December 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 December 2010
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Expected Council Action
In December, the Council will be briefed by the head of UN peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, on the progress of preparations for the referenda to be held on 9 January in southern Sudan and Abyei and the situation in Darfur.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is expected to deliver his regular biannual briefing to the Council regarding Sudan.

The chair of the Sudan Sanctions Committee will present his ninety-day report to the Council in closed consultations.

No specific outcome is expected.

Key Recent Developments
On 28 October the AU Peace and Security Council extended the mandate of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel, led by Thabo Mbeki, for a further 12 months.

From 7 to 13 November, Mbeki mediated negotiations between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) on outstanding matters related to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including Abyei, the north-south border, popular consultations in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states and north-south security arrangements. The negotiations also considered post-referendum issues, such as citizenship, debts, wealth-sharing (involving both oil and water) and currency. The parties agreed on a framework for resolving outstanding issues on 13 November. However, the question of Abyei was excluded.

Both parties acknowledged that because of the ongoing disagreement over composition of the Abyei Referendum Commission and who would be eligible to vote work on that issue would need to continue on a different track. It seems that an approach to the Abyei problem could emerge as part of a “grand bargain” in relation to other post-referenda agreements. The presidency (comprised of President Omar Al-Bashir, First Vice President Salva Kiir and Vice President Ali Osman Taha) commenced talks on Abyei on 27 November, with further talks scheduled for 2 December.

On 11 November, Sudan’s defence minister and the southern minister responsible for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) held a joint press conference in which they said, “War is not an option for us, and we are prepared to build trust between us to achieve a secure and stable situation, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.”

Registration for the southern Sudan referendum started on 15 November and was extended by an extra week to end on 8 December. There was high turnout in the ten southern states, with minor disruptions and delays related to weather and security incidents in some locations. There has been low turnout in the north, attributed to anxiety, as well as lack of information on the process, timetable and locations for registration. A large number of southerners living in the north returned south to register. On 21 November the ruling National Congress Party submitted a complaint to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) citing several “irregularities” it had observed in the registration process. The SSRC estimated 1.3 million voters registered in the first week.

On 13 November the SSRC announced the symbols representing the choices in the referendum vote. Two clasped hands represent unity, and a single hand purportedly waving goodbye represents separation.

The UN panel to monitor the referendum, led by Benjamin Mkapa (former president of Tanzania), visited Sudan from 14 to 22 November to observe the registration process. The panel visited Khartoum, Juba, Wau, Kadugli, Abyei and Wad Medani.

On 11 November Council members convened an informal meeting with troop-contributing countries (TCCs) to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). The head of UNMIS, Haile Menkerios, and the UNMIS force commander informed TCCs (via video-link) that the UN was seeking agreement from Khartoum to add 2,000 troops to UNMIS with no change to the tasks it performs. TCCs were asked to consider if they could increase their current troop numbers (if Khartoum agrees).

On 16 November the UK foreign secretary, William Hague, presided over a Council debate on Sudan, attended at high-level by the US, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Uganda, Japan and Brazil. The Council heard briefings by the Secretary-General, Mbeki, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti, and the secretary general of the SPLM, Pagan Amum.

In a presidential statement, the Council:

  • expressed its readiness to act as necessary in support of full implementation of the CPA by the parties;
  • requested all parties to refrain from unilateral action;
  • underlined the importance of rapid progress on a way forward for Abyei’s referendum and resolution of critical post-referendum issues;
  • stated its concern over delays in releasing funds to the SSRC; and
  • expressed its willingness to consider measures against any party whose actions undermine peace in Darfur.

The debate was followed by short closed consultations in which Menkerios and Ibrahim Gambari, the head of the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), provided the Council additional information (via video-link) on the five areas of the north-south border in dispute and progress on sensitive negotiations to free kidnapped humanitarian workers.

The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, visited Sudan from 4 to 5 November. Kerry told Khartoum the US would remove Sudan from its list of states that sponsor terrorism by July 2011 if the Government of Sudan fulfils its obligations under the CPA, including facilitating the southern Sudan referendum, reaching agreement on Abyei and respecting the outcome of both processes. The US added Sudan to its four-country terror list (which also includes Cuba, Iran and Syria) in 1993. The designation blocks US development assistance and defence exports and restricts a range of other financial dealings and trade. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in her statement to the Council on 16 November that the US was prepared to end economic sanctions if Sudan committed to a peaceful solution to the conflict in Darfur.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos visited Sudan from 5 to 9 November to review humanitarian preparations in southern Sudan and assess the causes of the lack of humanitarian access in Darfur.

On 30 October, 13 Darfuri human rights defenders and journalists were arrested in Khartoum, including a journalist working for Netherlands-based Radio Dabanga—one of the few media outlets reporting on the Darfur conflict. On 4 November government agents raided the office of the daily newspaper Al-Sahafa and arrested a journalist.

On 30 October, Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and SPLA soldiers clashed on the border between Sennar and Upper Nile states; one SPLA officer was wounded. At least eight civilians were injured on 13 November and six civilians on 24 November in northern Bahr el Ghazal state by aerial bombardments by SAF, which were reportedly targeting members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a key Darfur rebel group. The SAF accused the SPLM of providing assistance to JEM.

In the first week of November, the SAF clashed several times in northern Darfur and northern Kordofan states with the JEM and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdul-Wahid Al-Nur (another Darfur rebel group). On 8 November, JEM claimed to have shot down a SAF fighter jet in Northern Kordofan.

On 4 November a UNAMID peacekeeper was shot and wounded by unknown armed men while on guard duty at a water point in North Darfur, and three Latvian helicopter crew members working for the World Food Programme were kidnapped in South Darfur.

On 15 November, JEM representatives indicated their conditions (including safe passage to Doha for their leader) for a possible return to the Doha peace talks. JEM withdrew from the talks in May 2010.

On 24 November the Sudan Sanctions Committee received a private briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, John Ruggie. This was the first official contact between Ruggie and the Council.

On 11 June, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, presented the Council with a formal complaint from the court on the lack of cooperation by the Government of Sudan to execute arrest warrants against Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb. Moreno-Ocampo stated his intention to follow-up Council action to address this lack of cooperation in his next briefing to the Council in December. On 27 August the court formally notified the Security Council about Bashir’s travel to Chad and Kenya and the failure of both countries to fulfil their obligations and enforce the outstanding arrest warrants against Bashir.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council in December is maintaining a proactive focus to reinforce the prospects for successful implementation of the CPA, including the credible and peaceful conduct of the southern Sudan referendum, and successful negotiations on border demarcation, conduct of the popular consultations and security arrangements.

A related issue is reinforcing diplomatic efforts to reach agreement on Abyei.

Underlying Issues
SAF and SPLA forces are in close proximity at several points on the prospective north-south border, a fact which raises the overall risk factors as tensions mount.

Inter-tribal divisions in the south also continue to persist in the face of weak security institutions and further contribute to the risk of manipulation and instability in South Sudan.

The transformation of the SPLM from a guerrilla movement to a ruling party remains incomplete. Likewise, the transformation of the SPLA from disparate guerrilla forces into a coherent professional army under civilian control will be a lengthy process.

The Council could follow-up the meetings convened in November with similar focused events in December. Options for Council decisions include an early statement:

    • urging the parties to resolve all outstanding issues ahead of the referendum;
    • welcoming recent efforts to resolve key issues; and
    • authorising a temporary increase in the authorised troop level of UNMIS.

Another option is a late month statement reminding the parties of serious consequences if the CPA terms are not met.

Council Dynamics
The Council is expected to remain highly engaged with events in Sudan throughout December, as the US is both Council president and lead country on north-south issues.

The Council remains broadly united on the importance of the full implementation of the CPA through the peaceful conduct of the southern Sudan referendum and a resolution on Abyei, but there seem to be tactical differences between Council members on the specifics of the best approach at this time. The Council seems united on the dangers of either side of the CPA undermining the referendum.

China seems to be softening its approach toward the Council’s interaction with the institutions of southern Sudan and agreed that Pagan Amum should address the Council on 16 November (despite protests by Khartoum about Amum’s involvement).

On ICC issues there are more substantive differences within the Council particularly on its approach to implementation of resolution 1593 between members that are party to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, including Austria, France, Mexico and the UK, and those who have criticised the court’s indictment of Bashir.

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UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1945 (14 October 2010) renewed the mandate of the Darfur Sanctions Panel of Experts for another year.
  • S/RES/1935 (30 July 2010) renewed UNAMID.
  • S/RES/1919 (29 April 2010) renewed UNMIS.
  • S/RES/1593 (31 March 2005) referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC.
  • S/RES/1591 (29 March 2005) and S/RES/1556 (30 July 2004) imposed sanctions.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

Selected Security Council Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6425 (16 November 2010) was the high-level debate to discuss latest developments in Sudan.
  • S/PV.6401 (14 October 2010) was the adoption of the resolution to renew the mandate of the Darfur Sanctions Panel of Experts.
  • S/PV.6336 (11 June 2010) was a briefing by the prosecutor of the ICC on progress of the Court’s work in Sudan.


  • S/PRST/2010/24 (16 November 2010) was the presidential statement issued at the high-level debate on Sudan.
  • SG/2165 (24 September 2010) was the communiqué on the Sudan high-level meeting.

Other Relevant Facts

UNAMID: Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur

Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria)

UNAMID: Force Commander

Lt.-Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba (Rwanda)

UNAMID: Size, Composition, Cost and Duration

  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 19,555 military personnel, 3,772 police and 19 formed police units (total police 6,432)
  • Main troop contributors: Nigeria, Rwanda, Egypt and Ethiopia
  • Military strength as of 30 September 2010: 17,199 military personnel
  • Police Strength as of 30 September 2010: 4,769 police personnel
  • Annual Budget: $1.81 billion
  • Duration: 31 July 2007 to present; mandate expires 31 July 2011

UNMIS: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Haile Menkerios (South Africa)

UNMIS: Force Commander

Maj.-Gen. Moses Bisong Obi (Nigeria)

UNMIS: Size, Composition, Cost and Duration

  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 10,000 military and 715 police personnel
  • Main troop contributors: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • Military strength as of 15 September 2010: 9,948 military personnel
  • Police Strength as of 15 September 2010: 634 police personnel
  • Annual Budget: $938 million
  • Duration: 24 March 2005 to present; mandate expires 30 April 2011

Sanctions Committee Chairman

Thomas Mayr-Harting (Austria)

Joint AU-UN Chief Mediator

Djibril Yipènè Bassolé (Burkina Faso)

Full forecast

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