February 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 January 2009
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Expected Council Action
Consultations in the Council on the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) are expected in February. The Under Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, Susana Malcorra, and the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, are likely to brief the Council. A briefing by the Joint AU-UN Chief Mediator Djibrill Bassolé is possible. The UNAMID mandate expires on 31 July.

The Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) is also expected to be discussed in early February. Please see our January Forecast for details.

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges returned on 5 January from a month-long judicial recess and are expected to rule shortly on the prosecutor’s application to issue an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.

Key Recent Developments
The situation in Darfur remains dire, with more than 2.5 million people living in internally displaced person (IDP) camps dependent on humanitarian assistance. Attacks against aid workers and their property reached unprecedented levels in 2008. These attacks were mainly attributed to rebel movements, but many incidents also occurred in areas under government control.

UNAMID has now lost 22 personnel, including a peacekeeper that died on 29 December. Violence and ongoing clashes continues to limit UNAMID and humanitarian access to affected populations.

Despite the unilateral declaration of a ceasefire on 12 November by the Government of Sudan, bombing attacks against rebels continue. In his briefing to the Council on 19 December, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, said south and north Darfur had been bombed by the government in late November. After weeks of relative calm the Sudanese army bombed Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) positions in the Muhajeriya area of south Darfur on 13 January. Ground fighting between JEM forces and the government-backed faction of the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement led by Minni Minnawi (SLA/M) was also reported in the area, which hosts a civilian population of 30,000. On 18 January, JEM reportedly took full control of Muhajeriya, SLA/M’s former stronghold. Further government bombing was reported on 24 January. UNAMID reported 3,000 newly displaced as a result of the fighting. Clashes were also reported between the government and rebels on the outskirts of El Fasher in north Darfur on 26 January. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet briefed the Council on the two situations in closed consultations on 28 January. The Council condemned the increased military activities and called on all parties to cease hostilities. In addition to clashes between the government and rebels, inter-ethnic fighting in other parts of south Darfur has resulted in hundreds of deaths since early December and the displacement of thousands of civilians.

On 23 January, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNAMID issued a report concluding that Sudanese security forces had violated international human rights law in the August attack on Kalma IDP camp. The report found 33 IDPs were killed and at least 108 injured after lethal force was used in an unnecessary and disproportionate manner.

As of 31 December, approximately 58 percent of UNAMID uniformed personnel comprising 12,374 military personnel and 2,803 police had deployed. Contributing forces’ lack of essential equipment and their need for additional training continues to impede the full deployment of UNAMID. On 5 January, the US government announced support to airlift equipment and vehicles into Darfur. The operation commenced on 14 January with the transportation of Rwandan equipment. On 20 January, the third meeting of the tripartite coordinating mechanism on UNAMID met to resolve key issues relating to its deployment. During the meeting, a memorandum of understanding on air operations was signed by the Sudanese government and UNAMID to further facilitate the airlift component of the deployment.

On 14 January, the African-Arab Ministerial Committee on Peace in Darfur met in Qatar to discuss peace negotiations in Darfur. Co-chaired by the Qatari Prime Minister, the AU Chair and the Arab League Secretary-General, the Committee includes Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Senegal and Burkina Faso. It was formed in September to organise and sponsor peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and rebels. The Committee agreed to send a delegation to New York to mobilise international support for the peace process in Darfur and to seek a deferral from the Security Council of ICC proceedings related to Sudan. The committee stressed the mediation efforts of Qatar and AU-UN Chief Mediator Djibrill Bassolé who was also in Qatar. On 11 January two Sudanese civil society groups submitted an application to the ICC requesting that no arrest warrants be issued on Darfur-related cases. The application argued the warrants would have a detrimental impact on peace in Sudan.

Progress on peace negotiations continues to be slow and the pending decision by the ICC on Bashir may be a factor. JEM military commander Suleiman Sandal reportedly said JEM would mark the ICC indictment of Bashir with some form of action. The Sudanese government has accused JEM of building up forces in Chad, ready for an attack should Bashir be indicted. Representatives of the Sudan Liberation Movement met in Switzerland from 14-24 December to discuss the peace process in Darfur. Participants reportedly insisted that disarmament of Janjaweed militias and the expulsion of new settlers from Darfur were indispensible preconditions before any talks with the government.

Key Issues
A key issue is the outcome of the decision of the ICC. Related issues include:

  • ensuring, regardless of the ICC decision, that Khartoum continues to implement commitments made in October to expedite the deployment of UNAMID;
  • salvaging momentum towards a political solution in Darfur; and
  • recommitment to implementing the north-south peace agreement.

A second issue is whether the Council can better use the current moment to put pressure on the regime in Khartoum to secure change in relation to Darfur that several members of the Council have been demanding.

Should an arrest warrant be issued, key issues could arise for foreigners’ safety and on how to deter opposition groups from exploiting the situation.

Another issue which is likely to have a major impact on the Council’s handling of Sudan is the approach by the new US administration, which at the time of writing was unclear.

Underlying all of the above issues is the need for a new framework to reenergise substantive and more united rebel participation. A question for the Council is what it can do to encourage this. In this regard, a possible issue being raised is whether the 14 January statement from the African-Arab Ministerial Committee (co-chaired by Qatar) calling for the invocation of an article 16 will have an adverse effect on Qatar’s acceptance by the rebels as a neutral sponsor of the peace talks.

Another key issue is UNAMID’s continued lack of critical resources and its inability to deter the ongoing high levels of attacks against humanitarian personnel and IDP and refugee camps.

In light of the pending ICC announcement, one option is for the Council to adopt a wait-and-see approach on all Darfur issues.

An alternative option is a more proactive approach designed to head off as far as possible some of the risks and prepare the ground for a more active role in the coming months. It could, for instance:

  • request the AU Peace and Security Council to provide updated details of its 21 July proposal to set up an independent panel to examine the Darfur situation and submit recommendations on handling issues of accountability and combating impunity;
  • request a report on the range of actions or options Sudan would need to take to meet the complementary principle under the Rome Statute;
  • announce its intention to consider, if the situation deteriorates, a balanced package of targeted sanctions against spoilers of the peace process and against persons or groups protecting ICC indictees;
  • increase pressure on the parties that continue to resist participating in peace negotiations;
  • set a timeframe for the investigation on the 8 July attacks against UNAMID (about which the Council said it was determined to take action);
  • consider the establishment of UN mentoring teams within UNAMID and UN Mission in Central African Republic and Chad to train and assist the Sudan/Chad joint border monitoring force (once established) in policing the arms embargo; and
  • request the Secretariat include in future reports to the Council comprehensive benchmarks of performance over time by Khartoum, rebel groups and other key stakeholders in terms of pledges made and the status of their implementation.

Council Dynamics
There is consensus in the Council that a political solution to the conflict in Darfur is the key to unlocking a solution to the crisis. But there remains a division on the sequencing of peace and justice.

On deferring ICC proceedings, divisions among the P5 appear unchanged, with the US, UK and France unsatisfied that Khartoum has taken tangible concrete steps to warrant a deferral. It remains to be seen whether any initiatives arising from the proposed Qatar-led AU/Arab League Ministerial delegation to New York, or perhaps arising out of the AU summit in late January, will influence the Council on this issue.

Also, it remains to be seen how the new US administration will pursue Sudan issues. During her confirmation hearing as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration was reviewing US policy toward Darfur. She also said that while she agreed with the existing US policy of accelerating the full deployment of UNAMID, she was considering other options including a no-fly zone and further sanctions. Susan Rice, the new US Permanent Representative to the UN mentioned Sudan several times during her hearing, including the need for “much more effective action” against the “ongoing genocide in Sudan”.

Russia has recently appointed a special envoy to Sudan. It seems likely that Russia will play a more active role on Sudan issues in the future.

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UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

Selected Reports

Selected Council Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6054 (19 December 2008) was the latest UNAMID briefing.
  • S/PV.6043 (15 December 2008) contains the briefing by the Chairman of the Sudan Sanctions Committee.
  • S/PV.6029 (3 December 2008) was a briefing by Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes.

Selected Statement

  • S/PRST/2008/27 (16 July 2008) was on the UNAMID investigation into the deaths of seven peacekeepers in July and the need to take action against those responsible.

Other Relevant Facts

UNAMID: Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur

Rodolphe Adada (Republic of Congo)

Joint AU-UN Chief Mediator

Djibrill Yipènè Bassolé (Burkina Faso)

UNAMID: Size, Composition and Cost

  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 19,555 military personnel, 3,772 police and 19 formed police units (total police 6,432)
  • Strength as of 31 December 2008: 12,374 military personnel and 2,803 police
  • Main troop contributors: Nigeria, Rwanda, Egypt and Ethiopia
  • Cost: 1 July 2008-30 June 2009: $1.5 billion

UNAMID: Duration

31 July 2007 to present; mandate expires 31 July 2009

Full forecast

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