Expected Council Action
In September, the Security Council will be briefed on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), which members expect to receive by 1 September. Consultations are expected to follow the briefing. 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.
The mandate of UNITAMS expires on 3 June 2023.
Key Recent Developments
It has been almost one year since the military coup d’état in October 2021. In a statement on 7 August, Special Representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS Volker Perthes said that “time is not on Sudan’s side” and that “the continuation of the political impasse will lead to more losses of recent national gains”. He noted that the UN’s primary goal has been to help facilitate an agreement on a civilian-led transitional arrangement based on an agreed constitutional framework and reiterated the need for full Sudanese ownership of the political process.
The Trilateral Mechanism, founded to coordinate the efforts of UNITAMS, the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in support of a Sudanese-led process to end the political crisis and restore a civilian-led transitional government, continues to hold meetings with stakeholders. On 8 June, the Mechanism held its first general session, which included representatives of the military and civilian groups. However, the Forces for Freedom and Change-Central Council (FFC-CC), the Communist Party and the Resistance Committees refused to participate. On 9 June, the FFC-CC and the military met publicly for the first time since the coup, hosted by the US and Saudi Arabia in Khartoum.
On 4 July, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s military leader, announced that the military would withdraw from ongoing political talks in order to allow the formation of a civilian transitional government. He said that a new Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would be created after the formation of the government, which would be responsible for security and defence tasks and “related responsibilities”. The announcement followed days of large-scale protests demanding an end to military rule. Since this announcement, the Trilateral Mechanism has continued to facilitate meetings with non-military stakeholders, noting in a 6 July statement that the “format of military-civilian dialogue no longer exists for the time being”. Recent engagement by the Mechanism to establish common ground on the way forward included a meeting with the FFC-CC on 21 August.
Insecurity, including intercommunal clashes, armed conflict and criminality, persists across several areas. At the end of July, over 31,000 people were displaced following intercommunal violence in Ganis town, Blue Nile State, according to the local authorities. The current rainy season has significantly worsened the humanitarian situation. As at 22 August, over 146,200 people were affected by flooding, according to the government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission, with Central and South Darfur the hardest-hit states. More than 460,000 people could be affected by the floods this year, according to the 2022 Sudan Emergency Response Plan.
On 3 June, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2636, renewing the mandate of UNITAMS for one year, with no change to its core mandate. It requested the Secretary-General to continue to report to the Security Council every 90 days. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 2 June.)
The Council was last briefed on UNITAMS on 24 May by 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”. He warned that “the risk of a new outbreak of violence remains high” in Darfur.
On 23 August, the Council received the semi-annual briefing of ICC Prosecutor Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, via videoconference from Khartoum. He noted that Sudan’s cooperation with the court has “taken a step backwards” in recent months.
On 19 August, the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee met to discuss the interim report of its Panel of Experts. (The interim report is not made public.) On 15 February, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2620, extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts for one year. The resolution expressed the Council’s intention to consider establishing clear, well-identified and realistic key benchmarks by 31 August, by which to consider adjusting the sanctions measures. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 14 February.) At the time of writing, Council members were negotiating a draft resolution on benchmarks.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue is monitoring changes in the political situation in Sudan. In this regard, Council members will closely follow mediation efforts, including the role played by UNITAMS and the Trilateral Mechanism. A related issue is what role the Council can play to help resolve the political impasse.
The Council could consider holding an informal interactive dialogue (IID) with key stakeholders, including representatives of the Tripartite Mechanism. The IID is a closed format that, unlike consultations, allows for the participation of non-UN officials and briefers. Another option is to consider a Council visiting mission to Sudan to assess the situation and engage further with the various parties. (The last Council visiting mission to Sudan was in 2011.)
A further issue is the situation in Darfur and the levels of intercommunal violence and insecurity across the country. The humanitarian and economic situations also remain key issues. Some Council members may seek to emphasise the need to conduct timely investigations into casualties among protesters during the demonstrations and the importance of accountability for this violence.
Most Council members share similar concerns over the political, security, human rights, and humanitarian situations in Sudan and are supportive of the Trilateral Mechanism. However, dynamics on the issue remain challenging, with members continuing to differ in their positions as to how to characterise the situation in Sudan, as evidenced in negotiations ahead of the adoption of resolution 2636 in June renewing the mandate of UNITAMS. The UK, as penholder, initially proposed a one-year mandate renewal that included new language, including preambular language reflecting the situation on the ground since the military coup. Among other things, the draft text apparently sought to condemn the violence by security forces against protesters.
The UK apparently consulted extensively with Sudan ahead of the mandate renewal. It seems, however, that Sudan conveyed its displeasure at the initial draft to other Council members, seeking to insist on a “technical rollover” of the mandate. (The relationship between UNITAMS and Sudan has been strained since the October 2021 coup.)
During the negotiations, China and Russia apparently did not seek to engage on the substance of the initial draft and insisted on the need for a “technical rollover”, as requested by Sudan. The penholder then decided to pursue this course, in part because of the strong position expressed by Sudan and because of the difficult dynamics during the negotiations on the initial draft text. In its explanation of vote, the UK said that it would have preferred a substantive resolution that would have allowed for the updating of UNITAMS’ priorities.
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 2022S/RES/2636 (2022)||This resolution extended the mandate of UNITAMS for one year.|
|17 May 2022S/2022/400||This was the 90-day report on UNITAMS.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|23 August 2022S/PV.9113||This was the semi-annual ICC briefing.|
|24 May 2022S/PV.9041||This was a briefing on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on UNITAMS.|