May 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 April 2011
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AFRICA

South Sudan

 Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to receive a briefing and report from the Secretary-General with recommendations on the mandate and composition of a new UN mission in South Sudan. 

The Council is expected to visit Sudan, including Khartoum, Juba and Abyei, in May.

Negotiations on the new peacekeeping mission are likely to begin following the Council visit.

Key Recent Developments
A technical assessment mission (TAM) visited southern Sudan from 16 February to 31 March. The TAM used a period of three to five years following independence as its point of reference for possible UN assistance to the new nation of South Sudan. As indicated in the April quarterly report of the Secretary-General on the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the UN is considering assistance that would be fairly decentralised, going down to the state and county levels in the areas of political support and democratisation; governance and rule of law; conflict mitigation; security-sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. With regard to inclusion of protection of civilians, the new mandate would focus on strengthening the capacities of national institutions to fulfil their sovereign responsibility to protect civilians and ensure the security of humanitarian access.

On 20 April, Assistant Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Atul Khare indicated in a briefing to the Council that the Secretary-General’s Policy Committee would meet on 26 April to discuss the successor mission and that the Secretary-General would convey his recommendations to the Council in mid-May. Khare also briefed the Council on the work of UNMIS from January to March.

Khare also added that:

  • there had been no further violence in Abyei since early March, but the situation was very tense as neither side had implemented the security agreements from January and the UN had observed a sizeable military build-up;
  • there had been an increase in harassment of UN patrols in Abyei from Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities;
  • the UN was concerned that further blockage of the Misseriya southern migration route would result in a flare-up of violence;
  • the northern National Congress Party (NCP) and Southern People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) had reached agreement in the latest round of negotiations on 9 to 11 April in Addis Ababa that north Sudan would bear the current external debt of Sudan in return for assistance from the south in lobbying for its relief; and
  • parties had made preliminary agreements on border arrangements but differences remained on whether there should be any third-party involvement in their implementation.

Following extensive negotiations, the Council issued a presidential statement on 21 April in which it:

  • urged the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to reach agreement on outstanding issues and post-CPA arrangements and encouraged parties to engage with the UN on its future presence in Sudan;
  • reiterated its deep concern over increased tension, violence and displacement in Abyei and called on both parties to implement and adhere to recent security agreements and to reach agreement quickly on Abyei’s post-CPA status;
  • acknowledged the July 2009 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on the borders of Abyei;
  • expressed concern about recent violence in Southern Kordofan state ahead of rescheduled gubernatorial and state assembly elections;
  • urged both parties to reach agreement on the future of tens of thousands of troops from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States and the future of southerners currently serving in the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF);
  • reiterated that any obstruction to the freedom of movement of UNMIS was unacceptable; and
  • stated the Council will not tolerate any support to proxy militia by either party to the CPA.

On 27 April the Council extended the mandate of UNMIS until 9 July 2011. The Council indicated its intention to establish a successor mission to UNMIS and authorised UNMIS to use its assets to prepare for the establishment of such a mission, thus allowing the UN Secretariat and troop contributors to start preliminary deployment planning.

On 14 April, Abdul Aziz Adam Al-Hilu, the deputy governor of Southern Kordofan State and SPLM candidate in the state’s upcoming gubernatorial elections, accused militia loyal to Ahmed Haroun, the state’s governor and NCP candidate, of burning over 350 houses, killing 17 people and violently disrupting SPLM rallies in Al-Hilu’s home district. Haroun denounced the violence, attributing it to local disputes of a tribal nature. The elections are scheduled to be held from 2-4 May, to be followed by popular consultations on the CPA.

Violence between the SPLA and a range of armed groups continued in April. On 11 April, Peter Gadet Yak, a former SPLA general in Unity state, announced a new rebel group called the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) and issued a statement entitled the “Mayom Declaration,” seeking the overthrow of the current government of Southern Sudan due to corruption and Dinka dominance; Gadet is Nuer, the second largest ethnic group. Gadet claimed the SSLA had laid landmines throughout Mayom county in Unity state, several of which blew up four SPLA trucks, killing at least four SPLA troops on 19 April. Clashes occurred between the SSLA and the SPLA over the next four days, resulting in the evacuation of civilians and northern and foreign oil workers. There were no reported casualties.

On 13 April the UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, Lise Grande, said in a press conference that more than 800 people had died in violence in southern Sudan since January and close to 94,000 had been internally displaced. Grande cited clashes between the SPLA and at least seven armed militia, inter-communal violence including cattle theft, and sporadic attacks by the formerly Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army.

On 24 April the technical committee appointed to write an interim constitution for South Sudan released its draft, ahead of discussions by leaders of all political parties on 26 April. The southern parliament will debate the draft in May before the final endorsement by President Salva Kiir prior to 9 July. The draft interim constitution sets a four-year presidential term, starting 9 July 2011, and includes the area of Abyei defined by the Permanent Court of Arbitration within the borders of the Republic of South Sudan.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council in May will be the terms of reference for the Council visit and what political messages should be delivered to authorities in northern and southern Sudan, particularly regarding possible roles for the UN in support of implementing final aspects of the CPA, as well as capacity-building in the south. The Council visit will come at a critical time—around six weeks prior to the end of the interim period.

A further issue will be balancing the hopes of the UN secretariat for an early decision on the mandate of a new mission in South Sudan—to assist planning and deployment—with the likely need to wait before finalising the details until the CPA parties have reached agreement on key issues that the UN might have a useful role in implementing.

A related issue, in terms of planning, is whether the Council will apply the lessons learned and criteria recommended, in the most recent strategic review by the Department of Peacekeeping of requirements for a new mission—the “New Horizons” report.

Underlying Issues
It seems that strategic guidance to the planning process has been lacking. The Secretary-General’s Policy Committee, which was also supposed to have met at some point during the TAM, did not provide guidance. The first meeting of the Policy Committee on this topic was 26 April.

The security situation in Southern Sudan is very fragile. There is little civilian control over the SPLA or ability to undertake meaningful investigations into allegations of rights abuses that may have occurred dealing with armed groups. The SPLA lacks a central command and control mechanism and is rather a series of regional commands carried over from the war with the north.

There are concerns in the field and by some NGOs that UN Headquarters may, for political reasons, be underestimating the fragility of the situation in seeking to present a “light” UN footprint.

Options
During the Council visit to Sudan, the Council could:

  • deliver political messages to each side about outstanding issues in the post-referendum negotiations;
  • hear directly from the government of Southern Sudan its preferences for the mandate and composition of a new UN mission; and
  • discuss with Khartoum possible UN assistance for any residual CPA issues.

Council Dynamics
Many Council members seem concerned by a perceived lack of strategic planning within the UN system ahead of and during the TAM deployment, particularly owing to the delays in holding a meeting of the Policy Committee. Council members seem to be getting inconsistent messages from the current UNMIS leadership and the TAM team on the preferences of the government of Southern Sudan on future UN roles, likewise in bilateral discussions with Southern Sudanese representatives. Many Council members are making their own individual assessments of the needs of a future South Sudan ahead of receiving the official recommendations of the Secretary-General.

Most Council members want to press the CPA parties to reach agreement on key areas such as Abyei prior to finalising the new mandate, but members seem now to accept the possibility that some issues may take longer than the interim period to resolve.

Some Council members were concerned that the scope of the TAM was limited to UN assistance to South Sudan and did not consider any possible UN role in Abyei, South Kordofan or Blue Nile, nor along the border with northern Sudan.

The negotiations on the presidential statement and the UNMIS renewal resolution were seen by many Council members as unnecessarily exclusionary and rushed, although most members seem comfortable with the eventual outcome. (Many members were concerned by the late circulation of the text of the draft presidential statement which contained significant new language on several key issues and that the need for consultations to negotiate the text was not appreciated at the outset. Likewise the very late circulation of the draft UNMIS extension resolution to elected members ruffled many feathers.) Many seem concerned that this pattern could be inadvertently repeated in the upcoming and much more important negotiations on a new mission for South Sudan.

To give parties maximum time to reach agreement and to ensure careful consideration of a new mandate, many Council members would like negotiations on the mandate to be initiated as soon as possible.

The US is the lead country in the Council on implementation of the CPA.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1978 (27 April 2011) extended the mandate of UNMIS until 9 July 2011.
  • S/RES/1590 (24 March 2005) established UNMIS.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6517 (20 April 2011) was a meeting to consider the latest report of the Secretary-General.

Other

  • S/PRST/2011/8 (21 April 2011) was a presidential statement on implementation of the CPA and the situation in Darfur.

Other Relevant Facts

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, Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan and Kenya

Military strength as of 28 March 2011: 9,024 military personnel

Police Strength as of 28 March 2011: 713 police personnel

Annual Budget: $1 billion 

Duration: 24 March 2005 to present; mandate expires 9 July 2011 

Useful Additional Sources

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