Expected Council Action
In May, Ambassador María Cristina Perceval (Argentina), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, is expected to provide in consultations the quarterly briefing on the work of the Committee. At press time, the Council was negotiating a press statement condemning the recent upsurge in violence in Darfur, although it remained unclear if and when consensus might be reached.
The mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the Committee expires on 13 March 2015, while the mandate of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) expires on 31 August.
Key Recent Developments
Violence continues to escalate in Darfur. Increased fighting between Sudan Armed Forces and rebel movements, continuing inter-communal violence over land and natural resources and indiscriminate aerial bombings by Sudan in rebel-held territory remain ongoing challenges. In addition, the government-affiliated Rapid Support Force (RSF), a militia numbering 5,000-6,000 troops, deployed in Darfur in February, exacerbating the security environment and adding a new element to the conflict.
The members of the RSF were reportedly recruited from among ethnic groups in Darfur by the Sudan government and trained in Khartoum. They have also fought against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North rebel group in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. According to the most recent Secretary-General’s report (S/2014/279), “attacks attributed to the RSF [in Darfur have] included the targeting of civilians, the destruction and burning of villages, looting of property and theft of livestock.”
On 3 April, the Council adopted resolution 2148, which endorsed the revised strategic priorities for UNAMID proposed in the Secretary-General’s special report of 25 February (S/2014/138) outlining the results of the recent review of the mission’s mandate. The revised priorities include:
- mediation between Sudan and rebel groups on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD);
- the protection of civilians, the facilitation of the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the safety and security of humanitarian personnel; and
- support for the mediation of inter-communal conflicts.
Implementation of the DDPD continues to stall. (The DDPD has been acceded to by only two Darfur rebel movements, the Liberation and Justice Movement and a Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) splinter group called the JEM-Sudan.) A major challenge is that the Darfur Regional Authority, which is responsible for administering the provisions of the DDPD, is hampered by a lack of funds and capacity, as well as the very difficult security environment in Darfur.
Following a 20-24 January visit to Darfur, Perceval circulated an internal report to other committee members on 10 February. It appears that the report described the substance of her meetings with Sudan and UN officials, diplomats serving in the region and representing Council member states, donor countries, regional organisations and leaders of the Zam Zam refugee camp. In addition, on 10 April, she circulated observations from the trip to Committee members apparently noting that many of the interlocutors she met with in Sudan believed that the arms embargo was not being observed.
On 24 April, the Council received a briefing, followed by consultations, on the most recent quarterly UNAMID report. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefed in the open session. Ladsous underscored the deteriorating security situation in Darfur, citing reports by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that 370,000 people have been displaced since January and that more than 2 million people are currently internally displaced in Darfur. Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur and Chief Mediator Mohamed Ibn Chambas address Council members in the consultations, apparently discussing the activities of the RSF.
The UK, the penholder on Darfur, circulated a draft press statement to Council members on 24 April. While negotiations were still underway at press time, it appeared the statement might express concern about violence committed by the government-affiliated RSF and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi rebels, while welcoming the announcement in January 2014 of a national dialogue in Sudan.
A key issue for the Council is how to address the rapid deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. A related issue is the apparent ineffectiveness of the arms embargo, given the heightened violence in recent years.
Also a key issue is the ongoing unwillingness of some of the key rebel groups in Darfur to accede to the DDPD. A related issue is the lack of implementation of the DDPD, which has yet to make a noticeable, positive impact.
The Council may choose to listen to the briefing and take no action at the current time.
It could also consider scheduling a visiting mission to Darfur, as the last Council visit to Sudan dates back to May 2011.
Another option would be to adopt a resolution:
- strengthening language obliging states supplying arms and related equipment to Sudan to obtain credible end-user documentation ensuring that these materials do not enter Darfur;
- adding more rebel leaders to the sanctions list; and
- demanding that Sudan cooperate fully with the work of the PoE.
There is broad concern on the Council regarding the heightened violence in Darfur and the related humanitarian challenges. Several members are especially worried about the arrival of the RSF in Darfur and the crimes that it has committed. There are also a number of Council members who believe that the arms embargo in Darfur continues to be violated, especially in light of the proliferation of small arms and ammunition that fuels the conflict. While some members continue to support bilateral sanctions on Sudan, others believe that this approach has been detrimental to the prospects for peace in Darfur and should be reconsidered. Additionally, negotiations on the draft press statement have once again demonstrated differences of perspective on how to attribute accountability for the violence in Darfur, with some members more critical of Sudan than others.
UN Documents on Sudan (Darfur)
|Security Council Resolutions|
|3 April 2014 S/RES/2148||This endorsed the revised priorities of UNAMID.|
|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|
|24 April 2014 S/PV.7159||This was the most recent quarterly briefing on UNAMID.|