Expected Council Action
In September, the Council is expected to receive a briefing on the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), will provide the quarterly briefing on the committee’s work.
UNAMID’s mandate expires on 31 December 2020 while the UNITAMS mandate expires on 3 June 2021.
Key Recent Developments
On 3 June, the Security Council adopted resolution 2524, establishing UNITAMS for an initial period of 12 months and setting out four strategic objectives for the mission. These are: assisting Sudan’s political transition; supporting peace processes and implementation of future peace agreements; assisting peacebuilding, civilian protection and rule of law in Darfur and the Two Areas (that is, South Kordofan and Blue Nile); and supporting the mobilisation of economic and development assistance and coordination of humanitarian assistance. The resolution also requested that the Secretary-General provide the Council “with a suggested structure and geographical deployment within 60 days of the adoption of this resolution”. However, on 23 July, the Secretary-General requested a 30-day extension because of “considerable challenges linked to…COVID-19”. The report is expected in September.
Resolution 2525, also adopted on 3 June, extended UNAMID’s mandate until 31 December, maintaining its troop and police ceilings. It also requested the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to provide the Security Council with a special report no later than 31 October 2020, assessing, among other things, “the impact of the peace process on the security situation in Darfur, the capacity of the Government of Sudan…to protect civilians in line with the strategy outlined in the Government of Sudan’s letter addressed to the President of the Security Council dated 21 May 2020 (S/2020/429), and recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID”.
Since June, the situation in Sudan, and, in particular, Darfur, has been challenging, with numerous reports of violent incidents in several parts of the country. On 25 July, 61 people were reportedly killed and another 88 injured when approximately 500 armed men attacked Masteri, a village in West Darfur. On 13 July, unidentified armed men attacked the Fata Bornu camp for internally displaced persons in Kutum, North Darfur, killing nine people and injuring 20. According to OCHA, at least seven violent events were reported in West Darfur from 19 to 26 July, leaving “dozens of people dead or injured, several villages and houses burned down”, and leading to “increased displacement, compromising the agricultural season, causing loss of lives and livelihoods and driving growing humanitarian needs”. Violence in early August between people from the Bani Aarem and Nuba tribes in Port Sudan led to the deaths of 25 people and, according to media reports, resulted in a lockdown being imposed on parts of the city.
In early August, heavy rains and flooding exacerbated Sudan’s humanitarian situation by causing landslides, severe infrastructural and housing damage, loss of crops, and reduced food production in South Darfur, West Kordofan and El Gezira. Over 185,000 people were affected. On 6 August, OCHA noted that the escalating violence and flooding have increased the challenges faced by Sudan in containing COVID-19 (as of 14 August, Sudan has had 12,115 coronavirus cases and 792 fatalities, according to WHO).
In response to the rising violence in Darfur, Security Council members discussed the situation under “other matters” (also known as “any other business”) on 11 August at the request of the UK and Germany, the co-penholders on Darfur. During a previous “any other business” discussion on 29 July, the UK and Germany requested that Council members meet in closed consultations to discuss the increase in violence in Darfur and assess how UNAMID could assist the government’s response. However, this request failed to garner the requisite support among Council members to be included on the Council’s August programme of work.
Human Rights-Related Developments
At its 44th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) heard the oral reports from the government of Sudan and the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif, on progress towards the opening of a country office as requested in HRC resolution 42/35. Al-Nashif informed the Council that the office in Khartoum was fully operational and working on “six key areas”, which match the government’s priorities. They are: advancement of sustainable development through human rights; strengthening rule of law and accountability; enhancing participation and protecting civic space; strengthening equality and countering discrimination; preventing violations and strengthening protection of human rights; and increasing the implementation of the outcomes of the international human rights mechanisms. Al-Nashif emphasised that the OHCHR office in Sudan worked in “close coordination” with the UNAMID Human Rights Section and is ready to “support the implementation of UNITAMS’ human rights mandate, as mandated by the Security Council”. In her oral report, Al-Nashif also commended the government of Sudan for “enhancing the protection and promotion of human rights”.
Key Issues and Options
The increase in violence in Darfur is an issue that Council members will be following closely, with some members concerned that such violence causes harm to civilians and puts a strain on UNAMID’s protection of civilians mandate. If violence persists or worsens, Council members may decide to hold additional consultations on the matter, notwithstanding the failed attempt to do so in early August.
The transition from UNAMID to UNITAMS is also a priority for the Council. According to resolution 2524, the Secretary-General was expected to “swiftly initiate the planning for and establishment of UNITAMS, with a view to reaching full operational capacity as soon as possible” and to start delivering the mission’s strategic objectives by 1 January 2021.
The “suggested structure and geographical deployment” that the Secretary-General is scheduled to report on will also be of keen interest, as will the impact of COVID-19 and of delays in the appointment of critical UNITAMS leadership positions on the mission’s build-up. Resolution 2524 requested the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative for Sudan and head of Mission of UNITAMS, and a Deputy Special Representative to serve as UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, but at the time of writing these posts have yet to be filled.
The drawdown and exit of UNAMID and the establishment of UNITAMS have been contentious issues for some time. Despite the unanimous adoption of resolutions 2524 and 2525 in June, there were clear disagreements during the negotiations over references to monitoring and reporting on progress in the implementation of Sudan’s Constitutional Document, the provision of technical assistance in the areas of rule of law and security sector reform, and reporting on the human rights situation. There were also strong differences on the mission’s potential tasks relating to protection of civilians. While a number of members believed that the new mission should have a mandate to protect civilians, others (Russia, China and the three African members among them) opposed the inclusion of such tasks in the mandate. The lack of sufficient support on the Council for discussing the escalating violence in Sudan in closed consultations in August strongly suggests that deep divisions persist over Sudan.
The UK and Germany are co-penholders on Sudan. Estonia chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SUDAN (DARFUR)
|Security Council Resolutions|
|3 June 2020S/RES/2525||This resolution established UNITAMS and renewed UNAMID until 31 December 2020.|
|3 June 2020S/RES/2524||This established the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).|
|12 March 2020S/2020/202||This was a special report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, which was requested in resolution 2495.|
|Security Council Letters|
|4 June 2020S/2020/497||This was a letter from the president of the Security Council containing the extension of UNAMID’s mandate until 31 December 2020.|
|4 June 2020S/2020/496||This was the written record of meeting on Sudan and South Sudan.|
|28 April 2020S/2020/336||This letter contained the records of the briefings and statements made during the open part of the 24 April 2020 Council VTC meeting on UNAMID.|