March 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2022
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Expected Council Action

In March, 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). Consultations are expected to follow the briefing. The mandate of UNITAMS expires on 3 June 2022.

The chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana), is expected to provide the quarterly briefing on the committee’s work.

Key Recent Developments

Sudan continues to face an ongoing political crisis following the military coup d’état of 25 October 2021. A power-sharing agreement between the civilian and military entities was announced on 21 November 2021, which included the reinstatement of Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister. Hamdok resigned on 2 January, however, after mediation efforts between civilian and military leaders failed. As at 14 February, at least 80 people have been killed by state security forces in protests against the October 2021 coup, according to the non-governmental organisation the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.

On 8 January, Special Representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS Volker 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”. On 13 February, UNITAMS announced the conclusion of the first phase of these consultations, which constituted a month “of almost daily sessions with a diverse range of groups including civil society, women’s rights organizations, resistance committees, political parties, young women activists, academics, journalists, youth, persons with disabilities, veterans, diaspora, Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) signatories, and national experts”. According to the statement, UNITAMS will “produce a summary document which will highlight major areas of consensus among various Sudanese stakeholders on contentious matters pertaining to the transition”. At the time of writing, this document was not yet available. While the UN initiative has been welcomed internationally, there has been opposition from civil society groups in the country, including the Sudanese Professionals Association, which take the view that the military should hand over power to a civilian government in accordance with the August 2019 constitutional declaration that paved the way for a three-year transition period. 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.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the AU have sent delegations to Sudan to discuss the political situation. IGAD conducted a fact-finding mission to Sudan from 29 January to 1 February. A report issued following the mission found that “the current political impasse in Sudan is more complicated than widely appreciated” and has “far-reaching implications” for Sudan and the region. It also found “mistrust on both sides of externally-led interventions”.

On 10 December 2021, the Council received a briefing from Perthes on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report. Council members were last briefed by Perthes on 12 January under “any other business”. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 11 January.)

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 9 February, Sudan’s human rights record was examined by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time. The expert on human rights in Sudan, Adama Dieng, visited Sudan from 20 to 24 February. He met with senior Sudanese government officials, representatives of civil society organisations, human rights defenders, heads of UN entities, and diplomats. The visit had been postponed in January 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.)

During its 49th session, the Human Rights Council is expected to hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on 4 March on the oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Sudan.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 10 December 2021, 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.) 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.

On 23 December 2021, the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee submitted its final report, as requested in resolution 2562. The report said that “the general situation in Darfur remained extremely fragile” during the reporting period and that many areas “witnessed large-scale intercommunal violence and deterioration in the security situation, described by many interlocutors as the worst in recent years”. The violence included incidents of sexual assault and rape of women and girls. The report noted that implementation of the JPA has been slow and that the unstable political situation along with economic issues have negatively affected the implementation of the Darfur-related provisions. The Panel of Experts found that violations of the arms embargo continued, with arms being transferred into Darfur without any requests for exemptions being submitted. In addition, implementation of the travel ban and asset freeze remained challenging because of a lack of cooperation by the government and regional countries.

On 15 February, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2620, extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March 2023. The resolution expressed the Council’s intention to consider by 31 August establishing clear, well-identified and realistic key benchmarks, with readiness to consider adjusting measures to respond to the situation in Darfur, given the evolving situation on the ground. It requested the Panel of Experts to submit an interim report on its activities by 12 August and a final report by 13 January 2023, along with updates every three months on its work. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 14 February.)

Key Issues and Options

A key issue is monitoring the political situation in Sudan. In this regard, Council members will closely follow mediation efforts, including the role played by UNITAMS, and it could seek one or more updates from the mission’s leadership on political developments, in addition to the expected briefing on UNITAMS.

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, especially after looting and attacks against UN facilities, equipment and supplies that took place during December 2021 by unknown armed groups, as well as the levels of intercommunal violence and insecurity described in the final report of the Panel of Experts.

Council Dynamics

Negotiations on resolution 2620 extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts were difficult. It seems that one of the most challenging aspects of the negotiations pertained to the issue of benchmarks by which to review the sanctions regime, particularly the timeline for their consideration and which benchmarks to endorse. Members such as China, India, Russia, the A3 (Gabon, Ghana and Kenya), and the United Arab Emirates would have liked to see the Council endorse benchmarks as soon as possible. Other members expressed the position that it was not the right time to consider endorsing any benchmarks, given the ongoing political crisis. In an apparent compromise, resolution 2620 set a 31 August deadline for the Council to consider establishing benchmarks. During the negotiations, there were also clear divergences relating to the preambular language, including on how to characterise the situation in Sudan and Darfur, and on what language was deemed appropriate to be included in a resolution renewing a sanctions regime. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 14 February.)

Following the adoption, the US said that Sudan must resolve the current political crisis and that “a restored transitional government” should advance the implementation of the JPA. The statement also highlighted the levels of intercommunal violence in Darfur, adding that “violence worsened in 2021 as the Sudan’s political crisis became protracted”. In its statement, China noted that “the security situation in Darfur is generally stable” but fragile, and it condemned a recent attack against UN staff, calling for it to be investigated. China and Russia both emphasised the need to establish benchmarks by which to review the sanctions regime by 31 August, adding that these should be clear, realistic and achievable.

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 Resolutions
15 February 2022S/RES/2620 This extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 12 March 2023, and expressed the Council’s intention to consider by 31 August establishing clear, well-identified and realistic key benchmarks.
Secretary-General’s Report
3 December 2021S/2021/1008 This was the Secretary-General’s report on the UN
Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS)
Security Council Meeting Records
15 February 2022S/PV.8964 This was the adoption of resolution 2620, renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts.
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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