Expected Council Action
In December, the Security Council expects to receive the semi-annual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor related to the court’s work on Darfur. Also in December, 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 the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) expires on 30 June 2019.
Key Recent Developments
According to the Secretary-General’s most recent report, the security situation in Darfur has “remained relatively stable” except for intermittent clashes in the Jebel Marra area between government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid and the persistence of intercommunal conflict and disputes over land and resources. While there was a decrease in human rights incidents, attacks against civilians—particularly internally displaced persons—have continued with impunity, and sexual and gender-based violence remains a serious concern, the report said.
The Secretary-General’s report contains proposed “benchmarks and indicators of achievement” for the eventual exit of UNAMID with a view towards this exit taking place in 2020, “provided that there is no significant change in the security situation in Darfur and key indicators are fulfilled”, as stated in resolution 2429, which reduced UNAMID’s troop ceiling from 8,735 to 4,050 military personnel. (The mission is set to decrease by 3,265 personnel by December and by another 1,420 personnel by 30 June 2019.) The benchmarks contained in the Secretary-General’s report are categorised into three main areas:
- the protection of civilians; monitoring and reporting on human rights, sexual and gender-based violence, and grave violations against children; the facilitation of humanitarian assistance; and the safety and security of humanitarian personnel;
- support for the mediation of intercommunal or other local conflict that could undermine the security situation, including through measures to address its root causes; and
- mediation between the government and non-signatory armed groups on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.
A total of 53 individual indicators are categorised under these three benchmarks. Among others, individual indicators include the following: no increase in conflict-related displacement; the government’s providing “a suitable environment for the return of internally displaced persons and refugees”; the cessation of conflict-related sexual violence; the government’s engaging with OHCHR on the establishment of a country office; and the government’s demonstrating its commitment to participate in direct negotiations on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and to conclude a comprehensive ceasefire. Several of the indicators are associated with set periods of time, and the Secretary-General’s report recommends that a May 2019 strategic review of UNAMID include an assessment of their implementation. In addition, UNAMID should report on progress in implementation every 90 days, as part of its periodic reporting to the Security Council. According to the report, the indicators are intended to focus on action taken by the government of Sudan and to be measurable and realistic in terms of time frame.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda last briefed the Council on 20 June, providing 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. She again urged the Council to play a more active role in supporting the arrest and transfer of the five suspects at large accused of “multiple crimes against humanity and war crimes” in Darfur, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. On 22 October, Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s report, saying UNAMID had begun its reconfiguration and drawdown while monitoring the impact on security and the protection of civilians. He also emphasised the importance of meeting the benchmarks for the mission’s exit set out in the Secretary-General’s report.
On 3 October, Wronecka provided Council members with the quarterly briefing on the committee’s work. She highlighted aspects of the interim report of the Panel of Experts presented to the committee on 17 August (which, unlike the final report, is not made public). She said the report noted that the Sudanese government continued to transfer weapons to Darfur without the required approval of the committee; that the panel is investigating instances of potential violations of the arms embargo by rebel groups; and that there is a growing presence of Darfuri armed groups in Libya.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 31 October, the Human Rights Committee, the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by state parties, published its concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Sudan (CCPR/C/SDN/CO/5). Recommendations made by the Committee include that Sudan should take all necessary measures to end impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations; amend the Criminal Act to revoke stoning and crucifixion as officially sanctioned punishment; adopt comprehensive anti-torture legislation and establish a national mechanism for the prevention of torture; resolve all cases of enforced disappearance and conduct investigations without delay; launch effective and thorough investigations, and prosecute those responsible for attacks against civilians, including the attacks committed in Kalma (South Darfur) and Jebel Marra, as well as cases of sexual and gender-based violence.
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 implementation of the mission’s revised priorities as set out in resolution 2429, including on human rights reporting and intercommunal mediation efforts. An option would be to invite the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an update on the human rights situation.
Another key issue is to consider reviewing the sanctions measures on Darfur in light of the interim report of the Panel of Experts. One option is for such considerations to be further informed by the final report of the Panel of Experts due by 12 January 2019.
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 22 October briefing in statements made by Ethiopia and Kuwait in particular. Ethiopia also called for changes to the sanctions regime, including lifting the arms embargo. Bolivia, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kuwait and Peru emphasised the need for additional funding to support the peacebuilding process.
At the 20 June briefing by Bensouda, Council members—including France, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Sweden and the UK—reiterated their support for the work of the ICC in relation to Darfur and emphasised the need for the Council to do more to enable the Court to carry out its mandate in Darfur. Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea, supporting the AU’s position on the issue, called for the suspension of proceedings against Bashir and urged the Council to withdraw the referral of the situation in Darfur to the ICC.
The UK is the penholder on Darfur; Poland chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Darfur
|Security Council Resolutions|
|13 July 2018S/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.|
|12 October 2018S/2018/912||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMID.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|22 October 2018S/PV.8377||Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo briefed.|
|3 October 2018S/PV.8366||This was the 90-day briefing from the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.|
|20 June 2018S/PV.8290||This was a semi-annual briefing by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.|