Expected Council Action
Contrary to expectations, the Council did not discuss Darfur in July, except for a report from the Chair of the 1591 Sanctions Committee in consultations on 27 July. Perhaps attention was diverted due to events in North Korea, Gaza and Lebanon. This diversion of attention is noteworthy because in the previous three months the Council had devoted on average three meetings each month to Darfur.
In early August the Secretariat report on transition to a United Nations operation in Darfur is expected. The Secretary-General will also likely ask the Council to authorise increased support for the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) as a stop gap measure. A resolution is expected.
In spite of many diplomatic initiatives in July, the international community has still not achieved consent from Khartoum for transition to a UN force in Darfur. Yet the crisis seems to be steadily worsening (on 21 July UNHCR confirmed attacks on aid workers and suspension of many international humanitarian operations).
Despite the position of Sudan, it is noteworthy that the AU at its Peace and Security Council (PSC) meeting on 27 June reaffirmed its decision from the 15 May PSC meeting to:
endorse the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA);
pursue concrete steps to effect the transition from AMIS to a UN operation.
On 28 June the PSC decided that targeted sanctions measures, including a travel ban and assets freeze should be imposed on those undermining the DPA and requested that a list be sent to the Security Council. (At press time the Security Council had not received the list.)
The PSC did not take a decision on expanding AMIS’ capability although it had recommendations before it on increasing the troop strength (from 7,000 to 10,500 military personnel with an additional 2,200 civilian police personnel.) However, it did decide to expand AMIS’ mandate to perform the additional monitoring and verification duties needed under the DPA, including protection of civilians “within existing strength and capacity”.
On 1-2 July, at the AU Summit, the Secretary-General held discussions with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on the need to strengthen AMIS, to consolidate the DPA and on the importance of the deployment of a UN force in Darfur. Bashir undertook to submit a plan to the Secretary-General by the end of July on the steps to be taken to fulfil the government’s commitments to the DPA over the next six months.
On 12 July Under Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno told the press that the UN would be developing a transition plan based initially on strengthening AMIS and that the priority would be to “beef up its structure”.
On 18 July a pledging conference was held for AMIS in Brussels. The EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the UN Secretary-General together with donor countries like the US and UK again pressed the Sudanese government about the need for the UN force in Darfur. Solana expressed optimism that the Sudanese government would agree. The pledging conference raised sufficient donations for AMIS to continue till the end of its current mandate on 30 September 2006.
The UN-AU joint assessment mission took place from 9 to 21 June. The recommendations from this visit were available to the PSC (and are summarised in the PSC report circulated to the Council by AU Chair, Congo, as document S/2006/461 of 29 June.) It indicated that the most immediate need is to strengthen AMIS and adopt a unified plan for a transition to a UN operation.
On 20 July in a meeting with Salva Kiir Mayardit, Vice-President of Sudan and the head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), US President George Bush pushed for Sudan to allow for a UN presence to stop the violence in Darfur and to allow the AU forces to be “blue-helmeted”.
The main issue is the continued resistance from Sudan to a transition from AMIS to a UN force in Darfur, despite clear evidence of a worsening security situation for the civilian population.
A related issue is whether (and when) to address the question of what to do to give effect to the “responsibility to protect” principle if it seems that Khartoum intends to stall indefinitely.
Another related issue is whether to return to the sanctions regime. Targeted sanctions against known violators of the DPA have already received support from the AU. Including high-level government officials could become an issue, especially if Khartoum reneges on President Bashir’s undertakings to Kofi Annan in Banjul regarding DPA implementation.
Yet another issue which will soon arise is how to keep AMIS in operation. There has been no formal extension of AMIS’ mandate. The AU has said it is willing to consider maintaining AMIS till the end of the year provided it has sufficient financial support and if the Sudanese government agrees to the deployment of a UN force to take over from AMIS.
A critical issue not yet being addressed is force generation. The UN is already reported to be taking the lead for a proposed stabilisation force in Lebanon. The question will be, if it can do so for Lebanon, why does it appear not to be willing to do so for Darfur at a similarly early stage in development of the concept of operations.
Finally, there is the looming issue of what it means in practice to give more support to AMIS in the next few months. Most assistance for AMIS is currently delivered bilaterally but concern about the inability of AMIS to arrest the situation on the ground means that funding beyond September is unlikely. The Secretary-General seems to be ready to ask the Council to formally approve the use of UN resources, including in communications, logistics, public information and command and control, as well as equipment such as helicopters and APCs. This would in practice create a hybrid force, never before tried by the UN, with UN assets and personnel placed under the command of another institution. A related issue will be financing of this measure from UN assessed peacekeeping funds. The Secretary-General will likely have to take his request to the ACABQ and the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly (where every UN member state, in practice, has a veto). Given that issues of principle are involved and the slow pace of work in the General Assembly machinery, this proposal could become bogged down. On the other hand it is a proposal which fits neatly with the Council’s thematic work on the subject of “Cooperation between the UN and Regional Organisations”. In that regard, in October 2005, in resolution 1631 the Council:
recognised the necessity to support capacity building at the regional level, in particular strengthening the capacity of African regional organisations;
stressed the importance of developing the ability of regional forces to deploy; and
expressed determination to take appropriate steps to further develop cooperation between the UN and regional organisations in maintaining international peace and security.
This theme also received strong support at the World Summit in 2005. General Assembly resolution 60/1 recognised the importance of forging predictable partnerships and arrangements between the UN and regional organisations on peacekeeping, and placed particular emphasis on assistance to Africa.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The consensus in the Council demonstrated in resolution 1679, adopted under Chapter VII, on the need for a transition to a UN force in Darfur seems to be holding. The general mood is one of quiet optimism that Khartoum will eventually be brought round. While the Council has been remarkably united in its recent actions on Sudan, it is clear that some Council members would be uncomfortable with adopting a stronger position vis-à-vis Khartoum, especially if it includes targeted sanctions against the government. There are also concerns that some of the frustrations building in the Council over its inability to act on the Middle East could play out in negotiations on Darfur. A forceful resolution at this stage is likely to face opposition from China. In the past when strong action has been suggested against Sudan, China has either abstained or used the threat of its veto to delay or weaken action. In the past, Qatar has also abstained on resolutions like resolution 1672 imposing travel restrictions and financial sanctions on Sudanese individuals. However, in the end all members will be influenced by the sustained political support in Africa for the transition to a UN force.
Agree on a narrowly focused resolution which in essence responds to the request of the Secretary-General to approve support for AMIS for a specified period of time.
In addition to the above, request the Secretary-General to follow-up resolution 1679 and the 27 June PSC decisions in Banjul by working actively with possible troop-contributing countries on force generation. (This might be thought to be a balanced approach in terms of the ongoing negotiations with the Sudanese government to secure consent for UN deployment, involving both some carrot and some stick).
In addition to the above, include in the section requesting the Secretary-General to work with troop contributing countries, some initial or provisional decisions on the mandate for a UN force in Darfur and an indicative concept of operations. (This option may respond to the concerns of members who feel that a stronger combination of incentives and threats are the best response at this time.)
In addition to the above, include in the resolution a travel ban and assets freeze against those blocking the implementation of the DPA.
Finally, affirm the Council’s intention to consider non-consensual deployment of troops if necessary. (This seems unlikely at this stage, given the difficulties of going into a potentially hostile as opposed to a permissive, i.e. peacekeeping, environment.) There is little support for such action from within the Secretariat. At present the Council is hoping not to have to seriously consider this option and some members are likely to be of the view that this would be premature.
The main underlying problem for the Council is the possibility that Khartoum may be simply buying time till the end of AMIS’ mandate. If the UN does provide temporary support for the AU as currently envisaged but the Sudanese opposition continues through to September, the Council could be facing a serious dilemma regarding what to do. A related issue is the possibility that taking the financing of this hybrid operation to the General Assembly may shift the debate about the presence of the UN in Darfur to a forum of 192 members and give added scope for delaying tactics.
If consent is not forthcoming, a UN intervention would face serious risks. In the absence of a permissive environment a force would have to be equipped to deter military attacks rather than keep the peace. Generally, such interventions involving hostile situations have been undertaken by coalitions of member states.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
|Latest Panel of Experts’ Report|
|UNMIS: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission|
|Jan Pronk (Netherlands)|
|UNMIS: Size and Composition of Mission|
|1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $969.47 million (gross)|
|Head of AMIS|
|Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe (Nigeria)|
|AMIS: Size and Composition|