Expected Council Action
In October, the Council will hold a briefing and consultations on the quarterly report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). At press time, no outcome was anticipated.
Some Council members are planning to visit Darfur in October in their capacity as members of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, although the precise dates had yet to be finalised at press time.
The mandate of UNAMID expires on 31 August 2014.
Key Recent Developments
The Council was last briefed on the situation in Darfur on 24 July (S/PV.7010). During the briefing, AU-UN Joint Special Representative for Darfur and Joint Chief Mediator Mohammed Ibn Chambas told Council members that he was concerned about the rise in inter-communal conflict in Darfur. While Chambas believed that UNAMID has sufficient troop strength to carry out its mandate, he stressed that “what is required is better training and equipment and more flexibility within our current deployment”. The mission is collaborating with “troop and police contributors to address and improve pre-deployment training…and contingent-owned equipment issues,” he added, noting as well that “a tactical helicopter for hot-pursuit purposes would provide an additional deterrent to ambushes”.
The security situation in Darfur has remained volatile since the briefing. Heavy fighting broke out between the Rizeigat and Ma’aliya communities on 9 August over land and cattle in East Darfur. By mid-August, media reports indicated that 209 had died and 305 had been injured as a result of the violence. Although the two groups signed a peace agreement on 22 August, sporadic outbreaks of violence between them continued in September. In early September, OCHA reported that approximately 134,000 people had been displaced by the clashes in the Abu Karinka and Adila areas of East Darfur.
Attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers were also reported in late August. On 26 August, unidentified assailants wounded three peacekeepers while they were on patrol some 22 miles outside El Daein, the capital of East Darfur. On 27 August, peacekeepers were fired upon, also by unknown attackers, in West Darfur near the Chad border with no casualties reported.
Hundreds of demonstrators protested in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, on 19 September after Janjaweed militia reportedly murdered Ismail Wadi, a well-known Zaghawa businessman, and two family members. Two people died and several others were injured in the protests. Adam Mahmoud Jar Al-Nabi, the governor of South Darfur state, declared a curfew that evening and claimed that unknown assailants had been responsible. Al-Nabi further alleged that the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahhid rebel faction had collaborated with the demonstrators in an effort to take control of Nyala.
Between 22-27 August, Chambas met with two Darfur-based rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) in Arusha, Tanzania. During the talks, the JEM and SLM-MM expressed the view that a peace agreement with Sudan should be “holistic” in nature, including not just the Darfur-based rebel groups, but also the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which is fighting Sudan in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, as well as political parties opposed to the regime in Khartoum. They also argued that negotiations should have as their goal the creation of a democratic government. (The SLA-Abdul Wahhid, another important Darfur-based rebel group, did not attend the talks because the SPLM-N was not invited.)
On 28 August, Amin Hassan Omer, the Sudanese official responsible for implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), told Chambas that Sudan would not accept a single, all-encompassing negotiating process, including both the Darfur rebel groups and the SPLM-N. Instead, he highlighted the importance of the DDPD, which focuses specifically on the situation in Darfur.
The indictment of President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC has apparently hindered his travels in recent months. Bashir attended a 15-16 July AU meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, but departed prematurely. Some have suggested that he may have left out of concern that he would be apprehended, as the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber had requested Nigeria to arrest and surrender Bashir to the court on 15 July. Sudan has argued that the timing of the departure had nothing to do with the concern about possible arrest.
In mid-September, Bashir applied for a visa to travel to the US to attend the opening of the 68th UN General Assembly. Speaking at the Security Council stakeout on 16 September, Ambassador Samantha Power (US) said that such a trip “would be deplorable, cynical and hugely inappropriate”. On 18 September, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber issued a public decision in which it invited US officials to apprehend and surrender Bashir to the court if he enters the US. In the decision, the ICC noted that while the US is not a state party to the ICC, the Council “‘urge[d] all States…to cooperate fully’ with the Court” in resolution 1593, which was adopted under Chapter VII. Ultimately, however, Bashir decided to call off his trip.
One key issue is how to regain its sustained focus on Darfur in order to address the significant rise in inter-communal violence in Darfur.
A related immediate issue is how the Council can help to address some of the concerns about UNAMID’s capacity.
A fundamental issue is whether the Council should begin to modify its approach to Sudan. Some analysts have argued that Council engagement with Sudan is flawed because it tends to treat the various conflicts in the country in silos rather than addressing the inter-connected challenges more cohesively.
A related issue is what institutional framework could be developed to implement such a “comprehensive” approach.
An additional issue is what impact the 1591 Sanctions Committee’s trip to Sudan may have in enhancing the Committee’s understanding of the situation on the ground and in helping Committee members to generate ideas for improving the effectiveness of the sanctions regime.
One option would be to request the Secretary-General to launch an inquiry to investigate the sources of the upsurge in inter-communal violence in Darfur and report to the Council before the next regular report on UNAMID is due.
Another option would be for Council members to make a special request to member states to provide a helicopter to UNAMID in order to help deter ambushes.
The Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations could also develop strategies for enhancing UNAMID’s ability to protect civilians and share these with the Council.
Another option would be for the Council, in collaboration with the AU Peace and Security Council, to reconsider the mandate given to Chambas to allow him to mediate between Sudan and all rebel groups in the country, not just those in Darfur. This would require close coordination among Chambas, Special Representative to the AU Haile Menkerios and AU High-Level Implementation Panel Chair Thabo Mbeki to ensure that they work together coherently in their engagement with the parties.
While there has been widespread concern among Council members about the significant deterioration in security in Darfur, there are nonetheless different perspectives regarding Sudan’s commitment to the peace process. Some members have been critical of the slow pace in implementing the DDPD and have argued that the government has been responsible for numerous attacks on civilians during the past year. Other members are less critical of Sudan, believing that it is making an honest effort to implement the DDPD under challenging circumstances. These members tend to emphasise the role of rebel groups in creating instability in Darfur.
Council members are divided as well about the role of the ICC on Darfur. While some members believe that Bashir and others should be brought to justice, others are concerned that Bashir and other officials are being pursued to suit political interests.
The UK is the penholder on Darfur.
UN Documents on Sudan/Darfur
|Security Council Resolutions|
|30 July 2013 S/RES/2113||This resolution extended the mandate of UNAMID for an additional year.|
|31 March 2005 S/RES/1593||This resolution referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court.|
|12 July 2013 S/2013/420||This was a report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|24 July 2013 S/PV.7010||This was a briefing on UNAMID.|
|5 June 2013 S/PV.6974||This was a briefing by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Sudan.|