Expected Council Action
In April, the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on the Secretary-General’s forthcoming quarterly report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Council members are also likely to hold consultations following the briefing.
The Council is likely to adopt a resolution regarding the recommendations outlined in the Secretary-General’s special report on the effectiveness of UNAMID released 25 February (S/2014/138). At press time, negotiations on the draft resolution were ongoing.
UNAMID’s mandate expires on 31 August.
Key Recent Developments
The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, met on 7 March with a delegation of Darfur rebel groups, including Minni Arko Minawi of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLM-Minni Minawi) and Jibril Ibrahim Mohamed of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM-Jibril Ibrahim). As members of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), they are not signatories of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and have advocated instead for a national mediation process. The rebel leaders were accompanied by Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the AU-UN Joint Special Representative/Joint Chief Mediator, who facilitated the meeting. It seems the meeting did not result in a policy shift, as the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) issued a communiqué on 10 March which basically reaffirmed the status quo regarding mediation on South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur. Another PSC communiqué, issued 24 March, welcomed the review of UNAMID released 25 February.
There has been an increase in the intensity of conflict in Darfur, as noted in recent statements expressing deep concern regarding armed conflict in South Darfur and North Darfur issued by UNAMID (3 March and 9 March), the Secretary-General (10 March) and the High Commissioner for Human Rights (11 March). These statements condemned attacks on civilian populations and their forced displacement while urging an immediate cessation of hostilities and calling upon Sudan to provide unhindered access to UNAMID. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in early March an estimated 65,000 people were displaced from Saraf Omra in North Darfur and an estimated 59,000 people were displaced from the Um Gunya area in South Darfur. The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ali Al-Za’tari, released a statement on 24 March highlighting the difficulty of providing aid in a protracted conflict, with a two-thirds reduction in the number of aid workers in Darfur since 2009 (from 18,000 to 6,800) despite a worsening humanitarian situation.
The escalation of violence in Darfur appears to have prompted some 300 students to protest publicly at the University of Khartoum on 11 March. Media reports suggest that security forces fired live ammunition at the protesters, killing one student and reportedly arresting 110 protestors.
Council members last discussed Darfur and UNAMID in consultations with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous on 12 March. Ladsous briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s special report on UNAMID effectiveness, which recommends adjusting the benchmarks for assessment of UNAMID and re-evaluating the mission after one year. Several areas for improving UNAMID’s performance were identified, including cooperation by the host government, the capabilities of troop and police contingents, integration of functions within UNAMID and coordination with the UN country team, and more systematic monitoring and evaluation of mandate implementation.
Also on 12 March, Ambassador Samantha Power (US) issued a statement calling for the government of Sudan to stop obstruction of UNAMID operations and for UNAMID to carry out its mandate more aggressively, particularly with respect to the protection of civilians and the facilitation of humanitarian access throughout Darfur. The statement also condemned attacks in South Darfur by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a militia allied to the government, prompting a reply from the RSF commander regarding the “unfair behaviour” of US policy on Sudan.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Mashood Adebayo Baderin, the Human Rights Council’s Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, undertook a mission to Khartoum, South Kordofan and Darfur from 11-19 February. At a press conference in Khartoum on 19 February, Baderin observed that ethnic conflicts and conflicts between government forces and armed movements resulted in severe human rights violations in South Kordofan and Darfur, especially the displacement of civilians. Baderin also expressed concern that Sudan has not yet released any reports related to the human rights violations (up to 200 killed and some 800 detained) associated with the government’s response to the public protests over fuel subsidies last September.
The principal issue is a deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, where inter-communal clashes and fighting between government and rebel forces caused the displacement of more people in 2013 than in any year since 2004.
A related issue is the inadequate performance of UNAMID since its creation in 2007, particularly in relation to the size (more than 19,000 uniformed personnel) and the cost (an annual budget of more than $1.3 billion) of the hybrid peacekeeping operation.
One option would be to adopt a resolution on the approach outlined in the Secretary-General’s special report on UNAMID’s effectiveness. This includes new strategic priorities for UNAMID and an adjustment of the benchmarks for evaluation.
Another option would be to expedite the process for re-evaluation of UNAMID (which the Secretary-General recommends the Council revisit after one further year), thus potentially enabling an earlier revision of UNAMID’s mandate.
Council members remain concerned regarding the worsening security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, including inter-communal conflict, fighting between government and rebel forces, and widespread displacement of civilian populations. However, there also seems to be a persistent lack of consensus among Council members in terms of determining which actors are principally responsible. This also in turn has negative implications for the range of options available to the Council. Another constraint may be the continued institutional response to conflict in Darfur by the UN and the AU as entirely discrete from the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, despite ongoing linkages between these conflicts on the ground (as most clearly manifested in the SRF alliance combining three rebel groups from Darfur with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North).
As the Secretary-General’s special report on UNAMID highlights, there are numerous obstacles impeding UNAMID’s performance and several readily identifiable areas where the hybrid peacekeeping operation could potentially improve. One of the benchmarks—which reiterates that the DDPD remains the basis for mediation between the government and non-signatory rebel groups—could be contentious (as some Council members seem to favour including national mediation as an option). Nonetheless, while there seems to be sufficient support within the Council for a resolution regarding measures for reforming UNAMID operations, it remains unclear to what extent the modest changes recommended by the Secretary-General could really alter the trajectory of intractable conflict in Darfur. Given chronic divisions among Council members, a more substantial rethinking of the UN’s approach to mediation and peacekeeping in Sudan seems unlikely at this juncture.
The UK is the penholder on UNAMID, the US is the penholder on Sudan sanctions and Argentina is the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Sudan (Darfur)
|Security Council Resolutions
|13 February 2014 S/RES/2138
|This resolution renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts for 13 months.
|30 July 2013 S/RES/2113
|This resolution extended the mandate of UNAMID for an additional year.
|25 February 2014 S/2014/138
|This was the Secretary-General’s Special Report on UNAMID
|Security Council Letter
|7 February 2014 S/2014/87
|This letter transmitted the final report of the Panel of Experts.
|Security Council Meeting Record
|13 February 2014 S/PV.7111
|This meeting concerned the adoption of resolution 2138, which renewed the Panel of Experts.
Useful Additional Resources
We can’t endure any more: The impact of inter-communal violence on civilians in Central Darfur, Amnesty International, March 2014.
Communiqué [PSC/PR/COMM.(CDXXV), AU PSC, 24 March 2014.
Communiqué [PSC/PR/COMM.(CDXXIII)], AU PSC, 10 March 2014.