March 2020 Monthly Forecast

AFRICA

Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In March, the Security Council is expected to make a decision regarding the drawdown and exit of the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  The Council is likely to adopt a resolution establishing a follow-on presence to UNAMID by 31 March, in accordance with resolution 2495. Prior to this, the Council expects to receive a briefing on the special report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, also mandated by resolution 2495, followed by consultations. The chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), will provide the quarterly briefing on the committee’s work. 

The mandate of UNAMID expires on 31 October 2020. 

Key Recent Developments

On 31 October 2019, the Security Council adopted resolution 2495, extending the mandate of UNAMID until 31 October, as requested by Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in a 22 October 2019 letter to the Secretary-General. The resolution, which decided that UNAMID will maintain its troop and police ceilings until 31 March, said that after 31 March, 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”. The resolution also requested the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to provide the Security Council with a special report by 31 January, 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, recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID, and options for a follow-on presence to UNAMID. On 31 December 2019, the Secretary-General sent a letter to the Council asking for a one-month extension for the submission of the special report, to 28 February, to allow for further consultations at a high level with the AU and the Sudanese authorities.

On 27 January, Prime Minister Hamdok sent a letter to the Secretary-General requesting “the UN to seek a Security Council mandate to establish, as soon as possible, a Chapter VI peace support operation in the form of a special political mission with a strong peacebuilding component…[covering] the entire territory of Sudan”. The letter stressed the urgent need for “capacities for good offices and mediation support”. It also outlined six areas in relation to the mandate of such a special political mission. 

The overall security situation in Darfur remains largely unchanged but precarious because of the destabilising activities of several actors that exacerbate insecurity, threaten civilians, and risk inter-communal violence, including through acts that may be of a criminal nature. On 8 January, Council members met under “any other business” to discuss the situation in Darfur. Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita briefed members on incidents related to intercommunal violence in West Darfur that resulted in the death of several dozen civilians and on the looting of UNAMID’s former headquarters in South Darfur.  Following the meeting, the president of the Council, Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy (Viet Nam), delivered elements to the press condemning these two incidents. 

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 14 January, the Council received the final report of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee. The report, covering March to December 2019, found that although there have not been any large-scale outbreaks of violence, the security situation in Darfur has been characterised by an increase in localised security incidents, including intercommunal skirmishes; militia attacks on civilians; tensions in major camps for internally displaced persons; clashes in the Jebel Marra area between security forces, allied militias and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid; and several attacks on UNAMID and humanitarian agencies. Various human rights violations and abuses continued unabated, the report said. During the reporting period, the government of Sudan continued routinely to violate the arms embargo by transferring weapons to Darfur while a lack of cooperation between the government of Sudan and other governments in the region made monitoring and implementation of the travel ban and asset freeze challenging, according to the report. On 11 February, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2508, extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 12 March 2021. 

Women, Peace and Security

The Panel of Experts’ final report on Sudan describes incidents of violence against women, girls and boys in locations near camps for internally displaced persons. The report says that the patterns of those incidents indicate “that rape is increasingly used in the fight between nomads and farmers over access to land in several areas in Darfur.” Survivors of such violence identified the perpetrators as herders and members of security forces. Even when perpetrators were identified, however, no arrests were made in the majority of cases, the report said. 

Key Issues and Options

A key issue for the Council is to assess the situation in Darfur and the impact of the broader political situation in the country. Another issue is assessing the potential effect of 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 (not yet available at press time) and by the letter from Hamdok requesting the establishment of a special political mission.

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 June 2019). In comparison, negotiations on resolution 2495 in October 2019, which extended UNAMID’s mandate for one year, were relatively smooth, notably because of the 22 October 2019 letter from Hamdok requesting such an extension. Council members are expected again to take into account the views presented by Hamdok in his 27 January letter, including the request for a special political mission.

Following the adoption of resolution 2495 on 31 October 2019, Germany said that “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”. On the other hand, 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”.

Following the adoption of resolution 2508 on 11 February, China asserted that the “current situation in Darfur remains largely stable, and the region is in a critical period of transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding” and that the “Security Council and the international community should…respect the leadership of the Sudan on the question of Darfur, strengthen communication and coordination with the government of the Sudan and carefully listen to its views and suggestions”. Russia said that “the situation in Darfur is steadily normalizing” and noted “the generally positive dynamics in the military and political situation”.

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

UN DOCUMENTS ON DARFUR

Security Council Resolutions
11 February 2020S/RES/2508 This resolution extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts for one year.
31 October 2019S/RES/2495 This resolution renewed UNAMID’s mandate until 31 October 2020.
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.
Security Council Meeting Records
11 February 2020S/PV.8718 This was a meeting to adopt resolution 2508, extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts for one year.
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.
Security Council Letters
28 January 2020S/2020/77 This transmitted the letter from Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to the Secretary-General, requesting a special political mission in Sudan.
31 December 2019S/2020/72 This was a letter from the Secretary-General, requesting a one-month extension for the submission of the special report requested in resolution 2495 until 28 February.
Sanctions Committee Document
14 January 2020S/2020/36 This was the final report of the Panel of Experts.