Expected Council Action
In July, Council members will hold consultations on the implementation of resolution 2046 on Sudan/South Sudan issues, as well as on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). Haile Menkerios, the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, is expected to brief on Sudan/South Sudan, while the head of UNISFA, Haile Tilahun Gebremariam, will brief on the mission’s activities. The Council is expected to renew UNISFA’s mandate prior to its 15 July expiration.
Key Recent Developments
In recent months, Sudan and South Sudan have not made progress in addressing unresolved issues—including, in particular, the demarcation of their mutual border, the final status of the disputed Abyei area and the establishment of temporary administrative units in Abyei. They continue to exchange periodic accusations of support for rebel groups in each other’s country.
On 14 and 15 June, Sudanese aircraft reportedly dropped bombs across the border in Maban and Renk counties, located in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. Peter Hoth Tuach, a South Sudanese official, alleged that a woman and four children had been injured in the bombing of Maban, while a South Sudanese soldier had been killed in the bombing of Renk.
From 17 to 29 May, UNISFA and the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support conducted an assessment of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) along the Sudan-South Sudan border. The concept of operations and support concept of the JBVMM were analysed by the assessment team, but the Secretary-General’s current report said that “the findings of this technical review could not be discussed with the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan before the publication of this report and will be presented in my next report”. The Secretary-General stated that the UN’s investment in the JBVMM “cannot continue if the parties do not invest themselves in the success of this mechanism”. Among other things, the parties have not been able to come to agreement on a centre line of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone, and several areas along the border remain disputed. Furthermore, they have yet to make progress in demarcating those areas of the border on which there is agreement.
A meeting of Abyei’s traditional leaders to promote reconciliation between the Ngok-Dinka and the Misseriya communities had been scheduled for 20-24 June in Addis Ababa. According to a 24 June AU press statement, the meeting did not take place, with “South Sudanese community leaders…requesting an indefinite postponement to resolve internal challenges relating to their participation.”
Council members last met to discuss implementation of resolution 2046 on 24 March, with Menkerios briefing. He told members that Khartoum would be willing to continue the “national dialogue” following the April elections. (President Omar al-Bashir was re-elected president with 94 percent of the vote in an election boycotted by the major opposition parties and marked by low voter turnout.) Menkerios reported that the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states remained grave amidst persistent fighting.
On 5 May, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefed Council members in consultations on UNISFA. He said that polling was held in Misseriya ethnic areas in northern Abyei during Sudan’s 13-16 April elections, adding that there had been no violent incidents during the electoral process. Ladsous said that the reconvening on 29-30 March in Addis Ababa of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC), designed to provide administrative and political oversight to the area, had been an encouraging development. (The AJOC had not met since May 2013, when Ngok-Dinka paramount chief Deng Kuol Deng was assassinated by a Misseriya.)
Given the internal turmoil in Sudan and South Sudan, a key question is whether both countries are in position to work toward a resolution of their outstanding differences at the current time. The fact that the Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) has not convened in more than two years is not an encouraging sign, although the AU High-Level Implementation Panel is currently trying to organise a meeting of this body.
There are several ongoing, unresolved challenges that contribute to insecurity in Abyei. The inability of Sudan and South Sudan to establish temporary security and administrative units—the Abyei Area Council, the Abyei Area administration and the Abyei Police Force—has created a law and order vacuum in the region. Meanwhile, the presence of Sudanese security forces at the Diffra oil facility in northern Abyei and of South Sudanese troops in the southern part of the region represents a potential source of instability and violates numerous Security Council resolutions, as well as the 20 June 2011 agreement signed by the government of Sudan and the then government of Southern Sudan. (South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011.)
The future of the JBVMM, which the Council authorised UNISFA to support in resolution 2024 of 14 December 2011, is another important matter for the Council. The Secretary-General wrote in his recent report that “investment [in the JBVMM] cannot continue if the parties do not invest themselves in the success of this mechanism.” To date, more than $26 million has been expended to build infrastructure and support the mechanism, which is barely operational.
Regarding Sudan/South Sudan, the Council could consider adopting a statement that:
- expresses support for the AU High-Level Implementation Panel’s efforts to reconvene the JPSM;
- condemns aerial bombardments across the border in South Sudan; and
- suggests that bilateral donors consider offering debt relief to Sudan in exchange for substantive political reforms and a credible peace process.
The Council could consider requesting a report from the Secretariat investigating allegations that Sudan and South Sudan are supporting rebels in each other’s territories.
With respect to UNISFA, the Council could consider:
- renewing the mandate for an additional six months without any fundamental changes;
- renewing the mandate and determining at an interim moment in the mandate cycle whether UNISFA should continue supporting the JBVMM, once the JBVMM review team’s findings are available to them;
- requesting a greater focus on human rights issues in the Secretary-General’s reporting to the Council; and
- encouraging more regular meetings of the AJOC.
Most Council members remain frustrated that Sudan and South Sudan, engaged in their respective domestic crises, have made little headway in addressing issues of mutual concern, such as border demarcation, the establishment of temporary administrative units in Abyei and the final status of the region. While encouraged that the AJOC finally met at the end of March, most members are concerned about the political fragility and potential volatility of the region. At the most recent UNISFA consultations on 6 May, Angola mentioned the need for the parties to avoid violence against women and children, while Venezuela underscored that the lack of economic development in Abyei was a source of conflict in the region.
Many of the briefings on the implementation of resolution 2046 touch on domestic political issues in Sudan, such as the national dialogue process and the elections. While most members are amenable to a discussion of such issues, Russia has expressed discomfort with this, believing that domestic politics in Sudan are outside the purview of resolution 2046.
The US is the penholder on Sudan/South Sudan issues and on UNISFA.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SUDAN/SOUTH SUDAN
|Security Council Resolutions|
|2 May 2012 S/RES/2046||This resolution was on Sudan-South Sudan relations and provided a roadmap for Sudan, South Sudan and the SPLM-N to resolve outstanding issues and threatened Article 41 measures.|
|26 February 2015 S/RES/2205||This resolution renewed the mandate of UNISFA until 15 July 2015.|
|16 June 2015 S/2015/439||This was a report on UNISFA.|