September 2021 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2021
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AFRICA

Sudan

Expected Council Action

In September, the Security Council will receive a briefing on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), due by 1 September. The chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), is expected to provide the quarterly briefing on the committee’s work.

The mandate of UNITAMS expires on 3 June 2022.

Key Recent Developments

There has been limited progress in advancing key elements of the political transition and the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) in the context of significant political, security, humanitarian and economic challenges. Several aspects of the Constitutional Document and the JPA have yet to be implemented. On 19 August, a spokesperson of the Transitional Sovereign Council said the body had instructed some of its members to launch discussions on the formation of the Electoral and the Constitution-Making Commissions.

The security situation in parts of Darfur remains precarious, with intercommunal violence, human rights violations and abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, and large-scale displacement. In early August, violence was reported in Tawila and Gallab in North Darfur. On 12 August, the spokesperson of the Secretary-General said that limited humanitarian aid had been provided to 30,000 internally displaced people at a camp in Sortony in North Darfur due to lack of access following clashes there in July. More than 350,000 people have been displaced in Sudan as a result of intercommunal conflict and armed attacks between January and June of this year, the spokesperson added.

On 3 June, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2579, extending the mandate of UNITAMS for one year. The resolution retained the strategic objectives for UNITAMS outlined in resolution 2524, which established the mission on 3 June 2020, while making some adjustments. It decided that UNITAMS should prioritise support for six specified areas during the mandate period. These areas include supporting ceasefire monitoring in Darfur, implementation of the National Plan for Civilian Protection, and the constitution-drafting process. It also requested the Secretary-General to swiftly increase the deployment of personnel to UNITAMS. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 2 June.)

The AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) completed its drawdown on 30 June as requested in resolution 2559. The current liquidation phase of the mission, which began on 1 July, is expected to be completed within 12 months. On 27 July, the Council received an oral briefing on the drawdown and closure of UNAMID, as requested in resolution 2559, from Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 26 July.) On 2 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement on UNAMID’s closure. Among other things, it “recognises improvements in security conditions in some areas of Darfur and stresses the need for continued progress to consolidate peace and security, including through comprehensive implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement”.

On 3 August, the Council of Ministers unanimously passed a draft law on Sudan’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The draft still needs to be approved by a joint meeting of the Transitional Sovereignty Council and the Council of Ministers. In June, the Council of Ministers unanimously decided to hand former officials indicted for war crimes in Darfur over to the ICC, although at press time a timeframe for doing so had not yet been specified. The Council received the semi-annual briefing related to the Court’s work on Darfur by then-ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on 9 June. (For more see, our What’s In Blue story of 8 June.)

Regarding the regional situation, disagreement continues between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the second filling of which was completed in July. Sudan has communicated its opposition to the filling of the GERD in two letters to the Council, dated 22 June and 7 July. On 8 July, the Council received a briefing on the issue under the agenda item “Peace and security in Africa”. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 7 July.)

The Council was last briefed on UNITAMS on 20 May by Special Representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS Volker Perthes.

Human Rights-Related Developments

During its upcoming 48th session, the Human Rights Council is expected to hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on 6 October on the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Sudan, covering progress and challenges, including the work of the country office and its fields presences (A/HRC/48/46).

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 31 July, Council members received the report of the Secretary-General on the review of the situation in Darfur and recommendations for key benchmarks that could serve in guiding the Council to review the sanctions measures on Darfur, as requested in resolution 2562. The report outlined four key benchmarks and related targets, namely progress on political and economic governance issues; progress on transitional security arrangements in Darfur; progress on the National Plan for Civilian Protection; and progress on transitional justice and accountability. In resolution 2562, the Council expressed “its intention to establish clear and well identified key benchmarks no later than 15 September”.

On 16 August, the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee was briefed by the Panel of Experts on Sudan in connection with the panel’s interim report, which was submitted in accordance with resolution 2562. (The interim report is not made publicly available.)

Key Issues and Options

A key issue is assessing the performance of UNITAMS across its four strategic objectives and six priority areas as identified for the mission in resolution 2579. In doing so, an option would be for Council members to take into account the benchmarks and indicators outlined in an annex to the Secretary-General’s 17 May report. Resolution 2579 takes note of these benchmarks and indicators. In addition, resolution 2579 requested UNITAMS to identify qualitative indicators to complement the existing indicators that are quantitative in nature. At the meeting in September, members could reiterate the importance of following up on the benchmarks and indicators as well as the development of qualitative indicators.

An issue related to Sudan sanctions is whether the Council will be able to establish clear and well-identified key benchmarks by 15 September, an intention expressed in resolution 2562. The findings and recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s 31 July report are likely to inform Council members in this regard. A further option would be for the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee to consider a visit to Sudan.

Another issue that Council members will want to follow closely is the security situation in Darfur, particularly in light of the closure of UNAMID. An option would be for Council members to consider a visiting mission to Sudan, including Darfur.

Council Dynamics

Council members welcome and are strongly supportive of the overall commitments made by the government to peace and the transition to democracy in Sudan. However, members also emphasise the need for the full implementation of the JPA. The dire economic and humanitarian situations are also particularly worrisome for many members. While divisions persist in assessing the situation in Darfur, many members remain concerned about the levels of violence in certain areas as well as the humanitarian situation.

An overarching divergence of views in the Council on the utility of the Sudan sanctions regime apparently continues. Those members eager to see the Council ease the sanctions measures tend to emphasise positive developments in the country. Other Council members appear more cautious about the removal of sanctions in part because of ongoing violence in parts of Darfur. (For more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 10 February.)

The UK is the penholder on Sudan, and the US is the penholder on Sudan sanctions. Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia) chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.

UN DOCUMENTS ON SUDAN

Security Council Resolutions
3 June 2021S/RES/2579 This extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) until 3 June 2022.
11 February 2021S/RES/2562 This extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March 2022.
Security Council Presidential Statement
2 August 2021S/PRST/2021/14 This was on the drawdown of UNAMID on 30 June 2021.
Secretary-General’s Reports
31 July 2021S/2021/696 This was a review of the situation in Darfur and benchmarks to assess the measures on Darfur.
17 May 2021S/2021/470 This was the 90-day report on UNITAMS.
Security Council Meeting Records
27 July 2021S/PV.8825 This was a briefing on progress in closing UNAMID.
8 July 2021S/PV.8816 This was a meeting on the GERD Dam
9 June 2021S/PV.8791 This was the semi-annual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor.
20 May 2021S/2021/495 This was a record of the briefing on UNITAMS.