Expected Council Action
In January, the Council will hold a briefing and consultations on the quarterly report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous is expected to brief. At press time, no outcome was anticipated.
The mandate of UNAMID expires on 31 August 2014.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation in Darfur has remained volatile in recent months, with significant inter-communal violence and fighting between government forces and rebels. The instability in the region continues to cause large-scale displacement. On 14 November, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that over 460,000 people had been displaced in Darfur in 2013, more than the number displaced in 2011 and 2012 combined.
On 27 October, the Misseriya and Salamat fought near Mukjar, Central Darfur, reportedly resulting in more than 20 deaths. These communities clashed again in several towns in Central Darfur from 6-8 November, leaving a large number of dead and displaced persons. According to the American Refugee Committee, approximately 10,000 Salamat were displaced by the fighting in November.
On 3 November, rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minnawi (SLA-MM) ambushed Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers in North Darfur, allegedly seizing two dozen SAF vehicles during the fighting and both sides apparently sustaining heavy casualties.
On 10-11 November, fighting between the Salamat and Taisha over land in South Darfur reportedly left more than 100 dead and over 300 people wounded. Addressing parliament on 12 November, Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein said that inter-communal fighting had surpassed rebel-related violence as the greatest threat to security in Darfur.
After members of the Hamar community killed a member of the Ma’aliya during a dispute over grazing land, inter-ethnic violence between the two communities erupted on 5 December in Um Deibut, West Kordofan. Twenty-two Hamar and 16 Ma’aliya reportedly died in the fighting, which displaced over 6,000 people.
The visit of some members of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee had been planned for December 2013, but it was deferred as Sudan failed to provide final approval for the trip. This mission has been repeatedly postponed since it was first discussed in August 2012. The mission is now tentatively scheduled for the second half of January.
The AU-UN Joint Special Representative, Joint Mediator and head of UNAMID, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, met with representatives of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the SLA-MM in Addis Ababa between 9 and 11 December. The SLA-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW), the other major Darfur-based rebel group, did not participate in the meeting. At the conclusion of the negotiations, the JEM and the SLA-MM called for a “comprehensive…peaceful settlement of the Sudanese conflicts”.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefed the Council on 11 December on the work of the ICC in Darfur (S/PV.7080). During her briefing, she was highly critical of Sudan for its non-compliance with Council decisions and of the Council for its failure to ensure that the ICC indictees are tried for their alleged crimes. “Inaction and paralysis within the Council have not only prolonged the suffering of Darfur’s victims, but have also bolstered [President Omar al-] Bashir’s resolve to ignore the Council,” Bensouda said.
The Council held its most recent briefing on UNAMID on 23 October. During the briefing Chambas told Council members that he had met with key JEM and SLA-MM figures between 22-27 August in Arusha, Tanzania. He said that the groups were committed to a “negotiated political settlement…in the context of a holistic solution to Sudan’s problems.” He also noted that Sudan had said that any negotiation with the rebels should be done in the context of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). Following Chambas, Ladsous addressed the Council referring to the limited progress in the peace process, the difficult security environment and the ongoing need for humanitarian assistance in Darfur. Finally, Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman (Sudan) expressed concern at what he called “the inability of UNAMID military personnel to defend…themselves” in reference to recent attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers.
One key issue is how the Council can best address the continuing deterioration of the security situation in Darfur and the toll that it is taking on civilian populations.
Another key issue is the safety and security of UN peacekeepers in Darfur, as 14 peacekeepers had been killed in 2013 at press time.
Also an important issue is Sudan’s continuing effort to postpone the visiting mission of the 1591 Sanctions Committee to Darfur, which has been delayed now for 16 months.
There continues to be a lack of political progress in resolving the differences between Sudan and several key Darfur rebel groups, including the JEM, SLA-MM and SLA-AW. Khartoum is only willing to negotiate with the Darfur rebels on the basis of the DDPD, which is limited to addressing the political, economic, human rights and humanitarian grievances of people in Darfur. However, these rebel movements refuse to sign the DDPD, considering themselves part of a broader national coalition of rebel groups called the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which espouses a comprehensive national solution that includes regime change.
One option is for the Council to adopt a statement:
- deploring the upsurge in violence against civilians and UN peacekeepers in the last year and demanding accountability for the perpetrators of such violence;
- demanding that Sudan commit to ensuring that members of the 1591 Sanctions Committee can visit the region; and
- reiterating the obligation of all member states to comply with the arms embargo on Darfur.
The Council could also request a briefing from UNAMID Force Commander Lieutenant General Paul Ignace Mella (Tanzania) to get his views on how the mission could strengthen its efforts to protect civilians.
Several Council members have expressed strong concern about the deterioration of the security situation in 2013, marked by inter-communal violence, fighting between the government and rebel groups and large-scale displacement. There are differences in perspective, however, in how to attribute accountability for much of the turmoil in Darfur. Some members, including but not limited to the P3, are very critical of Sudan, tending to highlight reports of aerial bombardments affecting civilians, restrictions on humanitarian access and impunity for those committing crimes in the region. Others tend to be less critical of Sudan, placing a greater share of blame on the rebel groups that have thus far refused to accede to the DDPD.
There are strong divisions on the Council regarding the work of the ICC in Darfur. Among those that support the ICC, Australia and Luxembourg have argued that those in Sudan who have been indicted by the ICC should be listed under the Sudan sanctions regime. Several Council members opposed to the ICC believe that its efforts in Darfur, as elsewhere, are driven largely by political motivations.
The UK is the penholder on Darfur, while Argentina chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
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.|
|14 February 2013 S/RES/2091||This resolution extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 17 February 2014.|
|31 March 2005 S/RES/1593||This resolution referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|11 December 2013 S/PV.7080||This was a briefing to the Council by the ICC Prosecutor.|
|23 October 2013 S/PV.7048||This was a quarterly UNAMID briefing.|
|14 October 2013 S/2013/607||This was a quarterly report of UNAMID.|