Expected Council Action
In August, the Council will hold a briefing, followed by consultations, on the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and adopt a resolution renewing the mission’s mandate before it expires on 31 August. Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID Mohamed Ibn Chambas is scheduled to brief.
Ambassador María Cristina Perceval (Argentina), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, is also expected to provide the quarterly briefing to the Council, likely in consultations, on the committee’s work.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation in Darfur remains volatile, marked by large-scale inter-communal violence, banditry, criminality and ongoing clashes between government or government-affiliated forces and rebel groups. On 5 July, the Ma’alia and Rezeigat—two communities that traditionally fight over land ownership—clashed in East Darfur, reportedly leading to 31 deaths. More than 500 people lost their lives in clashes between these two groups in 2013.
On 6 July, members of the Abbala community abducted five women from the Beni Hussein community in North Darfur. The Beni Hussein and the Abbala have a history of violent clashes, including one confrontation in January 2013 in Jebel Amir, North Darfur, over a gold mine in which 100 people died and 100,000 were displaced.
Lawlessness has been particularly prevalent in South Darfur recently, especially in the state capital of Nyala. On 6 July, a government official was shot to death by armed men while travelling from Nyala to deliver salaries to government workers in Katila. On 14 July, General Adam Mahmoud Jar Al-Nabi, the governor of South Darfur, claimed that the Popular Defence Force, a government-affiliated paramilitary group, was responsible for the attack. A militia group abducted a worker with the International Organisation for Migration in Nyala on 6 July; he was released on 25 July.
The humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to be dire. There are currently more than 2.3 million internally displaced persons in the region. The Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs reports that more than 397,000 people have been displaced in Darfur in 2014, although nearly 131,300 of them have been able to return to their home areas. Food insecurity is also on the rise due to the lingering impact of last year’s drought, heightened food prices and the unstable security situation.
On 2 July, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, announced that the Secretary-General had “instructed the Secretariat to review the reports of all [UNAMID] investigations and inquiries undertaken since mid-2012 to ensure that their recommendations have been implemented and that any relevant issues have been fully addressed”. He said the review was expected to be completed in one month. The announcement follows on the heels of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s call, during her 17 June briefing to the Council, for an independent and thorough inquiry into allegations that UNAMID reporting had been manipulated to conceal crimes against civilians and peacekeepers. According to Bensouda’s 10 June written report to the Council, allegations of distorted reporting by the mission were supported by documents made public by Aïcha El Basri, UNAMID spokesperson from August 2012 to April 2013. 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”.
On 9 July, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) adopted a communiqué in which it decided to extend UNAMID’s mandate for 12 months while requesting that the UN Security Council extend the mission’s authorisation (PSC/PR/COMM.[DCXLVI]). In the communiqué, the PSC also expressed concern with the humanitarian situation in Darfur and with human rights violations in the region.
Perceval last briefed the Council on the work of the 1591 Sanctions Committee in consultations on 20 May. She reported that concerns had been expressed by a number of Committee members about ongoing violations of the arms embargo.
The key issue for the Council is the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, which many observers believe is the worst it has been since 2003-2004. In particular, inter-communal violence since early 2013 has been a major cause of the insecurity and displacement in the region.
Another important issue is what impact implementing the findings of the strategic review of UNAMID, outlined in the Secretary-General’s 25 February special report (S/2014/138), will have on the success of the mission. Among other things, the review found that coordination within UNAMID and between UNAMID and the UN Country Team could be improved and that many troop and police contingents lacked adequate weaponry and the self-sustainability capacity needed to deploy temporarily away from team sites.
Another issue is the recent allegations that UNAMID reporting has been manipulated to hide evidence of attacks on civilians and peacekeepers.
Council resolutions continue to express support for the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), with resolution 2148 referring to it as “a solid basis for the Darfur peace process”. However, some observers question the ongoing utility of the DDPD and, more broadly, the effectiveness of the current peace process. Several of the main rebel groups—the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)-Jibril Ibrahim, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)-Abdul Wahid and the SLA-Minni Minawi—continue to refuse to sign the DPDD, preferring a national peace process that addresses the grievances of rebel groups and opposition parties throughout Sudan rather than one that exclusively focuses on Darfur. Furthermore, a lack of government resources (and perhaps commitment) has hampered implementation of several provisions of the DDPD.
Some analysts also believe that the poor economic situation in Sudan, which lost 75 percent of its oil resources with the secession of South Sudan in 2011, has also contributed to the spike in criminality and inter-communal violence in Darfur. As the Secretary-General has suggested, Sudan’s ability to finance pro-Khartoum paramilitary units—the Popular Defence Forces, the Central Reserve Police and the border guards—has been hindered, leading these units “to seek alternative sources of revenue” and precipitating “their involvement, in support of tribal affiliates, in heavy inter-communal fighting over natural resources, in particular artisanal gold mines in Northern Darfur, a prospective oil field in Eastern Darfur and land in Central and Southern Darfur” (S/2014/138).
The most likely option is for the Council to renew UNAMID’s mandate for one year. In doing so, it may choose to:
- emphasise the need for greater self-sustainability of UNAMID contingents to increase the mission’s ability to operate greater distances from stationary bases, thus enhancing the scope of UNAMID’s presence and its ability to protect civilians;
- develop a joint UNAMID-UN Country Team early warning and response mechanism that prioritises the protection and humanitarian needs of civilians in specific geographic locations and provides guidance for action; and
- condemn the activities of the government-affiliated Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which have targeted civilians in Darfur (and elsewhere in Sudan) this year.
With regard to the 1591 Sanctions Committee, the Council could condemn violations of the arms embargo and express concern about the spill-over effects of the Darfur conflict in South Sudan. (There have been reports of Darfur-based militia and JEM rebels fighting in South Sudan.)
Council members remain concerned with the ongoing deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. The P3 and others have argued that the government of Sudan is complicit in the violence in Darfur, pointing to the impact of aerial bombardments on civilians and human rights violations by the RSF. On the other hand, China and Russia have tended to be supportive of Sudan, arguing that it is doing its best to promote peace and stability in Darfur.
There is a perception among some Council members that UNAMID could be more effective, given the significant resources devoted to the mission. Along these lines, members are looking forward to discussing the initial assessment of the implementation of the strategic review of UNAMID from earlier this year, which was reflected in the Secretary-General’s 22 July report (S/2014/515). (The report argued that some progress had already been made in improving coordination and collaboration between the mission and the UN Country Team.)
The UK is the penholder on Darfur.
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.|
|22 July 2014 S/2014/515||This was a Secretary-General’s 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.|
|7 February 2014 S/2014/87||This letter transmitted the final report of the Panel of Experts.|