What's In Blue

Posted Tue 27 Nov 2012

Sudan/South Sudan Consultations and UNMISS Meetings

Tomorrow morning (28 November), the Security Council is scheduled to hold a briefing followed by consultations on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Council members are also scheduled to discuss in consultations the situation between Sudan and South Sudan. No Council outcome is expected on either issue.

South Sudan (UNMISS)

The recent report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan (S/2012/820) will serve as the basis for the UNMISS meetings where Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, is expected to brief. While much of the Council’s focus has been on Sudan-South Sudan issues recently, several key issues raised in the UNMISS report are of importance to Council members.

One area that has remained a concern is the inter-communal violence in the state of Jonglei. The report notes that there is “significant risk” that “deadly inter-communal violence” could resume in the area. Concerns about the rearmament of the Murle ethnic group and the resurgence of David Yauyau’s rebel group have heightened the sense of insecurity in Jonglei. There have also been allegations that some South Sudanese security forces have committed human rights violations during the disarmament process in recent months, contributing to the sense of insecurity.

One issue that is likely to attract attention tomorrow is the government’s 23 October decision to expel a high-level human rights officer from UNMISS. (South Sudan had initially ordered the expulsion of two human rights officials from the mission.) Some Council members may wish to hear more about the rationale for the expulsion. (In a news release on 9 November, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that the authorities “have so far not provided the UN with any satisfactory evidence of serious misconduct by the staff member in question.” This assertion was reiterated in the Secretary-General’s report which stated that the expulsion “had no justification.”)

Another issue that may be raised is the humanitarian situation among the approximately 175,000 refugees in Unity and Upper Nile states who have fled the violence in neighbouring South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. Many of these refugees are malnourished and an outbreak of Hepatitis E has claimed the lives of at least 26 refugees in Upper Nile.

Sudan/South Sudan

Regarding the situation between Sudan and South Sudan, it seems that Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, will brief the Council during consultations. It had also originally been anticipated that Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel, would also be available to brief, and several Council members were interested in his perspective of the state of relations between Sudan and South Sudan. However, at press time, it seemed that Mbeki would be unable to participate.

On Sudan-South Sudan issues, Council members may be interested in learning about whether progress has been made between Sudan and South Sudan on security matters, particularly the implementation of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and the creation of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone.

Another issue that may be raised is the status of discussions on the future of Abyei and the disputed areas along the Sudan/South Sudan border. Council members may be interested in whether discussions have occurred between the parties on these issues since the 24 October communiqué of the AU Peace and Security Council, and—if they have—what progress has been made.

Also of interest to Council members at tomorrow’s consultations may be the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. While there is widespread concern about the humanitarian situation in these states, differences of perspective nonetheless remain. Some members are highly critical of Khartoum for stalling with regard to efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to the two states. Others tend to be less critical of Sudan. They note that Khartoum is fighting a rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N), which is vowing to overthrow the government. While the need for political dialogue and a ceasefire between Sudan and the SPLM-N could help facilitate the delivery of aid to South Kordofan and Blue Nile, most Council members consider that humanitarian access is paramount, even if political progress lags behind.

At press time, it appeared that a report from the Secretary-General on the status of Sudan/South Sudan relations had been circulated to Council members, although it had not been publicly released.

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