September 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2012
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Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In September, the Council expects to meet twice on Sudan and South Sudan, in accordance with resolution 2046, which asks the Secretary-General to inform the Council every two weeks about the status of compliance with the resolution.  During one of these meetings the Council is likely to review the Secretary-General’s report, as requested by resolution 2046, which is expected to focus on the status of negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan. Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, is expected to brief in these meetings.

Ambassador Néstor Osorio (Colombia), chair of the Sudan Sanctions Committee, is also expected to provide the quarterly report to the Council on the work of the Committee.  The mandate of the Sanctions Committee expires on 17 February 2013. 

Key Recent Developments

On 3 August, Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan and South Sudan, announced that Sudan and South Sudan had reached a deal on oil and other financial arrangements. (South Sudan shut down its oil production in January, after accusing Sudan of stealing its oil. Pipelines that lead to Sudan’s Port Sudan on the Red Sea are the only outlets to the outside world for South Sudan’s oil).  According to the agreement, South Sudan would pay transport fees of $11 per barrel for oil from Unity state and $9.10 per barrel for oil from Upper Nile state.  It would also pay an additional $3.028 billion to help Sudan weather the financial impact of losing South Sudan, which held 75 percent of Sudan’s oil deposits before its 9 July 2011 independence. 

Details about how and when the agreement would be implemented remain unclear.  On 4 August, Nafie Ali Nafie, the Vice-President of the ruling National Congress Party in Sudan, said that its implementation was contingent on the resolution of security issues separating the two countries.  Also on 4 August, Pagan Amum, South Sudan’s lead negotiator in the talks, said that his country had been pressured into accepting the deal by certain states, including the US and the UK.

In early August, Sudan and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) signed separate memoranda of understanding with the AU, the UN and the Arab League agreeing to allow humanitarian access to civilians in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. However, in its memorandum, the SPLM-N expressed the reservation that the delivery of aid to these two states “is dependent on the consent of the GoS (Government of Sudan) on access to the SPLM/North controlled areas,” as Sudan has asserted the right to oversee the delivery of aid on its sovereign territory.

On 9 August, the Council held one of its bimonthly meetings on Sudan and South Sudan.  Mbeki and Menkerios participated in the meeting. Given the presence of Mbeki, a representative of a regional organisation, the meeting was held in the interactive dialogue format.  Mbeki told Council members that the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone and Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism could still not be established because Sudan was reluctant to accept the map that the AU had proposed as the basis of negotiations on the border zone.  (It seems that Sudan is concerned that using the map could prejudice future deliberations on border demarcation).  He also noted that the two parties had established a Panel of Experts to craft non-binding recommendations regarding the status of five disputed areas along the Sudan-South Sudan border.  Mbeki added that he expected the document outlining the agreement between the parties on oil and other financial arrangements to be signed by the parties in the near future.

As for next steps, Mbeki alluded to the 3 August communiqué in which the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) encourages further engagement of the AUHIP with the parties, requesting a comprehensive report from it by 22 September on the status of negotiations. He also noted that the AUHIP’s report would include proposals for resolving any outstanding matters between the parties.

During the meeting, Menkerios indicated that a recently formed tripartite committee (made up of the AU, the UN and the Arab League) would submit an action plan to Sudan for the provision of aid in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The Council met again in consultations on Sudan and South Sudan on 23 August, with a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet.  He noted that the parties are now expected to make an effort to resolve outstanding issues by 22 September, in accordance with the AU’s decision to extend the original 3 August deadline.  

On 24 August, the Sudan Sanctions Committee met in consultations to discuss the interim report of the Panel of Experts (PoE).  The report, due in mid-May, was submitted to the Committee in late July; it had been delayed because the PoE was unable to secure in a timely fashion visas to conduct its investigations in Darfur.  During the consultations, it appears that the Committee also discussed the timing of a visit by Ambassador Osorio and other Committee members to Darfur.  The trip has been tentatively planned for October. 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose country has been hosting the peace talks between Sudan and South Sudan, died on 20 August.  Zenawi had reportedly been following the negotiations closely, talking often with Mbeki.  US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Princeton Lyman, said that Zenawi “played a very dramatic role in helping bring about stability in Sudan and South Sudan,” alluding in particular to the fact that Ethiopia provides peacekeepers to the UN mission in Abyei. (The resumption of talks between Sudan and South Sudan, originally planned for 26 August, was delayed until after the state funeral on 2 September.  At press time, it appeared that the parties would reconvene in Addis Ababa on 4 September.)

On 24 August, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), expressed alarm at the health condition of 170,000 refugees from Sudan residing in camps and settlements in Unity and Upper Nile states in South Sudan.  He noted that the rainy season and the cold weather have precipitated diarrhoea, malaria and respiratory-tract ailments among refugees.  The spokesperson also said that the dramatic increase in refugees in recent months has taxed the capacity of UNHCR and other agencies to address hygiene and sanitation concerns in the camps.

November 2011 Map Proposed by the African Union

While South Sudan has accepted the map that the AU proposed in November 2011 for negotiations, Sudan has objected to the inclusion in the map of a strip of land on South Sudan’s side of the temporary administrative line for the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone. This territory, approximately 14 miles in width, is one of the five disputed regions along the Sudan-South Sudan border (see adjoining map).  A fertile grazing area for the cattle of nomadic tribes, the area is south of the Bahr el-Arab River and west of Abyei. Sudan has argued that this strip of land, also called the Munroe-Wheatley area, lies within its borders of 1 January 1956, the date Sudan became an independent state.

The AU placed the Munroe-Wheatley area below the temporary administrative line for the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone, and thus not in Sudan, to reflect the fact that South Sudan controlled this territory at the time the map was issued last November.  In its 3 August communiqué, the AU reiterated that use of this map is designed to serve as a basis for separating the armed forces of Sudan and South Sudan, and that it “in no way prejudices negotiations on the final border between the two States or the status of the disputed and claimed areas.” 


Source: SCR map based on Bing Maps and International Crisis Group, “Sudan: Defining the North-South Border,” Policy Briefing, Africa Briefing No. 75, 2 September 2010. The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map are for illustration purposes only. Final boundary between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan has not yet been determined. Final status of Abyei is likewise not yet determined.

Key Issues

The key issue for the Council is how to calibrate an approach that recognises progress made in the negotiations but compels Sudan and South Sudan to continue to negotiate in good faith and resolve their remaining differences in a sustainable way.

Other important issues for the Council include:

  • how to overcome the deadlock in establishing the border mechanisms that has been created in part by Sudan’s unwillingness to accept the AU map as a basis for negotiations;
  • how to support the parties’ efforts to finalise and implement their agreement on oil and other financial arrangements;
  • how to support negotiations on political issues between Sudan and the SPLM-N; and
  • how to build on the progress made with the signing of the memoranda of understanding by Sudan and the SPLM-N on humanitarian access to civilian populations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.         

Options for the Council include:

  • taking a low-key approach until it has time to study carefully the proposals outlined in  the Secretary-General report  (expected by 2 September) and also receives  the AUHIP report (expected by 22 September);   
  • dispatching a Council mission to the region to impress upon the parties the importance of resolving the remaining differences between them; and
  • considering the imposition of measures under article 41 of the UN Charter (i.e. sanctions) if the parties fail to make significant progress in resolving remaining issues separating them by the AU-extended deadline of 22 September. 
Council Dynamics

Several members are encouraged that Sudan and South Sudan have made some progress, particularly given that there has been a reduction of violence between them and that an agreement has been reached on oil and other financial arrangements.  However, there is concern among some members that the agreement has yet to be signed and questions remain among some members about the commitment of the parties to its implementation.  More broadly, there is also uneasiness among several Council members about the various other significant issues that remain to be resolved by the parties, such as establishing a buffer zone between the two countries, border demarcation, the final status of Abyei and the status of each country’s citizens living on the other side of the border. 

It also appears that the negotiations on the presidential statement of 31 August at least mildly disturbed the delicate unity that had been building over the past few months in the Council on Sudan-South Sudan issues.  One area of difference in negotiating the statement was how to characterise Sudan’s unwillingness to accept the AU map proposed as a basis for negotiations on the boundaries of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone.  Some seemed to prefer to use language less critical of Sudan than others.  Another area of difference was how the Council should characterise the 20 July aerial bombardment along the border that South Sudan says occurred in its Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, as was later verified by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).   Some members believed that this aspect of the statement needed to be more objective and condemn any support for armed rebel groups by the parties.  (Sudan has contended that it was targeting an armed rebel group during the 20 July bombardment).  

Several Council members seem encouraged that members of the Sanctions Committee will likely visit Darfur in the upcoming months.  However, there is some difference of opinion on the Council about the degree of transparency that the Council should accord to the PoE’s work.  Some members are concerned that last year’s final PoE report, which was circulated to Council members in late January, has not been publicly released. Others, however, believe that it is not the Council’s obligation to release the report, as they think that it contains inaccuracies.  Different perspectives exist regarding whether or not to make public the report is relevant to Council sanctions regimes more generally; for example, the final reports of the PoEs for the 1718 Sanctions Committee (North Korea) and the 1737 Sanctions Committee (Iran) due in 2011 were not published. 

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

UN Documents

Security Council Resolution  
2 May 2012 S/RES/2046 This resolution was on Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Security Council Presidential Statement  
31 August 2012 S/PRST/2012/19 This presidential statement expressed regret that the parties have not yet been able to resolve a number of critical issues.
Security Council Press Statement  
18 June 2012 SC/10677 The Council underscored the importance of establishing border-monitoring mechanisms.
Security Council Letters  
8 August 2012 S/2012/612 This letter from Sudan contained a report of the UN Mission in Sudan Joint Monitoring and Coordination Office with minutes of a meeting from January 2011 and arguing that Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army were in Kiir Adim/Bahr el Arab, northern Sudan, in violation of the CPA.
26 July 2012 S/2012/591 This letter from Sudan accepted the AUHIP map except for a 14 mile area south of Bahr el Arab.
27 July 2012 S/2012/587 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 S/2012/568 This was a letter from Sudan accusing South Sudan of supporting the Justice and Equality Movement.
23 July 2012 S/2012/569 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.”

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) 

Chair of the 1591 (Sudan) Sanctions Committee
Ambassador Néstor Osorio (Colombia)

Useful Additional Sources

 PSC/PR/COMM. (CCCXXIX) (3 August 2012) was a communiqué of the AU PSC on the status of negotiations between the parties. 

Jenn Christian, “Negotiations between the Two Sudans: The Safe Demilitarised Border Zone Explained,” Policy Brief, The Enough Project, 19 June 2012

International Crisis Group, “Sudan: Defining the North-South Border,” Policy Briefing, Africa Briefing No. 75, 2 September 2010


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