Expected Council Action
In June, the Council expects to renew the mandate of the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) ahead of its 30 June expiry. Prior to this, it will be briefed on the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMID.
Also in June, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is expected to provide a semi-annual briefing on the Court’s work regarding Darfur.
Key Recent Developments
Violent incidents continued in several parts of Darfur. On 23 and 24 April, UNAMID peacekeepers exchanged fire with gunmen near Kass, South Darfur. According to UNAMID, peacekeepers protecting a water point returned fire on 23 April after they were attacked by about 40 gunmen on horses and camels, killing four of the attackers. On 24 April, UNAMID peacekeepers were attacked while on patrol near Kass and returned fire. The Chairperson of the Commission of the AU, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued statements condemning the attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers. In a conflicting version of these events, Sudan claims the peacekeepers fired on civilians first in the two incidents, killing five Zaghawa tribesmen on 23 April and then two more on 24 April.
On 25 and 26 April, there were major clashes in South Darfur state between the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel group and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) government militia. (The RSF, which is a successor to the Janjaweed militias, has been widely accused of human rights violations during its counter-insurgency operations in Darfur.) Sudan claims that the government of South Sudan provides support to JEM and allows the rebel group to use the country as a rear base. There were significantly differing reports of the border area battle, with Sudan’s claim of a military victory by the RSF likely more credible than JEM’s similar assertion of battlefield success.
Inter-communal clashes have also continued to be a problem in Darfur. On 10 May, fighting erupted between the Southern Reizegat and Ma’aliya tribes in East Darfur. The two groups have had intermittent disputes over land and cattle for several years. The catalyst for the current conflict was apparently cattle raids by both sides during April. The fighting occurred near the town of Abu Karinka, where there was significant damage to infrastructure and the local population urgently required water and food. UNAMID issued a statement on 11 May welcoming the government’s deployment of troops to create a buffer zone and supporting ongoing efforts to mediate the conflict.
The Council last addressed UNAMID on 17 March, when Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefed on two reports of the Secretary-General: a regular quarterly report on UNAMID released 26 February and a 6 March special report with analysis of implementation of an earlier strategic review of UNAMID. In addition to assessing implementation of UNAMID’s three strategic priorities and providing an update on the situation in Darfur, Ladsous said that the Secretary-General’s proposal for transitioning some functions from UNAMID to the UN country team would be covered in the next Secretary-General’s report on UNAMID due 27 May. He also stated that a plan for UNAMID’s exit strategy being developed by a tripartite working group comprising the UN, AU and government of Sudan, would be presented to the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council at the end of May.
On 12 December 2014, Bensouda provided the semi-annual briefing to the Council on the ICC’s work in Sudan. “In the almost ten years that my office has been reporting to the Council, no strategic recommendation has ever been provided to my office, and neither have there been any discussions resulting in concrete solutions to the problems we face in the Darfur situation”, she said. Consequently, she declared, the ICC was suspending its investigations in Darfur and would apply its limited resources elsewhere.
On 9 March, the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II decided in favour of a request for a finding of non-compliance submitted by the Prosecutor. The decision, transmitted to the Council on 20 March, found that Sudan has failed to cooperate with the Court with respect to its requests for the arrest and surrender of Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir and referred the matter back to the Council “for the Council to take appropriate measures”. It should be noted that the Court has previously issued a non-cooperation decision with respect to Sudan, on 25 May 2010, which has not had any impact on the Sudanese government’s actions. The South African government has invited Bashir to attend the AU summit in Johannesburg, taking place in early June. If Bashir attends, as a state party to the Rome Statute, South Africa would be obliged to arrest him. Bashir has previously travelled to six ICC state parties without being arrested: Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria.
At press time, Ambassador Rafael Ramirez (Venezuela) was scheduled to brief Council members in quarterly consultations on 28 May regarding the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee. The briefing is expected to cover the work of the 1591 Committee since his last Council briefing on 6 February.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 5 May, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concluded its consideration of periodic reports of Sudan on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Committee experts recognised the efforts of Sudan to emerge from several conflicts, including over water and land, which had exacerbated ethnic tensions and led to instability in the country, particularly in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. Experts noted that the closure of the Salima Centre for Women’s Research in June 2014 led to concerns of a civil society crackdown. The failure to replace the 2005 Provisional Constitution with a permanent one was another source of concern. Experts commended the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission but questioned the independence of its members, who were appointed by the country’s president. They also raised concern over the performance of the National Security Agency, which enjoyed immunity from prosecution for human rights violations. Other issues raised related to the situation of the Dinka people and the people in the Nuba Mountains, return of internally displaced persons, laws applicable to non-Muslim populations and the complaint mechanisms available to the victims of racial discrimination.
Regarding UNAMID, the main focus for the Council will be deciding how to proceed with the upcoming resolution renewing the peacekeeping operation’s mandate, including:
• any substantive modifications to the mandate;
• mechanisms for transitioning to the UN country team; and
• the scale and timing of drawdown, plus exit strategy.
Another critical issue concerns the Council’s unwillingness to act on requests by the ICC to take measures against state parties to the Rome Statute that do not fulfil their responsibilities, which erodes the effectiveness of the Court and undermines the credibility of the Council’s referral resolutions.
In practical terms, the main options for the Council’s approach to UNAMID will likely be derived from the forthcoming reports of the Secretary-General and the joint working group on exit strategy. Recommendations in these reports could plausibly fall within this range:
• renewing UNAMID’s mandate for one year, retaining the current mandate, and maintaining the hybrid peacekeeping operation’s existing force structure; and
• renewing UNAMID’s mandate for a shorter period of time, modifying the mandate to shift tasks to the government and UN country team, narrowing the geographic scope of deployment to higher intensity conflict areas and further drawing down troops, thus enabling withdrawal within the medium term.
There are several options that the Council could consider with respect to the ICC:
• formally acknowledging the ICC’s finding of non-compliance by Sudan (as well as responding to the eight other outstanding communications from the ICC to the Council);
• threatening appropriate measures against Sudan for a lack of cooperation with the ICC and against relevant state parties for a failure to adhere to their obligations under the Rome Statute; and
• holding an informal interactive dialogue or an Arria-formula meeting with the Office of the Prosecutor to constructively discuss next steps.
Council and Wider Dynamics
As penholder, the UK was unable to facilitate consensus in March on a draft presidential statement welcoming the special report analysing implementation of UNAMID’s strategic review. That failure is indicative of deeply entrenched divisions among Council members regarding Sudan. The initial draft statement painted a dire picture of the security situation in Darfur and its impact on civilians, noting that given the challenges on the ground, UNAMID’s exit strategy should take into consideration the benchmarks outlined in past Secretary-General’s reports. The necessary consensus could not be achieved largely 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 text that did not place caveats on the exit strategy and that welcomed implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. In the absence of a significant shift by either the P3 or Russia and China, negotiations on UNAMID’s upcoming mandate renewal are likely to be similarly contentious.
There are also strong differences of perspective among Council members regarding the work of the ICC in Darfur, which makes it difficult for the Council to take constructive action on this issue. The P3 and several others have been very supportive of the Court’s efforts, while expressing strong concerns about impunity in Darfur. On the other hand, several African states, including those on the Council, have viewed the ICC as a political instrument exclusively focused on Africa and questioned whether its pursuit of justice complements the pursuit of peace. Chad is a state party to the ICC and has hosted Bashir in the past without executing the ICC’s warrant for his arrest. China and Russia have generally supported the AU position on the ICC. Ten Council members have ratified the Rome Statute (Chad, Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, New Zealand, Nigeria, Spain, the UK and Venezuela) and five have not (Angola, China, Malaysia, Russia and the US).
|Security Council Resolution|
|27 August 2014 S/RES/2173||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNAMID for 10 months.|
|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.|
|12 December 2014 S/PV.7337||This was a semi-annual briefing by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on the Court’s work in Darfur.|
|Security Council Letter|
|20 March 2015 S/2015/202||This was a letter transmitting the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II’s finding of non-compliance.|
|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.|
|25 February 2014 S/2014/138||This was the Secretary-General’s Special Report on UNAMID|