What's In Blue

Sudan/South Sudan Consultations

Tomorrow morning (12 March) Council members will hold their twice monthly consultations on Sudan/South Sudan relations in accordance with resolution 2046. Hervé Ladsous, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, are scheduled to brief. (There has been widespread interest in the Council to hear from Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel and the primary mediator in the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan. However, Mbeki is not expected to brief tomorrow).

Council members will likely be eager to learn more about the latest developments in the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan. After going several weeks without formal negotiations, the two parties reconvened in Addis Ababa late last week, and on 8 March, they signed a deal to put in place previously agreed upon security measures, such as the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone (SDBZ) and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) along their mutual border. A related matter that may be of interest to Council members connected to the establishment of the SDBZ is the order given by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on 10 March for the army of South Sudan to withdraw from areas along the border with Sudan.

While encouraged by these recent developments, some Council members emphasise the importance of implementing the 8 March security agreement, hoping that it will pave the way for the implementation of the other 27 September 2012 agreements on oil, cross-border trade, and other issues. (Sudan has argued that addressing security matters should occur first before implementation of the other 27 September agreements.) Council members will thus be interested in information on the next steps in the negotiations between the parties, as well as in the implementation of the SBDZ, the JBVMM, and the other 27 September agreements.

Another issue that appears to be of interest to some Council members is the possibility of direct negotiations between Sudan and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). There were media reports that Sudan and the SPLM-N would meet on 5 March but the meeting between the two sides was delayed until 10 March. However, the parties have yet to convene, and it seems that while the SPLM-N has expressed a willingness to participate in negotiations, Sudan has appeared less willing to engage in such talks. Yasir Arman, the Secretary-General of the SPLM-N, has reportedly indicated that he would travel to Addis Ababa for negotiations on 15 March in response to a letter from the AU High Level Implementation Panel. Council members may want to get some clarity on whether this meeting is likely to take place, and to get further clarity on the position of Sudan on these talks.

Some Council members also appear to be interested in an update on the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. Fighting has continued in these two areas, taking an enormous toll on the civilian population, a significant and ongoing concern for several Council members.

While it does not seem that there will be an immediate outcome to tomorrow’s consultations, the Council has been negotiating a draft presidential statement since mid-February that apparently expresses concern over the lack of implementation of the 27 September agreements and underscores the importance of compliance by the parties with resolution 2046. However, the negotiations have been difficult, with some members preferring a statement that is highly critical of Sudan and others advocating for what they consider a more balanced approach. The second and latest version of this draft presidential statement was circulated in late February, and it is unclear whether tomorrow’s discussions will generate renewed impetus to produce a revised draft.

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