What's In Blue

Posted Wed 23 Jan 2013

Darfur Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow afternoon (24 January), the Security Council is scheduled to be briefed by Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on the Secretary-General’s most recent quarterly report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The public briefing will be followed by consultations where several issues of interest to Council members may be raised.

One key issue of growing concern among Council members is the continuing deterioration of security in the region, particularly in North Darfur. Several incidents of inter-communal violence and fighting between the government and rebels were mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report, which covers the period from 1 October to 31 December 2012 (S/2013/22). More recently, there were reports of clashes in early January between the Abbala and Beni Hussein communities in Jabel Amir, North Darfur, leading to 100 deaths and thousands of internally displaced persons. It appears that the fighting was precipitated by a disagreement over access to a gold mine in the area.

Another issue that Council members may be keen to discuss is the ongoing attacks on UNAMID personnel and whether—and how—their security can be improved. In October 2012, five UNAMID peacekeepers were killed in two separate attacks by unidentified perpetrators.

Some members may also be interested in discussing the political process in Darfur. To date, the Liberation and Justice Movement is the only Darfur rebel group that has signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur with the government. A splinter group of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the hold-out groups, has expressed commitment to the peace process. Council members may be interested in learning more about the timeframe and substance of negotiations between this group, the JEM-Military Council, and the government. There may be interest as well in any progress made in encouraging other rebel groups.including the JEM, the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minnawi, to join the peace process.

An additional matter that may be raised by some Council members, which apparently was discussed during the 8 January consultations on Sudan-South Sudan issues, is the decision of Sudan to deny entry to a member of the panel of experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee late last year. It seems that some Council members believe that this individual should not have been denied access to Sudan as he is a member of a panel authorised by the Council while others believe that the host country has the prerogative to grant or restrict access. (Sudan has argued that it had blacklisted the expert due to concerns related to activities when he was a member of the Panel of Experts on Somalia and Eritrea.)

More broadly, differing views on how to treat Darfur more generally are emerging among Council members. Some seem more inclined to view the challenges of Darfur in a holistic manner, emphasising how Darfur relates to the broader issues facing Sudan and its relations with South Sudan. (For example, these members note the alliance that has been forged between the Darfur rebel movements and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement -North, which is fighting the Sudanese Armed Forces in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states bordering South Sudan.) Others tend to focus more closely on the key challenges facing Darfur without giving as much emphasis to this broader context. It is unclear at this point if these different perspectives might lead to a new approach to this issue in the Council.

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