February 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2022
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Expected Council Action

In February, the Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.

The mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) expires on 3 June.

Key Recent Developments

Sudan faces an ongoing political crisis following the military coup d’état of 25 October 2021. On 2 January, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced his resignation after failed mediation attempts between civilian and military leaders. In a televised address, he said that the country is at a “dangerous turning point that threatens its whole survival”. His resignation came amidst ongoing widespread demonstrations in the country against the October 2021 coup and following the subsequent power-sharing agreement between the civilian and military entities announced on 21 November 2021, which included Hamdok’s reinstatement as prime minister. Several parties rejected the agreement, including the main opposition alliance, the Forces for Freedom and Change Coalition (FFC).

On 10 December 2021, the Council received a briefing from Special Representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS Volker Perthes on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report, while then-Chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia) provided the quarterly briefing on the committee’s work. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 9 December 2021.) In his briefing, Perthes said that “Sudan’s political transition has been undergoing its greatest crisis to date…but discussions on a way forward have begun”. He added that the “military takeover ha[d] exposed and deepened the mistrust between the military and civilian components and within the civilian component itself”. Jürgenson noted that the security situation in Darfur remained fragile, and referred to the fact that the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid faction (SLA/AW) continued to refuse to sign the Juba Peace Agreement.

In a statement on 8 January, Perthes announced the launch of a “UN-facilitated intra-Sudanese political process which is aimed at supporting Sudanese stakeholders in agreeing on a way out of the current political crisis”. Noting that “measures taken to date have not succeeded in restoring the course of this transformation”, Perthes said in the statement that “all key civilian and military stakeholders, including armed movements, political parties, civil society, women’s groups, and resistance committees will be invited to participate”. On 12 January, Perthes briefed members on Sudan under “any other business”. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 11 January.) A 16 January UNITAMS statement, following the first week of UN-facilitated consultations, asserted that participants saw the consultations as critical to resolving the ongoing crisis and welcomed the facilitation role played by the UN. However, while the UN initiative has been welcomed internationally, there has been opposition to it from civilian groups in the country, including the Sudanese Professionals Association. On 26 January, several thousand people demonstrated outside the UNITAMS headquarters in Khartoum demanding that the mission be expelled and that Perthes leave the country.

As at 24 January, 76 people have been killed (including seven people on 17 January) and over 2,200 people injured by state security forces during protests since the October 2021 coup, according to the non-governmental organisation the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors. On 18 January, the spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that “the human rights situation in Sudan continues to be of serious concern, with peaceful protesters killed or injured on a near-daily basis by security forces, as well as a clampdown on critics of the authorities and on independent journalists”. The spokesperson also highlighted the continuing arbitrary arrest and detention of protesters and journalists.

On 11 February 2021, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2562, extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March the following year. As in previous years, it expressed the intention to “take appropriate action regarding the further extension of the mandate” by 12 February. The resolution requested the Secretariat to produce a report by the end of July 2021 with recommendations for clear and well-identified key benchmarks that could guide the Council in reviewing the sanctions measures on Darfur. It expressed the Council’s intention to establish those benchmarks by 15 September 2021. On 31 July 2021, Council members received the report of the Secretary-General recommending four key benchmarks and related targets, namely progress on: political and economic governance issues, transitional security arrangements in Darfur, the National Plan for Civilian Protection, and transitional justice and accountability. (The Council did not establish benchmarks by 15 September 2021; see below for further details.) In January, the Panel of Experts submitted its final report as requested in resolution 2562. (The report was not yet publicly available at the time of writing.)

ICC Prosecutor Karim Asad Ahmad Khan provided the semi-annual briefing on the court’s Darfur-related activities on 17 January. Khan stressed that the ICC cases in relation to Darfur are not “against Sudan” but against “individuals for whom the evidence discloses their responsibility in relation to crimes” within the court’s jurisdiction. He added that Sudan “is a partner, not an adversary” in the court’s work.

Women, Peace and Security

On 23 December 2021, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten expressed grave concern at reports of sexual violence, including rape, against women and girls perpetrated by security forces during their dispersal on 19 December 2021 of protesters demonstrating against the October coup and the 21 November power-sharing agreement. The protest also marked the third anniversary of the demonstrations leading to the fall of former President Omar al-Bashir. Patten demanded “the immediate and complete cessation of all human rights violations and abuses including sexual violence”. She called on the authorities to ensure access to medical, psychosocial and legal support for the survivors, as well as to put in place accountability mechanisms in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2467 regarding women, peace and security. Patten also called on the international community, including the members of the Security Council, to use their good offices with the Sudanese leaders to demand an end to violence and intimidation against civilians, including sexual violence. On 23 January, through its official Twitter account, UNITAMS expressed outrage at the arrest of women’s rights advocate Amira Osman and called for her release.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 21 January, the expert on human rights in Sudan, Adama Dieng, announced that his visit to Sudan, scheduled to take place from 22 to 27 January, had been postponed at the request of Sudanese authorities. The High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed Dieng in November 2021, in line with Human Rights Council resolution S-32/1. “I was very much looking forward to having a candid conversation with State and non-State actors, including victims of human rights violations”, he said in the statement. He called on “the authorities in Sudan to communicate the dates for my next visit as soon as possible”.

Key Issues and Options

An immediate issue for the Council is renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts. Given the ongoing political crisis in the country, another issue is whether it is feasible to consider reviewing the sanctions measures on Darfur, as signalled in past resolutions that renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts. A further issue is whether to consider establishing clear, well-identified and measurable key benchmarks to guide the Council in reviewing the sanctions measures, an intention expressed by the Council in resolutions 2455, 2508 and 2562. A less likely option is to consider expanding the regime’s designation criteria to include acts of rape or sexual violence.

Another key issue is the crackdown on protesters since 25 October 2021. Some Council members may seek to emphasise the need to conduct timely investigations into casualties during the demonstrations and the importance of accountability for this violence.

A further issue is the situation in Darfur, including after looting and attacks against UN facilities, equipment and supplies that took place during December 2021 by unknown armed groups.

Council and Wider Dynamics

There is an overarching divergence of views in the Council regarding the utility of the Sudan sanctions regime, as was seen during negotiations on resolution 2562 in February 2021. (See our What’s In Blue story of 10 February 2021.) The resolution expressed the Council’s intention to establish benchmarks to review the sanctions measures by 15 September 2021. The US (penholder on Sudan sanctions) apparently circulated a draft presidential statement in September 2021 that endorsed all the key benchmarks and related targets proposed in the Secretary-General’s 31 July 2021 report. While this was acceptable to some members, apparently other members expressed the view that the benchmarks adopted by the Council should be limited to those focusing only on the situation in Darfur and that some of those contained in the Secretary-General’s report went beyond this scope. Members were unable to agree, and a presidential statement was ultimately not adopted.

The UK is the penholder on Sudan, and the US is the penholder on Sudan sanctions. Ambassador Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana) chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, as of January. The vice-chair for 2022 is Ireland.

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Security Council Resolution
11 February 2021S/RES/2562 This extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March 2022.
Secretary-General’s Reports
3 December 2021S/2021/1008 This was the Secretary-General’s report on the UN
Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS)
31 July 2021S/2021/696 This was a review of the situation in Darfur and benchmarks to assess the measures on Darfur.
Security Council Meeting Records
17 January 2022S/PV.8948 This was the semi-annual briefing by the ICC prosecutor on the court’s work in Darfur.
10 December 2021S/PV.8925 This was a briefing on the situation in Sudan and the work of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).

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