Expected Council Action
Council members will be looking for concrete action on deployment of a hybrid AU-UN operation in Darfur. Agreement from Khartoum on key details, including mandate and size, was pending at press time. A positive outcome is likely to lead to Council action triggering wider UN approval of funding and resources.
However, it seems increasingly possible that discussions will turn to sanctions if there is evidence that Sudan is stalling the phased approach.
Key Recent Developments
Widespread chaos and indiscriminate attacks against civilians and aid workers in Darfur continued unabated in January, now including major towns, despite a 60-day ceasefire agreed in mid-January. The AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) reported that Khartoum indiscriminately bombed rebel-controlled areas. Thirty humanitarian organisations launched an unprecedented appeal in mid-January for hostilities to cease.
On 23 December, Khartoum provided a written response to the 18 December letter of the Secretary-General on the three-phased approach. It agreed with the approach but subject to discussions within the tripartite committee of the UN, the AU and the Sudanese government. Media statements attributed to Sudanese sources indicate, however, that Khartoum continues to prevaricate, questioning any UN role beyond technical, advisory and financial support.
Deployment of the “light” support package has started with some 47 military staff officers (out of a planned 105) and 30 police advisers (out of 33) now in Sudan.
AU-UN agreement seems to have been reached on the “heavy” package, details of which the Secretary-General sent to Khartoum on 24 January. He says he awaits Sudan’s “prompt and positive” response. In the interim, contacts with potential contributors in early January have yet to reveal sufficient pledges for the “heavy” package (which reportedly requires about 2,200 troops, 300 security forces and 600-700 police.)
AU-UN consultations continue on finalising the hybrid operation proposal. At press time, it seemed that the consultations produced agreement on a preliminary “basic framework”, including size (about 17,300 troops and 5,300 police in accordance with the findings of the June 2006 AU-UN assessment mission) and a joint command mechanism based in Addis Ababa.
The consultations have been accompanied by intensive bilateral and regional diplomatic contacts, including a visit by US envoy Andrew Natsios to China. (Chinese president Hu Jintao is expected to visit Sudan in early February.)
At the AU summit in Addis Ababa on 29-30 January the Secretary-General stressed that “the toll of the crisis remained unacceptable” and urged a broad collective effort to “end the violence and scorched-earth policies adopted by various parties.”
On the sidelines, the Secretary-General met Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to reiterate the need to move on with the political process and the phased approach, but a final agreement on the details of the “heavy” package remained pending.
At the AU summit, Sudan renewed its bid to hold the chair for 2007, but withdrew after considerable pressure. Ghana’s president John Kufuor was elected to the chair.
In Darfur itself, efforts to re-energise the political process took place in January, including a visit by the Secretary-General’s envoy Jan Eliasson and US envoy Natsios. The prospects are hindered by fragmentation among rebels and disparate political agendas. There are reports that rebel groups are planning a conference with AU-UN facilitation but need security assurances from Khartoum.
Eliasson and AU envoy Salim A. Salim are expected to make a second visit to Khartoum and Darfur in early February.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, appears ready to unveil his charges in connection with crimes committed in Darfur. A team of ICC investigators is expected to visit Khartoum in February.
renewed Council pressure on Sudan to realise in practice its “in principle” commitments to the hybrid operation;
making clear to the Secretary-General that concessions should not be made to Khartoum which could compromise the force’s effectiveness and independence; and
renewing Council interest in the reactivation of the Darfur peace process.
The sanctions option is less likely as long as Sudan cooperates in the phased approach and on final agreement on the hybrid force.
It may be, however, that domestic sanctions against Khartoum will start to appear in order to signal that, as time passes, there will be a corresponding increase in pressure. Such an approach has the merit of preserving communication channels between the UN and Khartoum.
On Darfur, the key issue is progressing the deployment of the assistance packages and the hybrid operation and how best to address the possibility that Sudan might impose fatal impediments to their implementation.
Another question is how to re-establish a peace process in Darfur and overcome the rebels’ fragmentation and different political agendas.
Members know the next steps will require continuing leadership from the Secretary-General given the number of key issues still open, including:
the practical meaning of UN command and control structures in AMIS;
the hybrid operation’s practical mandate, size and cost;
generating enough troops for the “heavy package” and the hybrid operation;
AU-UN agreement on a special representative and force commander; and
approval from the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, which is likely to involve questions about UN procedures on mandate, procurement, control, management and accountability for UN assessed contributions.
In the event of a final agreement, the question of a new Council decision endorsing the hybrid operation may become an issue. (Khartoum already requested a new Council resolution endorsing the phased approach in its December written response.) Most members will want to ensure that the final outcome should not undermine resolution 1706, but the absence of an explicit decision could complicate discussions in the Fifth Committee.
There is unity in the Council on the need to press rapidly ahead with the hybrid operation. Members agree that Sudan needs to turn its words into deeds on its commitment to the phased approach agreed in Addis Ababa in November. Members expect to receive the Secretary-General’s views and recommendations following his trip to the AU summit prior to considering the next steps at a briefing on 6 February.
Members do differ on how best to address Sudan’s flouting of Council demands and deliberate delaying tactics. China, Russia and Qatar have favoured a cautious, quieter approach taking into account the concerns of the Sudanese government and their own interests. Others-including African members irritated with the damage done to the AU’s reputation and the conditions into which AMIS is operating-are already losing patience and are counting on China to demonstrate that quiet, behind-the-scenes efforts can work.
Even for those most critical of Khartoum, it is unclear whether sanctions could be a viable alternative given their potential damaging effects at this stage and as long as there is a viable possibility of getting agreement to a hybrid operation.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Presidential Statement|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
|UNMIS: Special Representative of the Secretary-General|
|Special Envoy of the Secretary-General|
|Jan Eliasson (Sweden)|
|UNMIS: Size, Composition and Cost|
|24 March 2005 to present; mandate expires 30 April 2007|
|AU Special Envoy|
|Salim A. Salim|
|AMIS: Size and Composition|
|25 May 2004 to present; mandate expires 1 July 2007|