Sudan and South Sudan
Expected Council Action
In July, the Council expects to hold two meetings, likely in consultations, on compliance by Sudan, South Sudan, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North with resolution 2046. At press time, no Council outcome on these issues was likely.
Key Recent Developments
On 5 June, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan Haile Menkerios briefed Council members in consultations on Sudan/South Sudan. (Menkerios was also recently appointed the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the AU and head of the UN Office to the AU.) Menkerios reported that Sudan continues to accuse South Sudan of supporting the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an umbrella rebel group that includes the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minnawi and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid. South Sudan has denied the accusation. Menkerios added that Sudan has threatened to stop the flow of oil from South Sudan through Sudan if the support to the rebels does not end.
Regarding the situation in Abyei, Menkerios said that Sudan and South Sudan had made no progress in establishing the temporary administrative institutions in the disputed Abyei area, including the Abyei Area Administration, the Abyei Area Council and the Abyei Police Service. According to the latest Secretary-General’s report on Abyei (S/2013/294), the lack of these institutions “continue(s) to undermine efforts to stabilise the security and humanitarian situation”.
Tensions escalated between Sudan and South Sudan in June. On 8 June, President Omar al-Bashir stated that Sudan would block the transit of oil from South Sudan through Sudan due to evidence that South Sudan was supporting rebels in Sudan. On 9 June, Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman provided more detail, saying that oil transit through Sudan would be halted in 60 days if South Sudan did not cease its support of the SRF. Sudan then sent letters to relevant oil companies, indicating that it would suspend the shipment of oil from South Sudan within 60 days of 9 June.
South Sudan has continued to challenge the allegations that it is supporting rebels in Sudan. President Salva Kiir has said the allegations are tantamount to an indirect declaration of war.
On 10 June, Sudan submitted a letter to the Council alleging that South Sudan had not honoured its commitment to cease its support of the SRF and reiterated that as a result Sudan had decided to close its oil pipelines within 60 days of 9 June (S/2013/342). In the letter, Sudan accused South Sudan of providing the rebels with financial, logistical and material support and medical treatment in South Sudan for rebels wounded in combat. The letter also alleges that South Sudan continues to maintain troops across the border and in the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone (SDBZ). In a follow-up letter to the Council on 13 June, Sudan submitted documentation detailing the alleged support lent to the SRF (S/2013/352).
Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), sent a letter to Bashir and Kiir on 9 June urging Sudan and South Sudan not to undermine efforts to implement the agreements they have made, while offering proposals to the parties in an effort to alleviate the tensions. One proposal calls for the establishment of a technical team by the AU Border Programme, set up in 2007 to promote conflict prevention and regional and subregional integration, to make a determination on the centre line of the SDBZ within six weeks of 18 June, or in a time frame proposed by the AU Border Programme’s technical team. (A recent research report by the Satellite Sentinel Project has indicated that both Sudan and South Sudan have troops in the SDBZ in spite of their agreement to remove them.) A second proposal was for the AU Commission and the chair of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development to make a determination on the facts regarding allegations by both sides that each is supporting rebels in the other country, discuss their findings with the parties and propose next steps by 25 July. (South Sudan sent a letter to the AUHIP specifying its understanding of these proposals and accepting them. At press time, Sudan had yet to inform the AUHIP of its intentions, although initial media reports indicated that it is amenable to the proposals as well.)
An oil pipeline running from Diffra in the disputed Abyei region to Heglig, a town along the Sudan-South Sudan border that has also been contested by the parties, was damaged by an explosion on 12 June. Sudan blamed the JEM rebel group for the incident, an accusation that the JEM has challenged.
The headquarters of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) in Kadugli was shelled on 14 June. While details are unclear, it appears that the headquarters may have been hit by the SPLM-N, which has claimed that it was firing on “military” sites in the area and did not intend to hit the JBVMM facility. One UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) peacekeeper died in the bombing and two were wounded. On the same day, the Council issued a press statement condemning the attack (SC/11034).
Consultations on Sudan/South Sudan were again held on 20 June with briefings by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos. Ladsous told Council members that an initial group of 120 peacekeepers, who will provide protection for JBVMM monitors, is currently being trained in Ethiopia, but he was unable to give a definitive timeline for their deployment. Amos briefed members on her recent trip to Sudan from 20-23 May, noting at the press stakeout after the meeting that 4.4 million people in Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin, conducted his third visit to the Sudan from 15-20 June and will present his findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in September 2013.
One key issue for the Council is how it can play a constructive role in easing the ongoing frictions between Sudan and South Sudan and help the parties to regain the positive momentum they experienced in March with the resumption of oil production by South Sudan and the progress in making the JBVMM operational.
Another key and ongoing issue is what role there is for the Council in promoting constructive dialogue between Sudan and the SPLM-N and improving humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
One option is for the Council to invite Mbeki for an informal interactive dialogue to get his perspective on the status of, and potential next steps in, the negotiations between the parties and to obtain his input on how the Council and the AUHIP can collaborate most constructively moving forward.
Another option for the Council is to use the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa as a forum to discuss conflict prevention strategies related to Sudan-South Sudan relations.
An additional option is for the Council to conduct a visiting mission to Sudan and South Sudan to get a better sense of the situation on the ground to inform its decision-making and to signal to key officials in both countries its engagement on and commitment to this issue.
Council members are concerned by the recent tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, culminating in the threat by Sudan to shut down oil pipelines from South Sudan within 60 days of 9 June. There are also ongoing concerns among several members about the “nationalisation” of the conflict, given the ties between the SPLM-N and key Darfur-based rebel groups, which are fighting Sudan in several parts of the country.
While there will likely be two meetings on Sudan/South Sudan in July, most members are now questioning the need for this frequency of meetings, believing that quantity has not translated into quality in terms of Council engagement on Sudan/South Sudan issues.
In this sense, there has also been some reflection among Council members on how to be more proactive on this agenda item, given the fact that Council members have been unable to reach consensus on numerous draft statements in recent months. In early June, there was some discussion of a potential ambassador-level meeting among Council members to discuss how the Council can improve its management of Sudan-South Sudan issues. At press time, such a meeting had yet to take place, although it might be held in July.
The US is the penholder on Sudan/South Sudan issues.
UN Documents on Sudan and South Sudan
|Security Council Resolutions|
|2 May 2012 S/RES/2046||This resolution was on Sudan-South Sudan relations.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|14 June 2013 SC/11034||This press statement condemned the attack on the JBVMM site in Kadugli,South Kordofan.|
|Security Council Letters|
|13 June 2013 S/2013/352||This was a letter from Sudan containing alleged evidence of South Sudanese support for rebels in Sudan.|
|10 June 2013 S/2013/342||This was a letter from Sudan outlining the types of support that it believes South Sudan is providing to rebels in Sudan.|
Useful Additional Sources
Satellite Sentinel Project, “Troops in the Demilitarized Zone: Confirmation of Violations by Sudan and South Sudan”, 14 June 2013
Claudio Gramizzi and Jérôme Tubiana, “New war, Old Enemies: Conflict Dynamics in South Kordofan”, Small Arms Survey, Geneva, March 2013
Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) for Sudan and South Sudan, “Weapons in service with David Yau Yau’s militia, Jonglei state, February 2013”, Small Arms Survey, Geneva, February 2013