What's In Blue

Posted Mon 7 Jan 2013

Sudan/South Sudan Consultations

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, 8 January), the Security Council is scheduled to discuss Sudan/South Sudan issues in consultations. Haile Menkerios, the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Sudan and South Sudan, and John Ging, the Director of the Coordination and Response Division at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), are expected to brief. Menkerios will likely discuss the status of Sudan-South Sudan relations, including the current status of negotiations between the parties. Ging is expected to report on the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. At press time, no outcome was anticipated.

Council members have been focused for some time on issues that may be raised during the consultations such as lack of implementation of the 27 September agreements between Sudan and South Sudan on oil, cross-border trade, and security matters. Members will likely be looking for more information from Menkerios on the recent summit meeting on 4-5 January in Addis Ababa between President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan. (The parties agreed that the AU High-level Implementation Panel [AUHIP] should develop a matrix with timeframes for implementation of the existing agreements by 13 January, yet there was no significant breakthrough in the talks.)

Some members may also express interest in hearing from Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AUHIP, who has been mediating the talks between the parties and who was present at the 4-5 January summit meeting along with Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn of Ethiopia. Mbeki last briefed Council members on Sudan/South Sudan on 9 August in an informal interactive dialogue format.

The status of Abyei may also arise. During the summit, it was determined that the two presidents would reconvene to finalise its status once the existing agreements outlined in the proposed matrix were implemented and once the Abyei Area Administration, Abyei Area Council, and Abyei Area Police have been established. Council members disagree over how the status should be determined with some supporting a referendum (which South Sudan favours), while others assert that a solution must be mutually acceptable to both parties.

These different views may be tested if the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), during the upcoming AU Summit on 21-28 January, requests the UN Security Council to endorse the proposal for an Abyei referendum. (The PSC indicated that it intended to make this request to the Council in its 24 October communiqué. Subsequently, in its 14 December communiqué, it deferred a determination on Abyei to its meeting at the heads of state level on the margins of the upcoming AU Summit.)

Another immediate issue of concern is the implementation of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone along the Sudan-South Sudan border, especially given the continuing violence in the borders areas.

There continues to be widespread concern among Council members over the ongoing violence and related humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. It seems that tomorrow’s OCHA briefing was included partly due to a request, apparently from the UK, during the 18 December consultations on Sudan and South Sudan. There has not been progress in the implementation of the AU, UN, Arab League Tripartite Initiative, on the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilian populations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Some Council members may be interested in discussing possible next steps for the delivery of humanitarian aid to these two areas.

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