March 2024 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 February 2024
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Expected Council Action

In March, the Council will hold a briefing on the Secretary-General’s report on “UN efforts to support Sudan on its path towards peace and stability” in accordance with resolution 2715 of 1 December 2023, which terminated the mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).

The Council will vote on a draft resolution extending the mandate of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts, which expires on 12 March.

Ambassador Joonkook Hwang (Republic of Korea), the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, is expected to brief the Council on the committee’s work.

Key Recent Developments

Sudan is facing the devastating consequences of fighting that erupted on 15 April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s military leader and chairperson of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemeti). During the conflict, the RSF has made significant advances, taking control of most of Darfur and western Kordofan and large areas of Khartoum and Omdurman. In mid-February, the SAF scored its first major victory of the war, retaking part of Omdurman, a city of 1.2 million people, from the RSF.

The fighting over the past ten months has had dire human rights and humanitarian effects. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), an organisation that collects conflict- and crisis-related data, more than 13,000 people had been killed since the onset of the conflict, as at 17 January. OCHA’s 4 February Humanitarian Update noted that some 10.7 million people have been displaced in Sudan since the start of the conflict, including 1.7 million who have fled to neighbouring countries, including the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and South Sudan. In addition, according to the World Food Programme, nearly 18 million people confront acute food insecurity in Sudan, including almost five million at emergency hunger levels.

On 18 January, the 42nd extraordinary summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) heads of state and government was held in Entebbe, Uganda. In a communiqué released following the meeting, the members:

  • called on the warring parties to meet within two weeks;
  • directed the IGAD Secretariat, in coordination with the AU Commission, to revise the Roadmap for the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of Sudan, adopted in June 2023 at the 14th ordinary session of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, with clear timelines; and
  • directed the IGAD Secretariat to convene, within one month, a Sudanese-owned and Sudanese-led process aimed at establishing a democratic government in Sudan.

The Sudanese government decided not to take part in the summit, irked by IGAD’s decision to put the situation in Sudan on the agenda and to invite Dagalo to participate in the meeting. Sudan subsequently announced that it was suspending its membership in IGAD, severely hampering IGAD’s ability to play a mediating and convening role in the conflict. Since late December 2023, Dagalo has visited several African countries, meeting with senior government officials in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and Uganda.

On 29 January, ICC Prosecutor Karim Asad Ahmad Khan provided the semi-annual briefing to the Council on the Court’s Darfur-related activities. Khan said that the failure to execute arrest warrants for those indicted by the court had contributed to “the climate of impunity and the outbreak of violence that commenced in April and that continues today”. He added that there is reason to believe that “Rome Statute crimes” are being perpetrated by both the SAF and the RSF in the current fighting in Darfur, although he did not specify which type or types of crimes he was referencing under the statute. (Under the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over four crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.)

The Expanded Mechanism for the Resolution of the Sudan Crisis—a diplomatic grouping that includes the AU, IGAD, the UN, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and several African, European and Middle Eastern states—convened on 20 February in Addis Ababa. During the session, which was attended by Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the new chair of the AU High-Level Panel for Sudan, the participants emphasised the importance of achieving a ceasefire and coordinating different mediation efforts on Sudan. They also affirmed their support for the efforts of the AU High-Level Panel.

On 27 February, Council members discussed the humanitarian situation in Sudan under “any other business” at the request of the UK.  Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths briefed members. He spoke about the adverse humanitarian effects of Sudan’s decision on 21 February to close border crossings with Chad; while humanitarian aid was being delivered through these crossings, Sudan expressed concern that they were being used to transit weapons to the RSF. Griffiths also referred to the upcoming international humanitarian conference for Sudan and its neighbours, which is planned for 15 April in Paris and strives to raise funds to help civilians, to call for respect for humanitarian law, and to advocate for unfettered, safe, and full humanitarian access in Sudan.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 5 February, a group of UN experts issued a joint statement regarding the humanitarian situation in Sudan, noting that the country “is facing one of the fastest unfolding crises globally” since the fighting started between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in April 2023. Currently, about 25 million people, including over 14 million children, are in dire need of humanitarian assistance and support. The experts urged all parties to the conflict to facilitate the work of human rights defenders and cooperate with the International Fact-Finding Mission for Sudan, which was established by the Human Rights Council in October 2023. They also called for increasing funding for humanitarian response to Sudan, which was only 3.1 percent funded as at 21 January.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 15 January, the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee held informal consultations, during which it received a presentation about the final report of the Panel of Experts that was released the same day and covered developments since 12 March 2023. The final report provided an extensive account of various aspects of the conflict, including its dynamics, the financing of the warring parties, the humanitarian impact and violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), recruitment patterns of the warring parties, the proliferation of weapons and violations of the arms embargo, and its regional impact, among other things. (For more, see our February 2024 Sudan brief.)

In a 6 February press release, the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee reminded the conflict parties in Darfur to adhere to their responsibilities under international humanitarian law, including by protecting civilians from violence and children from recruitment in military forces. The Committee also reminded the parties that those violating international humanitarian law and committing other atrocities or violating the arms embargo may be subject to targeted sanctions.

Key Issues and Options

A key issue for the Security Council is how to support efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Sudan. Council members could hold a private meeting with the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) and member states with influence over the warring parties to discuss the search for a mediated solution to the crisis. (A private meeting is a closed, formal meeting format; unlike closed consultations, non-Council member states are allowed to participate in this format.)  An additional option would be for the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Sudan, Ramtane Lamamra, to brief on ongoing mediation efforts in the region and his interactions with different stakeholders in Sudan and the region in this regard.

Another issue for the Security Council is the humanitarian crisis and how to ensure continuous and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid and, at the same time, secure the safety and security of UN personnel and other humanitarian actors. Periodic briefings by OCHA could help keep the Council informed of the humanitarian situation on the ground.

Regarding the renewal of the Panel of Experts of the 1591 Sanctions Committee, the Council could decide to extend the panel’s mandate for one year. Another option would be to extend the panel’s mandate until September, aligning it with the mandate cycle of the sanctions measures, as introduced by resolution 2676, and having a broader discussion on the sanctions regime and the panel in September.

Council Dynamics

Council members share continued concerns about the ongoing conflict in Sudan and its severe humanitarian and human rights effects. Members have diverging views, however, on the tools that the Council should use to address the situation. For example, there are strong disagreements among members on the utility of the Sudan sanctions regime and the work of the ICC regarding the situation in Darfur. In last year’s negotiations on resolution 2676, which renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March, China, Russia, and Mozambique, along with other member states that have since left the Council, supported instituting a sunset clause that would make the sanctions time-bound rather than open-ended. Ten Council members—Ecuador, France, Guyana, Japan, Malta, the Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the UK—are state parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, while Algeria, China, Mozambique, Russia, and the US are not.* While the US is not a state party to the statute, it supports the court’s work on Darfur. Russia is perhaps most vehemently opposed to that work, declaring at the Council’s 29 January meeting that “The regrettable, if not outright tragic, effects of the Council’s involvement of the ICC in the situations in Libya and Darfur teach us one thing only: the Council made a mistake by transferring these situations to the ICC, a mistake that must not be repeated. It is important to assess the damage that this entity has caused to specific countries”.

The US holds the pen on Sudan sanctions, while the UK is the penholder on Sudan more broadly.

  • Correction (21 March 2024):  A previous version of this brief contained an inaccuracy regarding the state parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, which has been corrected. 
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UN Documents on Sudan

Security Council Resolutions
1 December 2023S/RES/2715 This resolution terminated the mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).
8 March 2023S/RES/2676 This resolution renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March 2024.
Security Council Meeting Records
29 January 2024S/PV.9538 The Security Council meeting records was the ICC Prosecutor’s semi-annual briefing on the court’s work in Darfur.


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