June 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 June 2012
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Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is due to discuss in consultations the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) that it receives every 60 days under the terms of resolution 2047.

The Council will also most likely hold consultations twice during June on the situation between Sudan and South Sudan. This is done in accordance with resolution 2046—which requests the Secretary-General to inform the Council at two-week intervals on the status of compliance by Sudan, South Sudan and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) with the resolution.

A Council meeting with troop and police-contributing countries to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is also scheduled in late June, prior to the expected renewal of the mission’s mandate in early July.   

The mandate of UNISFA expires on 17 November.  

Key Recent Developments
On 2 May, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2046 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address the deterioration of relations between Sudan and South Sudan. Supporting many elements of the AU communiqué of 24 April, the resolution called on both countries to resume negotiations within two weeks in an effort to resolve key issues separating them, such as oil wealth-sharing, the status of each country’s nationals who are living in the other country, demarcation of the border and the status of disputed border regions, including Abyei.  

It also maps out strict timelines for Sudan and South Sudan to take concrete actions to de-escalate their conflict, including inter alia:

  • an immediate cessation of all hostilities, including aerial bombardments, with both sides “conveying their commitment in this respect” to the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the president of the Security Council within 48 hours of the resolution’s adoption;
  • unconditional withdrawal of their security forces from territory belonging to the other side;
  • an immediate end to “hostile propaganda and inflammatory statements in the media”;
  • establishment within one week of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and the secure demilitarised zone along the border separating the two countries;
  • a cessation by both sides of support for, and harbouring of, rebel groups fighting against the other country; and
  • redeployment of security forces of both sides from Abyei within two weeks.

Regarding the situation in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states in Sudan, the resolution also decided that Sudan and the SPLM-N should fully cooperate with the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and the chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to come to a negotiated settlement. It further strongly urged both Sudan and the SPLM-N to accept the AU-UN-League of Arab States tripartite agreement, which details a plan for the provision of humanitarian aid to civilians in both government- and rebel-controlled territories. 

If the parties fail to comply with the resolution, the Council expressed its intention “to take appropriate measures under Article 41 of the Charter as necessary.” (Article 41 includes non-military coercive measures of Chapter VII, such as, for example, the “complete or partial interruption of economic relations,” as well as “the severance of diplomatic relations.”)

In a 3 May letter to the Council (S/2012/293), South Sudan expressed its commitment to cease fighting and resume negotiations with Sudan in accordance with resolution 2046. However, South Sudan has indicated that it does not agree with the resolution’s statement that the map used by the AUHIP should serve as a basis for negotiations on border security mechanisms. 

On 14 May, the parliament of Sudan announced that it had accepted the resolution, but only with certain “reservations”. (For example, the parliament dismissed the resolution’s decision that Sudan should negotiate with rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, an issue that it considers to be a domestic matter.)   The ruling National Congress Party also appointed a special committee to review the resolution.

Reports of hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan continued in the days following the adoption of the resolution. On 3 May, South Sudan said that Sudan had dropped bombs on Lalop and Panakuch in Unity state, wounding two people. It also alleged that Sudan had launched an artillery attack on Teshwin, also in Unity state.  South Sudan further alleged additional air strikes by Sudan on 7 and 8 May on South Sudan’s Unity, Upper Nile, and Western Bahr el-Ghazal states. On 4 May, while indicating that it was committed to the Council’s resolution, Sudan accused South Sudan of occupying certain areas inside Sudan’s Darfur border, adding that it had a right to repel these incursions.    

Fleeing the violent conflict and food insecurity in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, an influx of refugees continued to swell refugee camps across the border in South Sudan. On 10 May, UNHCR reported that an average of 550 refugees, many malnourished, were arriving at the Yida refugee camp in Unity state each day, a rate six times greater than in March. Meanwhile, aid workers were struggling to serve the approximately 37,000 refugees residing in the Jamam refugee camp in Upper Nile state. 

The Council held consultations on Sudan and South Sudan on 16 May in accordance with resolution 2046. Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Sudan and South Sudan, briefed the Council via videoconference. He indicated that the level of violence between the parties had appeared to decrease since the Council’s adoption of resolution 2046. (At press time, the next round of consultations on Sudan and South Sudan was scheduled for 31 May.) 

On 17 May, the Council adopted resolution 2047, renewing the mandate of UNISFA for an additional six months. In early May, South Sudan withdrew the approximately 700 police that it had in Abyei, a measure welcomed by the resolution. In a letter to the Council on 15 May (S/2012/322), Sudan expressed a commitment to withdraw its security forces from Abyei, although it indicated that it needed to discuss monitoring and verification in the region with AUHIP chair Thabo Mbeki.    

Although South Sudan accused Sudan of aerial bombardments on its territory in Western Bahr El Ghazal, Northern Bahr El Ghazal and Unity States, it appeared that some progress was made toward deescalating tensions between Sudan and South Sudan in the last days of May. The two countries began a new round of negotiations in Addis Ababa on 29 May to discuss their adherence to resolution 2046. Also on 29 May, Sudan withdrew military forces from Abyei, although Sudanese armed police remained.  

Key Issues
Among key issues related to Abyei are:

  • the fact that Sudanese police remain in Abyei, although Sudan has withdrawn its troops from the region;
  • whether thousands of displaced persons who fled Abyei when Sudan attacked the region in May 2011 will return to the region in light of reports that Sudanese troops have withdrawn (or whether the continuing presence of Sudanese police in Abyei will continue to deter them from returning); and  
  • the lack of progress by the parties in establishing border security mechanisms.

Key issues related to Sudan-South Sudan more broadly include: 

  • the Council’s need to maintain pressure on the parties to comply with resolution 2046, (especially since many of the deadlines established for compliance in the resolution have passed without action by the parties);
  • Mbeki’s efforts to reinvigorate the negotiating process, which was largely dormant throughout April and most of May;
  • the treatment of the roughly 500,000 people of southern origin who remain in Sudan, many of whom are facing social and economic discrimination; and
  • the ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and the lack of progress in convincing Sudan to permit humanitarian access to civilian populations affected by conflict in the two states. (Sudan has expressed its concern that aid could find its way into rebel hands and accuses South Sudan of supporting the rebels.) 

With respect to UNISFA, options could include:

  • requesting a briefing on recent developments in Abyei and activities of the mission by Lt. Gen. Tadesse Werede Tesfay, the Force Commander and Head of UNISFA; and
  • adopting a presidential statement that welcomes the withdrawal of Sudanese troops and South Sudanese police from Abyei, calls on Sudan to withdraw its police from the region, and reiterates prior requests for border security mechanisms to be activated.

Regarding Sudan-South Sudan issues, an option is using the Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa as a forum to generate strategies that help facilitate progress in the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan and consider follow up measures to resolution 2046. 

As unresolved border delimitation issues, beyond the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling on Abyei in 2009, continue to be a source of contention, the Council could consider invoking underutilised Article 36(3) of the UN Charter and recommend that both parties refer the matter to the International Court of Justice or alternatively to the PCA.

Council Dynamics
Concerning Abyei, many Council members believe that UNISFA has been doing an effective job. Nonetheless, they remain concerned by lack of progress by both parties in resolving several issues that impact on the mission’s work.  For example, border security mechanisms, which UNISFA is mandated to support, have yet to be activated.  Although encouraged by South Sudan’s withdrawal of police from Abyei and Sudan’s withdrawal of troops from the area, some Council members seem concerned that Sudanese police remain in Abyei. 

With respect to Sudan-South Sudan relations more generally, although Council members are encourages that the parties have returned to the negotiating table, they understand the challenging nature of the negotiations.  While the Council expresses its intention to take appropriate action “as necessary” under article 41 of the UN Charter (including sanctions and other non-military measures) in resolution 2046 in the event of non-compliance by the parties, some members appear to be more reluctant than others to consider sanctions as a viable option. These members appear to view sanctions as potentially counter-productive in an environment in which the Council is trying to promote negotiations between the parties. 

The US is the lead country on UNISFA. 

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/2047 (17 May 2012) renewed UNISFA’s mandate.
  • S/RES/2046 (2 May 2012) was on Sudan-South Sudan relations. 
  • S/RES/1990 (27 June 2011) established UNISFA.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report


  • S/2012/352 (22 May 2012) was from South Sudan to the Council accusing Sudan of bombings and ground incursions on its territory. 
  • S/2012/326 (15 May 2012) was from Sudan to the Council regarding a map of South Sudan. 
  • S/2012/322 (15 May 2012) was from Sudan to the Council expressing its commitment to withdraw its forces from Abyei.
  • S/2012/315 (11 May 2012) was from South Sudan to the Council indicating that it had withdrawn its police from Abyei.
  • S/2012/295 (4 May 2012) was from South Sudan to the Council reiterating its commitment to cease hostilities with Sudan, while accusing Sudan of bombings and ground incursions on its territory. 
  • S/2012/293 (3 May 2012) was from South Sudan to the Council expressing its commitment to cease hostilities with Sudan. 

Other Relevant Facts

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

Haile Menkerios (South Africa)

Chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel

Thabo Mbeki (South Africa)

UNISFA: Force Commander and Head of Mission

Lt. Gen. Tadesse Werede Tesfay (Ethiopia)

UNISFA: Size and Composition

Maximum authorised strength: up to 4,200 military and 50 police
Deployment as of 30 April 2012:  3,881 total uniformed personnel (including 3,799 troops and 82 military observers) and 1 UN volunteer; as of 29 February 2012, the mission also includes 35 international civilian personnel and 12 local civilian staff.   Troop contributor: Ethiopia

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