Update Report

Posted 16 August 2006
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Update Report No. 2: Sudan/Darfur

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Expected Council Action
The Council will hold consultations on Sudan/Darfur on Thursday, 17 August. Members are expected to discuss the recent report of the Secretary-General containing options for transition and for assistance from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to the AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), as well as his 10 August update on Darfur. Khartoum’s recent plan for increasing security in Darfur is also expected to be discussed.

No formal action is expected at this point, but discussions are currently taking place among the P5 and African members on a UK draft containing the mandate of an expanded UNMIS in Darfur. It is unclear whether the discussions may soon be broadened to include other Council members.

There are some divisions among the P5 on the issue of transition, especially the extent to which any interim Council resolution should definitively establish the full mandate for the UN force. Some seem to believe that this is premature in the absence of confirmation from Khartoum that it has given consent to the operation. Others in favour of the resolution may be of the view that it is highly desirable to explain the mandate now as it will clarify the nature of the operation and that will actually be helpful in encouraging formal consent. And there is a third view that approving the mandate now is essential so as to demonstrate the concern of Council members with the deteriorating situation in Darfur.

It is not clear as yet whether there has been any attempt to negotiate a middle ground between these positions. But they do not seem irreconcilable and the Council showed on a number of hard issues in July that a negotiated middle ground was achievable.

Key Recent Developments
The Secretary-General presented his report with recommendations on the transition and UNMIS-AMIS assistance in late July. The main points of the proposed mandate of UNMIS in Darfur would be:

  • assumption of all AMIS duties regarding security arrangements in the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), such as redeployment and disengagement, provision of protection for civilians under imminent threat and within the Mission’s capabilities, and deterrence of potential spoilers through robust action;
  • support for the peace process and good offices;
  • assistance in rule of law, governance and human rights; and
  • support to and coordination of humanitarian assistance, recovery and reintegration.

The Secretary-General further presented three options for the military component of the proposed mission. Troop levels would be inversely proportional to the availability of mobility assets such as helicopters. On Chad and possibly the Central African Republic, the report recommended the opening of UNMIS local offices in those countries, including UN military and civilian police.

On UNMIS assistance to AMIS, the proposals included both short-term measures which could be carried out without major resource implications, and longer-term support which would have budgetary implications and would require action from both the Security Council and the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee.

The UK recently circulated among the permanent members and later the African members a draft resolution authorising the transition and setting out the mandate of UNMIS in Darfur. While the specific contents of the draft are being held closely, it seems that it incorporates many of the recommendations of the Secretary-General, along with language on protection of civilians consistent with resolution 1590.

Relations between Chad and Sudan seem to have improved after the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the reopening of the border in early August. But observers note the continuing instability from cross-border rebel attacks and Janjaweed activity in Chad.

Slow implementation of the DPA continued with the appointment of Minni Minawi as Senior Assistant to the President and Khartoum’s submission of a plan to disarm the Janjaweed. But key deadlines, such as Khartoum’s restriction of Janjaweed activity to designated areas by 20 July, have been missed.

Council and Wider Dynamics
The main thrust of the UK initiative is to allow room for quiet diplomacy among the P5 on the transition, with the involvement of African members, so that some degree of unity among permanent members can be achieved. The draft apparently also deals with the issue also presented in the Secretary- General’s report of significantly enhanced temporary assistance to AMIS from UNMIS.

This approach, mixing something that Khartoum wants (assistance to AMIS) with something the UN and AU want (transition to the UN later in the year) represents a considerable change of strategy in comparison with the more confrontational approach towards Sudan in February and more significantly in May, when resolution 1679 was adopted under Chapter VII.

At this stage, China and Russia seem uncomfortable with a resolution formally establishing a full mandate for UNMIS in Darfur without any recognition that Khartoum’s consent is still to be obtained.

It seems that there may also be divisions on the number of troops. Some members would like to see more focus on other critical aspects such as the implementation of DPA provisions. There also seems to be little support for the US proposal of October 2006 as the deadline for transition. It is widely seen as impractical.

The informal discussions seem likely to continue for some time in order to allow some space for further quiet discussions, including perhaps with Khartoum, possibly with the use of Chinese good offices and active support from some Arab countries.

There is a growing view that it is now difficult for the Government of Sudan to change its position on the issue in the absence of some new factor. For some this suggests that the Council needs to include positive incentives for Khartoum, such as imposing sanctions against those who have not signed the DPA.

But the bottom line for other members seems to be that the adoption of a resolution only authorising UNMIS assistance to AMIS is unacceptable in light the deterioration on the ground and would in the end only encourage Khartoum’s opposition to the transition. They also note that it is unlikely that UNMIS support for AMIS will improve conditions on the ground, although it may slow the rate of deterioration.

On Chad, the status of French proposals for increased attention and support for the government in the midst of ongoing cross-border attacks is uncertain. There is a lack of clarity among members as to how to proceed regarding Chad, with some preferring specific planning and reporting on the issue and more focus on the transition itself. Observers note that a force for Chad is not part of the transition planning, and that military deployments for Darfur alone would already be extremely difficult, especially in view of the drain in resources that the force for Lebanon will represent.