Expected Council Action
In late July, the Council expects to receive a briefing and hold consultations on the latest developments and the Secretary-General’s report on the AU/UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The Council is also likely to renew the mission’s mandate for another year, as it is due to expire on 31 July.
Key Recent Developments
There were several recent reports of fighting between Sudanese Armed Forces and rebels. On 2 June, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said that it had killed several troops during an assault on an army base in north-eastern Darfur.
On 9 June, the JEM announced that it had seized an area called Um Ajaja in eastern Darfur, capturing several militia members loyal to Khartoum and 20 army vehicles. Sudan denied the allegation that fighting had occurred, claiming instead that the JEM had merely stolen property from civilians in the area.
On 15 June, rebels apparently linked to the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) attacked Abu-Ajora, a town southwest of Nyala in South Darfur, and seized five vehicles from an American Refugee Council facility. Two civilians reportedly died while the rebels confiscated supplies from a local market.
Fighting was also reported on 16 June between the army and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of rebel groups, in northern Darfur between El Fasher and Nyala. The army said that it had initiated the attack against the SRF, which had apparently been obstructing the passage of goods in the area.
On 18 June, President Omar al-Bashir declared austerity measures in Sudan that include eliminating fuel subsidies, increasing taxes, devaluing the currency and cutting government posts. The measures are meant to bolster the deteriorating economy, which has been hard hit since South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 and left Sudan with approximately 75 percent less in oil reserves. Several days of protests ensued in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan following the announcement, which were ongoing at press time.
The Council was last briefed on UNAMID on 26 April by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous. He highlighted the need for Sudan to provide financial support for the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), an entity established in February 2012 to help implement provisions of the Doha Document for Peace related to human rights, justice, reconciliation and development. Ladsous noted in particular that the DRA Chair, El-Tigani Sessi, warned in an address to the Sudanese parliament on 23 April that without requisite funding the peace process could collapse.
Ladsous also said that the potential for a resumption of negotiations between the government and rebel movements that have not signed the Doha document did not look favourable. He explained that the JEM and the SLA-MM have indicated a desire to discuss only national economic and political reforms, while the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) has said that it will only negotiate when the government deals with the underlying sources of the conflict. (Khartoum has said that it is only willing to discuss the situation in Darfur, and in this respect, only particular elements of the Doha document related to security arrangements and political appointments.)
Ladsous further outlined the findings of the conflict assessment and review of UNAMID uniformed personnel that the UN conducted in February in collaboration with the AU in accordance with resolution 2003. According to the Secretary-General’s report (S/2012/231), the review found that while there had been an overall reduction of fighting between rebel groups and the government since UNAMID was established in 2008, conflict nonetheless continued, especially in central Darfur. The report also noted that “criminality has emerged as the most significant threat to civilians and humanitarian workers” because of a lack of governmental, judicial and policing capacity and the challenging political environment in the region.
As the review found that the mission could reduce inefficiencies and overlapping responsibilities among personnel, the Secretary-General expressed his intention “to proceed with downward adjustments in UNAMID consisting of approximately 4,200 military elements, 280 formed police unit elements and 1,460 individual police officers, and a reconfiguration of the remaining elements as appropriate.” He further recommended that the Council reduce the authorised strength of the different types of mission personnel correspondingly.
Ladsous noted in his 26 April briefing to the Council that, according to the review, a large number of UNAMID infantry could be moved from the Chadian and Libyan borders to the relatively populous central belt of Darfur. (According to Ladsous, the basis for this finding is that Sudan’s relations with Chad and Libya have improved, as has security along its border with these countries.)
On 21 June, the Sudan Sanctions Committee met in consultations. It seems that much of the discussion focused on the fact that the members of its Panel of Experts (PoE), appointed in April, had yet to receive visas to enter Sudan and conduct their investigations. (At press time, it appeared that Khartoum had approved the visa requests, and the panel planned to submit an interim report to the Committee by the end of July.) The release of this report had been expected in June, but the Committee requested an extension given the fact that the PoE has not been able to enter Darfur to conduct its investigations. The 2011 final report of the PoE, submitted to the Council in early 2012 in accordance with resolution 1982, has also not been publicly released, as some Council members believe that it contains inaccuracies.
On 5 June, Luis Moreno-Ocampo delivered his final briefing to the Council as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He said that the failure of the government of Sudan to apprehend and surrender four ICC indictees—al-Bashir, Ahmed al-Harun, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein and Ali Kushayb—directly challenges the authority of the Council. Ocampo suggested that the Council consider as an option asking member states and regional organisations to conduct operations to arrest these individuals.
On 15 June, Fatou Bensouda (Gambia) was sworn in as Prosecutor of the ICC. In a speech on 13 June, she said that the Court’s focus was on “individual criminal behaviour against innocent victims”, alluding in particular to al-Bashir, al-Harun, Joseph Kony and Bosco Ntaganda.
In Khartoum, on 12 June, the Special Prosecutor of Darfur Crimes, Ahmed Abdel Motalib, submitted his resignation to al-Bashir for undisclosed reasons. Motalib was the third person to hold the post since October 2010. A new prosecutor, Yassir Ahmed Mohamed, was appointed on 19 June. (The government established the Special Prosecutor position in 2010 to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur; however, Sudanese officials have benefited from immunity, which makes the work of the prosecutor problematic.)
Human Rights-Related Developments
A key issue is whether to renew UNAMID’s mandate with a reconfigured and streamlined force structure in accordance with the Secretary-General’s recommendation. If the Council were to take this step, a related issue would be how well the mission would be able to carry out its mandate with this adjusted force structure.
An ongoing issue is the fact that key rebel movements in Darfur—including JEM, SLA-MM and SLA-AW—continue to fight the Sudanese government and refuse to participate in the peace process in Darfur.
Another important and recurring issue is the lack of timeliness by the government of Sudan in granting visas to UN personnel. In the context of Darfur, this is reflected by the delay that the current PoE has experienced in receiving its visas.
The most likely option for the Council is to renew the mandate of UNAMID for an additional year at the reduced force level recommended by the Secretary-General.
Other options for the Council include:
- reducing the force level in an incremental fashion given the recent clashes between Sudan and rebel groups;
- reducing the force level and calling for a review of UNAMID’s reconfiguration at a future date to ensure that the streamlined mission is achieving maximum operational effectiveness;
- emphasising the need for progress in implementing the Doha Document for Peace;
- reiterating calls on rebel groups to accede to the Doha Document and threatening sanctions in case of non-compliance;
- demanding progress by the government in issuing visas more expeditiously; and
- expressing eagerness to consider the assessment called for by paragraph 21 of resolution 2033 adopted on 12 January, which requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the AU, to “conduct a comprehensive analysis of lessons learned from practical cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, in particular with regard to” UNAMID and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). (At press time, the analysis had yet to be undertaken.)
The Council’s ad-hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa might also provide a useful forum for discussing strategies to foster negotiations between Sudan and the rebel groups in Darfur.
There is widespread support for reconfiguring and reducing the size of UNAMID. Several Council members believe that, especially in an era of financial austerity, UNAMID should be able to fulfil its mandate with a smaller force level through enhanced operational efficiency. However, although several members believe that the security situation in Darfur has improved in recent years, there are concerns among some members about the recent fighting between the government and rebel groups, especially at a time when the Council is likely to reduce the force level of UNAMID.
While Council members support the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, there is ongoing concern that key rebel movements have not acceded to the peace process. Some members are also particularly worried that the government of Sudan has yet to fund the DRA, a point raised by the UK and Morocco during Moreno Ocampo’s briefing on 5 June.
There are sharp differences of perspective on the Council regarding the ICC’s role in Sudan. These were clearly reflected during the 5 June briefing. Several members—Colombia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Portugal, Togo, the UK and the US—criticised Sudan, often in strong terms, for its lack of cooperation with the ICC. A number of these countries also spoke in complementary terms of the ICC’s efforts in Sudan.
Other members are more wary of the ICC’s work in the country. Pakistan and South Africa emphasised at the briefing that the pursuit of justice should not interfere with the search for peace, while India indicated that the Court should be guided by “objectivity, not politicisation.”
The UK is the lead country on Darfur.
Security Council Resolutions
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, and Cost
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, Ethiopia and Senegal