Expected Council Action
In December, the Security Council will hold a briefing followed by consultations on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), which members were expected to receive by 30 November. The chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana), is also expected to provide the quarterly briefing to the Security Council on the committee’s work.
The mandate of UNITAMS expires on 3 June 2023.
Key Recent Developments
This December marks four years since the start of demonstrations across Sudan, prompted by rising costs of living and deteriorating economic conditions, which sparked the revolution that led to the ousting of former President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. It has been over two years since the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) in October 2020 and more than a year since the military coup d’état in October 2021. In an October UNITAMS newsletter, Special Representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS Volker Perthes said that “a year after the military takeover, Sudan remains in turmoil, with a declining economy, a deteriorating security situation and frequent flareups of violence at the community level, and consistent popular protests”. He expressed hope that following recent progress towards a political solution, “an end might finally be in sight.”
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. In a 10 November joint op-ed, “Sudan: A Glimmer of Hope”, envoys of the Trilateral Mechanism noted that they had received input from the military leadership on the draft constitutional document, prepared with guidance from the Sudanese Bar Association’s Steering Committee, which “reflect basic understandings” between the military and the Forces of Freedom and Change. They added that now that the military has accepted the draft, there is “a workable document upon which further consensus can be built”, adding that military and civilian groups have requested the Mechanism to begin “facilitating a new political process based on this draft”. They also emphasised that “time is of the essence to not only to [sic] establish this newly civilian-led government but also to sustain the momentum needed to complete the transitional tasks to move to electoral legitimacy”.
Insecurity, including intercommunal clashes, armed conflict and criminality, persists across several areas. Since the resurgence of violence in July, the International Organization for Migration estimates that over 21,000 people have been displaced from West Kordofan and close to 100,000 people from and within Blue Nile. In October, intercommunal violence in parts of Blue Nile and West Kordofan resulted in the deaths of at least 258 people, with 385 people injured and more than 55,000 people displaced, according to OCHA’s 10 November situation report.
Humanitarian needs are at record levels since the military coup, with an estimated 15.8 million people—about a third of the population—projected to need humanitarian assistance next year, according to OCHA’s Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2023. The number of food-insecure people increased by about two million compared to last year, and there are 3.7 million internally displaced people and 926,000 refugees in Sudan, the overview indicated.
In his 13 September briefing to the Council on UNITAMS. Perthes stressed that the situation in the country is likely to worsen unless a political solution is reached, including a credible civilian-led government. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 12 September.) On 27 October, Council members held a meeting on Sudan under “any other business”, to discuss the violence in West Kordofan and Blue Nile, with a briefing by Perthes.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk conducted his first official visit to Sudan from 13-16 November. During his visit, he met with high-level officials, including Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s military leader and Chairperson of the Transitional Sovereign Council, as well as civil society representatives and victims of human rights violations. In a statement on 16 November, the High Commissioner emphasised that “human rights have to be at the core of the transition”. He also underscored the excessive use of force against protesters, saying that since the military takeover, at least 119 people have been killed and more than 8,050 injured. Furthermore, he expressed grave concern at the reports of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, as well as men and boys, noting that his Office verified 19 incidents of sexual and gender-based violence committed by the police in the context of the protests. In relation to Darfur, he said that since the start of this year, his Office has documented 11 large-scale deadly clashes resulting in the deaths of at least 1,091 people, and underscored the need for accountability and justice.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue is monitoring the political situation in Sudan. 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 level of intercommunal violence and insecurity across the country, including increased violence in parts of Blue Nile and West Kordofan. The deteriorating humanitarian and economic situations also remain key issues. An option would be to seek regular briefings from OCHA on the situation.
Some Council members may seek to again emphasise the need to conduct timely investigations into casualties among protesters and the importance of accountability for this violence. (As of the end of November, 121 people had been killed and hundreds injured in protests since the military coup.)
Most Council members share similar concerns over the political, security, human rights, and humanitarian situations in Sudan and are supportive of the Trilateral Mechanism. At the briefing on 13 September, many members emphasised the urgency of advancing a political solution because of, among other things, the deteriorating economic situation, increasing humanitarian needs, and the continued insecurity involving intercommunal clashes, armed conflict and criminality. Albania, Brazil, France, Ireland, Mexico, the UK, the US, and the A3 members (Gabon, Ghana and Kenya) expressed concern over the violence in Blue Nile and West Darfur. Several members, such as Albania, France, Mexico, the UK, and the US, condemned the use of force by security forces against protesters and called for accountability.
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.|
|2 September 2022S/2022/667||This was the 90-day report on UNITAMS.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|13 September 2022S/PV.9129||This was a briefing on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on UNITAMS.|