April 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 March 2008
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Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to continue to closely monitor developments in Darfur, including the security situation, deployment of the UN-AU Mission (UNAMID) and political reconciliation. Consultations are likely on the Secretary-General’s expected monthly report. Darfur issues are also likely to emerge during the Council’s expected joint meeting with the AU Peace and Security Council in April.

It is unclear, however, whether there will be any proposals for formal action on Darfur in April. Council members seem to be struggling to come up with new ideas.

On the north-south issue, members are also expected to renew the mandate of the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), which expires on 30 April. Changes to the mandate and size were not expected at press time, and the current hands-off approach seemed likely to continue. The Secretary-General’s report is due in early April.

Key Recent Developments
The humanitarian and human rights situation in Darfur has reached a critical stage with continuing clashes in the west and rebel ambushes in the south, along with crop failures, banditry and resulting food insecurity. The military offensive in West Darfur has included joint attacks by Sudanese armed forces and Janjaweed militia against the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). These attacks have been supported by fighter jets and helicopter gunships, with reports of deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian assets.

There has been an acute increase in displacement in Darfur and in refugee movement into Chad, where there are already 250,000 Sudanese and 180,000 displaced Chadians. Insecurity and funding shortages halved food deliveries in Darfur in mid-March. Tens of thousands of civilians were reported inaccessible by aid organisations due to a ban on humanitarian flights and access restrictions imposed by rebels. UNAMID human rights monitors were also reportedly denied access to certain areas in West Darfur by the government.

The situation along the border with Chad is also highly volatile. In early March, a French soldier died and another was wounded after their vehicle crossed into Sudan from Chad as part of a reconnaissance mission under the EU Force (EUFOR).

On the margins of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit in Dakar, Chad and Sudan on 12 March signed a new agreement to defuse tensions and stop mutual support for rebels. The agreement, negotiated under the auspices of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and witnessed by the Secretary-General, is the latest in a series of attempts to improve Chad-Sudan relations, which are seen as critical for progress in Darfur and eastern Chad. The Dakar agreement also established an international contact group reportedly comprising Congo, Gabon, Libya and Senegal to oversee implementation.

However, as with previous such agreements, there is concern about its effectiveness. Sudan had reportedly expressed scepticism about the usefulness of a new agreement and rebels dismissed its potential for improving the situation. In late March, Chad and Sudan accused each other of violating the agreement.

In mid-March, the Darfur mediation team held consultations in Geneva with regional partners and international observers. Discussions focused on steps ahead for the peace talks in view of the ongoing delays with reaching a common rebel negotiating position and also the deteriorating security situation. The team also met with rebel leader Abdel Wahid al-Nur (who so far refuses to join the process in the absence of a meaningful ceasefire) and representatives of the five Council permanent members.

The team reportedly reiterated the need for security and the deployment of UNAMID for the resumption of peace talks. But prospects of a ceasefire appear grim; the JEM in particular has insisted on a broad political agreement before ceasing hostilities and bilateral negotiations with the government.

On 11 March, Assistant Secretary-General Edmond Mulet briefed the Council. He said that fighting in Darfur made “clear that preparing for political negotiations (did) not seem to be a priority for either the Government or rebel movements,” and added that “a peacekeeping operation alone” could not bring security to Darfur.

Mulet noted that the deployment of military units particularly from Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria, as well as formed police units from Nepal, Indonesia and Egypt were underway. Pursuant to an agreement with Khartoum, Thai and Nepalese military contingents would follow. Further deployments were not expected before mid-2008.

The mission continues to face critical challenges regarding:

  • lack of helicopters, aerial reconnaissance aircraft, and logistics and transport units;
  • limited logistical capacity;
  • transition to the UNAMID logistics supply system; and
  • ageing equipment inherited from the AU mission.

In early March, Russia said it was willing to contribute helicopters for UNAMID, most likely with crews supplied by other members. Further Secretariat discussions with Bangladesh and Ethiopia on transport helicopters have also continued. However, no firm arrangements had materialised at press time.

On 6 March, the “Friends of UNAMID” group was launched with US and Canadian support. The group—comprising Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Tanzania, the UK, the US and the EU—is expected to support UNAMID troop contributors with training and equipment.

Regarding the north-south situation, tensions continued in the Abyei area after renewed clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Misseriya tribe, which the SPLA accuses of being supported by Khartoum.

Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) continues to face challenges. Key issues include:

  • the census is now scheduled for 15-30 April, but funding from Khartoum was still to be resolved at press time;
  • there are divisions between north and south on the draft electoral law;
  • the report of the Technical Ad Hoc Border Committee is still pending and no agreement has been reached on Abyei’s borders;
  • southern suspicion over transparency regarding oil revenues continues; and
  • no tangible progress has been made on troop redeployment and joint integrated units.

Regarding UNMIS, it seems that a recent assessment concluded that no major changes to the mandate would be required, but restructuring would be needed to improve mandate implementation. Ongoing concerns include:

  • UNMIS’ lack of freedom of movement in Abyei;
  • how best to manage the increasing tensions on the ground, given that UNMIS was militarily configured as an observer mission; and
  • coordination with UNAMID and the political process in Darfur.

Related Developments in the Sanctions Committee

The Sanctions Committee met in late February to discuss Sudan’s request for sanctions against the JEM. Given members’ ongoing divisions regarding sanctions options, the Committee decided on a limited response in a letter to Sudan requesting more details regarding the individuals in question and their alleged conduct.


Related Developments in the Human Rights Council (HRC)

On 10 March, Special Rapporteur Sima Samar briefed the HRC on her recent human rights report on Sudan. The report notes that “the protection of human rights in the Sudan remains an enormous challenge.” Despite some progress with the drafting of new laws, this had not had an impact on the human rights situation.

Regarding Darfur, Samar told the HRC that Khartoum and Darfur rebels had “failed in their responsibility to provide protection to civilians in areas under their control and are violating international human rights law and international humanitarian law.” (An 18 March report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights also found that “the scale of destruction of civilian property” in the context of the January-February military attacks on three towns in West Darfur “suggested that the damage was a deliberate and integral part of a military strategy,” leading to at least 115 killed and 30,000 displaced.)

Samar reiterated the recommendation to Khartoum to implement the proposals of the group of human rights experts on Darfur, accelerate CPA implementation, address impunity and cooperate with UNAMID and the International Criminal Court (ICC). She further recommended that all warring factions respect international humanitarian law and end attacks on civilians, and that the South Sudan government strengthen rule of law institutions and address impunity.

Regarding the south, the most likely option is a renewal of UNMIS. Another option would be to decide to put in place some procedures to follow the CPA’s implementation more closely, and perhaps request regular Secretariat briefings (for example, every 45 days), as preparations for the census and the 2009 elections are made.

On Darfur, one possibility is that the Council will continue to leave UNAMID’s deployment issues to the Secretariat and to the newly-formed Friends of UNAMID, with support from bilateral diplomatic initiatives.

A second option is a more forward-looking strategy, mandating Council experts to meet regularly to discuss issues frustrating UNAMID’s deployment and prepare letters for the Council president or other demarches under the “silence” procedure to influence the parties concerned.

A third option is to try to reenergise the political reconciliation process by:

  • seeking regular exchanges with the mediation team, perhaps in an informal setting of meetings of experts;
  • strongly demanding a ceasefire, and perhaps setting a deadline; and
  • reminding the parties of their obligations towards the ICC under resolution 1593.

A fourth option is to shift to a specifically regional approach to the resolution of the issues, and to incorporate some or all of the above elements in such an approach.

Key Issues
On the north-south situation, the key issue is that the CPA’s implementation is still at risk. A related issue is whether the recent trend to step back from the north-south situation may in fact create more problems than it solves. An important question is whether the Council should become more involved in encouraging the CPA’s implementation, and how best to do so (bearing in mind the parties’ ownership of the process) and how to factor in the wider regional dimensions.

On Darfur, the key issue for the Council is that current strategies seem unlikely to deliver quick progress on political reconciliation or on the security track (particularly regarding a ceasefire), on the continuing abuses against civilians by all sides and on the increasing regionalisation of the problem.

Regarding UNAMID, issues include:

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

Finally, the issue of justice and accountability remains in the background. The issue is rarely discussed in the Council, even in the light of Sudan’s non-compliance with resolution 1593 and its lack of cooperation with the ICC.

Council Dynamics
Council members appear increasingly alarmed with the recent humanitarian and human rights developments in Darfur, Sudan’s military tactics, the dim prospects for political reconciliation and for UNAMID.

A degree of cooperation regarding UNAMID’s asset requirements has emerged—but basically outside the Council context. Initiatives such as the Friends of UNAMID seem to have helped a little. In terms of contacts with Sudan, China appears to have adopted a stronger position, having reportedly signalled that Sudan should show more flexibility on UNAMID.

More pressure on the rebels to return to the negotiating table is favoured by a number of Council members including China, Russia and Libya. However, other members (including the US, the UK and France) have argued that consideration of the sanctions option should include the conduct of all parties. Indonesia appears ready to propose that the Council demands a ceasefire backed by a threat of further measures.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

Latest 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.


  • High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on the January-February military attacks against three towns in West Darfur (20 March 2008).
  • S/PV.5849 (11 March 2008) was the recent Mulet briefing.
  • A/HRC/7/22 (3 March 2008) was the recent Sudan human rights report to the HRC.
  • S/AC.51/2008/7 (5 February 2008) were the conclusions of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict regarding Sudan.
  • 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 10 March 2008: 7,441 military, 1,597 police, and one formed police unit
  • Main troop contributors: Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal
  • 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 personnel
  • Strength as of 29 February 2008: 8,718 troops, 568 military observers, and 695 police
  • Main troop contributors: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • 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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