January 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 December 2018
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Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In January 2019, Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, is expected to provide the quarterly briefing to the Security Council on the committee’s work. Also in January, the Council expects to receive the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), as requested in resolution 2429; at press time a briefing on the report was not scheduled and may occur in February.

The mandate of 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 report contained 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. The resolution reduced UNAMID’s troop ceiling from 8,735 to 4,050 military personnel.

On 11 December 2018, the Council adopted a presidential statement that took note of the Secretary-General’s report, including the proposed benchmarks and indicators of achievement, and acknowledged that “progress towards achieving the benchmarks and indicators will contribute towards the successful transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding in Darfur”. The presidential statement requested the Secretary-General, and invited the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, to provide detailed reporting on the progress made towards achieving the benchmarks and indicators in the regular 90-day reports, and requested UNAMID and the UN Country Team (UNCT) “to ensure robust monitoring of progress against the benchmarks and indicators”. It acknowledged that some of the proposed benchmarks and indicators “are of more immediate priority”, while others “reflect longer-term peacebuilding objectives in Darfur”, and requested the Secretary-General and invited the Chairperson of the AU Commission to “attach particular priority to progress against the benchmarks and indicators focused on protection of civilians, particularly relating to internally displaced persons and returning refugees, human rights, rule of law, the humanitarian situation, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the 90-day reports and upcoming strategic review to help guide the Security Council’s considerations on the future of UNAMID’s mandate”. (For more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 10 December 2018.) 

In a press conference on 2 December 2018, Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo said that in line with the mission’s drawdown as set out in resolution 2429, UNAMID has handed over eight team sites to the government of Sudan, with two others to be closed before the end of December; three community policing centres were handed over in October, and the closure of three sector-headquarters is underway, to be completed by 30 June 2019. With regard to peacekeeping operations in the Jebel Marra area, he said the mission has significantly reconfigured its military component and would reduce the force by 3,265 uniformed personnel by 31 December 2018 and by another 1,420 by the end of June 2019, to reach a strength of 4,050 military personnel by end of June 2019.

Some recent gains have been made in advancing the Darfur peace process and the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). On 22 and 23 November 2018, a meeting took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with two Darfur non-signatory movements, the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Gibril Ibrahim faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM-Gibril), focusing on achieving a pre-negotiation framework that would facilitate the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement and the resumption of political negotiations. On 6 December 2018, a pre-negotiation agreement for the resumption of the peace process in Darfur was signed in Berlin, Germany, between the government of Sudan and the SLA-MM and JEM-Gibril, providing for the resumption of negotiations under the DDPD, under the auspices of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel. On 9 December 2018, the 14th meeting of the Implementation Follow-up Commission of the DDPD was held in Khartoum, Sudan. According to a press release issued after the meeting, the commission discussed progress and challenges in the implementation of the DDPD since its last meeting on 11 July 2018, as well as disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants, arms collection, and the voluntary return of internally displaced persons. The commission also welcomed the signing of the pre-negotiation agreement in Berlin and expressed hope that this would lead to substantive negotiations on cessation of hostilities and to the resumption of negotiations in Doha in January 2019.

On 14 December 2018, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefed the Council, providing the semi-annual briefing on the ICC’s work with regard to Darfur. Bensouda noted that while levels of violence in Darfur have decreased, impunity as well as reports of serious crimes persist. Violations of the ICC’s Rome Statute, including failure to arrest fugitives as they cross international borders, are unlikely to end if the Security Council remains unwilling to take action against such non-compliance, she said.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 3 October 2018, 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 2018 (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. On 24 October 2018, the committee was briefed by the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, on the current situation regarding sexual violence in Sudan and particularly Darfur. The Special Representative informed the committee of the ongoing patterns of sexual violence in Darfur as well as the progress made by the government of Sudan to address them.

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 Mamabolo to brief on this as well as on next steps in the implementation of the DDPD, given recent developments.

Another issue is to consider reviewing the sanctions measures on Darfur as resolution 2400 expressed the Council’s intention to do so regularly. 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 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. These differences were again made apparent during negotiations of the 11 December 2018 presidential statement, which was first circulated by the UK, the penholder on Darfur, on 5 November. Multiple rounds of bilateral negotiations, in particular with Ethiopia, were necessary to achieve a final text, and several compromises were made. For example, the initial draft welcomed the Secretary-General’s report and endorsed the benchmarks and indicators it put forward. However, the endorsement was removed from the adopted statement, which only takes note of the report instead of welcoming it. This and other changes were made following input primarily from Ethiopia, supported by Bolivia, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kuwait and Russia.

At the 14 December 2018 briefing, the US and France emphasised the importance of human rights monitoring as UNAMID draws down. The UK expressed hope that Sudan will proceed with plans to establish an OHCHR country office while helping to ensure a smooth transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding.

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.
8 February 2018S/RES/2400 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Sudan for one year.
Security Council Presidential Statement
11 December 2018S/PRST/2018/19 This was a presidential statement on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur.
Secretary-General’s Report
12 October 2018S/2018/912 This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMID.
Security Council Meeting Records
14 December 2018S/PV.8425 This was a semi-annual briefing by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
22 October 2018S/PV.8377 Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo briefed.