What's In Blue

Posted Mon 21 Jan 2013

Sudan/South Sudan Consultations

Tomorrow morning (22 January), Council members are scheduled to hold consultations on relations between Sudan and South Sudan, in accordance with resolution 2046 (2 May 2012). Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, is likely to brief. A variety of issues is likely to be covered during the consultations.

Council members will be interested in an update on the recent round of negotiations in Addis Ababa between Sudan and South Sudan from 12-19 January. The negotiations focused primarily on the implementation of various security agreements and the administration of the disputed Abyei region. While the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) released a communiqué asserting that Sudan and South Sudan had made “substantial progress”, the parties themselves appeared less convinced that significant positive steps had been made.

In its own communiqué, South Sudan said that it had not been able to agree with Sudan on how to operationalise the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone, and that Sudan had made new demands regarding its level of representation in the proposed Abyei Area Council. (South Sudan noted that while the parties had previously agreed that 60 percent of the seats in the Abyei Area Council would be held by South Sudan and 40 percent by Sudan, the latter is now requesting that half the seats be held by its nationals.) For its part, Sudan argued that South Sudan has not committed to full withdrawal of its troops from a disputed border area called “Mile 14” and that Juba continues to support rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in southern Sudan.

Council members may seek greater clarity on the outcome of last week’s meeting, as well as further details on another possible summit later this month between President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan. (The two met from 4 to 5 January in Addis Ababa, and they may convene again on 24 January on the margins of the AU Summit, also in the Ethiopian capital.)

Another area of concern to several Council members that will likely be raised tomorrow is the ongoing conflict in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile between Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). (The SPLM-N is a rebel group and the former northern branch of the ruling party in South Sudan. Khartoum has argued that the government of South Sudan supports the SPLM-N, an accusation that Juba has denied.)

The related humanitarian crisis in the states is also of continuing concern and may be raised tomorrow by Council members. On 8 January, during the Council’s most recent consultations on Sudan-South Sudan relations, John Ging—the Director of Operations of OCHA—gave a detailed description of the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, urging the Council to take action. Some Council members appeared interested in having the Council react to the deteriorating situation. (In resolution 2046, the Council strongly urged the parties to accept the AU-UN-Arab League Tripartite agreement to permit the delivery of humanitarian aid to South Kordofan and Blue Nile. However, while the parties did sign separate memoranda of understanding agreeing to allow for aid delivery, these expired in late 2012 without tangible progress on the ground.)

Some Council members consider that Sudan should be held primarily responsible for not permitting aid to be delivered to these two areas. Others find greater fault with the SPLM-N, arguing that the humanitarian situation is problematic in South Kordofan and Blue Nile in large part because the SPLM-N is trying to overthrow the government in Khartoum through violence.

It appears that a SPLM-N delegation has been in New York and seems to have requested a meeting with one or more Council members. It is unclear how the presence of the SPLM-N delegation in New York, as well as interactions it may have had with some members, might affect tomorrow’s discussions.

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