Expected Council Action
The impasse over the transition in Darfur from the AU force to a UN peacekeeping operation is likely to continue to generate Council discussion in November. But no formal action is expected at least until the results are known of diplomatic initiatives vis-à-vis Sudan and the AU Peace and Security Council high-level meeting, scheduled for the end of November.
Pressure on Council members for a solution (and especially alternatives) to the standoff is likely to increase as the deadline for renewing the mandate of the AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) on 31 December approaches. The mandate of the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) expires on 30 April 2007.
The regional dimension of the Darfur crisis is also expected to be in the minds of members. But it is unclear when the Secretariat’s assessment mission to Chad and the Central African Republic will take place, or when the report on Chad requested in resolution 1706 will emerge.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation in Darfur has continued to deteriorate to alarming levels. The latest report from the Secretary-General noted that “the region is… on the brink of a catastrophic situation”. Attacks against civilians and aid workers and all-out clashes markedly increased in October, as did spillover effects into Chad. Some note an increase in rebels’ fighting power and coordination, as well as important military defeats for Khartoum.
The conflict seems to have entered a new, more complex phase, with the new involvement of more Arab tribes and an increase in inter-tribal fighting. To gather support, the government seems to be appealing to inter-tribal rivalries.
The spate of diplomatic efforts on the transition issue continued in October. High-level EU and UK visits to Khartoum and AU headquarters heightened a desire for finding a workable formula and the possibility that alternative options would need to be considered after October.
Khartoum has signalled a willingness to accept increased UN logistical and financial support to AMIS as an alternative to immediate transition, but pressed for the Council create leverage on the non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement.
Increased efforts from Arab states to resolve the impasse included high-level meetings with Sudan on the sidelines of the signing of a peace deal with eastern rebels in Asmara in mid-October as well and bilateral meetings involving Libya and Egypt.
US special envoy Andrew Natsios also visited Khartoum and Cairo.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jan Pronk, was expelled from Sudan reportedly due to his comments on the government’s military setbacks in Darfur. (At press time, he was in New York.)
Khartoum circulated a note verbale in early October stating that “any volunteering to provide peace keeping troops to Darfur will be considered as a hostile act.” The note created considerable anxiety among potential troop contributors and outrage among some Council members. It led to a request for clarification on whether that was the official Sudanese position and for a retraction in writing.
There is increasing AU concern with the impasse. The lack of funds and airlift for the additional AMIS troops authorised in September is also an AU concern. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, in one of the strongest recent signals from AU member states, has reportedly warned that a “full genocide” should not be allowed in Darfur.
There are reports of willingness to resume the peace talks from both sides. Leadership seems to come from Eritrea, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and key opposition figures living in Asmara, whom the government seems willing to work with due to their role in facilitating the eastern peace deal. But some form of autonomy for Darfur in addition to more compensation and more power-sharing, seems to be a negotiating demand.
Chad and Sudan renewed accusations of support for rebel movements in each other’s territory. Chadian rebels made statements opposing the deployment of a UN operation in Chad. At the time of writing, Council members expected a briefing from the Secretariat with possible scenarios including a monitoring presence or a multidimensional operation. The latter possibility was highlighted in a 6 October Chadian letter requesting the deployment of UN police for security in camps. Another Council meeting, scheduled for 30 October, will focus on the Central African Republic.
Two options, seemingly opposite, may be emerging as possible solutions to the transition impasse. The first is to develop a much larger package of UN assistance to AMIS using assessed contributions (or AMIS plus). This option would require new managerial, and command and control structures, and could entail the placing of a large number of UN personnel and assets under nominal AMIS direction. It could be endorsed either in a new resolution under Chapter VIII (with which those members that have invested heavily in the transition may be uncomfortable) or be carried out with creative interpretation of resolution 1706.
The other is a renewed focus on public pressure with the use of sanctions, especially if “AMIS plus” does not prove to be acceptable. Possible objectives include inducing consent for the transition, containing the parties’ ability to inflict harm on civilians, and perhaps as a retributive measure for the lack of consent.
On Chad, options range from a small monitoring presence or a multidimensional operation, perhaps one comprising mostly civilian police. A smaller presence raises questions of an inadequate response to insecurity in camps in Chad, but a large operation faces difficulties in force generation as well as financial problems.
On the Central African Republic, options include increasing the UN peacebuilding office the country to improve available information. Another option is a small monitoring presence in cooperation with the peacekeeping forces from the Central African Economic and Monetary Community.
The key issue is how best to reach a solution to the current impasse. Time is an issue and some believe that the current focus on obtaining consent for the transition seems to have reached its limits. The lack of coherence in signals sent to Khartoum has also been an issue.
A related immediate issue is the provision of resources to the AU to implement AMIS’ new concept of operations, which includes an increase in troops to up to 11,000. There is awareness of the AU’s frustration with the impasse and the need to encourage the AU to extend AMIS beyond December.
An emerging issue is thus whether alternative options to a December transition should be considered at this point.
Some are open to increasing UN assistance to AMIS through quiet diplomacy. Members are aware that recent signals from Khartoum may represent an opening to a solution to the standoff that needs to be explored. If taken seriously, this approach will raise important issues:
This unprecedented cooperation would require innovative approaches on command and control, management, communications and budget.
This approach would have to prove acceptable to Sudan, the AU and the Council, especially by balancing Khartoum’s concerns with an effective force that has strong African character and leadership. An additional issue is how acceptable-also from a financial standpoint-the placing of significant UN resources and staff under AU authority could be.
The approach would need to be acceptable to those members who have been most strongly advocating for the transition. (The agreement may be more easily forthcoming if it were presented as a step under resolution 1706, leaving open the possibility of transition at a later stage.)
Reopening and improving the peace process between Khartoum and the rebels with a stronger political role for the UN-while keeping a central role for the AU-may also need to be part of the package.
A complicating issue for some members is that public pressure has stepped up significantly and talk of possible sanctions as a backstop may become a feature of any eventual deal.
The resumption of peace talks and the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation involves a number of subsidiary issues including the need for an acceptable framework for the talks, the distance between the parties’ positions, and the delicate balance with the power-sharing arrangements in the north-south Comprehensive Peace Agreement and not least finding effective and acceptable leadership for peace talks.
On the regional dimension, an emerging issue is how best to approach the spillover effects without upsetting the political balance in Chad. Members are aware of Chadian rebels’ opposition and the possible influx of refugees into Chad from Darfur should UN contingents be deployed.
But some-especially the US-will continue to see a need for public pressure and sanctions. There also seems to be scepticism on the effectiveness of carrots.
Russia, China and Qatar are increasingly vocal about the possibility of UN assistance to AMIS as a real alternative to transition.
African members are concerned with the future of AMIS and of the AU’s role vis-à-vis Darfur, with some more vocal about the unacceptable nature of Khartoum’s opposition. There also seems to be concern about the relative sidelining of the AU in the current diplomatic efforts.
There is increasing support among Arab states for a real solution but based on a quieter approach, particularly the need to work on specific Sudanese concerns with resolution 1706 and on the undisputed parts of the resolution, such as UN assistance to AMIS, as initial, immediate steps.
There seems to be support within the Council for considering the Chad/CAR dimension more proactively. But there has been opposition to broader discussions on the internal situation in Chad, with preference for limiting to cross-border issues.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Meeting Records|
|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, Composition and Cost of Mission|
|24 March 2005 to present, mandate expires 8 October 2006|
|Head of AMIS|
|Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe (Nigeria)|
|AMIS: Size and Composition of Mission|
25 May 2004 to present, mandate expires 31 December 2006