February 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 January 2008
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Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to focus more closely on the difficulties surrounding the deployment of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and is likely to seek briefings on meetings between the Secretariat and Sudan, including expected discussions in the margins of the AU Summit in Addis Ababa from 25 January to 3 February. It is unclear whether the Council will also focus more deeply on the peace process or whether proposals for formal Council action will arise.

In addition to the monthly report on Darfur, the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the north-south situation is expected by 31 January.

Key Recent Developments
The grave humanitarian situation in Darfur continues, and conditions may deteriorate due to an increasing risk of crop failure in Darfur. Conflict between the government and rebels has increased recently, including significant aerial bombardments in response to reported advances by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Observers note this may trigger a strong government offensive soon.

The situation along the border with Chad also appears to have deteriorated, with complaints by Khartoum and N’Djaména and reports of Chadian army incursions and bombardments.

On 22 December, the General Assembly adopted a resolution approving UNAMID’s budget. Concern with procurement procedures used by the Secretary-General in response to UNAMID’s fast-deployment needs gave rise to extensive criticism. The amount agreed was $1.28 billion, below the $1.48 billion requested by the Secretary-General, justified on the basis of likely lower financial requirements due to the delays in UNAMID’s deployment.

On 1 January, UNAMID formally took over peacekeeping responsibilities from the AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS).

The Secretary-General and some Council members expressed strong criticism after a UNAMID convoy of twenty marked white vehicles came under attack by government forces on 8 January.

At a Council briefing on 9 January, Under Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno presented a report on the mission’s continuing difficulties including shortages in troops and assets. So far, only a relatively small number of deployments have been made, including a Bangladeshi formed police unit and part of a Chinese engineering unit originally agreed under the heavy support package to AMIS. Further support package units are expected only by late March apparently due to logistical and administrative delays. Egyptian and Ethiopian units are expected to begin deploying by late February.

Despite relatively positive signals in December, Khartoum continued to oppose some non-African contingents equipped with critical engineering and rapid-reaction capabilities from Norway, Sweden, Thailand and Nepal. Important arrangements regarding flight clearances and access to land and water have also faced obstruction.

In early January, Khartoum reportedly rejected the Norwegian and Swedish pledges, which have since been withdrawn. (Some rebels have also reportedly opposed Egyptian, Pakistani and Chinese contributions.)

Other difficulties with significant consequences for UNAMID’s deployment schedule include:

  • cancellation of a pledge for a logistics unit and another for an aerial reconnaissance unit;
  • difficulties in negotiations with other troop contributors, as some now appear to set conditions for participation such as limiting operations to daytime, as well as to slow deployment preparations due to safety concerns, particularly after the recent government attack against the UNAMID convoy; and
  • persistent difficulties with securing mobility assets (especially helicopters), seemingly due to wider concerns of some potential contributors with commitments elsewhere, or to apprehension about the volatile operational environment and untested command-and-control structures and lack of technically adequate units.

The Secretariat has been struggling on the helicopter issue. The alternatives so far identified—multi-country helicopter units, converting civilian helicopters or borrowing from other UN missions—have so far been considered unfeasible or counterproductive. There is a possibility that the concept of operations will need to be modified if a suitable option is not found soon.

It appears that the UK hosted a brainstorming meeting on the helicopter issue with the Secretariat and some member states in mid-January. A further meeting may take place by the end of the month.

Following the 8 January attack on the UNAMID convoy, the US circulated a draft presidential statement condemning the attack, calling on member states to provide outstanding mobility assets and on Khartoum to:

  • accept the proposed list of troop contributors;
  • facilitate UNAMID’s access to land and water;
  • grant flight clearances;
  • issue visas in a timely manner; and
  • finalise an appropriate status-of-forces agreement.

Divisions among members—particularly opposition to criticism of Khartoum—continued. Agreement was reached on 11 January on a statement condemning the attack by Sudanese forces but limiting the call on Sudan to “concluding all necessary arrangements.”

A Secretariat delegation travelled Khartoum in mid-January to discuss deployment issues. At press time, it was unclear whether progress would be made.

On the political negotiations for a peace agreement, it seems that preparations continue for a new rebel meeting to find a common negotiating position. Informal discussions among rebels on how to overcome fragmentation also continue, but the degree of progress has been limited. Some condition participation in peace talks on issues such as unification of all rebel groups, rather than coalescence around a common position under one negotiation team, or on a ceasefire. Some have also voiced continuous opposition to AU Envoy Salim A. Salim and to Libya as a venue for talks. Rebel discussions have not included key commanders such as JEM’s Khalil Ibrahim and Abdul Wahid al-Nur.

Discussions are also ongoing on the nomination of an AU-UN chief mediator, but it is unclear when a final decision will be made.

In mid-January, Khartoum appointed Janjaweed leader Musal Hilal as a government adviser. Hilal is in the Council’s targeted sanctions list. The move attracted strong international criticism of Sudan.

Related Developments on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)
Tensions between the north and south on the CPA’s implementation appear to have receded after agreement was reached on a number of points of contention, including troop redeployment, funding for border demarcation and a census (now scheduled for April), and transparency in the oil sector, with the notable exception of Abyei’s fate. Southern representatives have reportedly resumed their participation in the central government after months of suspension, and northern troops reportedly finalised redeployment away from the south on 9 January. However, insecurity persisted particularly on the western sector of the north-south border, after clashes between southern forces and tribal militia previously aligned with the north in January.

One option is to continue to leave UNAMID deployment issues to the Secretariat.

Another is deciding to take a more active role in resolving those problems by establishing an ad hoc working group on Darfur and:

  • mandating the group to hold informal discussions with troop contributors as necessary;
  • establishing weekly meetings of the working group with Sudan and the Secretariat to review progress and resolve emerging issues; and
  • empowering its chair to travel to Sudan as necessary to negotiate solutions.

Another option is to become more involved in the peace process through regular consultations with the mediation team perhaps within a new Darfur working group.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is ensuring quick progress on the peacekeeping track, including:

  • Khartoum’s continued ambiguity towards UNAMID;
  • troop composition and robustness, permission for night flights, water and land use;
  • emerging difficulties with troop generation due to Khartoum’s posture and security concerns;
  • the absence of mobility-asset contributions;
  • risks that lack of robustness may create for UNAMID; and
  • the mission’s unparalleled management, infrastructure, logistical, security and environmental challenges.

A parallel issue is progress with political reconciliation, including:

  • reaching a ceasefire;
  • reaching agreement on negotiation modalities, notably regarding land, power-sharing and relationship with the CPA;
  • achieving a peace agreement quickly with substantive rebel participation and unity, and balancing this with the needs of civil society, the government (given north-south tensions) and Arab communities; and
  • deterring attempts to influence the talks through force or obstruction.

A major issue is whether insufficient action at this juncture will be seen as strategic failure with the kind of consequences that occurred in the 1990s for the UN and peacekeeping in general. A similar issue arises in the context of Khartoum’s continuing defiance of its obligation to cooperate with the ICC.

Council Dynamics
Discussion of the US draft presidential statement following the 8 January attack on UNAMID indicates that the traditional fault lines between members continue, in particular on the issue of whether to openly criticise Khartoum and resort to pressure over UNAMID’s deployment needs.

The US, the UK and several other members, frustrated at Khartoum’s perceived flouting of commitments, want to ratchet up the public pressure by using stronger language in Council statements and resolutions.

However, others see little value in public criticism, which they believe will be self-defeating. They prefer to deal with the realities of UNAMID’s deployment by arguing that it is necessary to negotiate to secure Khartoum’s continuing cooperation. China, Russia, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa are likely to lead the case for re-energising dialogue with Khartoum.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2008/1 (11 January 2008) condemned the recent attack against a UNAMID convoy.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2007/653 (5 November 2007) was the latest UNAMID report.
  • S/2007/624 (23 October 2007) was the latest UNMIS report.


  • S/2008/20 (9 January 2008) and S/2008/21 (15 January 2008) were letters sent by Sudan and Chad on the recent border tensions.
  • A/RES/62/232 (22 December 2007) approved funding for UNAMID.
  • S/2007/584 (2 October 2007) was the latest Panel of Experts’ report.

Other Relevant Facts

UNAMID: Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur

Rodolphe Adada (Republic of 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, 3,772 police and 19 formed police units
  • Strength as of 1 January 2008: 6,880 troops, 645 staff officers and military observers, 1,400 police officers, and one formed police unit
  • Civilian component as of 1 January 2008: 285 international, 552 local and 63 UN Volunteers
  • Cost: 1 July 2007 – 30 June 2008: $1.28 billion

UNAMID: Duration

31 July 2007 to present; mandate expires 31 July 2008

UNMIS: Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ashraf Qazi (Pakistan)
UNMIS: Size and Cost
  • Maximum authorised strength: Up to 10,000 military personnel including some 750 military observers; up to 715 police
  • Strength as of 31 December 2007: 8,804 troops, 596 military observers, and 637 police
  • Civilian component as of 30 November 2007: 865 international, 2,580 local and 257 UN Volunteers
  • Cost: 1 July 2007 – 30 June 2008: $887.33 million

UNMIS: Duration

24 March 2005 to present; mandate expires 30 April 2008

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