What's In Blue

Posted Mon 29 Jul 2013

AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow morning (30 July) the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The initial draft was discussed among the P5 before being circulated to the wider Council on 19 July. Among all 15 members, it appears that the negotiations at expert level were initiated last Monday (22 July) and that at least two rounds of negotiations were held in addition to some bilateral contacts. There was also a separate meeting held among the 15 members at ambassador level on 23 July in which members discussed the possibility of a strategic review of UNAMID’s mandate, given the challenges the mission has faced in a very complex political and security environment. The draft resolution went into blue this morning.

The Council will request the Secretary-General, in consultation with the AU, to conduct a detailed review of the mission’s progress and report back to the Council with some recommendations and options in seven months. Most Council members are supportive of the idea of a review. There is a sense that given the extremely difficult security environment, the lack of progress in implementing the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, and the troubling humanitarian situation, among other problems, such a review may be useful in helping to refine the mission’s approach to these challenges.

However, it remains unclear precisely what the review will entail, as the language in the mandate renewal is quite general, taking into account progress the mission has made in achieving its benchmarks, and does not consider troop strength. These benchmarks, outlined in the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMID of 16 October 2012 (S/2012/771), include assistance in the attainment of a comprehensive political solution; the realisation of a secure environment in which civilians are protected; improvement in rule of law, human rights, and governance; and the attainment of a more stable humanitarian situation.

Council members appear to have differing expectations on what the review should entail and what it can ultimately achieve. Some Council members appear to be more focused than others on the operational aspects of the mission and the nature of the AU-UN relationship with respect to UNAMID. Others seem to be more confident that the mission’s concept of operations and rules of engagement are adequate, but highlight the political context in Darfur as the primary challenge to UNAMID. Along these lines, there are some who argue that better use could be made of both incentives and pressure to encourage political dialogue between the government and rebel groups; in this way, conditions would be created that are conducive to UNAMID’s efforts to carry out its mandate effectively.

The draft resolution renews the mandate for 13 months. There had been some initial discussion of renewing the mission for a shorter period considering the fluidity of the situation on the ground and more in keeping with the length of the review. (The Council initially discussed a review period of six months, before settling on seven months). However, most Council members preferred that the mandate be renewed for a longer period, in closer alignment with the AU Peace and Security Council’s decision on 19 July to renew UNAMID for 12 months. The Council will renew the mandate until August 2014 (for 13 months rather than the usual 12 months), ostensibly to allow the Council to focus on negotiations during August, traditionally a less busy month for the Council than July.

Issues related to security, human rights, and humanitarian issues form a major part of the draft resolution. Some additional language has been included in this year’s resolution recognising the deteriorating situation for the internally displaced in Darfur, as well as the rise in inter-communal violence and human rights violations in the region. At the request of one delegation, there will be increased emphasis in this year’s resolution on child protection issues. However, while raising these concerns, the Council states in the draft resolution that the overall security situation has improved in Darfur since UNAMID was first deployed in 2007.

Related to the present insecurity in Darfur, the Council will reiterate in this year’s resolution the threat of sanctions against individuals and entities (eg: rebel groups) that meet the listing criteria under resolution 1591.

Another issue that was discussed in the negotiations is the training and equipping of UNAMID personnel. In the recent UNAMID report, the Secretary-General raised concerns about the equipment shortfalls of many of the military and police contingents in the mission (S/2013/420). During his 24 July briefing to the Council, Joint Special Representative for Darfur Mohamed Ibn Chambas likewise stated: “What is required is better training and equipment and more flexibility within our current deployment” (S/PV.7010). It appears that there was widespread support for these observations among Council members, who have decided in the draft to underscore the need for contingents to be well equipped and trained. Nonetheless, one troop contributing Council member noted in the negotiations that not all UNAMID contingents are lacking in this respect, and language accommodating this observation has been included in draft.

On political matters, the Council reiterates the importance of supporting the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. In this sense, the draft will urge signatory parties to fully implement the Doha Document, and non-signatory movements of the Doha Document to join the peace process. (The Liberation and Justice Movement and JEM Bashar faction are the only two rebel groups to have signed the Doha Document with Sudan.)

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