Expected Council Action
At press time, it appeared that the Council briefing and consultations on the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), which had been scheduled for July, might be postponed until August. No Council outcome was anticipated in July, although the UNAMID mandate is expected to be renewed in August.
UNAMID’s mandate expires on 31 August.
Key Recent Developments
With ongoing fighting between government forces and rebel movements and inter-communal violence, the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur remains dire. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), approximately 395,000 people have been displaced so far in Darfur in 2014, with roughly 258,000 still unable to return home. There are currently 2.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region. In late May and early June, there were several reports that IDPs had been assaulted and abducted by unidentified armed assailants in various parts of Darfur. On 5 and 7 June, local residents reported to UNAMID that more than 19 villages in North Darfur had allegedly been attacked by Arab militias. On 21 June, dozens were reportedly killed when members of the Misseriya community attacked members of the Salamat community in a cattle raiding incident in Um Dukhun county, North Darfur.
On 24 May, a UNAMID peacekeeper mediating a dispute between members of the Fur community and Arab militia was shot and killed in Kabkabiya, North Darfur. Three other peacekeepers were wounded in the incident. The Council issued a press statement later the same day condemning the attack (SC/11413).
From 5-7 June, more than 250 members of the Abbala and Beni Hussein groups met in Kabkabiya to discuss their reconciliation efforts. The two groups have a history of violent clashes, including one attack in January 2013 in Jebel Amir, North Darfur, over access to a gold mine, in which 100 people died and 100,000 were displaced. Recently, conflict between the two groups led to road closures that prevented critical supplies from reaching El Sereif, North Darfur. At the conclusion of the reconciliation meeting on 7 June, the two groups agreed to open the roads to El Sereif.
International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda delivered on 17 June her semi-annual briefing to the Council on the work of the ICC in Darfur and stated that “the time is long overdue for…Sudan’s consistent defiance of Security Council resolutions to be met by decisive action from the Council”. Bensouda also called for a “thorough, independent and public inquiry” into allegations that UNAMID reporting had been manipulated “with the intentional effect of covering up crimes committed against civilians and peacekeepers”. Bensouda further indicated that there should be greater scrutiny of the UN’s non-essential contacts policy with ICC indictees. (In her written report to the Council, she expressed concern about a long meeting that Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson held with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan—who has been indicted by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide—during the AU Summit in January in Addis Ababa.)
The Council adopted resolution 2148 on 3 April, which took note of the Secretary-General’s proposed adjustments to UNAMID’s benchmarks and indicators in his 25 February special report (S/2014/138) on the strategic review of the mission. The adjusted benchmarks are: (1) an inclusive peace process between Sudan and rebel groups that have not signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur; (2) protection of civilians and humanitarian access; and (3) prevention or mitigation of community-based conflict. (The first two—an inclusive peace process and protection of civilians and humanitarian access—overlapped existing benchmarks for UNAMID. The third one is new, demonstrating concern about the intensification of inter-communal violence in Darfur.)
On 24 April, the Council received a briefing, followed by consultations, on the last quarterly UNAMID report (S/2014/279). Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefed in the open session. Ladsous underscored the deteriorating security situation in Darfur. Chambas discussed the activities of the government-affiliated Rapid Support Forces militia.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin, visited Sudan from 15 to 24 June. In a 25 June press statement, he urged the government to demonstrate its commitment to the national dialogue and release all political detainees. Baderin expressed concerns about the condition of three youth activists detained by the National Intelligence and Security Service; the situation of press freedom and media censorship; and the escalation of conflict leading to further displacement and other serious human rights violations. He urged the government to improve humanitarian access to civilian populations and to enable the ICRC to resume its activities. (On 1 February 2014, the ICRC was asked by the Sudanese authorities to suspend its activities.)
The key issue for the Council remains how to address the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur.
A related issue is ongoing defiance of Council resolutions by Sudan. As the ICC Prosecutor noted in her 10 June written report to the Council, hardly any of the 55 resolutions adopted on Sudan since 2004 have been implemented.
Another key issue is whether the Council, or individual Council members, will exert leverage on the Secretariat to follow through on the ICC Prosecutor’s call for the Secretary-General to conduct a “thorough, independent and public inquiry” into the allegations that UNAMID’s reporting has been manipulated to conceal crimes against civilians and peacekeepers. (At press time, it remained unclear whether the Secretariat would heed the call for such an investigation.)
The Council might consider adopting a statement that:
- deplores the upsurge in violence and displacement in Darfur in recent months;
- supports the ICC Prosecutor’s call for an investigation on UNAMID reporting; and
- emphasises that protection of civilians is a strategic priority of the mission.
Another option is for the Council to hold an Arria-formula meeting with Aïcha El Basri, who served as UNAMID spokesperson from August 2012 to April 2013. El Basri released documents that, according to Bensouda’s 10 June report to the Council, supported allegations of distorted reporting by UNAMID. In a 9 April piece in Foreign Policy, El Basri wrote, “UNAMID lied to the media and failed to protect, or in some cases even make an effort to protect civilians in the region.”
Council members continue to express concern about the heightened violence and displacement in Darfur, but there are differences in how they apportion blame for the situation in Darfur. Most Council members are highly critical of Sudan for the instability in the region, while also recognising that rebel groups share responsibility. However, China and Russia tend to be supportive of Sudan, arguing that it is working diligently to promote peace and reconciliation in the region. Some, particularly Russia, believe that reducing Sudan’s debt and removing bilateral sanctions would enable it to address the humanitarian and development needs of people in Darfur, whereas others appear to believe that such measures would reward negative behaviour on the part of Sudan.
During the 17 June briefing, several Council members—Argentina, Australia, Chile, Jordan, Luxembourg and Nigeria—explicitly supported the proposal for an independent, public investigation into the allegations that UNAMID purposely distorted its reporting to conceal information about attacks on civilians and peacekeepers. The UK also encouraged the Secretariat “to look carefully into the allegations made”.
The UK is the penholder on Darfur, while Argentina chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
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.|
|15 April 2014 S/2014/279||This was a quarterly report on UNAMID.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|17 June 2014 S/PV.7199||This was the semi-annual briefing on Darfur by the ICC Prosecutor.|
|24 April 2014 S/PV.7159||This was a quarterly briefing on UNAMID.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|24 May 2014 SC/11413||This was a press statement condemning the attack where a AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeper was shot and killed in North Darfur on 24 May 2014.|
Other Relevant Facts
Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, Head of UNAMID and Joint Chief Mediator
Mohamed Ibn Chambas (Ghana)
Force Strength (as of 30 April)
18,211 total uniformed personnel, including 14,390 troops, 332 military observers and 3,272 police.
Civilian personnel (as of 30 March)
1,054 international civilian personnel and 2,941 local civilian staff
As of 30 April, the mission also included 403 UN Volunteers.
Useful Additional Resource
Aïcha El Basri, “We Can’t Say All That We See in Darfur”, Foreign Policy, 9 April 2014.