Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), ahead of its expiry on 30 June. Prior to the adoption of the resolution, the Council will receive a briefing on UNAMID, followed by consultations. Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, is expected to provide the quarterly briefing to Council members on the Committee’s work.The Council also expects to receive the semi-annual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor related to the court’s work on Darfur.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation in Darfur remains relatively stable going into the end of the dry season except for sporadic clashes among the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid faction and government forces and nomads in the Jebel Marra area. OCHA estimated that 11,500 people were displaced in Jebel Marra following fighting in April between various armed groups.
The humanitarian situation remains serious. According to revised government figures, some 1.76 million displaced persons in Darfur are registered as living in approximately 66 camps, with around an additional 500,000 unregistered displaced persons. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, who visited Sudan from 12 to 14 May, said in a statement that “millions of people face serious and growing humanitarian needs” in the country and stressed the importance of unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access. Despite the improved security situation, the Darfur peace process and implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur remain largely stalled.
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. According to the Secretary-General’s most recent report, the mission’s reconfiguration is on track, including in relation to the establishment of the State Stabilization Assistance Force, which is responsible for areas outside the jurisdiction of the mission’s Jebel Marra task force (established under phase one of the reconfiguration and consisting of a civilian and military component), and construction of a temporary operating base in Golo. The report said that the withdrawal of UNAMID from those areas where 11 team sites were closed under phase one had so far shown no overall adverse impact.
On 9 May, UNAMID’s Force Commander, Lieutenant General Leonard Ngondi, briefed the Council as one of three heads of military components of UN peace operations. He recommended that the Council include a transition strategy in UNAMID’s upcoming mandate renewal, with lessons learned from missions in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. He also urged the Council to persuade the government to encourage armed groups to commit to the peace process and to adhere to the provisions of the status of forces agreement, allowing UNAMID freedom of movement.
The presidential statement adopted on 31 January requested a written review report on UNAMID by the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secertary-Genreal to consider a new mission concept with adjusted priorities, to be submitted to the Council by 1 June. The review report was not yet available at press time but is expected to include an evaluation of progress in implementing phase two of UNAMID’s reconfiguration, in particular the impact of this phase in the areas where UNAMID’s military component has handed responsibility to UNAMID formed police units; and an update on the situation in the areas from which UNAMID withdrew during phase one, including on protection needs and human rights violations and abuses. In addition to addressing, as requested, whether a new mission concept with adjusted priorities based on the situation on the ground is required, the review is also likely to report on the government of Sudan’s cooperation with UNAMID, including on the establishment of the temporary operating base in Golo, and on UNAMID’s freedom of movement.
The Council received a briefing on Darfur on 10 May via video teleconference from Joint Special Representative for Darfur and head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo, who emphasised that “as UNAMID continues its reconfiguration and drawdown, the transition phase will be critical in creating the foundation for durable peace”. He added that, together with the UN country team, UNAMID has finalised a financing approach for sustaining peace in Darfur, which requires efforts towards the mobilisation of financial resources.
The Council was last briefed on the ICC’s work with regard to Darfur by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on 12 December 2017. She said that unless the five indicted suspects appeared before the Court, “the entire judicial machinery of the Court can be frustrated and held in abeyance”. Bensouda noted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s travels in 2017 to South Africa, Jordan, Uganda, Chad and Russia and requested that the Council take action to respond to ongoing instances of non-compliance or non-cooperation relating to outstanding arrest warrants. Jordan, a state party to the Rome Statute, appealed a decision by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber that found it had failed to comply with its obligation to arrest Al-Bashir when he visited the country in March 2017. The ICC Appeals Chamber issued an order on 29 March inviting the UN, AU, EU, League of Arab States and the Organization of American States to submit observations on Jordan’s appeal by 16 July. In March of this year, Al-Bashir travelled to Rwanda, which is not a state party to the Rome Statute.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Following his visit to Sudan from 14 to 23 April, the Human Rights Council’s independent expert on Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, expressed concern in a 23 April press statement about reports that security forces were using violence, intimidation and other forms of abuse to silence women across the country. He reiterated his call for the government to take effective measures, including reforming the country’s current legal framework, to address the serious institutional gaps in its security and justice system in order to promote respect for the rule of law and protection of human rights.
Key Issues and Options
The key issue for the Council is what modifications to make to the mandate, force structure and troop levels of UNAMID, to reflect the current realities facing the mission. A related key issue is the completion of phase two of UNAMID’s reconfiguration by 30 June, and the effect of further troop reductions on the security and human rights situations. An option is for such assessments to be informed by the findings and recommendations of the review, which members expect to receive by 1 June. Other options would be to invite the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an update on the human rights situation, or to hold an informal interactive dialogue or an Arria-formula meeting with Nononsi.
The Council may also need to tackle how to address the root causes of the conflict and to promote intercommunal reconciliation. An option would be to request Mamabolo to brief on the issue.
Another key issue is to support efforts to break the ongoing impasse in the negotiations between the government and Darfuri rebel movements over 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 improvement in the overall situation in Darfur and the government’s cooperation during UNAMID’s reconfiguration, which has so far progressed without major incidents. Some members seem to view more guarded recognition of progress as appropriate. Other members, including Russia, Ethiopia and Kuwait, are generally more positive in their assessment of improvements in the situation in Darfur and steps the government of Sudan has taken to date and would likely support further drawdowns of the mission and the formulation of an exit strategy.
At the 10 May briefing, Equatorial Guinea in its statement expressed support for inviting Mbeki to brief the Council on the political process and for the adoption of “targeted sanctions against recalcitrant groups or individuals who are reluctant to participate in negotiations”. Côte d’Ivoire said that the Security Council “should do everything in its power” to encourage the various parties to adhere to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and expressed hope that the recommendations of the UNAMID review “will enable Council members to better define the mission’s priorities in the context of the renewal of its mandate”. Bolivia said that the country team’s capacities must continue to be strengthened to ensure that the withdrawal of the mission is successful. Kuwait similarly referred to the need for an exit strategy for the mission, calling for “a clear transition plan that facilitates a withdrawal of the operation”. Kazakhstan said it is essential to reconsider UNAMID’s mandate to reflect the improved situation on the ground, in particular giving priority to UNAMID’s peacebuilding responsibilities.
The UK is the penholder on Darfur; Poland 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.|
|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.|
|25 April 2018 S/2018/389||This was the Secretary-General’s 60 day report on UNAMID.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|10 May 2018 S/PV.8252||This was a briefing on UNAMID.|