May 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2015
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AFRICA

Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In May, Ambassador Rafael Ramírez (Venezuela), the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, is expected to provide the quarterly briefing to Council members on the Committee’s work.

Key Recent Developments

Darfur remains mired in a security and humanitarian crisis, marked by high levels of inter-communal violence, continued fighting between government and rebel forces, and increasing displacement. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were 2.5 million internally displaced people in Darfur as of 19 April.  As many as 121,000 of them have been displaced in 2015.  

Inter-communal clashes continued to be reported in recent months. In February and March, clashes between the Berti and Zaiyadia communities in Mellit locality, North Darfur, displaced approximately 4,500 people. On 1 April, fighting between the Maalia and Rizeigat communities occurred in East Darfur’s Abu Karinka locality; 20 people died in the 1 April clashes, which were sparked when Rizeigat stole several hundred Maalia-owned sheep in retaliation for a cattle-rustling incident.  

On 1 April, ten bombs were dropped in an aerial attack in Rowata, Central Darfur, resulting in the deaths of 14 civilians and injuring an additional 18. According to Stéphane Dujarric, the Secretary-General’s spokesman, an AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) patrol in Rowata on 6 April “witnessed another aerial bombardment, consisting of five bombs dropped close to” their location. (The Sudanese government is the only party in the area with aerial capacity). 

Unidentified assailants attempted to attack UNAMID peacekeepers on 23 and 24 April in separate incidents in South Darfur. On 23 April, UNAMID troops guarding a water hole in Kass locality were fired upon by approximately forty men riding camels and horses. Four assailants were killed and two peacekeepers were injured in the skirmish. On 24 April, four UNAMID troops were injured when fired upon close to a UNAMID base in Kass.

On 25 April, heavy fighting reportedly occurred in South Darfur, when the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the government-affiliated Rapid Support Forces clashed with the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minnawi rebel groups. Both government and rebel forces alleged that they had inflicted heavy casualties on their adversaries, while seizing significant quantities of equipment. Adam Mahmoud Jar El-Nabi, the governor of South Darfur, claimed on 25 April that the rebels had come from South Sudan, and the SAF reiterated previous allegations that South Sudan is supporting rebel groups in Darfur.   

On April 14, students at El Fasher University in North Darfur demonstrated against Sudan’s 13-15 April presidential and National Assembly elections. Security forces and student militants attacked the protestors; 12 of them were reportedly detained and two were wounded.

The joint working group (AU, UN and government of Sudan) assigned to develop an exit strategy for UNAMID has continued to meet. The group includes 16 Sudanese officials, 13 UN personnel and eight AU representatives. According to a UNAMID press release, the working group convened in Khartoum from 16 to 19 April in what were described as “cooperative and professional” meetings. It is expected to meet again in May.  

Ambassador Ramírez last briefed on the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee in consultations on 5 February. He said that some members of the Committee believed that the government of Sudan’s cooperation with the Panel of Experts had improved in comparison to the past. He told Council members that various members of the Committee had expressed concern that the arms embargo on Darfur had continued to be violated. And he noted the view of some members that the targeted sanctions (i.e. the travel bans and assets freezes) were not working.

On 17 March, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefed the Council on Darfur. Ladsous noted the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur over the past year, criticising the Sudanese government for preventing UNAMID from accessing conflict-affected areas and for restricting humanitarian access. He said that the joint working group on UNAMID’s exit strategy “will review the situation in Darfur and develop a road map for the gradual exit of the mission.” Ladsous added that, upon the completion of its work, the working group will submit a report on its efforts to the government of Sudan, the AU Commission and the UN Secretariat. Subsequently, the report will be forwarded to the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council. (The Secretary-General may provide an update on the exit strategy to the UN Security Council by the end of May.)

Key Issues

With regard to sanctions, a key issue is the apparent ineffectiveness of the Sudan Sanctions regime, which is marred by violations of the arms embargo and by what some members see as ineffective targeted sanctions. The shortcomings of the sanctions regime appear to undermine the credibility and authority of the Council. 

The overall underlying issue is what the Council can do to facilitate political settlements to end the fighting between the government and the rebel groups, as well as among different communities, while mitigating the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Considerable challenges continue to face the political track, especially given the failings of the Doha peace process and the national dialogue process. 

Options

The Council could request that the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and for Sexual Violence in Conflict share relevant information with the Sudan Sanctions Committee, as is being done in the case of the newly formed South Sudan Sanctions Committee.  

The Council could hold the May quarterly briefing in a public session. When Argentina chaired the Sudan Sanctions Committee in 2013-2014, it held its final quarterly briefing on the Committee’s work in a public meeting on 24 November 2014, before Council members discussed the issue in closed consultations. In 2014, numerous sanctions committee chairs briefed in public, followed by closed consultations. However, this trend, it seems, is being reversed. For example, the 5 February quarterly briefing on the work of the Sudan Sanctions Committee was held in closed consultations.

The Council might consider extending the arms embargo to all of Sudan, rather than just Darfur, although this is unlikely, given the dynamics of the Council. 

Council Dynamics

Perceptions of the situation in Darfur vary among Council members. Several members express concern at the humanitarian and security crisis in Darfur, the attacks on civilians and the violations of the arms embargo. Among these members, the P3 and other Western countries in particular are highly critical of Sudan for human rights abuses, lack of compliance with the arms embargo and aerial bombardments. China and Russia, on the other hand, tend to have a more sympathetic view of Sudan. They believe that international actors should forgive Sudan’s external debt so that it can more effectively address under-development in Darfur, which they argue is exacerbating the conflict.

In March, the UK, the penholder on Darfur, attempted unsuccessfully to get agreement on a draft presidential statement to welcome the special report on the implementation of UNAMID’s strategic review. The initial draft statement painted a dire picture of the security situation in Darfur and its impact on civilians. The draft noted that, given the challenges on the ground, an exit strategy for Darfur should take into consideration benchmarks outlined in past Secretary-General’s reports. The necessary consensus could not be achieved to adopt the statement. In large part this was because Russia wanted a text that did not link the exit strategy to benchmarks and that did not highlight the deteriorating security situation. Instead, Russia would have preferred a more technical text that did not place caveats on the exit strategy and welcomed what it believes is progress in the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. By early April, efforts to reach consensus had failed and the initiative seemed to be abandoned.   

Security Council Resolutions
12 February 2015 S/RES/2200 This resolution renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts.
27 August 2014 S/RES/2173 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNAMID for 10 months.
Secretary-General’s Reports
6 March 2015 S/2015/163 This was the special report on the implementation of UNAMID’s strategic review.
26 February 2015 S/2015/141 This was the report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID.
Security Council Meeting Records
17 March 2015 S/PV.7405 This was a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, on the most recent UNAMID report.
24 November 2014 S/PV.7320 This was the quarterly briefing on the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
Sanctions Committee Documents
19 January 2015 S/2015/31 This was the final report of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts.