ICC Briefing on Darfur and Consultations on Sudan/South Sudan
Tomorrow morning (5 June) the Security Council will receive the semi-annual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on the work of the ICC on Darfur. In the afternoon, it will hold the first of its twice-monthly meetings on Sudan/South Sudan issues, with Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan Haile Menkerios briefing in consultations. (Menkerios was recently also appointed the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the AU and Head of the UN Office to the AU.) No outcome is expected to the Council’s meetings on these issues tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s ICC briefing will mark the 17th time the ICC Prosecutor has briefed the Council on the situation in Darfur in accordance with resolution 1593. Bensouda may update the Council on the court’s findings related to allegations of attacks on civilians, sexual and gender-based violence, and attacks on peacekeepers and aid workers. She may also raise concerns about limitations to humanitarian access imposed by the government of Sudan. Several of these issues may be echoed by some Council members, who are alarmed by the deteriorating security environment in Darfur and its attendant negative impact on civilians, peacekeepers, and others working in the region.
Another issue that is likely to be raised tomorrow by the Prosecutor and some Council members is the 26 March decision by an ICC Pre-Trial Chamber that Chad, a state party to the Rome Statute, is in non-compliance with ICC requests for the arrest and surrender of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, given that Bashir was in Chad on 15-16 February. The Secretary-General forwarded this decision to the Council as an attachment to a letter (S/2013/229) on 15 April, but the Council has not addressed the findings of this decision. (On a related note, Sudan’s Minister of Defence Abdel Raheem Hussein, also an ICC indictee, visited Chad on 25-26 April.)
Some Council members may also be interested in hearing the Prosecutor’s interpretation of the Secretary-General’s guidance to Secretariat officials, shared with the General Assembly and the Council, in a letter dated 3 April (A/67/828 -S/2013/210), regarding interactions with ICC indictees. In the guidance document, the Secretary-General indicated that “in exceptional circumstances” such interactions can take place if they are “an imperative for the performance of essential United Nations mandated activities.” This issue is particularly timely in the case of Sudan, given the fact that Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos met with al-Bashir, Hussein, and Governor of South Kordofan Ahmed Harun — all ICC indictees — during her 20-23 May trip to Sudan.
There are deep divisions on the Council regarding the work of the ICC in Sudan and more generally. Some of these differences are likely to be reflected in the statements of Council members following Bensouda’s briefing tomorrow. (Seven Council members — Argentina, Australia, France, Guatemala, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg and the UK — are parties to the Rome Statute, while eight Council members — Azerbaijan, China, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, Togo and the US — are not. Some among this latter group believe that the Court’s work is motivated largely by political interests.)
Sudan/South Sudan Consultations
Tomorrow’s consultations will likely include discussion of the tensions in Abyei between the Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka communities, following the killing on 4 May of Kuol Deng Kuol, the Ngok-Dinka paramount chief. There has been widespread agreement among Council members regarding the need to demilitarise the area. Likewise, Council members remain concerned that the Abyei Area institutions, including the Abyei Area Administration, the Abyei Area Council, and the Abyei Police Service still have not been established. According to the latest Secretary-General’s report on Abyei (S/2013/294), the lack of these institutions “continue(s) to undermine efforts to stabilise the security and humanitarian situation” in the area.
Council members may also be interested in hearing about the meeting between President Omar al-Bashir and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan on 24 May in Addis Ababa on the margins of the AU summit. According to media reports, the presidents agreed to initiate an investigation into the killing of the paramount chief and discussed the opening of border crossings between their two countries. Council members will likely be keen to learn about these and other matters discussed by the two presidents.
Also an important topic that may be raised tomorrow is how the internal political and security dynamics in Sudan and South Sudan respectively affect the relations between the two countries. Both countries accuse one another of supporting rebels on their respective sides of the border, and on 27 May, Bashir reportedly said that he would halt the movement of oil from South Sudan through Sudan if the former supported rebels in Sudan.
Council members may also seek greater clarity on the position of the government of Sudan regarding the potential resumption of direct talks between Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. While they do not appear to have made progress, the two sides met for face-to-face negotiations from 23-26 April in Addis Ababa. However, in spite of indications that they would reconvene, they have yet to do so, and on 27 May, Bashir said that he would not engage in negotiations with rebels.