September 2016 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 September 2016
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AFRICA

Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In September, 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. The Committee will have to make a decision on a new slate of candidates for its panel of experts, once they are proposed by the Department of Political Affairs.

Key Recent Developments

There has been no improvement in the prolonged humanitarian crisis facing Darfur. There are currently 2.6 million internally displaced persons in the region, while approximately “2.7 million people now face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity”, according to the 8 June special report on the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) by the UN Secretary-General and the Chair of the AU Commission. Fighting in Jebel Marra displaced tens of thousands in the first half of 2016.

On 8 August, several rebel groups—Justice and Equality Movement, the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North—and the opposition National Umma Party signed the “Roadmap for Ending the Conflict in Sudan.” The roadmap calls for a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access and a more inclusive national dialogue process. The government had signed it on 21 March, but the rebels had refrained from signing for several months out of concerns about government control over the national dialogue. In a press statement issued on 11 August, members of the Council welcomed the signing of the Roadmap by the opposition groups and commended the government of Sudan for having signed it earlier this year.

Soon after the opposition signed the document, from 9 to 14 August, they met with government representatives in Addis Ababa. However, these talks failed to make progress, as they were mired in disagreements over security arrangements in Darfur and humanitarian access in the Two Areas (Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states). With regard to Darfur, the government had wanted detailed information on the location of rebel forces as a precondition to a cessation of hostilities; the rebels were reluctant to provide this information. With regard to the Two Areas, there were differences of view on routes for the delivery of aid, with the rebels requesting that some of the aid be delivered through Ethiopia.

The Council adopted resolution 2265 on 10 February, extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 12 March 2017. Shortly after the resolution was adopted, Russia placed a hold on the slate of experts proposed by DPA. (A hold means that the issue remains pending on the Committee’s agenda but that a decision is not made, meaning that action cannot be taken on a proposal until the hold is removed or the proposal is rejected.) Two of the five experts proposed by DPA were members of last year’s panel, which produced the 2015 final report that some members, including Russia, found objectionable, at least in part because the report argued that funds from the trade in Darfur gold were fuelling conflict in the region.

On 19 August, Russia requested that its hold be extended. According to the Committee guidelines, a hold can be left pending for up to six months; after such time, it can be extended by up to three months “if the Committee determines, at the request of the Committee member concerned, on a case-by-case basis that extraordinary circumstances require additional time”. However, several Committee members objected to the Russian request, which was declined as a consequence. On 25 August, the day before the hold was set to expire, Russia rejected the proposed panel, paving the way for DPA to put forward a new slate of candidates for the Panel.

The Sudan Sanctions Committee met on 8 July, receiving a briefing from Zainab Bangura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Bangura reported that sexual violence was a consistent characteristic of the Darfur conflict. She expressed concerns about restrictions on humanitarian access and impunity in Darfur.

On 14 June, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefed the Council on UNAMID. Ladsous described the lack of progress in finding a political resolution to the Darfur conflict while underscoring that intercommunal clashes remain “a major cause of insecurity in Darfur”. He emphasised that continued government restrictions on access and freedom of movement significantly hampered UNAMID’s operations. The Council adopted resolution 2296 on 29 June, renewing the mandate of UNAMID for one year.

On 9 June, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda provided the semi-annual Council briefing on the court’s work with regard to Darfur. Bensouda asserted that the Council’s inaction had made it possible for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who in 2009 was indicted by the court for war crimes and crimes against humanity and in 2010 for genocide, to travel internationally without being apprehended, in spite of the court’s arrest warrants against him.

On 11 July, the ICC decided that Uganda and Djibouti, both state parties to the Rome Statute, had not complied with the court’s request to arrest Bashir and referred the issue to the Security Council. Bashir was in Djibouti on 8 May for the inauguration of its president, Ismail Omar Guelleh. On 12 May, Bashir attended the inauguration of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala. During his inaugural address, Museveni disavowed his country’s support for the court, referring to the ICC as “a bunch of useless people”.

Bashir attended the AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in mid-July. Prior to his arrival, Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, announced that her government would not arrest Bashir.

Human Rights-Related Developments

The Human Rights Council (HRC) will consider the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Sudan during its 33rd session in September (A/HRC/33/8). The report contains 244 recommendations. Among them are calls to fully implement the Action Plan for the protection of children in armed conflict; extend a standing invitation to all special procedures and respond positively to pending visit requests; allow unrestricted humanitarian access to all areas affected by conflicts; and carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture and excessive use of force by state officials and other human rights violations, including sexual abuse. The HRC will also consider the report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan (A/HRC/33/65) and the Addendum on the mission to Sudan of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights (A/HRC/33/48/Add.1) during its 33rd session in September.

Key Issues

The longstanding key issues are the violations of the Sudan sanctions regime and the continuing security, humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.

A key issue for the Sanctions Committee is the fact that a Panel of Experts for 2016 has not been appointed. Under resolution 2265, the Panel was supposed to have provided a mid-term update on its work to the Committee by 12 August. 

Options

One option is for Ambassador Ramírez to report to the Council on Bangura’s July briefing to the Sanctions Committee and to hold a discussion on candidates for a new panel of experts, if names are proposed to the Committee during the month.

Assuming the Committee agrees on the Panel’s composition, the Council could adopt a resolution reauthorising the Panel to allow it to serve a full year. This would supplant resolution 2265, which renewed the Panel of Experts until 12 March 2017.

If consensus cannot be achieved on the candidates for a new panel, another option would be for the chair of the Committee to refer the matter to the Security Council. At that point, a draft resolution could be put forward to endorse the proposed slate of names to serve on the Panel of Experts. 

Council Dynamics

The 2015 Panel of Experts’ analysis that the illegal trafficking in gold generates funds that support the conflict in Darfur was very contentious. While some members found this analysis useful, others disputed it, maintaining that the Panel was biased and that some of its claims were unsubstantiated. China, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela opposed the inclusion of language in resolution 2265 linking the trade in gold and other resources to potential insecurity in Darfur; this language was removed as a result. Some in this group expressed concerns that making such a linkage in the context of a Chapter VII resolution could bolster arguments for additional targeted sanctions, which they believe would be counterproductive.

Several Council members have been concerned for several months about the hold on the Panel of Experts. They recognise that even if a new Panel is appointed, the timeframe for its work this year will be limited.

The UK is the penholder on UNAMID, while the US holds the pen on Darfur sanctions and Venezuela chairs the sanctions committee.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions
29 June 2016 S/RES/2296  renewed UNAMID’s mandate until 30 June 2017.
10 February 2016 S/RES/2265 renewed the mandate of the Sudan Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts until 12 March 2017.
Secretary-General’s Reports
1 July 2016 S/2016/587 was the UNAMID quarterly report.
8 June 2016 S/2016/510 was the UNAMID special report of the Secretary-General and the AU Commission Chairperson.
Security Council Meeting Records
29 June 2016 S/PV.7728 was the meeting at which resolution 2296 was adopted and included explanations of vote by China, Egypt, Russia, the UK, the US and Venezuela.
14 June 2016 S/PV.7716 was a UNAMID briefing.
9 June 2016 S/PV.7710 was the ICC Prosecutor’s semi-annual briefing.
Security Council Press Statement
11 August 2016 SC/12474 welcomed the signing of the Roadmap Agreement.