March 2013 Monthly Forecast

AFRICA

Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In March, the Council is scheduled to hold two meetings, likely in consultations, to discuss relations between Sudan and South Sudan, in accordance with resolution 2046.  

At press time, the Council had been negotiating a draft presidential statement since mid-February. (It seems that the statement is in large part meant to express concern about the lack of implementation of the 27 September 2012 agreements on security, oil wealth-sharing, nationalities and other issues and underscores the importance of compliance with resolution 2046.) However, it was unclear if and when Council members would be able to achieve consensus on the draft statement.

Key Recent Developments

On 7 February, the Council held consultations on Sudan and South Sudan. Haile Menkerios, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Sudan and South Sudan, briefed Council members in consultations on relations between the two countries, while Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). Menkerios reported that Sudan and South Sudan had yet to agree on the scope of the Mile 14 area along the Darfur (Sudan) and Northern Bahr el Ghazal (South Sudan) border. (This has prevented the parties from establishing the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone, or SDBZ along their mutual border, as they have agreed to include the Mile 14 area within the SDBZ.) Menkerios also noted that Sudan has reiterated its insistence that security arrangements be implemented prior to other agreements. Mulet reported that UNISFA has helped to maintain calm between the Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka communities in Abyei during the Misseriya migration through the area.   

Majak D’Agoot, the Deputy Defence Minister of South Sudan, alleged on 12 February that Sudan had amassed troops near disputed areas of the border, and South Sudan television reported that President Salva Kiir had ordered the movement of military and police to border regions in response. Sudan has denied the allegation.

Negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan appear to have stalled in recent weeks. Press reports indicate that the parties were scheduled to reconvene in Addis Ababa on 13 February to discuss security and political matters. However, these talks were cancelled. In mid-February, a delegation from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) led by Lazarus Sambeiyo—a former Kenyan military officer who served as an IGAD mediator in the lead-up to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement—travelled to Juba to meet with South Sudanese politicians and civil society actors to hear their perspectives on how to resolve the pending issues separating Sudan and South Sudan.  

Conflict continued in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in southern Sudan. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) claimed on 9 February that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), a South Sudanese rebel group that is supported by Khartoum, crossed the border from South Sudan into South Kordofan state and killed 17 civilians in Abujibeiha county. Lam Akol, the head of the SPLM-DC, denied the accusation. 

From 14-17 February, heavy fighting occurred in the Muffa area of Blue Nile, with the SPLM-N alleging that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) had targeted civilians through air and ground operations. Sudan claimed that 66 SPLM-N troops were killed in the fighting, while the SPLM-N alleged that it had killed 86 SAF troops. The SPLM-N has also claimed that the fighting displaced 8,000 civilians.

An Antonov plane operated by the SAF reportedly dropped eight bombs in Luwere, South Kordofan, on 17 February with one of the bombs apparently killing three people—two children and a woman—who were gathering food in a field. Four other civilians were also wounded in the attack.

The SPLM-N stated on 20 February that it was fighting with SAF in Kurmuk, a Blue Nile town that is 12 miles from Muffa, and that it had taken control of the town’s airport.  Sudan denied the claim that the SPLM-N had fought its way to Kurmuk.  

The Council again held consultations on Sudan and South Sudan on 21 February, with Menkerios briefing. Menkerios said that rhetoric between Sudan and South Sudan had escalated in recent days and indicated that there was a need for the parties to demonstrate the political will necessary to make progress in their relations. He said that the SPLM-N had expressed a willingness to participate in negotiations with Sudan scheduled for 5 March but that Sudan had not indicated whether it would engage in the talks.

Human Rights-Related Developments

During the 12 February open debate on the protection of civilians, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the Council to provide for a stronger human rights-monitoring capacity in UNISFA.

Key Issues

The underlying issue is how Council members can overcome their differences and coalesce around a common strategy that has an impact on the calculations of the parties.

A related issue is the lack of progress made by Sudan and South Sudan in implementing the 27 September agreements and negotiating the final status of Abyei.

Another related issue is how to facilitate a ceasefire and peace talks between the SPLM-N and Sudan and how to address the severe humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. 

Options

There are several options for the Council to help break the current stalemate and encourage direct talks between the parties involved in hostilities in Sudan and South Sudan: 

Council Dynamics

There is a palpable sense of frustration among several Council members about the lack of progress by the parties in implementing the 27 September agreements and in resolving other pending issues. Some members are likewise extremely concerned about the poor state of relations between Sudan and South Sudan.

Divisions in the Council on how to address the crisis in Sudan-South Sudan relations, as well as the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, have also had a negative impact on the Council’s effectiveness on these issues. The negotiations on the draft presidential statement have reflected the differences of view among some Council members. Some members are highly critical of Sudan for its difficulties with South Sudan and for denying humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Others are more inclined to take what they perceive as a more balanced approach that is less critical of Sudan. 

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

UN Documents on Sudan and South Sudan

Security Council Resolution  
2 May 2012 S/RES/2046 This resolution was on Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Security Council Press Statement  
28 September 2012 SC/10779 This press statement welcomed the 27 September agreements between Sudan and South Sudan
Secretary-General’s Report  
26 November 2012 S/2012/877 This was a report on Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Security Council Meeting Record  
12 February 2013 S/PV.6917 This was an open debate on protection of civilians.