Expected Council Action
In June, the Security Council is due to renew the mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) before its expiration on 3 June in accordance with resolution 2579. 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
More than three years have passed since former President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019. It has been over six months since the military coup d’état in October 2021, and the political situation remains deadlocked. The state of emergency, imposed following the coup was lifted on 29 May. “The promised transition to civilian rule and democracy is at risk of being derailed”, and “there is a shrinking window of opportunity for Sudanese stakeholders to resolve the political crisis”, according to the Secretary-General’s latest report, covering 22 February to 5 May.
On 28 February, UNITAMS published a summary report on its consultations for a political process in Sudan, which the mission had launched on 8 January. Following these consultations, the AU, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the UN formed a trilateral cooperation mechanism in support of a Sudanese-led process to end the political crisis and restore a civilian-led transitional government. As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, the mechanism has held meetings with various stakeholders focused primarily on transitional constitutional arrangements, the selection of a prime minister and cabinet, elections, government programmes, and a road map on the way forward.
During the reporting period, “levels of insecurity, including intercommunal clashes, armed conflict and criminality continued to pose a significant challenge for the authorities” and escalating violence in Darfur “resulted in a growing number of fatalities and significant new forced displacements”, according to the Secretary-General’s report. It noted some progress on the gradual start-up of the Darfur Permanent Ceasefire Committee, which UNITAMS chairs, as well as progress in relation to the joint security-keeping force in Darfur, which was agreed to in the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) and is planned to number 12,000 troops. During the reporting period, approximately 2,000 signatory armed movement personnel assembled to be trained by the Sudanese Armed Forces, the report says.
The Secretary-General’s report expressed concern over the human rights, humanitarian and economic situations in the country. It stated that security forces continue to use excessive force against protesters, including live ammunition, resulting in 13 civilian deaths and 1,708 injuries during the reporting period. The report also noted that the total number of internally displaced persons in Sudan rose to over 3.1 million, with over 75,000 newly displaced in North, South and West Darfur and South Kordofan since January.
On 18 April, Sudan sent a letter to the Council with “a matrix containing 11 elements that [Sudan] views as guiding the role and work of UNITAMS”. Among others, these elements include: assistance for electoral preparations, resources to help build the capacity of judicial and police institutions, support for national human rights mechanisms, and support for the shift from humanitarian assistance to development. The letter notes that “this requires that UNITAMS redirect its priorities within its mandate to focus on those aspects, as noted in the matrix”.
The Council last renewed the mandate of UNITAMS on 3 June 2021, with the unanimous adoption of resolution 2579. 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 also 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. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 2 June 2021.)
On 24 May, the Council received a briefing on UNITAMS from Special Representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS, Volker Perthes. He told the Council that the situation in the country remains precarious and that “time is short for the Sudanese to reach a political solution”. While violations still occur, Perthes noted that violence by security forces against protestors appears to have decreased overall. In relation to Darfur, he warned that “the risk of a new outbreak of violence remains high”.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its upcoming 50th session, the Human Rights Council is expected to hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on 15 June on the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Sudan (A/HRC/50/22).
Key Issues and Options
An immediate issue for the Council is to renew the mandate of UNITAMS and consider what changes to the mission’s mandate, if any, are necessary. In doing so, members are likely to assess the role of UNITAMS across the four strategic objectives for the mission, namely assisting Sudan’s political transition; supporting the peace processes and implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement and future peace agreements; assisting peacebuilding, civilian protection and rule of law, in particular 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 and peacebuilding assistance.
An option is for the Council to renew the mandate of UNITAMS for one year, maintaining its four strategic objectives while making some adjustments, including updating language to reflect thesituation since the 25 October 2021 coup; supporting the UN/AU/IGAD trilateral cooperation mechanism; condemning violence again protestors; and expressing concern over the deteriorating situation in Darfur. Another option is for members to assess the six priority areas identified in resolution 2579 and whether any changes are necessary. In doing so, Council members might consider the letter sent by Sudan on 18 April.
Another possible option is to make no changes to the mandate and adopt a 12-month mandate renewal. At the time of writing, a draft deciding on a 12-month technical rollover had passed silence on 31 May.
Most Council members share similar concerns over the political, security, human rights, and humanitarian situations in Sudan. Members are supportive of the trilateral cooperation mechanism composed of the AU, UN and IGAD and welcome the start of the second phase of the intra-Sudanese dialogue facilitated by the mechanism. At the briefing on 24 May, the UK (the penholder on Sudan) emphasised that the Sudanese military must make progress on confidence-building measures, including by releasing all political detainees, ending the excessive use of force against protestors and lifting the state of emergency. Kenya, speaking on behalf of the three African members (Gabon, Ghana and Kenya), noted that the mandate of UNITAMS remains valid and relevant and expressed support for its renewal, saying, “what is critical is for the Council to build the capacity of the mission to effectively and efficiently implement its mandate”. In its statement, Russia said that the Sudanese authorities must reaffirm their commitment to the JPA and declare their intention to conduct elections in July 2023. In relation to UNITAMS, Russia urged the mission to follow its mandate strictly, paying equal attention to all its components.
Negotiations on resolution 2579, which renewed the mandate of UNITAMS last year, went relatively smoothly, with areas of disagreement mostly centring on preambular language. In addition to addressing the views of Council members, the UK, the penholder on Sudan, apparently consulted with Sudan and took its views on the text into account. During the negotiations, China and Russia apparently opposed language on conflict-related sexual violence and climate change. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 2 June 2021.)
At the time of writing, Council members such as China, Gabon, Ghana, India, Kenya and Russia apparently supported Sudan’s request for a technical rollover of the mandate, including following Sudan’s disapproval of an earlier draft circulated by the penholder which among other things updated preambular language to reflect the situation since the coup and made some adjustments to the mandate.
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.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SUDAN
|Security Council Resolution|
|3 June 2021S/RES/2579||This extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) until 3 June 2022.|
|17 May 2022S/2022/400||This was the 90-day report on UNITAMS.|
|Security Council Letter|
|18 April 2022S/2022/325||This was a letter from Sudan containing priorities for UNITAMS.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|28 March 2022S/PV.9005||This was the quarterly briefing on the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.|