March 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 March 2007
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Expected Council Action
With the crisis in Darfur reaching more serious proportions each month, the Council is expected to take up the question again in March, particularly Khartoum’s delayed response to the Secretary-General’s heavy support proposal. It will also be pushing for prompt AU-UN agreement on the hybrid operation. Renewed focus on the political reconciliation process is possible.

The Secretary-General’s envoy Jan Eliasson and AU envoy Salim A. Salim may brief the Council.

The sanctions Panel of Experts’ mid-term briefing is due by 29 March.

Key Recent Developments
Attacks against civilians in February increased the numbers of displaced persons to a record two million internally displaced, underlining the intensification of the continuing crisis in Darfur.

On 14 February, Khartoum refused visas for the Human Rights Council-mandated high-level mission.

On 27 February, International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo presented the charges against former Sudanese interior minister (and current state humanitarian affairs minister) Ahmed Haroun and Janjaweed commander Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman (alias Ali Kushayb).

In a Council briefing on 6 February the Secretary-General reported that Khartoum had not yet responded on the heavy package and that next steps would be considered when Eliasson and Salim returned from Sudan.

The package would include 2,250 military force “enablers” (logistical/engineering), 300 UN police advisors and three formed police units (about 375 police) to patrol camps and protect civilians. To be effective, the package depends on the deployment of two AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) battalions-already authorised but never generated-to facilitate AMIS’ deployment in three sectors. There seem to be real difficulties with generating the necessary AMIS troops without simultaneously addressing the lack of funding and facilities for the troops.

Sudan seems to object to the placing of overall operational command and control over the military component with the UN, with delegation to the AMIS force commander.

Council members seem to be increasingly losing patience. The US appears to be developing a broad package of sanctions. Measures could include blocking Khartoum-related banking transactions in the US. (Some observers note that Sudan has already started to modify export contracts previously in US dollars.)

Eliasson and Salim’s mission to re-energise the peace process in mid-February addressed key points of contention such as re-opening the peace agreement and rebel unity. On the other hand, there are concerns that since Jan Pronk’s departure in December 2006, there has been no special representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in Khartoum to lead for the UN on a day-to-day basis.

Libya convened its latest regional peace initiative on 20 February. Eritrea (as a facilitator), Chad, Sudan and rebel groups attended. Eritrea and Libya also reportedly met with the rebels separately to encourage a unified negotiating position.

On 13 February, Sudanese aircraft bombed rebel groups preparing for a conference on a unified negotiating platform. At press time, a new conference appeared to be underway.

Related Developments at the Human Rights Council

In late January, the Human Rights Council president appointed a five-member high-level mission to assess human rights conditions in Darfur, following the Council’s December decision. The mission is headed by Nobel laureate Jody Williams.

In mid-February, the mission met with AU representatives in Addis Ababa and was then to proceed to Khartoum. However, the Sudanese government reneged on its earlier promise to issue visas to the delegation. Widespread international criticism ensued. The Secretary-General, mentioning his “disappointment”, recalled that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had personally promised him to receive the mission.

The mission then decided to collect information from locations outside Sudan, including Chad. A final report is expected before the end of the Human Rights Council’s fourth regular session on 30 March.

Available options-perhaps through a presidential statement after the briefing from Eliasson and Salim-include:

  • setting a deadline for Sudan’s response on the heavy package;
  • providing proactive assistance to the AU and the UN with key aspects of the heavy package, such as funding and airlift for new AMIS troops;
  • encouraging prompt finalisation of the hybrid operation proposal;
  • pressuring Sudan to realise in practice its commitments to the operation;
  • making clear to the Secretary-General that concessions that could compromise the force’s effectiveness should not be made; and
  • showing Council support for reactivation of the Darfur peace process.

Council-imposed sanctions against Khartoum are less likely, so long as it appears to cooperate in the phased approach and in the absence of clear evidence of prevarication. On the other hand, as time passes, unilateral sanctions are increasingly likely.

Private advice to the Secretary-General about the urgent need to fill the UNMIS leadership position quickly is also a likely option.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is how to make progress to implement the phased approach towards a hybrid operation. There is a possibility that Sudan now intends to obstruct the phased approach indefinitely. The issue for the Council may therefore be how long to tolerate deliberate delays in providing responses to the heavy package and the hybrid operation.

The issue of sanctions is again looming as Sudan’s resistance to Council demands continues. The issue seems to be whether there are still sufficient concrete indications that the phased approach has some hope of being implemented.

A parallel issue is how to re-establish a peace process in Darfur, and whether to focus on this dimension as a means to make progress with the phased approach. (However, some members will recall that, in 2005, the same was being said about the Abuja peace negotiations.)

There are also a number of open issues on the phased approach:

  • the linkage between the heavy support package and the need to deploy the additional AMIS troops and the associated funding issues;
  • finalising the hybrid operation proposal, including AU-UN agreement on mandate, size, cost and command and control; 
  • stimulating UN-troop generation for the heavy support (2,250 troops and 675 police) and the hybrid operation (17,300 military and 5,000 police), given the projected UN operation in Chad and the Central African Republic (10,900 troops recommended) and the AU mission in Somalia (8,000 troops); and
  • ensuring that AMIS accountability, procurement and managerial standards comply with UN rules, particularly in view of the need to secure funding commitment from the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee.

Council Dynamics
While there is consensus within the Council on the need to press ahead rapidly with the phased approach, significant divisions remain on how to deal with Sudan.

China, Russia, Qatar and Indonesia seem to favour a cautious, quieter approach taking into account Khartoum’s concerns. Those members appear to prefer a step-by-step approach notwithstanding the increasing humanitarian costs as a result of delays. They consider that detailed agreement should be secured on each of the support packages before moving to the hybrid operation.

The US and the UK seem to be looking for new options, including fine-tuned unilateral sanctions. They also want to increase the pressure to finalise the hybrid operation plan and push for a final response from Khartoum.

Among African members, there is irritation with the damage that the current situation has done to the AU’s reputation and concern about the safety of AMIS troops. There is scepticism on whether sanctions would have positive effects. Some, especially Congo, are disinclined to openly pressure Khartoum. Nonetheless, there seems to be a readiness to notch up African pressure on Sudan.

Most members have welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts including the moves to re-energise the political track. There is increasing support for the view that concrete progress on peace talks will help achieve progress in the negotiations on the peacekeeping operation.

China’s apparent inability to use its economic influence to persuade Sudan is not understood by many Council members. The US openly criticised the “mixed signals” sent during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit in early February to Khartoum, in which he reportedly urged a solution to Darfur but also signed an aid package.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1714 (6 October 2006) extended UNMIS until 30 April 2007.
  • S/RES/1706 (31 August 2006) set a mandate for UNMIS in Darfur.
  • S/RES/1591 (29 March 2005) and 1556 (30 July 2004) imposed sanctions in Darfur.
  • S/RES/1590 (24 March 2005) established UNMIS.
 Selected Presidential Statement
  • S/PRST/2006/55 (19 December 2006) endorsed the phased approach agreed upon by the AU PSC.
 Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2007/104 (23 February 2007) was the latest monthly report on Darfur at press time.
  • S/2006/591 (28 July 2006) and Add. 1 (28 August 2006) made recommendations for UNMIS’ mandate in Darfur and for UN assistance to AMIS. The report was complemented by an update, S/2006/645.
  • S-4/101 (13 December 2006) was the Human Rights Council decision on Darfur.
  • S/2006/961 (6 December 2006) contained the 30 November AU PSC communiqué.
  • S/2006/795 (2 October 2006) was the latest Panel of Experts’ report. 

For the full historical background, please see our February and July 2006 as well as our February 2007 Forecasts.

Other Relevant Facts

 UNMIS: Special Representative of the Secretary-General
 Special Envoy of the Secretary-General
 Jan Eliasson (Sweden)
 UNMIS: Size, Composition and Cost
  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 27,300 military and 6,015 police
  • Strength as of 31 December 2006: 9,317 military and 660 police
  • Key troop contributors: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • Cost: 1 July 2006-30 June 2007 $1,126.30 million (excludes Darfur)
 UNMIS: Duration
 24 March 2005 to present; mandate expires 30 April 2007
 AU Special Envoy
 Salim A. Salim
 AMIS: Size and Composition
  • Total authorised strength: about 10,000 military and 1,500 police
  • Strength as of 1 September 2006: 5,703 military and 1,425 police
  •  Key troop contributors: Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal
 AMIS: Duration
 25 May 2004 to present; mandate expires 1 July 2007
 Human Rights Council High-Level Mission
  • Jody Williams (US) (head)
  • Mart Nutt (Estonia)
  • Bertrand Ramcharan (Guyana)
  • Patrice Tonda (Gabon)
  • Marakim Wibisono (Indonesia)

Useful Additional Sources

Full forecast


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