August 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 August 2012
Download Complete Forecast: PDF

Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In August, the Council is likely to hold consultations twice, in accordance with resolution 2046, to discuss the situation in Sudan and South Sudan.

The Council is also expected to discuss in consultations the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), which it receives every 60 days under the terms of resolution 2047.

UNISFA’s mandate expires on 17 November.

Key Recent Developments

The Council maintained its intensive focus on Sudan/South Sudan issues in July.  On 3 July, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay briefed Council members in consultations. She expressed concern about the detention and maltreatment of protestors imprisoned in Khartoum and other cities since mid-June for rallying against the regime. Pillay also highlighted human rights violations occurring in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan.  Regarding South Sudan, Pillay commended the efforts of the Juba-based government with respect to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration but also noted that sporadic human rights violations by South Sudanese soldiers had been reported during the disarmament process in Jonglei state. 

On 10 July, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous briefed the Council in consultations on Sudan and South Sudan.  Ladsous reportedly said that there had been a lack of progress in establishing the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), which the two countries had agreed to set up along their disputed border in 29 June 2011 and 30 July 2011 agreements.  He noted that Sudan continued to reject the map that the AU proposed as a basis for discussions about establishing the mechanism.     

The Council held consultations on 26 July on Sudan and South Sudan. During the consultations, Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Sudan and South Sudan, reportedly noted that while he did not expect the parties to come to agreement on all issues separating them by the 2 August deadline set by the Council in resolution 2046 for the conclusion of the negotiations, he was hopeful that there might be some progress on the establishment of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone and the JBVMM by the deadline.    

Sudan and South Sudan held negotiations in Addis Ababa from 21 to 28 June.  The discussions focused primarily on their efforts to define the territory of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone and establish the JBVMM.  No progress was made on these issues. 

On 25 June, South Sudan forwarded a letter to the Council (S/2012/482) that Pagan Amum, its chief negotiator, had sent to Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which is facilitating the peace talks.  In the letter, Amum said that South Sudan found “deeply troubling” the fact that an agenda for negotiations on several issues of contention between the countries—including oil wealth sharing, nationality issues, and the status of Abyei—had not been established.  Amum suggested that AUHIP’s failure to set an agenda for negotiations was problematic, given the 2 August deadline established by the Council for the parties to conclude their negotiations on these outstanding matters.   He added that either the AUHIP did not grasp the urgency of resolution 2046 or that the Panel decided that discussion of these issues should wait until after the settlement of security matters which, according to Amum, was Sudan’s preference.

Sudan and South Sudan continued peace talks throughout July. During negotiations on 6 and 7 July in Addis Ababa, the parties agreed to adhere to a “comprehensive strategic approach” that is based on principles such as non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, non-aggression and transparency in their efforts to resolve the outstanding issues separating them. 

The negotiators reconvened in Bahir Dar, a resort town in northwestern Ethiopia, on 12 July. The agenda focussed on the major unresolved issues separating Sudan and South Sudan, most notably border demarcation, oil wealth sharing and Abyei’s final status.

President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan met on the margins of the AU summit in Addis Ababa on 14 July.  During the meeting, Bashir reportedly said that South Sudan should cease its support for rebel groups in Sudan, while reiterating objections to the AU map as a basis for negotiations on border mechanisms. Kiir allegedly offered to help mediate an end to the fighting between Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLM-N), the rebel group that was the northern branch of the South Sudanese army before South Sudan became independent in July 2011.  

On 22 July, South Sudan presented a proposal to resolve outstanding differences with Sudan on, inter-alia, border demarcation, the status of Abyei, and oil wealth sharing.  It proposes that international arbitration be used to determine the border in disputed areas.  It also proposes that the UN and AU organise an Abyei referendum by the end of 2012, with voter participation eligible to all Ngok Dinka residents of the Abyei, as well as people who have lived in the region “for three…continuous years immediately prior to 9 January 2005.” 

With regard to oil wealth sharing, South Sudan offered in the proposal to restart oil production.  As part of a package deal, it would also offer Sudan $4.968 billion in debt forgiveness and $3.245 billion in compensation to help it make up lost revenue resulting from South Sudan’s succession, which cost Sudan 75 percent of its oil reserves.  South Sudan also offered Sudan fees of $9.10 and $7.26 per barrel for transit of oil from South Sudan through Sudan’s Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company pipeline and its Petrodar pipeline, respectively.  

Khartoum rejected South Sudan’s offer on 23 July, citing the need to resolve security issues along the Sudan-South Sudan border before considering a proposal that dealt with oil wealth sharing.  However, at press time, media reports indicated that Sudan had changed its stance and had expressed willingness to discuss South Sudan’s offer on oil matters in the negotiations.   

Refugees have continued to flee conflict and hunger in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan, making their way to Ethiopia and South Sudan.  On 16 July, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres reiterated an appeal that his agency had made on 22 June to international donors, asking for enhanced humanitarian assistance to serve the needs of the more than 200,000 refugees from Sudan now residing in South Sudan and Ethiopia. According to Guterres, malnourishment and the risk of contracting water-borne diseases are among the burdens facing the refugees.     

Protests against the regime continued in July in Khartoum and other towns and cities. Sudanese security forces have used tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets to disperse the protestors, and Sudanese activists have alleged that approximately 2,000 people have been detained since the protests began in June, according to an 11 July Amnesty International-Human Rights Watch statement demanding the release of those arrested. The statement also accuses Sudanese security forces of torturing detainees through sleep deprivation and beatings.

Sudan and South Sudan traded accusations of military transgressions in July.  Sudan sent a letter to the Security Council on 9 July (S/2012/526) in which it claimed that South Sudanese forces remained in three areas within Sudan’s borders—Samaha in South Darfur state; Bahr Alarab Station, South Mairam in South Kordofan state; and the Lake Abiad area, also in South Kordofan.  On 20 July, AUHIP released a statement indicating that it had received a letter from Amum alleging that South Sudanese troops had been attacked by Sudanese forces in Northern Bhar El Ghazal state, a part of South Sudan that borders South Darfur state.  Denying the incident, Sudan said that its forces had attacked Justice and Equality Movement rebels in Darfur.

Key Issues

A key issue are the difficulties that Sudan and South Sudan have faced at the negotiating table. 

A related issue is how the Council chooses to respond to the slow pace of progress in the negotiations, given that it set a three-month deadline for the parties to resolve fundamental issues separating them, which expires on 2 August. 

Another related issue is the apparent ongoing border skirmishes between Sudan and South Sudan; although these incidents have subsided in recent months, they continue to arouse security concerns among the parties. 

Another important and continuing issue is the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.  A related issue is the plight of the refugees who have fled these two regions for South Sudan or Ethiopia, where aid agencies and NGOs are struggling to address their basic needs.  

A further important issue is the allegations of human rights violations committed by Sudanese security forces in response to the recent protests against the government.  

With respect to Abyei, a continuing issue is the inability of UNISFA to carry out its mandated border verification and monitoring support role because the parties have not been able to make the agreements necessary to establish the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone and the JBVMM. 


Options for the Council include:

  • commending progress that has been made by the parties since the adoption of resolution 2046 on 2 May, including the reduction of violence between them, the withdrawal of most security forces from Abyei and the return to the negotiating table;
  • extending the 2 August deadline established in resolution 2046 for Sudan and South Sudan to comply with the resolution, as it appears they will be unable to meet this deadline;
  • dispatching a Council delegation to the region to impress upon the parties the critical importance of making progress in their negotiations;
  • acting under article 36(3) of the Charter, recommending that the parties refer the border disputes to the International Court of Justice, or alternatively to the Permanent Court of Arbitration; and
  • considering the imposition of measures under article 41 of the UN Charter (i.e., sanctions), in keeping with resolution 2046, if they fail to meet the 2 August deadline.

The Council might also consider employing its ad-hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa as a forum to develop strategies to stimulate constructive negotiations between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-N.

With respect to UNISFA, the Council may consider working directly with the parties and the AUHIP to determine the geographical parameters of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone.  (It appears that there has been a stalemate on establishing the buffer zone due to Sudan’s unwillingness to accept the map proposed by AUHIP as a basis for negotiations of this issue.) 

Council Dynamics

While Council members seem relieved that violence between Sudan and South Sudan has decreased and that the two parties have been negotiating with one another over the past several weeks, there is nonetheless concern that progress in the negotiations has been limited.  At press time, with the 2 August deadline approaching for compliance with resolution 2046, several members have begun to consider what steps could (or should) be taken to exert maximum leverage on the parties. 

Several Council members increasingly view the situation in Abyei and the activities of UNISFA in the broader context of Sudan-South Sudan relations.  It appears that there are a couple of reasons for this perspective.  First, the final status of Abyei continues to be one of the key challenges that the parties need to resolve. Second, UNISFA is mandated with a border-monitoring support role along the Sudan-South Sudan border that it has thus far not been able to carry out because of lack of progress by the parties in implementing the JBVMM.

The US is the lead country on Sudan-South Sudan issues and on UNISFA.

Sign up for SCR emails
UN Documents
Security Council Resolutions  

17 MAY 2012

This resolution renewed the mandate of UNISFA. 
2 MAY 2012
This resolution was on Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Secretary General’s Report  

25 JULY 2012

This was a report of the Secretary-General on UNISFA. 
27 JULY 2012
This was a letter from Sudan in which it reiterated its acceptance of the tripartite agreement on the delivery of aid to South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
25 JULY 2012
This was a letter from Sudan accusing South Sudan of supporting the Justice and Equality Movement.
23 JULY 2012
This letter contained a summary of South Sudan’s 22 July proposal to resolve pending issue with Sudan, which is called the “Agreement on Friendly Relations and Cooperation.”
10 JULY 2012
This was a letter from Sudan alleging that attacks by the SPLM-N killed eight civilians in South Kordofan.
9 JULY 2012
This was from Sudan to the Council claiming South Sudanese forces remained in three areas within Sudan’s borders.
25 JUNE 2012
This contained a letter from South Sudan to Mbeki, regarding the negotiations.