December 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 November 2019
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AFRICA

Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In December, the Security Council will receive the semi-annual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor related to the court’s work on Darfur. 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 31 October 2020. 

Key Recent Developments

On 31 October, the Security Council adopted resolution 2495 extending the mandate of UNAMID until 31 October 2020, as requested by Sudanese prime minister Abdalla Hamdok in a 22 October letter to the Secretary-General. The resolution decides that UNAMID will maintain its current troop and police ceilings until 31 March 2020. In this regard, it takes note of the recommendation to do so made in the 15 October special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General. The resolution also states that after 31 March 2020, the Council will decide on “courses of action regarding the responsible drawdown and exit of UNAMID” and “adopt a new resolution at the same time, establishing a follow-on presence to UNAMID”. In relation to reporting, it requests the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to provide the Security Council with a special report by 31 January 2020, including an assessment of the situation on the ground, an update on the peace process, information on the status of UNAMID team sites previously handed over to the government, and recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID, as well as options for a follow-on presence to UNAMID.

All five ICC arrest warrants in the Darfur situation remain in force. Former president Omar al-Bashir remains in detention in Khartoum, facing trial on domestic corruption and other charges.  Two other suspects in the Darfur situation, Abdel Raheem Hussein and Ahmad Harun, are also reportedly being detained in Khartoum. On 4 November, the Forces for Freedom and Change Coalition (FFC) said in a statement that it is urging the country’s transitional government to hand over al-Bashir to the ICC.

On 17 October, the Council was briefed on the special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General on UNAMID by Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix. He told the Council that the Sudanese government had requested more time to formulate its needs for a possible follow-on mechanism to UNAMID and recommended that UNAMID retain the same ceiling of uniformed personnel for an initial period of six months, which coincides with the anticipated duration of peace talks.  The peace talks between the transitional government, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu are aimed at concluding a peace agreement to end the armed conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile State). On 19 November, the talks, which were scheduled to resume on 21 November, were postponed until 10 December.  

In her last semi-annual briefing on 19 June, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stressed that Sudan remains under a legal obligation to transfer suspects to the ICC to stand trial unless it can demonstrate to the ICC judges that it is willing and genuinely able to prosecute them for the same cases. Bensouda added that she was “ready to engage in dialogue with the authorities in the Sudan to ensure that the Darfur suspects face independent and impartial justice, either in a courtroom in The Hague or in the Sudan”. 

Sanctions Committee Developments

On 3 October, Ambassador Wronecka provided the quarterly briefing to Council members on the committee’s work. She outlined aspects of the interim report of the Panel of Experts, covering 13 March to 3 August, a report which is not made public. According to the briefing, the report documented that the security situation in Darfur was characterised by localised security incidents, including intercommunal skirmishes, militia attacks on civilians, tensions in major internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps and clashes in Jebel Marra. The report also documented violations of international humanitarian law, human rights abuses, rape and sexual violence against communities in Darfur, including IDPs, and that the lack of fully functioning civilian institutions, such as police forces and courts, contributed to impunity for human rights violations. Darfuri armed groups operating in Libya have engaged in military operations alongside their Libyan partners, according to the report. Wronecka visited South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Sudan from 6 to 15 October and travelled to Sudan, including Khartoum and Darfur, from 11 to 14 November. 

Key Issues and Options

A key issue is for the Council to continue closely monitoring the situation in Darfur and the impact of the broader political situation in the country. Another issue is assessing the potential effect of further troop reductions on the security and human rights situations. A related issue is assessing options for a follow-on presence to UNAMID. One option would be for these assessments to be informed by the findings and recommendations of the special report requested in resolution 2495, which members expect to receive by 31 January 2020.

Council Dynamics

The issue of the scope and pace of UNAMID’s drawdown, reconfiguration, and eventual exit has been contentious among Council members in the past (see our What’s In Blue stories in 20172018 and 2019). Resolution 2429, renewing UNAMID’s mandate in July last year, took note of the recommendations in the 1 June 2018 special report of the Secretary-General and Chairperson of the AU, which stated that the mission would exit in June 2020 “provided that there is no significant change in the security situation in Darfur and key indicators are fulfilled”.

Some members, in particular, Russia, have been adamant in the past that the mission should withdraw by June 2020. At the most recent briefing, on 17 October, Russia said that “it is essential to stay the course for the phased drawdown and withdrawal of UNAMID in accordance with the time frame established in resolution 2429”, while adding that “the opinion of the government in Khartoum, as the host party, should be decisive in every case”. It seems the letter from Hamdok requesting a one-year extension of the mission’s mandate made negotiations on the issue of the timing of the mission’s exit uncontentious, with all members seeking to support his request.

Following the adoption of resolution 2495 on 31 October, the UK said that the “resolution also sends a clear message to all stakeholders in the peace process that they must seize the opportunity before them to establish a comprehensive peace” and that they looked forward to receiving options for a follow-on mission to UNAMID in early 2020. Germany said in its statement “such a transition has to be informed by the conditions on the ground, which we should consider carefully before making our next decision on the drawdown of UNAMID”. The US said it “fully expects this to be the final extension” of UNAMID and “supports a follow-on UN mission with a countrywide mandate to continue assistance to the new Sudanese government”.

The UK and Germany are co-penholders on the issue. Poland chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until the end of the year, after which incoming Council member Estonia is expected to chair the committee. 

UN DOCUMENTS ON DARFUR

Security Council Resolutions
31 October 2019S/RES/2495 This resolution renewed UNAMID’s mandate until 31 October 2020.
15 October 2019S/RES/2492 This resolution extended UNISFA’s support to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) until 15 November.
Secretary-General’s Reports
15 October 2019S/2019/816 This was the special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General on the strategic assessment of UNAMID.
1 June 2018S/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
31 October 2019S/PV.8654 This was the meeting to adopt resolution 2495.
17 October 2019S/PV.8643 The Council was briefed on the special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General on UNAMID by Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
3 October 2019S/PV.8632 This was the quarterly briefing on the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
19 June 2019S/PV.8554 The was the semi-annual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor related to the court’s work on Darfur.