Expected Council Action
In December, Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko (Ukraine), the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, is expected to provide the quarterly briefing to Council members on the Committee’s work. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is expected to provide the semi-annual briefing on the court’s work on Darfur. The mandate of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) expires on 30 June 2018.
Key Recent Developments
The level of armed hostilities in Darfur has continued to be significantly lower than in previous years, with no new large-scale displacements. The government’s unilateral ceasefire, most recently extended until 31 December, reportedly continues to be largely observed. Improvements in the overall security situation, however, have not led to the voluntary and sustainable return of internally displaced persons. Nearly one-third of Darfur’s population remains displaced, while intercommunal violence and human rights violations persist. Meanwhile, the political process to negotiate a settlement of the conflict with non-signatories of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, adopted in 2011, remains stalled.
In accordance with resolution 2363, which renewed UNAMID’s mandate in June, phase one of the mission’s reconfiguration, to be completed before 1 January 2018, includes the closure of 11 team sites and a reduction of military personnel from 15,845 to 11,395 and police personnel from 3,403 to 2,888. While all 11 team sites were closed in October, the allocation of land by the Sudanese government for a temporary operating base in Golo, Central Darfur, for the Jebel Marra Task Force is still pending. A written assessment from the Secretary-General and the chairperson of the AU Commission, requested in resolution 2363 by 1 January 2018, is expected to address progress in implementing phase one of UNAMID’s reconfiguration, the impact of the phase one reductions on areas that UNAMID has withdrawn from, the government’s cooperation with the mission, the removal of bureaucratic obstacles to the mission, and whether conditions on the ground are conducive to further reductions. With the findings of the assessment, the Council can then decide whether to adjust the scope and pace of UNAMID’s reduction ahead of phase two of the mission’s reconfiguration, to begin on 1 January 2018.
On 15 November, the Council received a briefing, followed by consultations, on UNAMID from Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bintou Keita, who said the level of cooperation between UNAMID and the government of Sudan has been positive overall, although access restrictions and customs clearance at Port Sudan remain challenging. The establishment of the Golo team site is essential to UNAMID’s reconfiguration and goes hand-in-hand with the mission’s withdrawal from more stable parts of Darfur, she said.
On 8 June, Bensouda provided the semi-annual Council briefing on the ICC’s work with regard to Darfur. She asked the Council to take action to respond to ongoing instances of non-compliance or non-cooperation relating to the situation in Darfur and outstanding arrest warrants, adding that “for many…hope has increasingly been replaced by disappointment, frustration and even anger at the slow progress in the Darfur situation”.
On 13 November, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Uganda for a two-day official visit. This was Bashir’s second time in the country since travelling there in May 2016. Although Uganda was obligated as a state party to the ICC under the Rome Statute to arrest Bashir, who has been indicted by the court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, it again failed to do so. Amid calls from international civil society and a statement from the EU urging Uganda to arrest Bashir, on 15 November a High Court in Uganda dismissed an application by a local civil society group for an arrest warrant to be issued. According to the judgement, “Uganda is awaiting sanctions by the Security Council for failing to arrest President Bashir in May last year. Therefore, it is unnecessary to issue an immediate arrest warrant against President Bashir”.
On 10 November, there was a joint meeting of the Sudan (1591), Libya (1970), and South Sudan (2206) Sanctions Committees on the presence and activities of Darfuri rebel groups in South Sudan and Libya. The Panels of Experts for each Committee gave briefings.
Key Issues and Options
An important issue is the continuing impasse in the Council with regard to the ICC’s work in Darfur and whether a strategy to overcome this stalemate can be developed. There are several options that the Council could consider in this regard, including formally responding to outstanding communications from the ICC to the Council, threatening appropriate measures against Sudan and 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.
There are strong differences of perspective among Council members regarding the work of the ICC in Darfur, which makes it difficult for the Council to take action on this issue. All 15 Council members made statements following Bensouda’s briefing in June. Council members that have ratified the Rome Statute—Bolivia, France, Italy, Japan, Senegal, Sweden, the UK and Uruguay—as well as Ukraine and the US, neither of which is a state party to the ICC, were supportive of the ICC’s work on Darfur and generally expressed strong concerns about impunity in the region. Conversely, the remaining Council members that have not ratified the Rome Statute—China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Russia—expressed criticism of the court’s work and its pursuit of Bashir.
The UK is the penholder on Darfur; Ukraine chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Darfur
|Security Council Resolution|
|29 June 2017 S/RES/2363||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNAMID for an additional year.|
|27 October 2017 S/2017/907||This was the Secretary-General’s 60-day report on UNAMID.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|15 November 2017 S/PV.8103||This was a briefing on UNAMID.|
|8 June 2017 S/PV.7963||This was a briefing by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, on the situation in Darfur and cooperation with the ICC’s work pursuant to resolution 1593.|