Expected Council Action
At the time of writing, it seems that a draft resolution establishing the mandate in Darfur for the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and authorising UN assistance to the AU Mission to the Sudan (AMIS) will be adopted by 1 September. China, Russia and Qatar are uncomfortable with passing the resolution without prior consent from Sudan. However, it seems that at least the first two may abstain in view of the fact that Khartoum’s prior acceptance of the transition from AMIS to UNMIS is not essential for adoption and because implementation of the transition is not final and will require further negotiations to obtain consent from Sudan.
In September, therefore, the Council is expected to have on its plate two major issues:
implementation of its decision to gradually replace AMIS by transition to UNMIS and applying strategies to secure consent from Khartoum; and
alternative strategies (a “Plan B”) in the event that consent is not forthcoming.
At the practical level, the Council is also expected to:
extend the mandate for UNMIS in south Sudan which expires on 24 September (The Secretary-General’s quarterly report on Sudan is expected by mid-September);
renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts by 29 September and consider the Panel’s report;
decide whether to change the Panel’s mandate to include violations of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA); and
decide whether to impose targeted sanctions measures.
The Council is also expected to pay close attention to the ongoing contribution that AMIS can make in Darfur. AMIS’ mandate will expire on 30 September and Council members are likely to be encouraging the AU to extend the mandate till December.
Key Recent Developments
Fighting in Darfur has escalated considerably since the signing of the DPA on 5 May, primarily between signatories and non-signatories. A complicating factor has been the expelling of non-signatories from the Ceasefire Commission at the request of the government on 16 August. As a result of this round of violence, 50,000 civilians were displaced. Nine humanitarian workers as well as two AU peacekeepers were killed in recent weeks. There has been a sharp increase in gender-based violence, with 200 cases-up from four in previous months-reportedly documented in Kalma alone (Darfur’s largest camp) in the past five weeks.
Observers also note an increase in lack of confidence in and animosity against AMIS in camps.
Under Secretary-General Jan Egeland has warned of an impending humanitarian disaster in Darfur (there are now 1.6 million civilians cut off from aid and some NGOs have indicated that they may need to pull out of north Darfur on security grounds).
AMIS is being increasingly constrained by limitations imposed by Khartoum and the rebels. Its ability to carry out its mission to protect civilians is being rapidly eroded. The mission’s funds will run out by the end of September. Troops are due to rotate starting 1 September. At least one troop contributor has already indicated that it will not send new troops without assurances of new funding. In those circumstances, the AU seems reluctant to renew the mandate.
On 17 August, Assistant Secretary-General Hédi Annabi reportedly informed the Council that Khartoum is building up military forces in Darfur, possibly in preparation for a major offensive. This seems consistent with a document sent to the Secretary-General by the President of Sudan and circulated to the Council on 17 August detailing Khartoum’s Plan for Darfur.
The Sudanese plan is to send government troops to “stabilise” Darfur and implement the DPA. It has attracted sharp criticism, being interpreted as an attempt to delay the transition and impose a military solution prior to any transition to a UN force.
An important development in the lead up to the draft resolution was the attempt to create room for quiet diplomacy. Although there remained some in the Council who championed a policy of continuing to apply public pressure, agreement was reached on holding a private meeting of the Council at which Sudan would have a privileged opportunity to discuss the issues associated with the transition, the implications of the draft resolution and assistance to AMIS.
These initiatives attracted criticism, especially from the NGO community, for not presenting a clear political path to achieving Sudan’s consent. In the end, however, Khartoum’s decision to spurn the 28 August private session probably reinforced the case for proceeding with adoption of the resolution.
Although at press time the draft was still being finalised, it seems that it will contain a mix of things that Khartoum wants (assistance to AMIS) with things the UN and the AU want (transition to the UN later in the year). It sets 1 October as the deadline for the beginning of assistance to AMIS with a view to a phased transition.
The draft mirrors UNMIS’ original mandate in resolution 1590. Both set out the Mission’s various responsibilities, and, in separate paragraphs, authorises UNMIS to protect civilians expressly under Chapter VII. It also authorises the opening of regional offices, particularly in Chad, but leaves open the question of how the regional dimension could be effectively addressed.
applying public pressure on Khartoum (and its friends and supporters) for consent, including signalling willingness to impose sanctions and rejecting Khartoum’s “stabilisation” plan;
engaging Khartoum privately, perhaps offering some positive incentives and face-saving options such as imposing targeted sanctions against DPA non-signatories. This last option could mean that a more prominent role will be required from Arab states and China, for example. It may also imply a clear positioning of the Council against the rebels;
concentrating efforts on guaranteeing that the full package of UN assistance to AMIS recommended by the Secretary-General is quickly implemented in order to reinforce the prospects for a positive AU decision on extending the mandate, encouraging UN members to commit funding to AMIS, perhaps with the intention that over time a gradual blending of UNMIS and AMIS will occur; and
playing a larger role in force generation activities rather than leaving this task to the Secretariat (especially bearing in mind the recent problems over the troops to be sent to Lebanon).
The key issue for the Council is how to devise a clear and coherent strategy for obtaining consent. If the conclusion is reached that consent will not be forthcoming, the key issue is then what strategy will the Council adopt.
The approach so far has been to engage the government but it has also involved a spectrum of positions articulated by Council members ranging from overt pressure to quiet diplomacy. One issue that has emerged is that there seems to be an incompatibility between, on the one hand, pressuring Khartoum, while, on the other hand, conceding that transition will not take place without consent.
Another issue seems to be the incompatibility between allowing room for diplomacy, on the one hand, and on the other hand having no clear positive incentives for Khartoum.
A related issue is how to mobilise support from countries enjoying good relations with and access to the Sudanese government. To date, AU members have given solid support to the need for and appropriateness of the transition. On the other hand, Arab countries seem uncomfortable with the direction the issue has taken. An aspect of this may be related to the overall Council dynamics during the recent Gaza and Lebanon crises. An issue, therefore, is whether recent developments since resolution 1701, which have shown the positive potential for impartial UN peacekeeping, can be portrayed in a manner which is convincing in Khartoum. It may be that the positive support in the region for a UN role in Lebanon may help encourage Sudan to rethink its scepticism about the UN in Darfur.
Time itself is an issue. For practical reasons, the Secretariat is already working with the scenario that transition will only take place in the first quarter of 2007. If the transition is authorised but consent is significantly delayed, not only does the humanitarian crisis persist, and possibly worsen, but Sudan may begin to implement its “stabilisation” plan and its military offensive. In those circumstances, even with the adoption of the UN assistance package, the position of AMIS may become untenable and it may need to be extracted.
Finally, there is the issue which is likely to play out in donor capitals rather than in the Council, of future financial assistance to AMIS. It seems that for some donors, committing funds for AMIS before September would play into Sudan’s hands and only encourage further delay in granting consent. The issue for the Council, however, is whether things have now reached a point that the overriding need is to keep AMIS in place so that there is something to transition from.
Council and Wider Dynamics
There is consensus within the Council that the transition as currently envisaged will require consent. Nonetheless, divisions on how best to obtain Khartoum’s consent are likely to linger. Some favour continuing pressure on Khartoum until consent is obtained, perhaps with a threat of sanctions. They seem to consider that the language in the resolution and the invitation to the 28 August meeting already represented concessions to Khartoum.
Others, however, are likely to support the continuation of private talks with Khartoum in September, with a view towards finding some face-saving options for the Government of Sudan. These members argue that it is unclear how pressure alone will bring about a change in Khartoum’s position in sufficient time to make a difference for the affected civilians.
On the ground, implementation of the DPA continues at a slow pace and with little popular support. The killings of AMIS personnel are widely regarded as retaliation for the expelling of non-signatories from the CFC. The rebel umbrella group National Redemption Front has declared that the move has meant that the AU has denied its neutral status and has undermined the ceasefire.
Observers note that both government and rebels are preparing to consolidate gains before the situation is frozen by an eventual transition.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
|Latest Panel of Experts’ Report|
|16 August 2006||Non-signatories were expelled from the CFC.|
|8 August 2006||Sudan and Chad decided to normalise bilateral relations.|
|7 August 2006||
Former rebel leader Minni Minawi was sworn in as Senior Assistant to the President.
For the full historical background, please see our February 2006 Forecast.
|UNMIS: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission|
|Jan Pronk (Netherlands)|
|UNMIS: Size, Composition and Cost of Mission|
|24 March 2005 to present, mandate expires 24 September 2006|
|Head of AMIS|
|Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe (Nigeria)|
|AMIS: Size, Composition and Cost of Mission|
25 May 2004 to present, mandate expires 30 September 2006
AMIS website: www.amis-sudan.org