Expected Council Action
In October, the Council is likely to hold consultations to discuss the Secretary-General’s quarterly report (S/2012/548) on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). At press time no outcome was anticipated.
UNAMID’s mandate expires on 31 July 2013.
Key Recent Developments
The Council was last briefed on the situation in Darfur on 24 July (S/PV.6813) by then Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari. (Gambari no longer holds this post; at press time, no successor had yet been appointed.) Gambari told Council members that implementation of several elements of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) was behind schedule and that a new implementation timeline had been created.
Gambari noted, nevertheless, progress in the dissemination of the Doha Document with 140 dissemination workshops having taken place throughout Darfur with more than 25,000 participants. He added that an All Darfur Stakeholders Conference was held from 10-12 July in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, to allow a range of people in the region to “take stock [of the peace process] and recommend the way forward.” According to Gambari, while nearly all of those who spoke were disparaging of the government of Sudan, he was unaware of “instances of reprisal or intimidation of participants”.
While Gambari did not elaborate on this point, the Secretary-General’s report indicated that Khartoum had deferred the transferral of the first instalment of funds (approximately $200 million) to the Darfur Reconstruction and Development Fund, which supports reconstruction activities in Darfur.
Gambari enumerated several instances of recent violence in Darfur. He noted skirmishes between Sudanese Armed Forces and armed groups in the region during late June and early July. He spoke as well about inter-ethnic violence. He said that fighting on 16-18 July between Rezeigat and Misseriya ethnic groups in Abu Jabra, East Darfur, over grazing rights and land had led to roughly 60 deaths.
On 31 July, the Council adopted resolution 2063 renewing the mandate of UNAMID for an additional year. In keeping with the Secretary-General’s review in early 2012, the Council reconfigured UNAMID with a maximum authorised troop strength of 16,200 military personnel (3,355 fewer than previously), 2,310 individual police (1,462 fewer than before), and 17 formed police units (two units fewer than before, with each unit consisting of up to 140 police). According to the resolution, the reconfigured mission will “focus on the areas of Darfur with the highest security threats.”
Also on 31 July, security personnel shot and killed eight people (five of whom were under the age of 17) and wounded more than 50 others during a protest in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, over increased fuel prices, part of the austerity measures Sudan has instituted to counteract the difficult economic conditions facing the country, largely as a result of declining oil revenue after the independence of South Sudan last year. It also appears that the security forces used tear gas to disrupt the protest.
In Geneva on 3 August Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), urged Sudan to “promptly launch an independent and credible investigation into the violence and the apparent excessive use of force by security forces.” Additionally OHCHR has called on Khartoum to release those who have been arrested while protesting against price increases. (Demonstrations erupted in several localities across Sudan after the government adopted austerity measures in June.)
The government has formed a committee of five officials to investigate the Nyala violence. The committee has been tasked with investigating why live ammunition was used by the security forces and prosecuting the perpetrators of the violence. At press time, it was unclear whether the committee had made any progress in its work.
A UNAMID peacekeeper from Bangladesh was fatally shot by an unidentified individual on 12 August at the Otash camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nyala. He was the 38th UNAMID peacekeeper to be killed since the mission was launched on 31 December 2007. Another peacekeeper was also injured in the assault. The Council condemned the attack in a press statement (SC/10744) released on 15 August.
Several violent incidents occurred in Kutum and Al-Waha localities in North Darfur state beginning in early August. Abdelrahman Mohammed Eissa, the commissioner of Al-Waha, was killed during a carjacking on 1 August. In apparent retaliation for the assassination, members of the Jalul ethnic group killed three people, including two internally displaced persons and a police officer. In the ensuing days, reports indicated that Arab militias looted the Kassab camp for IDPs near Kutum. On 4 and 5 August, the militias clashed with Sudanese Armed Forces in the area, forcing most of the inhabitants in Kassab camp to flee to avoid the fighting. On 4 September, a failed assassination attempt on the Kutum commissioner wounded six people in his convoy.
On 6 September, in response to these violent occurrences, a military official was appointed commissioner of both Kutum and Al-Waha, while a curfew was declared from 18:00 to 07:00 in Kutum.
Human-Rights Related Developments
The UN Independent Expert on human rights in the Sudan, Mashood A. Baderin, submitted his latest report to the Human Rights Council on 27 August (A/HRC/21/62). Among other things, the report stressed the importance of promoting the improvement of the human rights situation in Darfur, noting that human rights violations had fueled the international community’s attention to Darfur to begin with. The report also highlighted the need for all stakeholders to commit to the implementation of the Doha Document, especially the chapters on human rights and fundamental freedoms, and justice and reconciliation.
A key ongoing issue is that several of the major Darfur rebel groups—including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdul Wahid—have not acceded to the Doha Document and the related peace process.
Related to this issue is that these rebel groups have maintained an alliance since late 2011 with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), the rebel group fighting Khartoum in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The alliance, called the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), has vowed to overthrow the regime in place in Khartoum.
Another key issue is that the government of Sudan, which is experiencing an economic crisis, has not met funding commitments to Darfur made in the Doha Document. While Khartoum did transfer $25 million to the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), the body responsible for executing provisions of the Doha Document, for start-up activities in May, it is behind schedule in providing other significant funds.
A further issue is how to address the recent wave of inter-ethnic violence in Darfur, as exemplified by incidents in Abu Jabra in East Darfur state, and Kutum and Al-Waha in North Darfur state.
The Council may decide to discuss the Secretary-General’s report in consultations without taking action at the current time. (Customarily consultations on UNAMID are preceded by an open briefing, although it is unclear whether this will be the case in October.)
Another option would be to request a briefing from the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan and the acting head of UNAMID on their plans to collaborate in supporting the Doha Document. (In resolution 2063, the Council requested “UNAMID and the United Nations country team to develop an Integrated Strategic Framework for United Nations system-wide support to the DDPD based on a clear division of labour.” The Council further requested that the Secretary-General present this Framework to the Council in his October report.)
An additional option would be for the Council to hold an “Arria formula” meeting with experts on the situation in Darfur to explore the particular positions of the various Darfur factions that have not signed the DDPD. (Such a session could provide Council members with additional information to help craft strategies to promote a more inclusive peace process in Darfur.)
While Council members support the Doha Document, concerns remain that key rebel movements have not acceded to the peace process. Some members are also worried about Sudan delaying its funding for the DRA, a point raised by Morocco and the UK during the Council briefing on Sudan by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on 5 June.
The negotiations on resolution 2063 in July also reflected tensions among Council members. Some members were disappointed that the resolution mentioned the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), believing that reliable information about LRA involvement in Darfur did not exist. Some also felt that the threat posed by the SRF should have been mentioned in the resolution. Azerbaijan, which abstained on the resolution, expressed its “regret that the discussions on the draft resolution were not sufficiently open, inclusive and transparent”.
The UK is the lead country on Darfur.
UN Documents on Sudan/Darfur
|Security Council Resolutions|
|31 July 2012 S/RES/2063||Renewed the UNAMID mandate for a year and authorised a reconfiguration of the mission.|
|31 July 2007 S/RES/1769||This resolution created an African Union/UN hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID).|
|31 March 2005 S/RES/1593||This resolution referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court.|
|16 July 2012 S/2012/548||This was the most recent quarterly report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID.|
|19 March 2012 S/2012/166||This letter contained the Framework for African Union and United Nations Facilitation of the Darfur Peace Process.|
|15 April 2011 S/2011/252||This was the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Darfur political process.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|31 July 2012 S/PV.6819||This meeting included statements by Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Pakistan and Sudan on UNAMID renewal.|
|24 July 2012 S/PV.6813||The Council held a briefing on UNAMID.|
|Human Rights Council Document|
|27 August 2012 A/HRC/21/62||This was the most recent report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan to the HRC.|