November 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 October 2007
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Expected Council Action
Council members are expected to closely monitor Khartoum’s level of cooperation over the deployment of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and the challenges facing the Sirte peace talks, in particular the lack of rebel attendance. (At press time, the talks were due to start on 27 October.) Consultations on Darfur are likely but it remains unclear whether members may consider any action in November.

Key Recent Developments
The situation in Darfur appears to have deteriorated further with reports of a surge in attacks involving the government and associated militia, and rebels. The fighting appeared linked with attempts to shape military realities on the ground ahead of the peace talks in Libya. There were reports of an ongoing government military build-up, apparently in preparation for a new offensive in Darfur.

On 29 September, ten AMIS peacekeepers were killed in an attack against the AU compound in Haskanita in northern Darfur. The town was almost entirely burned down shortly after government forces regained control. The Council condemned the attack in a presidential statement on 2 October.

Another attack occurred on 8 October against a stronghold in southern Darfur of the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minnawi (SLA/MM), the only rebel group to have signed the Darfur Peace Agreement. Dozens of civilians were killed. Media reports suggest government forces alongside militia carried out the attacks, which Khartoum denies.

At press time, the majority of rebel groups had stated they would not travel to Sirte for the start of the peace talks. There were complaints of Libya as a venue for the talks, of the need for time to prepare a rebel position and of lack of clarity on modalities. Rebels further denounced Khartoum’s actions as a government strategy to block formation of a common rebel position and participation in the peace talks.

In early October, the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) announced withdrawal from the national government citing the north’s unwillingness to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. This attracted widespread concern over the future of north-south relations and prospects for renewed destabilisation in Darfur, where one rebel group as a result now questions Khartoum’s authority to negotiate in Sirte.

At press time, UNAMID still lacked pledges for key assets. The latest Secretary-General’s report further noted lack of cooperation from Khartoum with UNAMID’s deployment, which “is being delayed owing to the challenges…to obtain land for the construction of UNAMID offices and accommodation in Darfur, as well as delays in obtaining feedback regarding the list of troop-contributing countries submitted to the Government.”

On 24 October, members adopted a presidential statement on the need for a ceasefire, political settlement and cooperation with UNAMID’s deployment, underlining willingness to take action against spoilers.

The General Assembly now has before it the issue of financing for UNAMID’s first year. The Secretary-General indicated in a letter that, flexibility in administrative and procedural standards would be required to speed up deployment. A contract for logistical services for UNAMID, signed in mid-October, appears to have attracted some concern about transparency.

Sudan continued to avoid its obligations under resolution 1593 concerning the International Criminal Court (ICC). Khartoum reportedly released ICC defendant Ali Kushayb from custody in recent weeks, citing lack of evidence. The government insists that it will not surrender Kushayb or Ahmad Harun to the Court.

Options include:

  • signalling that the Council may determine a date and time for a ceasefire if the parties do not cease hostilities;
  • developing a plan for active Council support for the peace talks, including regular consultations with the mediation team;
  • considering amongst experts a possible element of a resolution identifying a spectrum of targeted sanctions against those that impede the peace process or refuse to cease hostilities;
  • considering the recommendations of the sanctions Panel of Experts, including extending the arms embargo to non-governmental entities in eastern Chad, strengthening the current embargo, and aviation-related measures;
  • considering steps to increase the Council’s involvement in managing north-south issues, perhaps as part of a revised, broader strategy for Sudan (at press time, a US-sponsored draft renewing the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) appeared to signal that);
  • if foot-dragging persists, clearly warning Khartoum that delays in cooperating with UNAMID’s deployment are unacceptable, while perhaps setting a deadline for a response to pending issues;
  • supporting the Secretariat in generating troop-contributing countries’ commitment for aviation and transport assets, perhaps through the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations; and
  • reminding the parties that justice issues remain on the table and perhaps recalling the potential synergies between peace processes and justice and accountability.

Key Issues
The key challenge now appears to be how to ensure that the peace talks are successful and avoid the difficulties encountered by previous mediation attempts. Related issues are how best to reach a ceasefire and ensure rebel participation, while deterring attempts to influence the talks through the use of force on the ground or extended obstruction.

The peace talks face an additional number of key issues:

  • Participation of Key Constituencies: incorporating the views of civil society, the internally displaced and Arab communities;
  • Negotiation Modalities: managing the peace process, notably timing (such as whether to rely on deadlines) and substance (including critical issues such as land, once only one aspect in wealth-sharing but now increasingly seen to be much more complex, given the realities in Darfur); and
  • Sufficient Resources: human and financial, for the peace talks.

A major issue for the Council is whether to become more engaged in managing those challenges. This includes the issue of when and whether to raise the stakes for potential peace spoilers through sanctions.

A parallel issue is ensuring that peacekeeping deployments proceed successfully. This raises the immediate question of how to respond to Khartoum’s reluctance to cooperate and the shortage of military-asset contributions. Other peacekeeping issues include:

  • coordination between the AU and the UN, and with deployments in Chad and the Central African Republic;
  • UNAMID’s cooperation with the sanctions Panel of Experts;
  • securing funding from the General Assembly for an expected $2.6 billion;
  • UNAMID’s unparalleled management, infrastructure, logistical, security and environmental challenges; and
  • potential differences of view on UNAMID’s mandate to protect civilians.

On justice and accountability, the key issues are how and when to address Khartoum’s refusal to cooperate with the ICC, and whether inaction may send counterproductive signals to Sudan.

Council Dynamics
Council members generally agree on the need to make progress with the peace process and peacekeeping, and share a concern with the recent problems faced by the Sirte talks and UNAMID’s military-asset generation.

However, negotiations on both presidential statements in October revealed that significant divisions continue.

China, Russia, South Africa, Congo, Qatar and Indonesia appeared uncomfortable with direct references to Khartoum, preferring more general language on the need for cooperation with UNAMID’s deployment.

The US, the UK, other European and Latin American members, and Ghana seemed increasingly critical of Khartoum regarding its commitments on UNAMID, the increase in military activity in Darfur and the lack of implementation of the north-south Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The possibility of sanctions against those that refuse to attend the Sirte talks, intensify hostilities or obstruct UNAMID’s deployment, is likely to be an option in the minds of some.

On justice and accountability, most seem to want the Council to signal the need for cooperation with the ICC. China, Russia, South Africa, Congo, Qatar and Indonesia appeared uncomfortable with a UK proposal of a reference in the latest statement to possible sanctions against those seeking to undermine the peace process by impending judicial processes. Whether a compromise can be built around a low-key approach while preserving the Court’s credibility and potential for deterring spoiler behaviour remains to be seen.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1779 (28 September 2007) renewed the mandate of the sanctions Panel of Experts.
  • S/RES/1769 (31 July 2007) established UNAMID.
  • S/RES/1755 (30 April 2007) extended UNMIS until 31 October 2007.
  • S/RES/1672 (25 April 2006) created a list of four individuals for measures specified in resolution 1591.
  • S/RES/1591 (29 March 2005) and 1556 (30 July 2004) imposed sanctions.
  • S/RES/1593 (31 March 2005) referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC.
Selected Presidential Statement
  • S/PRST/2007/41 (24 October 2007) was the recent statement on UNAMID and peace talks.
  • S/PRST/2007/35 (2 October 2007) condemned the Haskanita attack.
Latest Secretary-General’s UNAMID Report
  • S/2007/584 (2 October 2007) contained the latest Panel of Experts’ report.

Other Relevant Facts

UNAMID: Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur
  • Rodolphe Adada (Congo)
UN and AU Special Envoys
  • UN: Jan Eliasson (Sweden)
  • AU: Salim A. Salim (Tanzania)
UNAMID: Size and Cost
  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 19,555 military personnel, including 360 observers and liaison officers, and up to 3,772 police personnel and 19 formed police units
  • Expected cost: $2.6 billion
UNAMID: Duration
  • 31 July 2007 to present; mandate expires 31 July 2008
AMIS: Size and Composition
  • Total authorised strength: about 10,000 military and 1,500 police
  • Strength as of 23 May 2007: 6,143 military and 1,360 police
  • Key troop contributors: Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal
AMIS: Duration
  • 25 May 2004 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2007

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