October 2018 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2018
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Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In October, the Security Council will be briefed on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), as requested in resolution 2429. Also in October, 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 mandate of UNAMID expires on 30 June 2019. 

Key Recent Developments

On 13 July, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2429, extending UNAMID’s mandate until 30 June 2019. The resolution welcomed the improved security conditions in Darfur but expressed concern over ongoing clashes and restricted humanitarian access in the Jebel Marra area, noting that inter-communal conflicts remain one of the main sources of violence in Darfur. It also welcomed significant reductions in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) but noted that approximately two million people remain displaced in Darfur, with the majority in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Given the improved security situation in Darfur overall, resolution 2429 decided to reduce the troop ceiling from 8,735 to 4,050 military personnel over the course of the mandate renewal period. The authorised police personnel ceiling was maintained at 2,500. The resolution incorporated several aspects of the 1 June joint special report of the UN Secretary-General and the AU Commission Chairperson on the strategic review of UNAMID. It requested UNAMID to focus on both peacekeeping and long-term solutions to conflict drivers in Darfur with a view towards the exit of the mission on 30 June 2020, provided there is no significant change in the security situation in Darfur and that key indicators are fulfilled. (These indicators pertain to security sector reform, the rule of law, durable solutions for displaced host communities, human rights and the immediate delivery of services for IDPs.) In the context of the mission’s drawdown, the resolution underscored the need “to keep the situation in all areas of Darfur under review” and “to maintain the flexibility within UNAMID to respond to developments throughout Darfur as the situation requires”. It supported the joint special report’s call for consolidation of a whole-of-system approach in Darfur, and the establishment of joint UNAMID-UN Country Team offices in the capitals of the states of Darfur “except for where Mission sites would remain”. It also requests strengthened integration among UNAMID, the UN Country Team, and other UN entities operating in Darfur. 

Resolution 2429 requested the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Commission to conduct a strategic review of UNAMID by 1 May 2019. It extended the Secretary-General’s regular cycle of reporting to the Council from 60 to 90 days and requested that the Secretary General’s initial 90-day report include a detailed, clearly benchmarked exit strategy for UNAMID as well as how progress on these benchmarks should be monitored. Council members expect to receive this report in October ahead of the briefing. 

As in previous years, UNAMID’s mandate continues to prioritise the protection of civilians, the facilitation of humanitarian access, mediation between the government and armed groups, and intercommunal mediation. Nevertheless, resolution 2429 slightly revised the priorities. With regard to the protection of civilians, for example, new language has been added calling for “monitoring and reporting on human rights, sexual and gender-based violence and grave violations against children”. The priority related to intercommunal mediation has been expanded to include a focus on mediation with regard to “other local conflict that could undermine the security situation”. 

The last Council briefing on the issue was by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on 11 June. On 20 June, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda provided the semi-annual briefing on the ICC’s work with regard to Darfur—a situation the Council referred to the ICC more than 13 years ago—again urging the Council to play a more active role in supporting the arrest and transfer of those suspected of “multiple crimes against humanity and war crimes” in Darfur. 

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 13 June, Ambassador Wronecka briefed the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, in her capacity as chair, on her April visit to Sudan. The following day she provided the chair’s quarterly briefing to the Council. On 17 August, the committee was briefed on the interim report of the Panel of Experts (the interim report, unlike the final report, is not made public).

Human Rights-Related Developments

During its 39th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue on 26 September with the independent expert on human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, and considered his report covering September 2017 to June (A/HRC/39/71). The report expressed concern that the Sudanese government had still not implemented a significant number of recommendations contained in previous reports of the independent expert. Those displaced within Darfur face many challenges in IDP camps, including lack of adequate food, safe drinking water and adequate health care, causing them to remain heavily dependent on the services and support of UNAMID and humanitarian agencies, the report said. In Darfur particularly, land occupation and violence targeting IDPs, including sexual violence against displaced girls and women, continue to hinder their return to their areas of origin. At press time, the HRC was expected to adopt a resolution on 28 September on technical assistance and capacity-building to improve human rights in Sudan, renewing the mandate of the independent expert for another year.

Key Issues and Options

A key issue that Council members will want to follow closely is the effect of further troop reductions on the security situation as well as the effect of the mission’s revised priorities, including on human rights reporting and intercommunal mediation efforts. An option would be to rely on the benchmarks set out in the Secretary-General’s upcoming report, which is also expected to include how progress on these benchmarks should be monitored. 

A longstanding issue is how the Council can seek to address the root causes of the conflict and to promote intercommunal reconciliation. An option would be to request Jeremiah Mamabolo, the Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID, to present the Council with options in this regard. 

Another longstanding issue is how 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, or threatening to impose, additional targeted sanctions on those parties who continue to refuse to participate in the negotiations. 

Council Dynamics

Council members continue to differ in their assessment of the situation in Darfur. Some members seem to view more guarded recognition of progress as appropriate while others are generally more positive in their assessment, as reflected during the July negotiations on resolution 2429 renewing UNAMID’s mandate. China, Ethiopia, Russia and others were comfortable with the pace and scope of the reduction recommended in the joint special report, but some members maintained that it was too severe. As a compromise, the recommended troop reduction was accepted, but the police ceiling was maintained at 2,500 instead of being reduced to 1,870 personnel. A related source of disagreement was how to characterise the timeframe for the mission’s withdrawal. While some members emphasised that the mission should withdraw by June 2020, as recommended in the joint special report, France, the US, the UK and others indicated that such a timeline should not be absolute but should be conditioned on success in addressing the drivers of conflict in Darfur. As a result, language was added on the fulfilment of certain indicators and that the Secretary-General’s upcoming report should include related benchmarks. 

Another issue of some controversy was that earlier drafts of the resolution welcomed the joint special report’s recommendation that OHCHR open an office in Sudan. Following opposition from some members, the resolution instead took note of this recommendation, rather than welcoming it. It did, however, request the Sudanese government “to engage in discussions with the OHCHR as regards the establishment and activities” of such an office. 

The UK is the penholder on Darfur; Poland chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee. 

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UN Documents on Darfur 

Security Council Resolutions
13 July 2018 S/RES/2429 This was a resolution, adopted unanimously, extending until 30 June 2019 the mandate of UNAMID. The resolution decided to reduce, over the course of the mandate renewal period, the troop ceiling to 4,050 personnel and authorised the deployment of the necessary police force, not exceeding 2,500 personnel.
29 June 2018 S/RES/2425 The Council provided a technical rollover of UNAMID’s mandate.
Secretary-General’s Reports
13 June 2018 S/2018/612 This was the Secretary-General’s update report on the main developments relevant to the implementation of the UNAMID mandate from 16 April to 10 June 2018.
1 June 2018 S/2018/530 This was the special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General on the strategic review of UNAMID requested in the 31 January 2018 presidential statement.
Security Council Meeting Records
20 June 2018 S/PV.8290 This was a semi-annual briefing by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
14 June 2018 S/PV.8287 This was the 90-day briefing from the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
11 June 2018 S/PV.8283 This was a briefing on the special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General on the strategic review of UNAMID.

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