February 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2013
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Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In February, the Council is scheduled to hold two meetings on Sudan/South Sudan relations in accordance with resolution 2046. The Council is also likely to discuss in consultations the most recent Secretary-General’s report on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), whose mandate expires on 31 May.  At press time, it was unclear whether there would be an outcome.

Key Recent Developments

On 26 December, clashes were reported in border areas separating the western regions of Sudan and South Sudan, with the latter alleging that Sudan conducted aerial and ground attacks in the disputed Mile 14 area, leading to at least five deaths. Sudan has argued that while skirmishes occurred, the army of South Sudan clashed with the nomadic Rizigit group, not with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).  South Sudan also alleged that it engaged in fighting on 29 December with the SAF in Raja County in Western Bahr el Ghazal state.  South Sudan has further alleged that it repelled a SAF land assault in Western Bahr el Ghazal and that Sudan bombed the town of Kitkit on 2 January. Reports indicate that more than 32 South Sudanese troops and civilians died in the 2 January attacks.

Presidents Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan and Salva Kiir of South Sudan convened in Addis Ababa from 4-5 January for a summit meeting also attended by Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn of Ethiopia and Thabo Mbeki, chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).  The presidents discussed the need to implement the 27 September agreements (on security, cross-border trade, oil revenue-sharing and other matters) and the future status of the disputed Abyei region. They also agreed to reconvene to determine Abyei’s final status once the Abyei Area Administration, the Abyei Area Council and the Abyei Area Police Service have been established and the matrix with timeframes has been completed.

On 8 January, Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, and John Ging, director of operations for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, briefed the Council in consultations. Menkerios said that differences of perspective between Sudan and South Sudan on the boundaries of the disputed Mile 14 area along the Darfur (Sudan) and Bahr el Ghazal (South Sudan) border and Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) activity within this area were holding up the implementation of the JBVMM and the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone (SDBZ).  Menkerios also confirmed that there had been no progress in discussions on the final status of Abyei. Ging gave a detailed description of the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, emphasising the ongoing lack of humanitarian access and urging the Council to take action.

Sudan and South Sudan held negotiations in Addis Ababa from 14-19 January with the support of AUHIP. The negotiations focused primarily on the implementation of the 27 September agreements (especially security-related arrangements) and the administration of Abyei.

The parties seemed disappointed by the discussions.  In a statement, South Sudan said that it had not been able to agree with Sudan on how to make the SDBZ operational, largely because of differences of perspective on the scope of the Mile 14 area. South Sudan also noted that, although it was willing to resume oil production, Sudan was unwilling to permit oil transit through its territory until the SDBZ had been established.  Regarding the establishment of administration bodies in Abyei, South Sudan argued that Sudan demanded 50 percent representation in the Abyei Area Council, contravening a prior arrangement that it would be allotted 40 percent of those seats.

Sudan also raised concerns about the negotiations. Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein stated that South Sudan continued to support rebels in Sudan. He furthermore alleged that South Sudan was not committed to full withdrawal of its troops from the Mile 14 area and argued that such security matters must be addressed prior to implementation of the 27 September agreements.

The Council held consultations on Sudan-South Sudan relations on 22 January with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefing.  Members emphasised the need for progress in implementing the 27 September agreements and reiterated their concern about the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

On 25 January, at the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), convening during the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, adopted a communiqué on Sudan-South Sudan. The communiqué, inter-alia:

  • stressed the need for unconditional implementation of the 27 September agreements;
  • reaffirmed the PSC’s support of the AUHIP 21 September proposal, calling for a referendum to determine Abyei’s final status, as a “fair, equitable and workable solution”;
  • called on the AUHIP to submit a proposal to Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N) for an agreement to cease hostilities in order to facilitate humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile;
  • urged Sudan and the SPLM-N to engage in direct negotiations without preconditions; and
  • extended the mandate of the AUHIP until 31 July.

On 27 January, Al-Bashir and Kiir met on the margins of the AU Summit.  However, they failed to make progress on how to implement the 27 September agreements.  Media reports indicate that two areas of disagreement were the scope of the Mile 14 area and the composition of the Abyei Area Council.

Hostilities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile have continued.  On 11 January, the SAF and the SPLM-N clashed about ten miles east of Kadugli, South Kordofan’s capital.  Sudan claimed that it killed 50 SPLM-N combatants, while the SPLM-N alleged that it had killed 43 SAF troops and had lost eight soldiers.  The SPLM-N also claimed that four civilians had been injured during SAF aerial bombardments from 12-13 January in Tess village and Buram town. From 15 January and 17 January, Sudan bombed Umdorain and Boram counties in the Nuba Mountains, killing cattle and wrecking homes. 

On 5 January, members of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (an umbrella group of the major Sudanese rebel movements), several political parties (the National Umma Party, the Popular Congress Party, and the Sudanese Communist Party) opposed to Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), and civil society groups signed the “New Dawn Charter”—a document calling for an end to NCP rule and a transition to a government of national unity—in Kampala, Uganda. 

A high-level delegation of the SPLM-N—including Secretary-General Yasir Arman, Chairman Malik Agar and Humanitarian Coordinator Neuron Phillip—visited New York City during the week of 20 January. They met with several Council members and the NGO community in order to provide suggestions for addressing the humanitarian and political crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Key Issues

A key issue is what measures the Council can take to encourage or compel Sudan and South Sudan to implement the 27 September agreements.

Another key issue is whether the Council can develop an effective strategy with respect to the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

An additional important issue is whether and how the Council can exert leverage on the parties to establish institutions in Abyei, including the Abyei Area Administration, the Abyei Area Council, and the Abyei Area Police Service.

An important related issue is what role the Council can play in enabling the parties to make progress in their negotiations on the final status of Abyei. 

Another issue is whether and how the Council chooses to respond to the 25 January communiqué of the PSC.  


The Council may consider adopting a resolution or a presidential statement that endorses the 25 January communiqué of the PSC (or at least those elements of the communiqué on which there is agreement).

An additional option for the Council is to conduct a visiting mission to Sudan and South Sudan to meet with officials from both countries to underscore the importance of honouring the 27 September agreements.

A final, but less likely, option would be to follow through on its reference in resolution 2046 “to take appropriate additional measures under Article 41 of the Charter,” given the continued lack of progress in implementing agreements. 

Council Dynamics

Council members are generally encouraged that the parties have remained at the negotiating table. However, there is serious concern at the lack of progress in implementing the 27 September agreements. Several members are also keen for Sudan and South Sudan to expedite implementation of the SDBZ and the JBVMM along their troubled border.      

While there appears to be widespread alarm on the Council about the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, the Council remains divided on how to approach this issue. Some members seem to favour stronger efforts to compel humanitarian access; others are reluctant to press Sudan too hard, asserting that it is a sovereign state fighting a rebel group. 

The Council appears divided as well on its approach to the final status of Abyei. The US and others are supportive of the AUHIP’s 21 September proposal for resolving the impasse on Abyei. (This proposal, which has been endorsed by the PSC, calls for a referendum on Abyei.) These members believe that the 21 September proposal is consistent with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and that it provides a solution to the current impasse. However, Russia and other members believe that Abyei’s final status should be determined in a way that is mutually acceptable to Sudan and South Sudan. These members are concerned that holding a referendum could be tantamount to imposing a decision on Sudan. (Sudan and South Sudan agreed to hold a referendum in the 2005 CPA to determine the final status of Abyei. However the referendum, which had been scheduled for January 2011, was never conducted because the parties could not agree on voter eligibility. Sudan continues to express reservations about voter eligibility criteria in a potential referendum.)

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


Security Council Resolutions  
16 November 2012 S/RES/2075 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
Secretary-General’s Reports  
25 January 2013 S/2013/59 This report was on UNISFA.
26 November 2012 S/2012/877 This was a report on Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Security Council Letters  
23 January 2013 S/2013/49 This letter from Sudan to the Council expressed regret that Uganda hosted a meeting of Sudanese rebel groups and opposition parties in Kampala on 5 January.
17 January 2013 S/2013/29 This letter from South Sudan concerned the status of negotiations with Sudan.
4 January 2013 S/2013/6 This letter from South Sudan accused Sudan of attacks on its territory.