Sudan and South Sudan
Expected Council Action
The Council will likely hold consultations twice during July on the situation between Sudan and South Sudan in accordance with resolution 2046. This resolution, adopted on 2 May, asks 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.
Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is also expected to brief the Council in consultations on Sudan and South Sudan in early July.
The Council further expects to hold consultations on, and renew the mandate of, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) prior to its expiration on 9 July.
Key Recent Developments
From 29 May to 7 June, Sudan and South Sudan returned to the negotiating table in Addis Ababa for the first time since they clashed militarily in late March and April. At the talks, both parties discussed the geographic parameters of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone that the countries had agreed to establish along their mutual border. They also agreed to dispatch national monitors to a temporary base in Assosa, Ethiopia, in preparation for their deployment as part of the joint border verification and monitoring team.
The parties resumed the negotiations in Addis Ababa from 21 to 28 June, continuing their efforts to define the territory of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone and establish the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism. It does not appear that much progress was made in the discussions, and the two parties agreed to reconvene in Addis on 5 July.
The Council maintained its intensive engagement on Sudan-South Sudan issues in June. On 14 June, Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mulet briefed Council members during consultations (Menkerios participated via videoconference). Council members were informed that no significant cross-border incursions appeared to have occurred in the prior two weeks.
Menkerios discussed the planning for the establishment of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone and the Joint Border Monitoring and Verification Mechanism along the Sudan-South Sudan border. He told Council members that South Sudan had accepted the map that the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which is responsible for facilitating negotiations between the parties, had presented as a basis for negotiation on the geographic parameters of the zone, while Sudan is reluctant to accept the map. (While the AU map is meant to be used for the technical purpose of establishing border mechanisms, the parties appear to be concerned that it could prejudice negotiations on border demarcation, as several of the areas along the border are disputed.)
During the consultations, Mulet reportedly noted that there were roughly 100 to 130 lightly armed Sudanese police remaining in the Abyei region, guarding the Difra oil facilities. (While these “oil police” do not have much force capacity, their presence is nonetheless a violation of resolution 2046, which demands that all Sudanese and South Sudanese security forces withdraw from the area.)
On 18 June, Lt. General Tadesse Werede Tesfay (Ethiopia), the Force Commander of the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA), briefed Council members in consultations. He noted that regular UNISFA patrols enhanced the mission’s visibility. He also reportedly said that UNISFA had already sent 32 of 35 UN monitors to the temporary headquarters of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism in Assosa, but that Sudan and South Sudan had not yet fulfilled their commitment to dispatch their monitors there. Tesfay also added that once both parties deployed their monitors, the Mechanism could begin to function within two weeks, although it would not be fully operational for several months.
Council members issued a press statement (SC/10677) on Sudan and South Sudan on 18 June. They welcomed the resumption of negotiations between both parties and noted the decrease in violence along the mutual border. The statement nonetheless expressed strong concern about the lack of progress by the parties in addressing the fundamental issues separating them and highlighted the importance of establishing border security mechanisms. In the statement, Council members furthermore reiterated their grave concern about the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan.
Council members met in consultations on 28 June to discuss Sudan/South Sudan issues. Philippe Lazzarini, Deputy Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and Menkerios briefed during the consultations. Lazzarini reportedly said that over 200,000 refugees from Sudan were now in South Sudan and Ethiopia, having fled violence and food insecurity. Menkerios noted that while relations between Sudan and South Sudan remained fragile, there had not been significant violence between the countries in recent weeks. He noted that at a certain point during the recent talks in Addis (21-28 June) the parties began negotiating without the presence of AUHIP mediators in the room.
At press time, Sudan had been engulfed in protests for nearly two weeks. Initially focused on rising commodity prices, the protests started on 16 June at the University of Khartoum. They quickly spread throughout Khartoum and to other cities after President Omar al-Bashir announced an austerity plan on 18 June to bolster the faltering economy that includes eliminating fuel subsidies, increasing taxes, devaluing the currency and cutting government posts.
In June, South Sudan maintained its shutdown of oil production, which it initiated on 22 January after accusing Khartoum of confiscating $815 million worth of oil flowing through a pipeline that runs from South Sudan to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The shutdown by South Sudan, which had received 98 percent of its income from oil revenue, has plunged the country into a severe economic crisis, with inflation rising quickly and rapidly depleting currency reserves. In a 7 May letter to the Sudan Tribune, Lillian Foo, Communications Officer for the World Bank in Africa, wrote that the Bank “is deeply concerned with the economic and development impact of the unresolved oil issues and how this will affect the people of both South Sudan and Sudan, particularly the most vulnerable.”
Corruption in South Sudan seems to have compounded the economic woes. In a 3 May letter to 75 former and current government officials, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan offered amnesty to officials for the return of funds amounting to $4 billion that have allegedly been stolen from the government. (Reuters has indicated that $4 billion could constitute approximately one-third of the total oil revenue the South received from the time of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA] in 2005 to its independence on 9 July 2011.)
On 13 June, the government of South Sudan wrote a letter (S/2012/429) to the Council expressing its views on the renewal of the mandate of UNMISS. In it, it expressed that it had “taken responsibility for the safety and security of [its] citizens” since independence and therefore UNMISS should no longer be authorised under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. It further argued that the principle threats to its international peace and security related to military actions by Sudan and unresolved CPA issues.
South Sudan also affixed an evaluation of UNMISS that it had conducted, which it requested that the Council consider when renewing the mission’s mandate. The evaluation praised some areas of cooperation between UNMISS and South Sudan, including, inter alia, addressing inter-communal violence, promoting human rights, and making progress on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration issues.
However, there were several areas in which the evaluation questioned the role of UNMISS. It criticised the mission for its failure to protect civilians from aerial bombardments by Sudan and said that it had made a “negligible contribution” to economic development. In particular, it argued that UNMISS had failed in its efforts to build infrastructure, including roads, bridges, airfields and community centres. The evaluation further alleged that the mission had not coordinated adequately with relevant government organs about its activities and was not transparent about its hiring practices. As such, it requested a renegotiation of the Status of Forces Agreement of the mission.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Regarding Sudan and South Sudan relations:
- An important issue is the need for the Council to maintain the pressure on the parties to adhere to the decisions in resolution 2046.
- A related issue is for the parties to establish the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone, given the clashes between Sudan and South Sudan in the border areas over the past several months.
- Another related issue is Sudan’s unwillingness to remove its remaining police from the Abyei region, a violation of resolution 2046, which states that all security forces should be withdrawn from the area.
- A further key and ongoing issue is how the Council can best support the AUHIP in its efforts to facilitate the negotiations between the parties on residual CPA issues such as oil wealth sharing, border demarcation and the final status of Abyei.
- An additional important and ongoing issue is the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan.
Among key issues relevant to the Council’s work in South Sudan are:
- whether and how the Council decides to address South Sudan’s suggestions from its assessment of UNMISS when renewing the mission’s mandate;
- how to most effectively address reports of human rights violations committed by South Sudanese troops during the disarmament campaign in Jonglei;
- the status of the constitutional review process that South Sudan has been conducting for several months and how UNMISS can continue to support this process as effectively as possible; and
- how to help South Sudan meet the humanitarian challenges that have been exacerbated by refugees and returnees from Sudan during the past year.
With respect to Sudan-South Sudan issues, options for the Council include:
- recommending that both parties refer their unresolved border demarcation issues to the International Court of Justice (or alternatively, the Permanent Court of Arbitration) in accordance with article 36 (3) of the UN Charter, which states that “legal disputes should as a general rule be referred to the International Court of Justice”;
- requesting that the chair of the AUHIP, Thabo Mbeki, brief the Council during one of the biweekly consultations, in order to get the AU’s perspective on the situation between Sudan and South Sudan; and
- holding an “Arria formula” meeting with human rights and humanitarian organisations as well as other well-informed actors about the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
With respect to South Sudan, options for the Council include:
- renewing UNMISS under Chapter VII, with or without modifications to the mandate;
- considering a renewal of the mandate under Chapter VI; and
- using the Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping as a forum for discussing how to address areas of concern that South Sudan has raised about UNMISS’s activities.
While encouraged that Sudan and South Sudan have returned to the negotiating table, Council members are nonetheless concerned that the parties have made little progress in implementing resolution 2046. Several members regret in particular the inability of the parties to take the necessary actions and make the fundamental decisions required to establish border-monitoring mechanisms. It also appears that there is widespread disappointment on the Council with Sudan’s decision to maintain “oil police” in the Abyei region, in violation of the resolution. Although the Council expresses its intention in resolution 2046 to consider Article 41 measures (e.g. sanctions) in case of non-compliance with the resolution, it appears clear that Council members would prefer to avoid this scenario.
There is also continuing alarm among several Council members about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. It seems that these members are keen to maintain the Council’s focus on this aspect of the situation, given reports of civilian malnutrition and suffering.
Regarding South Sudan, several members are interested in issues such as the progress of civilian disarmament in Jonglei, reported human rights violations related to the disarmament process and the constitutional review process. While sensitive to input from South Sudan as a host country, most Council members do not seem to have an appetite to provide UNMISS with a Chapter VI mandate, given the significant inter-communal violence in South Sudan over the last year.
The US is the lead country on Sudan-South Sudan issues and UNMISS.
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