What's In Blue

Posted Tue 23 Jul 2013

Sudan/South Sudan Consultations

Tomorrow afternoon (24 July), Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, Haile Menkerios, is expected to brief Council members during the second of the twice-monthly meetings on compliance by Sudan, South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North with resolution 2046. (Menkerios also serves as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the AU and Head of the UN Office to the AU.) No Council outcome is anticipated.

There is widespread concern among Council members over the deterioration of Sudan-South Sudan relations. In this regard, Council members will likely be interested in an update from Menkerios on the latest developments regarding Sudan’s threat to shut down the flow of oil from South Sudan. Sudan had threatened in early June to shut down oil within 60 days of 9 June. South Sudan reported on 17 July that it had been notified by Sudan that the flow of oil would be stopped by 7 August.

Security arrangements between the two countries are also of interest for Council members. They may be eager to get Menkerios’ perspective on why Sudan postponed its participation in the meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) (the instrument employed by Sudan and South Sudan to discuss security matters of mutual concern), scheduled for 22 July in Addis Ababa. It appears that this meeting was in part intended to focus on the allegations that Sudan and South Sudan have made against each other for supporting rebel groups in each other’s country.

The challenges and prospects for the planned implementation of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) may also be discussed. Some Council members will likely want to know when aerial reconnaissance along the border through the JBVMM might recommence, as these flights were suspended for security reasons in the aftermath of the shelling of the JBVMM headquarters in Kadugli on 14 June. Likewise, it is also possible that there may be interest in any information on when the additional troops intended to provide protection to monitors and support staff who will serve in the JBVMM may be deployed. (It is anticipated that JBVMM monitors and support staff will only assume their responsibilities when force protection is provided to them). Questions about when aerial reconnaissance will restart and when additional troops will be provided for the JBVMM came up during the Council’s last consultations on Sudan/South Sudan on 11 July. They will likely be raised again given their continuing relevance.

Also an issue is the potential logistical challenges related to the deployment and activities of JBVMM personnel as movement is difficult during the current rainy season.

There may also be some discussion of whether Sudan and South Sudan have been receptive to recent efforts by regional actors to resolve tensions between them. In this respect, the AU issued a press release on 22 July that built upon two proposals made last month by Thabo Mbeki, chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel that mediates between the parties. First, the press release stated that the AU Commission and Ethiopia, as chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, initiated an investigation to be completed within six weeks regarding “allegations by the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan, of continued support to and harbouring of armed groups operating against the other state.” Second, according to the press release, the AU Border Programme has been tasked with making a determination on the centre line of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone (SDBZ) between Sudan and South Sudan.

Council members are aware that this press release highlights a number of important issues. The first question on the minds of some Council members is whether Sudan would be willing to wait until the investigation of support to rebel groups is completed before making a final determination on whether to prevent South Sudanese oil from reaching Sudan. (As mentioned earlier Sudan has threatened its oil shut down by 7 August but the investigation will only be completed by early September.) Regarding the second point on the determination of the centre line for the SDBZ, there may be interest in the timeframe for the AU Border Programme’s work.

Some members may also raise tomorrow the dire ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan and whether anything can be done to promote improved access to these two areas. This issue has been consistently brought up at the twice per month briefings, particularly by the US, although no meaningful progress on the matter has been made because of differences of perspective among the members.

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