What's In Blue

Posted Wed 8 Feb 2012

Consultations on the UN Mission in Abyei

Tomorrow morning (9 February), Council members will discuss in consultations the most recent report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Abyei (S/2012/68). It seems that Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, is set to brief. (The Council adopted two resolutions on Abyei in December. Resolution 2032 renewed the mandate of UN Interim Security Force in Abyei [UNISFA] for five months on 22 December 2011. Resolution 2024 [14 December 2011] expanded the mandate of UNISFA.) Since December, Council members have largely focused on other regions in Sudan and South Sudan. Some members see Thursday’s consultations as an opportunity to re-engage substantively with the Abyei issue. A formal outcome from the meeting is not anticipated.

The report notes that the security situation in Abyei, the disputed region straddling Sudan and South Sudan, was “tense and volatile” during the reporting period. Sudanese armed forces and police and South Sudanese police have remained in the area. The report also indicates that the Abyei Area Administration has yet to be established, in large part because Sudan and South Sudan have been unable to agree on a mutually acceptable candidate for the speaker of the administration’s Legislative Council.

In expanding UNISFA’s mandate in resolution 2024, the Council included support for the joint border verification and monitoring mechanism agreed by Sudan and South Sudan. However, the report notes that the parties have yet to agree on several factors relating to the establishment and implementation of the mechanism. It also notes that there were no discussions in the reporting period on Abyei’s final status.

Regarding the activities of UNISFA, the report indicates that the mission has made progress in demining tasks and protecting civilians through such measures as monitoring, patrolling, and engaging with Ngok Dinka and Misseriya ethnic groups to address their security concerns.

There appears to be considerable concern among several Council members that there has been little improvement in the tense security situation on the ground as well as a lack of progress between the parties in resolving the political issues separating them. The lack of progress in negotiations between the parties has made it difficult for the mission to fulfil its adapted mandate to support border monitoring and verification. Other issues raised in the report, including delays in the issuance of visas and the challenging humanitarian situation facing displaced persons in Abyei, might also be topics of discussion during the consultations.

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