February 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2019
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AFRICA

Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In February, the Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee by 12 February, in advance of its expiration on 12 March, as set out in resolution 2400. The Council will also be briefed on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), as requested in resolution 2429.

The mandate of UNAMID expires on 30 June. 

Key Recent Developments

According to the Secretary-General’s most recent report, covering 4 October 2018 to 3 January, the security situation in Darfur remains relatively stable except for intermittent clashes between government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid in the Jebel Marra area. Intercommunal violence and human rights violations declined during the reporting period, with the relative stability in most parts of Darfur reportedly leading some internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their places of origin. The root causes of conflict, however, remain unaddressed, the report said. There has been some recent progress in the Darfur peace process, including the signing on 6 December 2018 of a pre-negotiation agreement for the resumption of the peace process, but implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) itself remained slow, according to the report.

The troop reduction and reconfiguration of UNAMID in accordance with resolution 2429 is proceeding as scheduled, including the relocation of mission assets to Central Darfur; the repatriation of military personnel, reducing the mission’s military strength from 8,735 to 5,470 by 31 December 2018; and the redeployment of the formed police units, as set out in the Secretary-General’s report. Five team sites have been closed and three others have been handed over to the mission’s formed police units.

On 19 December 2018, protests took place across Sudan, sparked by food and fuel shortages and the government’s announcement that it would end bread subsidies. The demonstrations have spread to several parts of the country, with protestors calling for President Omar al-Bashir, who has ruled the country for nearly three decades, to step down. Sudanese security forces have reportedly responded to protesters by using live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas, as well as arresting protesters and opposition figures. The government said on 24 January that the official death toll since 19 December was 30 people, while human rights organisations and opposition groups have said the number is much higher, with many more injured.

Several actors have expressed concern over the situation. On 28 December 2018, the Secretary-General issued a statement appealing for calm and restraint, calling on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the deaths and violence, and emphasising the need to safeguard freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. On 8 January, the US, UK, Norway and Canada issued a joint statement saying the government of Sudan’s “actions and decisions over the coming weeks will have an impact on the engagement of our governments and others”. On 11 January, a spokesperson of the European External Action Service said in a statement that the “actions of the government of Sudan…will have an impact on our bilateral phased engagement”. 

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 10 January, the final report of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee was released. According to the report, “the resumption of significant clashes” across Jebel Marra has led to casualties, new displacement, a humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses. The report noted that conflict-related sexual violence continues in Darfur and that the return of IDPs has proved difficult. The report also found continued challenges in the implementation of the sanctions regime. Regarding violations of the arms embargo, the report found that the government of Sudan continued to transfer military equipment into Darfur without seeking the committee’s approval, as required by resolution 1591. As for the travel ban and assets freeze of the four designated individuals, the report said the government of Sudan has not submitted its implementation report. The report also noted that most of the Darfuri armed groups have consolidated their presence in Libya, where they derive income from mercenary activities, smuggling and other criminal actions.

On 17 January, Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, briefed the Council on the committee’s work. She referred to the 24 October 2018 briefing to the committee by the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten. According to a 15 November 2018 committee press statement, Patten “informed the Committee on the ongoing patterns of sexual violence in Darfur as well as the progress made by the government of Sudan to address them”. Wronecka also referred to the 14 December 2018 briefing of the committee by the Panel of Experts on its final report. (For more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 16 January.) 

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 17 January, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement that “credible reports of the use of excessive force, including live ammunition, by state security forces against protestors across Sudan over the past month are deeply worrying”. The statement said that according to information received, security forces have also followed some protesters into several hospitals and fired tear gas and live ammunition. Bachelet called on the government to protect the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. She also noted that fact-finding committees had been established by the government and the National Commission of Human Rights and urged any investigations to be conducted promptly and transparently, with a view to accountability.

Women, Peace and Security

The threat of sexual violence in Darfur remains “significant”, according to the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNAMID. This impedes the ability of women to move freely in and out of IDP camps for livelihood activities. Most cases of conflict-related sexual violence occurred in Jebel Marra, notably during clashes involving Sudanese government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid. The report said that the protection of women in that region is still a “major challenge” for UNAMID.

Key Issues and Options

An immediate issue for the Council is renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts. Another issue is to consider reviewing the sanctions measures on Darfur, as signalled in resolution 2400. An option is for such considerations to be informed by the final report of the Panel of Experts. Another option is to consider expanding the regime’s designation criteria to include the commission of acts of rape or sexual violence, as was apparently recommended by Patten during her 24 October 2018 briefing to the committee.

A key issue that Council members will want to follow closely is the effect on the security situation of further troop reductions and implementation of the mission’s revised priorities as set out in resolution 2429, including on human rights reporting and intercommunal mediation efforts.

A related issue is to monitor progress made on the proposed benchmarks and indicators of achievement for the exit of the mission set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 12 October 2018. The Council took note of these in its 11 December 2018 presidential statement “to help guide the Security Council’s considerations on the future of UNAMID’s mandate”. An option would be to invite Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo  to brief on these issues as well as on next steps in the implementation of the DDPD.

Council Dynamics

There continue to be differences amongst Council members in assessing the overall situation in Darfur as well as in their positions on the sanctions regime, as was again made apparent during the discussion following the 17 January briefing. Council members China, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait and Russia presented more positive assessments of the situation in Darfur and expressed support for reviewing the sanctions regime with a view to lifting sanctions. Other members including Belgium, France, Germany, Peru and the UK raised serious concerns and expressed support for including sexual violence as a new listing criterion for targeted sanctions, which Russia expressly opposed. Some members–including France, Germany, the UK and the US–also raised concern over the recent widespread protests in Sudan. Russia said these events fall outside the scope of the Council’s consideration of the issue and that raising them “constitutes interference in the country’s internal affairs”.

The UK and Germany are co-penholders on the issue; 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.
Security Council Presidential Statement
11 December 2018S/PRST/2018/19 This was a presidential statement on UNAMID.
Secretary-General’s Reports
14 January 2019S/2019/44 This was the 90-day report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID.
12 October 2018S/2018/912 This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMID.
Security Council Meeting Records
17 January 2019S/PV.8446 This was a briefing on the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
Sanctions Committee Documents
10 January 2019S/2019/34 This was the final report of the Panel of Experts of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.