Expected Council Action
In May, the Security Council will be briefed on the 60-day report of the Secretary-General on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The mandate of UNAMID expires on 30 June.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation in Darfur has improved, but the causes of the conflict and their related consequences are still largely unaddressed. Human rights violations and abuses, such as sexual and gender-based violence and violations against children, continue to be perpetrated with impunity. According to the Secretary-General’s report on conflict-related sexual violence, while the rate of new displacements was lower in 2017 than in previous years and humanitarian access improved, sexual violence in Sudan remained prevalent, with conflict-related sexual violence occurring primarily around displaced persons camps. In 2017, UNAMID documented 152 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, a decrease from 222 victims in 2016.
UNAMID continues phase two of its reconfiguration, which started on 31 January in accordance with resolution 2363 and the presidential statement adopted on 31 January. Phase two includes further reductions of UNAMID’s authorised troop and police ceilings from 11,395 to 8,735 military personnel and from 2,888 to 2,500 police personnel; it is scheduled to be completed on 30 June. In line with this, the mission is currently redeploying military and police personnel and civilian staff to strengthen Jebel Marra Task Force operations while the State Stabilization Assistance Force covers the remaining areas. Construction of a temporary operating base in Golo is underway, following a delay in the government’s consent to transfer the land, which was granted on 28 January.
On 18 April, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui (via video teleconference) briefed Council members in an informal interactive dialogue on their joint visit to Sudan and the Central African Republic from 7 to 13 April. According to a note to correspondents, the visit was “aimed at further strengthening the important partnership between the UN and the AU”. While in Sudan, Lacroix and Chergui met with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour and with community leaders at a camp for displaced persons near El Fasher, North Darfur. They also interacted with officials from the UN, the AU, and the government regarding the work of UNAMID.
The joint AU-UN strategic review team completed a two-week visit to Sudan on 13 April. As set out in the presidential statement adopted on 31 January, the review will consider a new mission concept with adjusted priorities, and a written report will be submitted to the Security Council by 1 June to inform discussions ahead of UNAMID’s mandate expiration on 30 June.
The Council received a briefing on Darfur on 14 March from Joint Special Representative for Darfur and head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo (via video teleconference) and Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, who provided the quarterly briefing to Council members on the committee’s work. Mamabolo urged the Council to ensure that adequate resources are mobilised and that they are commensurate with the pace of UNAMID’s drawdown to facilitate continued stability. Wronecka continued the practice of briefing in an open format, as Ukraine did in its last briefing as chair of the committee on 7 December 2017. Prior to this, the committee’s quarterly briefings to the Council had taken place in consultations for several years.
Wronecka travelled to Sudan as chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee from 15 to 19 April. This was the third visit to Sudan by a chair of the committee, following visits by previous chairs in January 2014 and May 2017. The general objective was to obtain updated first-hand accounts of the state of implementation of the measures imposed by the Security Council. The outcome of the visit will feed into the Security Council’s review of the sanctions measures on Darfur (resolution 2400 expressed the Council’s intention “to regularly review the measures on Darfur…in light of the evolving situation on the ground”). The visit included meetings with various government and UN officials and with civil society actors in Khartoum, Darfur and Golo.
On 14 March, the Secretary-General appointed four of the five members of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee; its mandate expires on 12 February 2019. According to Wronecka in her 14 March Council briefing, the committee had no objections to four of the candidates proposed, but the fifth candidate (who would serve as the panel’s regional expert) was placed on hold by three members of the committee. At press time, the expert was expected to be appointed shortly.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, visited Sudan from 14 to 23 April, where he met with Sudanese officials, representatives of civil society, community leaders, diplomats and members of UN agencies in Khartoum and Darfur. A focus of the trip was to see what action had been taken to reform the current legal framework, which infringes on the exercise of political and civil rights and fundamental freedoms. Nononsi will present his findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council during its 39th session in September.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue that Council members will want to follow closely is the progress in implementing phase two of UNAMID’s reconfiguration and the effect of further troop reductions on the security and human rights situations. An option in this context would be to invite the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an update on the human rights situation.
Another issue for the Council to consider is UNAMID’s current mandate and strategic priorities as they relate to realities on the ground, including progress made in addressing the root causes of the conflict, ahead of the mission’s mandate renewal in June. An option is for such assessments to be informed by the findings and recommendations of the review report, which members expect to receive by 1 June.
Another key issue is to support efforts to break the ongoing impasse in the negotiations between the government and Darfuri rebel movements and implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, adopted in 2011. One option is to invite Thabo Mbeki, chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel, to address the Council on his efforts (Mbeki last briefed the Council in an informal interactive dialogue on 12 January 2017). Another option is for the Council to consider imposing additional targeted sanctions on those parties who continue to refuse to participate in the negotiations.
There continue to be differences amongst Council members in assessing the improvements in the overall situation in Darfur and the government’s cooperation during UNAMID’s reconfiguration, which has so far progressed without any major incidents. While some members seem to view more guarded recognition of progress as appropriate, other members, including Russia and Ethiopia, are generally more positive in their assessment of improvements in the situation in Darfur and steps the government of Sudan has taken to date.
At the 14 March briefing, five Council members made statements. Peru expressed concern about the human rights situation while Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia and Kazakhstan more positively assessed the situation and emphasised the need to prioritise peacebuilding efforts. All five members, which additionally included Côte d’Ivoire, stressed the need to address the root causes of the conflict and called for progress on the political front, including implementation of the Doha Document for Peace.
The UK is the penholder on Darfur; Poland chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Darfur
|Security Council Resolutions|
|8 February 2018 S/RES/2400||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Sudan for one year.|
|29 June 2017 S/RES/2363||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNAMID for an additional year.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|31 January 2018 S/PRST/2018/4||This was a presidential statement on the situation in Darfur and UNAMID’s reconfiguration.|
|23 March 2018 S/2018/250||This was the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence.|
|25 April 2018 S/2018/389||This was the 60-day report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|14 March 2018 S/PV.8202||This was the quarterly briefing on the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|14 March 2018 S/2018/223||This was a letter appointing four of the five members of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.|