December 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 November 2012
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Expected Council Action

In December, the Council is scheduled to receive the semi-annual briefing from the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the referral of the situation in Darfur to the Court pursuant to resolution 1593.  (Fatou Bensouda succeeded Luis Moreno Ocampo in June, and this will be her first Council briefing on Darfur as ICC Prosecutor.)

The Council is also expecting to receive the quarterly briefing from the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Néstor Osorio (Colombia), on the Committee’s work.  

At press time, no Council outcome is anticipated on Darfur issues in December. 

Key Recent Developments

Ocampo delivered his final briefing to the Council as ICC Prosecutor on 5 June. He said that the failure of the government of Sudan to apprehend and surrender four ICC indictees—President Omar al-Bashir, Ahmed al-Harun, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein and Ali Kushayb—directly challenges the authority of the Council.  Ocampo suggested that the Council consider as an option asking member states and regional organisations to conduct operations to arrest these individuals.

At a speech delivered in Cape Town on 23 May at the Open Forum Conference, Bensouda said that the Court’s focus was on “individual criminal behaviour against innocent victims,” mentioning in particular  Bashir, Harun, Joseph Kony and Bosco Ntaganda. 

In Khartoum, the Special Prosecutor of Darfur crimes appointed by the government of Sudan, Ahmed Abdel Motalib, submitted his resignation to Bashir on 12 June for undisclosed reasons. A week later, Yassir Ahmed Mohamed was appointed, making him the fourth appointee since 2003 when the government established the office of Special Prosecutor to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. (Immunity laws in Sudan have made the work of the Special Prosecutor problematic.)

The security situation has been fragile in Darfur in recent months. Media reports indicated that fighting on 25-27 September between rebels and Sudanese Armed Forces led to 70 civilian deaths in the Hashaba area in North Darfur, although details of the incident remain unclear.  Aerial bombardment by Sudan was also reported during the conflict in Hashaba.   

While briefing the Council on 24 October (S/PV.6851), Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet noted that a AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) patrol investigating the Hashaba fighting spotted a bomb crater on 3 October, “as well as three decomposing bodies and what  the Sudan Liberation Army rebel group elements claimed were 16 freshly covered graves containing civilian casualties.”  Additional UNAMID efforts to investigate the Hashaba events were prevented by the government, which claimed that access to the area needed to be restricted because of the insecure environment.

On 2 November, 13 civilians were killed during a militia attack on Sigili, a village in North Darfur, approximately 40 kilometres southeast of El Fasher. On the following day, UNAMID dispatched a team to investigate the attack but was stopped by Sudanese Armed Forces before it could reach its destination. A second UNAMID team deployed on 6 November and successfully arrived at the town.  According to a 7 November UNAMID press release, “the team found Sigili village completely deserted, with apparent signs of abrupt departure. It also noticed several signs of destruction of housing and property, killed animals, and burnt houses.”

There were two fatal attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers in October. On 2 October, four UN peacekeepers died and eight were wounded when they were ambushed by unidentified armed men in El Geneina, West Darfur.  Another peacekeeper died and three others were injured on 17 October during an attack, also by unidentified armed men, on a UNAMID convoy on its way to Hashaba. The Council issued press statements condemning these incidents on 3 October (SC/10781) and 17 October (SC/10795).  

On 25 October, Aïchatou Mindaoudou, the Acting Joint Special Representative for UNAMID, held a meeting in Addis Ababa with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Chairperson of the AU Commission. During the meeting, the two discussed the peace process in Darfur, including the commitment to negotiations on the part of a splinter group from the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the preparations for a Darfur donor conference, scheduled for December in Doha. They also discussed concerns about heightened violence in North Darfur since August, as well as the attacks against UNAMID peacekeepers in October. 

While in El Fasher, the EU Special Representative to Sudan Rosalind Marsden said on 7 November that the EU would be pleased to provide financial assistance to recovery and development efforts in Darfur so long as certain conditions were met.  First, Sudan had to fulfil its commitment to provide $200 million to the Darfur Regional Authority. She also said that the “justice and reconciliation” pillar of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur needed to be honoured, as Sudan had not adequately pursued perpetrators of war crimes in Darfur. Lastly, Marsden noted the importance of cooperation by the government with UNAMID.

In late October, Sudan informed the World Health Organisation that yellow fever had broken out in several parts of Darfur.  In November, the government undertook a 12-day campaign to vaccinate approximately 2.2 million people in the region.  As of 25 November, the disease had claimed 130 lives.    

Human Rights-Related Developments


 At the invitation of the government, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Chaloka Beyani, visited Sudan from 14-22 November to examine the overall situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country. The rapporteur met with officials in relevant government ministries, local government, the Darfur Regional Authority, the Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, members of civil society, traditional leaders, UN officials and communities affected by internal displacement. Beyani said that developing “durable solutions” for the challenges facing IDPs in Sudan and addressing their human rights is “critical to peace and stability” in the country.  He encouraged the government to ratify the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (2009). The rapporteur also urged the government to promote a culture of respect for human rights to prevent cases of human rights violations against persons of South Sudanese origin in departure points and other IDP sites in Sudan.


Key Issues

An ongoing key issue is the Council’s unwillingness to act on requests by the ICC prosecutor to take measures against state parties to the Rome Statute that do not fulfil their responsibilities and how this failure to act erodes the effectiveness of the Court and the credibility of the Council’s own binding resolutions. (The ICC has informed the Council of visits by  President  Bashir, who has been indicted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, to Chad, Djibouti, Kenya and Malawi—all parties to the Rome Statute—without a response from the Council.) 

Another key issue is whether the ICC indictments of key government officials hinder the prospects for constructive diplomacy and negotiations and, if these indictments do have such an effect, whether the desire for justice and ending impunity should take precedence.  A related issue is whether a compromise solution can (or should) be found that balances penalties and inducements in a way that does not make the so-called “peace versus justice” debate a zero-sum proposition for either side.

An ongoing issue is the fact that several key rebel groups have yet to join the Darfur peace process.  (While a splinter group of the JEM has agreed to join the peace process, the main body of the JEM—as well as the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid and Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi—continue to fight the regime.)

An important issue is the lack of funding by Sudan to the Darfur Regional Authority, either because of a lack of financial capacity or a lack of political will, or both.

Another key issue is the series of recent attacks on civilian populations, particularly in North Darfur. 

Also an important issue are the attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers and whether there are measures that can be taken to enhance their safety.

An additional key issue are the limitations that Sudan continues to place on the movement of UNAMID peacekeepers and their impact on the mission’s ability to carry out its mandate.


With respect to deliberations on the ICC, options include:

  • listening to the briefing and not taking action at the current time; or
  • holding an informal interactive dialogue on the role of the ICC in Sudan that includes the participation of regional organisations such as the AU and the Arab League, as well as members of the AU Peace and Security Council. 

While unlikely, the Council could also remind all UN member states that resolution 1593, which referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC, is binding and indicate the Council’s intention to follow up on any instance of non-compliance.    

With respect to the Sanctions Committee and Darfur more broadly, the Council may wish to consider:

  • imposing sanctions on the rebel groups that have not joined the Darfur peace process;
  • holding an “Arria formula” meeting with experts to get a better understanding of the primary grievances of the Darfur rebel groups; or
  • requesting a briefing on the human rights situation in the region from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  
Council Dynamics

Council members appear to be alarmed by the recent violence against civilians in North Darfur. There is also concern among Council members about the high casualty rate among UNAMID peacekeepers.  (Several Council members—China, Germany, Guatemala, Pakistan, South Africa and Togo—contribute personnel to UNAMID.) 

Regarding the ICC, eight of the current members are not parties to the Rome Statute. (This fact will not change when the new members assume their seats on the Council on 1 January 2013; four of the incoming members are signatories of the Rome Statute, as are four of the five departing members.)  Some members of the Council are very supportive of the ICC’s work in Darfur, while others are concerned that the pursuit of Bashir is motivated largely by political interests that could undermine the prospects for peace in the region.   

The UK is the lead country on Darfur.

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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.
Secretary-General’s Reports  
16 October 2012 S/2012/771 This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMID.
Security Council Meeting Records  
5 June 2012 S/PV.6778 This was a briefing by the ICC Prosecutor.

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