February 2016 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 January 2016
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AFRICA

Sudan/South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In February, Council members will receive their quarterly briefing on the implementation of resolution 2046 on Sudan/South Sudan issues. Haile Menkerios, the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, is expected to brief via video teleconference on developments. No outcome is anticipated.

Key Recent Developments

On 10 January, Sudan, South Sudan and the World Food Programme extended through June an agreement, initially signed in July 2014, permitting the transport of humanitarian aid from Sudan to South Sudan. South Sudan is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, with large-scale food insecurity and “some 6.1 million people…in need of some form of humanitarian assistance or protection,” according to Eugene Owusu, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the country.

In early January, South Sudan requested that Sudan reduce transport and related fees on oil flowing from South Sudan through Sudan. A landlocked country, South Sudan must transport its oil through Sudan for it to reach the outside world. Based on an August 2013 agreement, South Sudan pays Sudan a fixed fee of approximately $25 per barrel for the shipment of oil. As world oil prices have declined to approximately $31 per barrel, South Sudan’s oil-derived income has continued to diminish. In mid-January, South Sudan indicated that it might shut down oil production in Upper Nile State if Sudan is not amenable to reducing oil transport and related fees. On 20 January, President Omar al-Bashir indicated a willingness to review South Sudan’s request for a reduction in the transit fee, but no decision had been made at press time.

From 19 to 23 November 2015, the AU High-Level Implementation Panel mediated peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a rebel group based in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states (the Two Areas). The negotiations focused on efforts to cease hostilities and provide humanitarian access to the Two Areas. These talks were unsuccessful. While the government of Sudan focused on the need to move toward a permanent ceasefire, the SPLM-N emphasised the need for a political agreement as a prerequisite. Furthermore, while the government reiterated its demand that aid be delivered to South Kordofan and Blue Nile through areas it controls, the SPLM-N maintained that aid should be delivered through neighbouring countries Ethiopia and South Sudan.

The government and the SPLM-N met again in Addis Ababa for informal discussions from 16 to 18 December 2015, and in Berlin, Germany, from 22 January to 23 January. However, the parties did not make progress on the issues dividing them.

President Omar al-Bashir announced a one month cessation of hostilities on 31 December 2015. However, the SPLM-N has accused government forces of continuing their military campaign. Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, a spokesman for the SPLM-N, said that the Sudanese air force dropped bombs on 1 January near Kurmuk, a town in Blue Nile state, damaging farms and destroying livestock. On 9 January, Lodi accused Sudan of additional aerial bombardments near Kurmuk, which he claimed destroyed three farms.

Sanctions-Related Developments

The final report of the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts, yet to be made public at press time, apparently stated that Sudan’s government has supplied weapons and related material to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition during the South Sudan civil war. This has included ammunition, and to a lesser degree, arms and uniforms. While the Council has imposed targeted sanctions (i.e., assets freezes and travel bans) on designated individuals in South Sudan, it has not placed an arms embargo on the country.

Key Issues

The key issue for the Council is how to encourage Sudan and South Sudan—as well as Sudan and the SPLM-N—to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve their differences. The agreement on oil transit, which is now under some stress, was one issue on which the countries had struck a compromise. Unresolved matters include border demarcation and the final status of Abyei. The restriction of humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile is an ongoing concern.

Options

The Council could consider adopting a resolution or presidential statement that:

  • encourages efforts by Sudan and South Sudan to resolve their dispute on oil transit fees amicably;
  • encourages the two countries to step up negotiations to reopen border trade, which would generate significant revenue for both;
  • demands an end to support by both countries of rebel groups on either side of the border;
  • welcomes the recent extension of the agreement on the delivery of humanitarian aid to South Sudan from Sudan; and
  • urges the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N to continue to engage in dialogue on a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access.

Members could also consider holding an Arria-formula meeting open to the wider UN membership and NGOs on the humanitarian situation and the need for access in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, to ensure that attention on this issue does not wane.

Council Dynamics

Relations between Sudan and South Sudan have not recently been an intensive focus of the Council. Members realise that it has been difficult for both countries to exert significant time and energy in negotiations with one another, given their engagement with their own domestic crises; however, members will most likely be encouraged by Sudan’s willingness to reconsider oil transit fees. The violence in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and restrictions on humanitarian access to these areas are routinely raised during Council consultations on Sudan/South Sudan. However, divisions within the Council have hampered efforts over the years to stop the violence and to alleviate the suffering of civilians in the Two Areas, with some members highly critical of the government’s access restrictions and others asserting its sovereign right to defend itself against the rebels.

The US is the penholder on Sudan/South Sudan issues.

UN Documents 

Security Council Resolution
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.