November 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 November 2012
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Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action

The Council is expected to meet twice in November on Sudan and South Sudan issues in accordance with resolution 2046. In the context of these meetings, and in keeping with its presidential statement of 31 August (S/PRST/2012/19), the Council will likely consider the 24 October report of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and the related communiqué of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), which outline the status of negotiations between Sudan, South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) and offer proposals for resolving the remaining issues separating them. 

The Council may also consider the Secretary-General’s report on the same matters, if the report is released in time for Council consideration in November.  At press time, the timeframe for the report’s release remained unclear.

It was also unclear at press time how the Council would decide to respond to the findings of the AUHIP, the PSC and the Secretary-General.

The Council is also expected to renew the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) for six months before it expires on 17 November.

Key Recent Developments

The Council in October discussed Sudan/South Sudan issues twice in consultations.  In the first of these meetings, on 4 October, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous emphasised the need for the two countries to implement the agreements they had signed on 27 September on oil, border security, trade, nationality rights and other issues. He also noted that the parties have not been able to reach agreement on critical issues, including the status of Abyei and disputed border areas.  Regarding South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan, Ladsous said that the humanitarian situation was deteriorating and that clashes between Sudan and the SPLM-N continued in these states. 

On 16 October, Council members convened again to discuss Sudan and South Sudan. Ladsous, again briefing, said that he was unable to report concrete developments on implementation of the 27 September agreements.   He added that Sudan and the SPLM-N had yet to engage in direct negotiations regarding their conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.   

The 27 September Addis Ababa agreements were ratified by South Sudan and Sudan on 16 and 17 October, respectively.  In South Sudan, 189 of 204 legislators endorsed the agreements. The remaining 15 endorsed all elements of the deal, except for the agreement that includes a 14-mile strip of land between Sudan and South Sudan (along the Darfur-Bahr el Ghazal border) temporarily as part of a demilitarised buffer zone between the two countries. (They seem to believe that including it as part of the buffer zone could weaken any claims to it in future negotiations.)  Nearly all Sudanese parliamentarians (352 of 354) voted in favour of the various agreements, although some expressed concern with the “four freedoms” agreement, which gives Sudanese and South Sudanese the right to live, work, travel and own property in each other’s territory.    

Developments on the ground have continued to be troubling.  Sudan and the SPLM-N continued fighting throughout October in South Kordofan. On 8 October, the SPLM-N shelled Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan, allegedly in response to aerial bombings of their positions outside the city by Sudan.  In an 11 October letter to the Council from Sudan (S/2012/759), Khartoum alleged that the SPLM-N attack claimed the lives of seven civilians, including three children, and wounded 22 others.   (The SPLM-N has said that it was targeting military objectives and regretted any loss of civilian life.)  Al-Sawarmi Khalid, a spokesman for the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), claimed that 15 SPLM-N rebels had been killed and many others wounded outside Kadugli on 14 October.  He also said that Sudan had repulsed an SPLM-N assault near Annagarko and Hgerjawad villages in South Kordofan on 12 October. Fighting outside Talodi in South Kordofan also led to the deaths of 12 SPLM-N troops, according to a 15 October statement by Ahmed Haroun, the governor of South Kordofan.  

On 18 October, the Enough Project published a report entitled “Rapid Food Security and Nutrition Assessment: South Kordofan”, produced by an NGO wishing to remain anonymous. Based on an assessment conducted between 5 and 19 August, it found that in South Kordofan “81.5 percent of households are surviving on only one meal a day, and 73.2 percent of households have no source of income.” 

On 23 October, a large explosion at the Al-Yarmook military factory near Khartoum killed two people.  In a letter to the Council on 25 October (S/2012/790), Sudan accused Israel of the attack. At press time, Israel had not responded to the accusation. (Sudan has made allegations against Israel in the past of attacking military targets on its territory, while Israel has claimed that arms are shipped via Sudan to Islamic militants in the Middle East.)

The AUHIP submitted its report on Sudan-South Sudan relations to the PSC on 24 October. In the report, the AUHIP suggested that the PSC allow Sudan and South Sudan to negotiate for an additional six weeks to resolve the status of Abyei and for an additional two weeks to resolve the status of the disputed areas along their mutual border. If the parties are unable to resolve these issues in the allotted time frame, the AUHIP recommends that the PSC should “take the necessary decisions.”  

The PSC issued a communiqué on 24 October that responded to the AUHIP report. In this communiqué, the PSC requested the parties to resolve the status of Abyei within six weeks, using the AUHIP 21 September proposal as a basis for discussion. (According to this proposal, a referendum would be held that includes the participation of the Ngok Dinka and other permanent residents of Abyei to determine whether the area belongs to Sudan or South Sudan.)  If, after six weeks, the parties have not reached an agreement, then the PSC “will endorse the September 2012 Proposal as final and binding, and…seek the endorsement by the UN Security Council of the same”. The PSC also decided that if the parties are unable to agree to a process for resolving the status of contested areas along their border within two weeks, the AUHIP should submit a proposal to the PSC, “which will then make a final and binding determination and seek the endorsement of the UN Security Council of the same”.   

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 26 September during its 21st session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue with the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Mashood A. Baderin.  Baderin said that despite the general willingness of Sudan to fulfill its human rights obligations, the situation in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states required urgent attention, in particular the condition of refugees and IDPs and the granting of access to humanitarian actors. Speakers shared concerns about the human rights situation in Sudan and called on the government to take steps to urgently address them. On 28 September, the HRC adopted a resolution on Sudan renewing the independent expert’s mandate for another year and urging the government of Sudan to continue its cooperation with the independent expert, including by giving him access to the entire country, in particular Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. The Council noted with concern the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and called upon all parties to make every effort to immediately end violence.

Key Issues

On Sudan-South Sudan relations, a key issue is how to encourage the two parties to implement the 27 September agreements and build on the progress to resolve the remaining issues separating them. 

A related issue is how the Council decides to respond to the report of the AUHIP, the communiqué of the PSC, and, if released in November, the Secretary-General’s report on Sudan and South Sudan.   

An ongoing issue is the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and the need to compel the parties to implement the memoranda of understanding that they have signed with the AU, the UN and the Arab League to permit the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilian populations in these states. 

A related issue is how to compel Sudan and the SPLM-N to agree to a ceasefire and to engage in direct negotiations with one another on political matters.  

On UNISFA, a key issue is the need to establish a buffer zone along the Sudan-South Sudan border, in accordance with the 27 September agreement, thus enabling UNISFA to fulfill its mandated role to participate in the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism.  


Options for the Council include:

  • to await the Secretary-General’s report before making any significant decisions; 
  • to hold, in the meantime, an informal interactive dialogue meeting with Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AUHIP, to get his assessment of the state of affairs between the parties and a nuanced understanding of the AUHIP’s report;
  • to consider a statement that welcomes the AUHIP report and the related PSC communiqué; or
  • to hold an “Arria formula” meeting with experts to discuss the various proposals, which are outlined in the AUHIP report and the PSC communiqué, as well as the proposals that may be discussed in the Secretary-General’s report.    

With respect to UNISFA, the most likely option for the Council is to renew the mandate of the mission for an additional six months. In renewing the mandate, members may also choose to emphasise the importance of establishing the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism as expeditiously as possible. 

Council Dynamics

While encouraged that the 27 September agreements have been ratified by Sudan and South Sudan, it seems that several Council members appear concerned about the need to implement them effectively. There is also concern about the tensions between the two countries being exacerbated as long as agreements are not reached on the remaining outstanding matters, including the status of Abyei and the disputed territories along their border.      

There continues to be widespread alarm among Council members concerning the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Some members place the blame largely on Khartoum for preventing humanitarian access to civilians and believe that the Council should pressure the regime more strongly to allow access to both states.  Others are less critical of Khartoum, noting delays in the SPLM-N’s response to the action plan for aid distribution presented by the AU, the UN and the Arab League. Some of these members also believe that more pressure should be placed on the SPLM-N, as well as other rebels in Sudan, to negotiate with Khartoum, and are especially critical of their professed goal to overthrow the government. Several members also appear to believe that a cessation of hostilities, in addition to political dialogue between the parties, would help facilitate aid delivery to civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.  (Sudan and the SPLM-N did not engage in direct negotiations during the Addis Ababa talks in September.) 

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

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UN Documents on Sudan and South Sudan

Security Council Resolutions  
17 May 2012 S/RES/2047 This resolution renewed UNISFA’s mandate.
2 May 2012 S/RES/2046 This resolution was on Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Security Council Press Statements  
28 September 2012 SC/10779 This press statement welcomed the 27 September agreements between Sudan and South Sudan
Security Council Letters  
25 October 2012 S/2012/790 This was a letter from Sudan accusing Israel of attacking a military factory.
11 October 2012 S/2012/759 This letter from Sudan accused the SPLM-N of “complicating and obstructing the implementation of the tripartite initiative.”

Useful Additional Sources

PSC/MIN/COMM/1 (CCCXXXIX) (24 October 2012) is the communiqué of the PSC responding to the AUHIP report. 

PSC/PR/2 (CCCXXXIX) (24 October 2012) is the AUHIP report. 

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

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