March 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2008
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
AFRICA

Sudan/Darfur

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to continue monitoring the difficulties faced by the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and developments on Chad-Sudan relations. Consultations are likely, but it is unclear if proposals for Council action will emerge.

At press time, the sanctions committee was expected to consider a request from Khartoum for sanctions against the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

The Secretary-General’s quarterly Darfur report is expected. The midterm briefing of the sanctions’ Panel of Experts is due by 29 March.

Key Recent Developments
High levels of violence and lawlessness continue in Darfur, with persisting displacement of civilians, decreasing humanitarian access and looming crop failures.

Recently the government launched a large counteroffensive in West Darfur against the JEM. Reports say government forces alongside Janjaweed attacked and burned towns in the area, which were then looted by the militias. Particularly deadly was an air and ground attack by Sudanese government and allied militia against the town of Sirba on 8 February, according to UN investigators. Around 12,000 civilians recently crossed into Chad, and others were blocked along the border by unidentified armed men.

Open hostilities involving the government, the JEM and Chadian regular forces have severely curtailed humanitarian access to about 160,000 civilians in West Darfur. The JEM also acknowledges fighting Sudanese forces in eastern Chad.

Sign up for SCR email

The crisis in Chad reached alarming levels after rebels attacked N’Djamena in early February. Chad-Sudan relations deteriorated and reports persisted that they were supporting each other’s rebels. In early February, the Chadian government threatened to block entry of Darfuri refugees.

Other concerns include large-scale mobilisation and shifting alliances of Arab militia in South Darfur and the regional situation.

UNAMID still faces Khartoum’s hesitation on troop composition, flight and customs clearances, and land use. High-level contacts with the Sudanese government to speed deployment included a visit by the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno to Addis Ababa and Darfur and talks between the Secretary-General and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

The Secretary-General proposed to Bashir that the Secretariat could accelerate deployment of African contingents (from Ethiopia and Egypt in February and March), to be followed by Thai and Nepalese units, the first non-African ground troops. At press time, it was unclear whether Khartoum had agreed to their deployment. The status-of-forces agreement between Sudan and the UN was finally signed on 9 February.

Briefing the Council on 8 February, Guéhenno cautioned that UNAMID remained severely under-resourced for its mandate, warning that current resources were insufficient to provide protection or to meet “the high expectations of Darfur’s civilians.” There were significant challenges in bringing UNAMID up to UN standards. He reminded Sudan that the force had to be “predominantly” but not “exclusively” African in character. Additional issues included:

  • the need for Khartoum’s cooperation on full freedom of movement for UNAMID and extending visas to mission contractors;
  • expediting pre-deployment arrangements; and
  • lack of critical military aviation and ground transportation assets, for which additional troops would not be a sufficient substitute.

As of late January, the mission lacked:

  • one heavy and one medium ground transport unit;
  • three aviation units (including 18 helicopters);
  • two attack helicopters; and
  • logistical support for formed police units.

Guéhenno warned that the Council must be prepared for the eventuality that UNAMID would operate amid war. This could “significantly complicate our collective efforts to support” the implementation of resolution 1769 and a peace agreement in Darfur.

UN Envoy Jan Eliasson also briefed the Council on 8 February on the status of political talks. Two rebel groups appear to have substantial conditions to join the process. JEM-Khalil Ibrahim said it would participate only if there were two movements in the negotiations (JEM and the Sudan Liberation Movement, SLM), and the group is involved in military activities. (Some warn that the JEM appears to have a much broader political agenda than the others and has regional backing.) The SLM-Abdul Wahid, Eliasson explained, has preconditions linked to improvements in security.

Eliasson said steps towards an eventual peace agreement would take longer than initially hoped. The parties were not ready to engage in substantive talks and lacked consolidated positions. Eliasson also suggested greater focus on security as an enabler for political reconciliation, specifically by encouraging a credible ceasefire through unilateral declarations.

Related Developments in the Sanctions Committee
Sudan’s appointment of Council-sanctioned militia leader Musa Hilal for a government post appears to have attracted the concern and criticism of some members, including Europeans and the US. Following a Russian proposal, the issue was brought to the Sanctions Committee, where members sent a letter to Sudan reminding it of existing sanctions against Hilal on 15 February. The mid-term briefing of the Panel of Experts for Sudan to the Sanctions Committee is due by 29 March.


O
ptions
The most likely option is to continue to leave UNAMID’s deployment issues to the Secretariat. Another is to provide active support, perhaps further meetings with potential contributors to address asset shortages.

Other options include:

  • seeking regular exchanges with the mediation team, perhaps in an informal setting of meetings of experts, particularly on efforts to reach a ceasefire;
  • exploring ways to support a solution to the regional crisis; and
  • signalling the possibility of sanctions and/or actively discussing a spectrum of targeted measures, a strengthened arms embargo and aviation-related measures.

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

  • Khartoum’s cooperation towards UNAMID, including troop composition and robustness, permission for night flights, water and land use;
  • deployment arrangements;
  • UNAMID’s lack of resources, bearing in mid dangerous precedents from the past;
  • the crisis in Chad and support for rebels by both Chad and Sudan; and
  • the mission’s unparalleled management, infrastructure, logistical, security and environmental challenges.

An emerging issue is whether and when to resort to additional sanctions, and whether to adopt targeted measures against all or some of the parties. Another is how best to support a new a ceasefire.

A parallel issue is progress on political reconciliation, including substantive rebel participation, balanced 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.

Council Dynamics
Traditional fault lines between members continue on how best to address Khartoum’s cooperation with UNAMID’s deployment. There also seems to be little appetite for taking a more active role in managing the regional dimension beyond support for regional mediation (led so far by Libya).

It is unclear whether Sudan’s request for sanctions against the JEM will be realised. Similar proposals in the past seem to have met divisions over whether to extend the measures to other parties, including the government.

Underlying Problems
The 31 January Secretary-General’s report on the situation between north and south noted several unresolved issues on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement’s implementation, including: troop redeployment; Abyei; border demarcation; census; elections; and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. The Council heard a briefing by Special Representative Ashraf Qazi on 19 February.

A recent assessment of the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) revealed the need for:

  • a review of the mission’s military component and humanitarian coordination;
  • a review of resources and clarification on its mandate on demarcation, census and elections;
  • greater integration of activities on rule of law and security institutions; and
  • a possible new mandate on security sector reform.


UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2008/98 (14 February 2008) was the latest UNAMID report.
  • S/2008/64 (31 January 2008) was the latest UNMIS report.

Other

  • S/PV.5832 (8 February 2008) were the recent briefings by Guéhenno and Eliasson.
  • 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.
  • 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, Composition and Cost

  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 19,555 military, 3,772 police and 19 formed police units
  • Strength as of 31 January 2008: 7,156 troops, 220 observers, 1,510 police officers, and one formed police unit
  • Main troop contributors: Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa
  • 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, Composition and Cost
  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 10,000 military and 715 police
  • Strength as of 31 January 2008: 8,715 troops, 537 military observers, and 639 police
  • Main troop contributors: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • 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

 

Full forecast