August 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 July 2011
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Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action
The Council has no previously scheduled meetings on Sudan or South Sudan in August. However, because of developments there members will be following the situation closely and meetings at short notice are possible.

If there is progress in ongoing negotiations between the parties, the Council might mandate in August a UN role in the border-monitoring arrangements agreed to in late June by Sudan and South Sudan.

The ongoing conflict in Southern Kordofan, the potential for violence to spread into Blue Nile state, or any hindrance to the deployment of peacekeepers in Abyei, could lead the Council to take up these issues in August. 

Key Recent Developments
On 9 July the Republic of South Sudan became an independent state. Sudan was the first country to recognise the new nation. South Sudan became the 193rd member of the UN, following adoption of a resolution by the Security Council recommending its membership on 13 July and a subsequent decision by the General Assembly on 14 July.

On 29 June the governments of Sudan and then-Southern Sudan signed an agreement on border security and a joint political and security mechanism, which reaffirmed earlier agreements in May and in December 2010. Under the agreement, the parties are to establish a “safe demilitarised border zone” (SDBZ), with the forces of both parties redeployed 10 kilometres from the north/south borderline of 1 January 1956, pending resolution of disputed border areas and final demarcation of the border. The SDBZ would be monitored by unarmed observers from the parties supported by UN observers, with force protection provided by the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA). 

On 7 July the president of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, renounced an agreement signed on 28 June between the government of Sudan and the Southern People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) on political and security arrangements in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states. The agreement had been signed by NCP power-broker and presidential adviser Nafie Ali Nafie and the governor of Blue Nile state, Malik Agar, with the head of the AU high level implementation panel, Thabo Mbeki, as witness. It seems Bashir determined he was opposed to the SPLM-North continuing as a legal political party in Sudan.

Upon the establishment of the state of South Sudan, the newly mandated UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) became active. The Council adopted the mandate for this mission on 8 July. UNMISS is a Chapter VII peacekeeping operation with a focus on peace consolidation and a strong protection of civilians dimension that emphasises early warning and community-level conflict prevention. In the resolution, the Council requested the parties to propose modalities to implement the border agreement by 20 July (which did not occur). The resolution stated that if a proposal was not received by that date UNMISS would be required to observe and report on any flow of personnel, arms and related materiel across the border. 

The mandate for the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) expired on 9 July, despite last-minute diplomatic efforts from the Secretary-General and Council members to convince Khartoum to accept a continued UN presence at least in the states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Council subsequently adopted a resolution on 11 July to liquidate UNMIS and provide extended legal cover for the ongoing presence of UN peacekeepers as they withdrew. The resolution also requested the Secretary-General to consult with the parties, the AU and other partners and present options to the Council for UN support for security arrangements in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile that were agreed to in late June by the parties. The Council expressed its readiness to continue current UN operations in these areas, with the consent of the parties.

The Council held a high-level debate on South Sudan on 13 July; German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle presided. The Secretary-General addressed the Council, as did the vice president of South Sudan, Riek Machar. The head of the UN department of peacekeeping operations (DPKO), Alain Le Roy, briefed the Council on the set-up of UNMISS, as well as progress in the deployment of UNISFA, emphasising that the armed forces of each party are to withdraw from the Abyei area at the beginning of UNISFA’s deployment. With respect to the border agreement, Le Roy indicated that DPKO might be able to prepare recommendations to the Council on a UN role in border-monitoring by the end of July.

Fighting continued in Southern Kordofan with further allegations of acts amounting to ethnic cleansing targeting the Nuba minority. The Sudanese government accused Southern People’s Liberation Army elements in the Nuba Mountains, who have refused to disarm, of instigating the current violence. An unpublished report by the human rights section of UNMIS on the human rights situation during the violence in Southern Kordofan, which was leaked to the media on 14 July, contained first and second hand accounts of atrocities committed by the Sudanese Armed Forces, including violations of international humanitarian law, such as not distinguishing between military and civilian targets and the specific targeting of Nuban civilians. Reported human rights violations included abductions, house-to-house searches, targeted killings, summary executions, systematic destruction of dwellings and attacks on churches. The report also outlined violations against the UN mission and staff, including summary execution of a UN national staff member, the arbitrary arrest and detention of UN staff, including ill-treatment amounting to torture, and verified incidents of shelling close to UN property. There have been unconfirmed reports of mass graves, including from the NGO, Satellite Sentinel Project. 

On 15 July the Council received a briefing in consultations on the humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan from Valerie Amos, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The president of the Council, Permanent Representative of Germany Peter Wittig, in his remarks to the press following the consultations said that during the consultations members of the Council:

  • expressed their grave concern over the ongoing violence in Southern Kordofan;
  • called on the government of Sudan and the SPLM-North in accordance with the 28 June framework agreement on Southern Kordofan to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities, viable security arrangements and modalities for their implementation;
  • condemned in the strongest terms any violent or unlawful acts against civilians and UN personnel;
  • demanded an immediate end to threats of harassment and attacks on civilians and UN personnel;
  • stressed that those responsible for the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law should be held accountable;
  • urged all parties to respect humanitarian principles and to allow humanitarian personnel timely and unfettered access to the affected civilian population; and
  • called on all parties to refrain from unilateral actions and encouraged the parties to resolve the crisis in Southern Kordofan peacefully.

Wittig explained that the remarks to the press did not constitute a formal press statement, as the Council had wanted to respond to the briefing in a timely way and negotiations on a more formal statement would have resulted in a delay.

The Secretary-General requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to send a fact-finding mission to Southern Kordofan. It is expected to deploy at the end of July or early August.

On 27 July Le Roy briefed the Council on the deployment of UNISFA. His briefing covered several issues regarding getting the deployment of the force to full strength, including the need to build new team sites, impediments to transport owing to the rainy season and the lack of a signed status-of-forces agreement. Le Roy also informed the Council of the political impasse between the parties on forming the Abyei Area administration to which they each need to nominate two mutually acceptable representatives. Le Roy’s briefing also touched upon the humanitarian situation in Abyei, noting 113,000 persons remained displaced; and noted that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is planning to conduct an assessment mission in Abyei to take stock of recent events. Le Roy also said that the security situation in Southern Kordofan remained alarming.

On 28 July Council members met in consultations to hear a briefing from the Assistant Secretary-General of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York, Ivan Simonovic, on the human rights situation in Southern Kordofan. 

Human Rights-Related Developments
In a press statement on 27 June issued at the end of her mission to Sudan, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang observed that “impunity, marginalisation and discrimination have gripped Sudan for far too long and have driven multiple conflicts and decades of violence.” She called on the government of Sudan to create a human rights environment in Darfur and across Sudan that was conducive to discussing, creating and sustaining peace. She said she believed that central to such an environment would be the lifting of the state of emergency and guaranteeing freedom of expression, freedom from arbitrary arrest and freedom of association. “The broad powers granted to the National Intelligence and Safety Service to arrest and detain for long periods must be brought in line with the international conventions that Sudan has ratified,” said Kang. 


Key Issues
A key issue is the increasing number of unofficial reports of atrocities in Southern Kordofan. A related issue is keeping abreast of developments in Blue Nile state, given the risk of violence spreading.

A second possible issue for the Council in August might be the possible scope, size and duration of UN assistance to a border-monitoring mechanism. 

A related issue for Council members is information about progress in negotiations between the parties on the outstanding aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including on Abyei, on economic arrangements and wealth-sharing and citizenship criteria—all of which could have a significant impact on the stability of the security relationship between Sudan and South Sudan and the humanitarian situation in the region.

A further issue for the Council is whether the parties are fulfilling their agreement on Abyei by withdrawing their armed forces upon the deployment of UNISFA. 

Underlying Issues
Approximately one million people could be rendered stateless in Sudan if its parliament passes a law disallowing dual north-south citizenship. As it is, tens of thousands of South Sudanese remain at a number of way-stations in Sudan awaiting promised transportation south.

The Council could:

  • adopt a resolution expanding the role of UNISFA to incorporate a force-protection role to support unarmed border monitors, mandating UN support for a border-monitoring mechanism and retaining a limited border-observation role for UNMISS in disputed areas;
  • seek a briefing from Mbeki and the special envoy of the Secretary-General, Haile Menkerios, on the status of negotiations between the parties to reach a ceasefire in Southern Kordofan and implementation of the remaining aspects of the CPA;
  • seek follow-up briefings from OCHA on the humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan; and
  • issue a formal response to the situation in Southern Kordofan either by picking up the draft presidential statement that was being considered following the outbreak of violence in early June or issuing a press statement.

Council Dynamics
Given the current budget environment for many Council members, it can be expected that several Council members would raise questions over the number of troops required for a border-monitoring protection force. Likewise, many Council members would want at least an understanding of what benchmarks might be needed for the completion of such a mission.

It seems that many Council members did not consider it helpful to include in the UNMISS resolution a strict and early deadline for the parties to propose modalities on the implementation of the border-monitoring arrangements which did not reflect the pace of the negotiations between the parties.

The Council seems divided still over the ongoing violence in Southern Kordofan. A number of Council members seem to want the Council to speak formally on this issue, either through a press statement or a presidential statement. It is clear that the expiry of the UNMIS mandate will hamper getting information on the security and human rights situation from the peacekeepers. Some argue that the Council should not take concrete actions in the absence of such reports.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1999 (13 July 2011) recommended to the General Assembly that South Sudan be admitted as a member of the UN.
  • S/RES/1997 (11 July 2011) liquidated UNMIS.
  • S/RES/1996 (8 July 2011) established UNMISS.
  • S/RES/1990 (27 June 2011) established UNISFA.

Council Meetings

  • S/PV.6593 (27 July 2011) was a briefing on UNISFA.
  • S/PV.6583 (13 July 2011) was a high-level debate on South Sudan.
  • S/PV.6579 (11 July 2011) was the meeting at which the Council liquidated UNMIS.


Other Relevant Facts

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

Hilde Frafjord Johnson (Norway)

UNMISS: Size and Duration

Maximum authorised strength: up to 7,000 military and 900 police

Duration: 9 July to present; mandate expires 9 July 2012.

UNISFA: Force Commander and Head of Mission

Lt. Gen. Tadesse Werede Tesfay (Ethiopia)

UNISFA: Size, Composition and Duration

Maximum authorised strength: up to 4,200 military and 50 police

Estimated troops deployed by 31 July: 1,200 military personnel

Troop contributor: Ethiopia

Duration: 27 June to present; mandate expires 27 December

Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Sudan and South Sudan

Haile Menkerios (South Africa)

Full Forecast