October 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2012
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Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In October, the Council is likely to meet twice on Sudan and South Sudan, in accordance with resolution 2046, which decided that the parties should resume negotiations on a number of pending issues and requested the Secretary-General to inform the Council every two weeks about the status of compliance with the resolution. 

The Council is also expected to discuss the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA).   The mandate of UNISFA expires on 17 November.

Key Recent Developments

In September, the Council met twice in consultations to discuss implementation of resolution 2046. The first of these meetings was held on 6 September, two days after Sudan and South Sudan had reconvened in Addis Ababa for a new round of negotiations on unresolved issues between the two countries.  Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, briefed the Council from Addis Ababa via videoconference, noting that limited progress was being made in the negotiations. Addressing the press at the stakeout after the meeting, Ambassador Peter Wittig (Germany), president of the Council in September, outlined some of the key issues that the parties have yet to resolve, including the establishment of a safe demilitarised border zone between Sudan and South Sudan, the creation of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), the demarcation of their mutual border, the status of nationals in each other’s country, and the final status of the disputed region of Abyei.

Menkerios and several Council members also discussed during the consultations the need for Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) to implement the tripartite proposal of the UN, the AU and the Arab League to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan, given the grave humanitarian crisis in both states. 

Menkerios again briefed the Council in consultations on 20 September.  He noted that there had been no notable violent incidents on the Sudan-South Sudan border of late.  However, he added that significant fighting had been taking place in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states between Sudan and the SPLM-N and that the violence was increasing the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in these two states and the number of refugees fleeing into South Sudan and Ethiopia.

On a more positive note, Menkerios said that Sudan and South Sudan were making some progress on certain issues. For example, he noted that commercial airline flights between Juba and Khartoum resumed on 18 September for the first time since January and pointed to the summit meeting between President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan.

On 21 September, the Council issued a press statement (SC/10773) that:      

  • “welcomed the resumed negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan…and the progress those discussions have made in narrowing differences between the two sides”;
  • “affirmed that it is the responsibility of the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan to exercise constructive leadership and demonstrate the political will…to ensure the successful conclusion of negotiations”;
  • “reiterated the urgency of immediately establishing the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mission”;  
  • “strongly urged all parties to expedite all necessary steps to immediately commence humanitarian relief operations” in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states; and
  • “called on the government of Sudan and the SPLM-N to…agree to and implement a cessation of hostilities and create a conducive environment for further progress on political and security issues.”

On 14 September, nearly 5,000 people demonstrated in Khartoum against an anti-Islamic video that was made in the US.  The embassies of Germany and the UK were attacked during the protests before police used teargas to disperse the protesters. The video, which appeared on the Internet, had already stirred violent demonstrations in other Arab countries and had led several hundred people to protest in front of the US embassy in Khartoum on 12 September.

On 19 September, former Special Advisor of the UN Secretary-General for the Prevention of Genocide, Francis M. Deng, was appointed permanent representative of South Sudan to the UN. 

Fighting was reported in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in September.  According to the Sudanese Red Crescent Society, 21 civilians were killed in clashes on 6 September between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLM-N near the town of Hajar Al-Dom.  Reports have also indicated that fighting occurred on 9 September between SAF and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a key rebel movement in Darfur, near the border between South Kordofan and Darfur.  (The JEM is part of the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance formed in late 2011 that includes the SPLM-N and several Darfur-based rebel movements seeking to overthrow the regime in Khartoum.)  The SAF also said that it had recaptured Sarkam in south-western Blue Nile on 19 September and claimed that it killed many SPLM-N rebels in the process.

On 25 September, Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that aerial bombardments and ground combat in South Kordofan were causing an increase in numbers of refugees crossing into South Sudan.  She said those arriving in the Yida refugee camp, just across the border in South Sudan, are unwell, complaining of severe hunger.   Fleming also expressed concern that refugees fleeing to Upper Nile state in South Sudan would have difficulty reaching refugee camps because of flooding on roads. According to UNHCR, over 172,000 refugees from Blue Nile and South Kordofan states now reside in South Sudan. 

On 21 September, 123 humanitarian organisations sent an open letter to the Council in which they expressed their deep alarm at “the ongoing lack of full and unhindered access for international humanitarian aid agencies to all areas within the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, as well as Darfur.”  The letter further argued that Sudan has “exhibited no indication that it intends to allow the full and unhindered delivery of aid throughout South Kordofan and Blue Nile.” It also urged the Council “to move swiftly to impose consequences” on Sudan and “to consider alternative means for delivering aid” if Sudan “continues to ignore its obligations to allow humanitarian access” to these two regions.

Al-Bashir and Kiir convened in Addis Ababa on 23 September for a presidential summit to resolve the issues separating the two countries.  On 27 September, Sudan and South Sudan signed agreements to establish a buffer zone along the border and on economic matters (including those related to oil) and nationality issues. While details of the agreements remained limited at press time, the spokesperson for the Secretary-General released a statement, also on 27 September, which said that the agreements “provide vital elements in building a strong foundation for a stable and prosperous future between the two countries.” (In its 3 August communiqué, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) called on Sudan and South Sudan to finalise their negotiations by 22 September, as the parties had not been able to reach agreement on the issues separating them by the 3 August date the AU PSC had originally set, a deadline endorsed by the Council in resolution 2046.)

Human Rights-Related Developments

In her statement at the opening of the September session of the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, warned of the need to be alert to the impact on civilians of the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where indiscriminate aerial bombings and scorched earth policies have caused death and massive displacement. Pillay called on both parties to bring an immediate end to the violence and solve their differences through dialogue. She welcomed the invitation she had received from Sudan to visit that country. 

Key Issues

On Sudan-South Sudan matters, key issues include:

  • ensuring that the 27 September agreements are implemented and building on the progress reflected by these agreements to compel Sudan and South Sudan to resolve the remaining issues separating them;
  • compelling Sudan and the SPLM-N to agree to a cessation of hostilities and to negotiate directly with one another on political and security matters; and
  • addressing the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

On UNISFA in particular, important issues include:

  • the need to implement the 27 September agreement by establishing a buffer zone along the Sudan-South Sudan border, which would enable UNISFA to fulfil its mandated role to participate  in the JBVMM; and
  • the need to ensure that relations between the Ngok-Dinka and the Misseriya ethnic groups remain peaceful, given that clashes between these two groups could serve as a flashpoint for broader Sudan-South Sudan tensions.    

Options for the Council include:

  • awaiting the report of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan and South Sudan (and the subsequent communiqué of the AU PSC) on the status of negotiations, expected after completion of the current round of talks in Addis Ababa, to guide its decision-making approach, as it is anticipated that the report (and communiqué) will include proposals to resolve any outstanding issues between the parties; 
  • adopting a statement that encourages the recent progress in the negotiations but calls on the parties to implement the 27 September agreements expeditiously and to resolve the remaining issues between them; and
  • holding an “Arria formula” meeting with NGOs that have knowledge of the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and the influx of refugees into South Sudan that has been sparked by the violence in these two states.
Council Dynamics

Council members have been encouraged that Sudan and South Sudan are engaged in intensive negotiations. While there had been some disappointment that more had not been achieved sooner in the talks, members are likely to be encouraged by the 27 September agreements. 

In its presidential statement of 31 August, the Council reiterated “its intention to take appropriate additional measures under Article 41 of the Charter as necessary” in case Sudan, South Sudan and the SPLM-N are unable to reach agreement on the issues dividing them. However, at least in the near term, it seems unlikely that several members will advocate for the implementation of sanctions so long as Sudan and South Sudan make progress in implementing their agreements and in resolving other issues dividing them.  

There may be considerable pessimism among some members about the lack of direct negotiations between Sudan and the SPLM-N. Along these lines, there is widespread concern on the Council with the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The US in particular has been highly critical of Sudan for delays in the implementation of the memorandum of understanding that it agreed to for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in both states. 

Several Council members appear to be looking forward to analysing the AUHIP’s report (and the related AU PSC communiqué) on the outcome of the negotiations and the Secretary-General’s report on the same issue.  (In its 31 August presidential statement, the Council requested that the Secretary-General “report on the status of negotiations including detailed proposals on all outstanding issues.”)   

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

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UN Documents

Security Council Resolution  
2 May 2012 S/RES/2046 Was on Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Security Council Presidential Statement  
31 August 2012 S/PRST/2012/19 Expressed regret that the parties have not yet been able to resolve a number of critical issues.
Security Council Press Statement  
21 September 2012 SC/10773 Affirmed that the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan had a responsibility to successfully conclude negotiations on remaining issues.
Useful Additional Sources

Humanitarian Bulletin, Sudan, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Issue 35, 3-9 September 2012, and Issue 36, 10-16 September 2012. 

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