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Meetings on Sudan/South Sudan Issues

Tomorrow morning (6 December), the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on Sudan/South Sudan and on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, is set to brief on both these issues. Sudan will also be on the programme tomorrow afternoon when the Council receives the quarterly briefing from Ambassador Néstor Osorio (Colombia), the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee (which focuses on Darfur), on the Committee’s work. No immediate outcome is expected from the Council following its deliberations on Sudan-South Sudan matters tomorrow.

During the briefing on Sudan/South Sudan and UNISFA, Council members may be interested in learning more about the delays in establishing the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone. It seems that Council members sense that it will be difficult to prevent fighting along the Sudan-South Sudan border and implement the agreements on cross-border trade and oil transport that were reached on 27 September, until these border security mechanisms are established. There may also be interest in more details as to why a meeting of the Joint Political Security Mechanism (JPSM) to discuss implementation of these border mechanisms, originally scheduled for 5-6 December, has been delayed at least until 9 December. (The JPSM was established by Sudan and South Sudan to discuss political and security issues of concern between the two countries.)

Another issue that will likely be raised in the consultations is the status of Abyei. In its 24 October communiqué, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) called on the UN Security Council to endorse a request for Sudan and South Sudan to resolve the status of Abyei within six weeks, using as the basis of the negotiation a proposal for a referendum to be held in Abyei in October 2013 that would include all permanent residents of the region. (South Sudan has accepted the proposal, but Sudan has not, largely because the permanent residency requirement for eligibility to participate in the referendum would exclude members of the migratory Misseriya ethnic group, who are generally supportive of Khartoum and only spend part of the year in Abyei). The six week deadline expires today (5 December), and it appears that no progress has been made in negotiations on this issue in recent weeks.

The Council also appears somewhat divided on the issue of Abyei. Some members are amenable to endorsing the PSC’s proposal for a referendum, but others believe that solutions cannot be imposed on the parties, and that any arrangement on Abyei should be mutually acceptable to Sudan and South Sudan in order for it to have any traction.

With respect to UNISFA, some members may be interested in discussing its efforts to quell tensions between the Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka communities. (These efforts were covered in the Secretary-General’s 23 November report (S/2012/890)). Several Council members also appear to be critical of the ongoing presence of 150-200 Sudanese police in Abyei, who appear to be protecting the Diffra oil fields, but remain in the region in violation of Security Council resolutions. These Council members may choose to reiterate the importance of establishing a joint police service for the region.

More broadly on Sudan-South Sudan issues, the ongoing humanitarian crisis and fighting in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan may be raised in the meeting. Khartoum has refused to renew its commitment to the Memorandum of Understanding on the delivery of humanitarian aid to these two states, which it signed in August within the framework of the AU, UN and Arab League Tripartite Initiative. Little progress has been made in implementing the Tripartite Initiative, and some Council members may be interested in potential next steps that may be available for addressing the humanitarian crisis in these two states.

Regarding the 1591 Sanctions Committee briefing, it is expected that Ambassador Osorio will cover recent incidents of fighting between the regime and rebels as well as criminal violence that have occurred in Darfur. He may also address attacks on the AU-UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeepers, and how these affect the mission’s ability to conduct its work. (In October, in two separate incidents, five UN peacekeepers were killed in attacks by unidentified armed men.)

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