reports.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/5 (3 February 2006) mandated the Secretariat to start contingency planning.
  • S/PRST/2005/67 (21 December 2005) expressed concern with the current situation, in particular the spill over effects in Chad.
 Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2006/59 (30 January 2006) was the latest report on Darfur at the time of writing. 
  • S/2005/821 (21 December 2005) was the latest regular report on Sudan.
  • S/2005/285 (3 May 2005) reported on UNMIS’ assistance to AMIS.
  • S/2005/57 (31 January 2005) assessed risks in the CPA and proposed UNMIS.
 Latest Report of the Panel of Experts
 Other Documents
  • A/RES/60/1 (24 October 2005) is the World Summit Outcome.

For historical background please refer to our  February 2006 Forecast Report.

Other Relevant Facts 

 UNMIS: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
 Jan Pronk (Netherlands)
 UNMIS Force Commander
 Lieutenant-General Jasbir Singh Lidder (India)
 UNMIS: Size and Composition of Mission
  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 10,000 military personnel
  • Strength as of 13 December 2005: 4,291 military personnel
  • Key troop contributors: Bangladesh, India, Nepal
 UNMIS: Cost
 1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $969.47 million (gross)
 AU’s Chief Mediator
 Salim Ahmed Salim (Tanzania)
 Head of AMIS
 Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe (Nigeria)
 AMIS Force Commander
 Major General Collins Remy Umunakwe Ihekire (Nigeria)
 AMIS: Size and Composition
  • Total authorised strength:  6,171 military and 1,560 police personnel
  • Strength as of 20 December 2005: 5,579 military and 1,211 police personnel
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Ghana
 AMIS: Cost
  • $466 million ($290 million pledged)
  • Largest donors: Canada, EU, US

Useful Additional Sources