August 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 July 2019
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AFRICA

Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In August, the Council is expected to receive a briefing on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in accordance with resolution 2479, which requested the Secretary-General to provide the Security Council with an oral update about the situation on the ground 60 days after the adoption of the resolution. 

The mandate of UNAMID expires on 31 October 2019.

Key Recent Developments

On 5 July, following mediation efforts by the AU and Ethiopia, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the civilian-led opposition coalition, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), reached a preliminary agreement towards the formation of a Transitional Sovereign Council to lead the country for a period of three years and three months ahead of elections. It was agreed that the body would comprise 11 members, with five representatives from each side and the final member to be agreed by the parties, and that the TMC would chair the body for 21 months followed by the FFC for 18 months. The parties also agreed to set up an independent committee to investigate the crackdown on protestors in Khartoum on 3 June, which reportedly resulted in over 100 civilian deaths. On 17 July, the parties initialled a constitutional document dealing with the various transitional subsidiary organs that would be established. At press time, planned talks between the parties to discuss remaining aspects of a final agreement were cancelled by the FFC following the reported killing of four children during protests in the city of El-Obeid on 29 July.

On 27 June, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2479, extending UNAMID’s mandate until 31 October. The resolution was a technical rollover of the mandate set out in 2429 adopted on 13 July 2018 and did not authorise any changes to the role of the mission or any further reductions in its troop and police ceiling. Resolution 2479 also requested the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to provide the Council with a special report by 30 September containing an assessment of the situation on the ground and recommendations for the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID, as well as a joint AU-UN political strategy detailing options for a follow-on mechanism to UNAMID. (For more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 26 June.)

The idea of rolling over the mission’s mandate for less than a year without any changes was put forward by the UK and Germany in their statements at the last UNAMID briefing on 14 June. The UK said this approach “would provide time for progress on the broader political situation…time for the issue regarding the handover of UNAMID’s team sites to be resolved, and it would enable the United Nations and the African Union to develop a political strategy to address the outstanding challenges that will remain following UNAMID’s departure.” Germany expressed a similar view at the briefing, as did several other Council members.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 26 June, Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, provided the quarterly briefing to Council members on the committee’s work, including the joint informal consultations on 21 June with the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee and the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee to discuss the presence of Darfuri armed groups in Libya and South Sudan. Wronecka also updated the Council on her intention to visit Sudan, saying that “[g]iven the current political and security situation in the Sudan, the dates for the visit have yet to be determined”.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 8 July, a joint statement was released by the independent expert on human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi; the special rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule; and the special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, denouncing shutdowns of Internet services in Sudan, starting on 3 June. They said it “is in clear violation of international human rights law and cannot be justified under any circumstances”. The statement added that “[a]ccess to information and communication services is crucial at times of protests. Restricting or blocking access to Internet services not only adversely affects the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and participation, but it also has severe effects on protesters demands’ regarding economic and social rights”. 

Key Issues and Options

The key issue for the Council is to continue to follow developments in Sudan, including the situation in Darfur, and to assess the possible effects of potential further troop reductions on the security and human rights situations. These assessments are likely to be informed by the oral update from the Secretary-General in August on the situation on the ground and the findings and recommendations of the special report, which members expect to receive by 30 September.

A further issue is to assess progress on the 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 and asked the Secretary-General to prioritise reporting on progress toward the benchmarks and indicators “to help guide the Security Council’s considerations on the future of UNAMID’s mandate”. The 30 May strategic assessment report on UNAMID recommended that the benchmarks and indicators “be streamlined to serve as long-term progress indicators, beyond the departure of UNAMID”, in three priority areas: developing an updated strategy on the Darfur peace process; strengthening Sudanese rule of law institutions; and long-term support to stabilisation, including durable solutions for internally displaced persons. Council members may be interested in receiving further updates related to progress in this regard.

Council Dynamics

There continue to be differences amongst Council members on the situation in Sudan, including the impact of the current political situation on Darfur, as was again apparent during negotiations on resolution 2479 and the statements made following its adoption on 27 June. The UK said the decision in resolution 2479 “to pause the withdrawal” of UNAMID “recognizes that Darfur is affected by wider instability in the Sudan and that there is a need for the continued protection of civilians in Darfur”. The UK called for the Rapid Support Forces (paramilitary forces) to withdraw from all former UNAMID team sites, as committed to by the TMC, and for a transition to a legitimate civilian-led government. If these conditions are not met and the situation in Darfur has not improved by the end of October when UNAMID’s mandate is set to expire, a transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding will be unable to continue, the UK said. In its statement the US said that “security in Khartoum is intrinsically tied to security in Darfur,” adding that “if negotiations stall or security conditions continue to deteriorate, we will look more closely at the planned UNAMID drawdown.” South Africa in its statement thanked Council members “for agreeing that now is not the time to continue the drawdown” of UNAMID. Russia reiterated its call for “refraining from insistent attempts to link the state of affairs in Darfur to the situation evolving in the greater Sudan” and emphasised that it was “opposed to attempts of any kind to change the plan for the mission’s drawdown”.

The UK and Germany are co-penholders on the issue; Poland chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee. 

UN DOCUMENTS ON DARFUR

Security Council Resolution
27 June 2019S/RES/2479 This resolution extended the mandate of UNAMID until 31 October 2019.
Secretary-General’s Report
30 May 2019S/2019/445 This was the special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General on the strategic assessment of UNAMID.
Security Council Letter
17 June 2019S/2019/517 This was a letter transmitting a decree of the Transitional Military Council by which it was decided to use the team sites of UNAMID for civilian purposes, mainly for health and education.
Security Council Meeting Records
27 June 2019S/PV.8566 This was the meeting to adopt resolution 2479.
14 June 2019S/PV.8549 Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed the Council on UNAMID and the special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the UN Secretary-General on the strategic assessment of UNAMID.