What's In Blue

Posted Fri 23 Aug 2013

Presidential Statement on Sudan/South Sudan and Press Statement on Jonglei

In recent days, Council members have been focusing on negotiations on two draft statements related to Sudan-South Sudan issues – a draft presidential statement on Sudan-South Sudan and a draft press statement on Jonglei state in South Sudan. It now seems likely that following several rounds of negotiations the draft presidential statement will be adopted and the draft press statement will be issued this afternoon at 3pm.

Both documents were circulated to Council members last Thursday (15 August), and following two rounds of negotiations both draft texts were put under silence procedure on Wednesday afternoon (21 August). The silence was broken by two delegations which led to a third round of negotiations at political coordinator level yesterday (22 August). The revised text was again put under silence procedure until 10:00am today, which was not broken.

Council members have been determined to reach consensus on the draft texts given the recent history of failed attempts to agree on Sudan-South Sudan statements and a general sense of gridlock on these issues. However, while there was agreement on most elements of both texts, there were a couple of key sticking points that Council members had to overcome to reach consensus.

Presidential Statement on Sudan and South Sudan

The draft presidential statement calls on Sudan and South Sudan to urgently implement the wide-ranging cooperation agreements of 27 September 2012. (These agreements focused on security, oil wealth sharing, trade, and other issues.) It also recalls resolution 2046 and agreements between Sudan and South Sudan prohibiting them from supporting rebels on each other’s territory. Concern is also expressed about the challenging security environment in Abyei, and there is a focus on the importance of establishing temporary institutions in Abyei – including the Abyei Area Administration, the Abyei Area Council and the Abyei Police Force. The draft also calls on the parties to resume negotiations on the final status of Abyei with the help of the AU High Level Implementation Panel. Furthermore, the draft statement welcomes the establishment of the Ad hoc Investigative Mechanism (AIM) and the AU Border Program Technical Team (AUBP TT) to study allegations by Sudan and South Sudan that each supports rebels in the other’s territory and to determine the centre line of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone, respectively.

There were two key areas in which differences of perspective had to be bridged. First, there were divergent views on how to calibrate the language regarding a potential disruption of the flow of oil from South Sudan to Sudan. There was agreement on the importance of continued dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan on this issue.
However, some members argued for language consistent with the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) 29 July communiqué which urges Sudan not to suspend the flow of oil “until such time as these mechanisms (the AIM and the AUBP TT) have completed their work” while others did not want this additional language from the AU PSC communiqué to be added. As a compromise, it seems that while the language was retained it was somewhat softened. The final version has Council members urging Sudan not to disrupt the flow of oil “to allow these mechanisms to complete their work.”

Another area of disagreement was over the language calling for humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. Some members were keen to use previously agreed language on humanitarian access from a presidential statement on the situation in the Great Lakes region from 25 July 2013 (S/PRST/2013/11) that calls for all parties “to allow safe and unhindered access for the timely and full delivery of humanitarian aid.” However, other members preferred adapting this formulation by instead calling for “full, timely, safe and unhindered humanitarian access.” Following negotiations on this specific area, Council members were able to reach a compromise. The language from the 25 July presidential statement was kept intact, but the Council called on the parties “to expedite” rather than “to allow” humanitarian access.

Press Statement on Jonglei

The draft press statement on South Sudan condemns the recent violence against civilians in Jonglei state, while deploring the large scale displacement caused by these attacks. It also notes that South Sudan holds the primary responsibility to protect civilians, while calling on it to provide the UN Mission in South Sudan with unhindered access to Jonglei. The statement also expresses concern with human rights violations committed in Jonglei by armed groups and the government’s own security forces and emphasises the importance of holding perpetrators of such acts accountable for their actions.

Similar to the negotiations on the presidential statement, it appears that one sticking point in the negotiations on the press statement was the language on humanitarian access. Once again, some members preferred to use previously agreed language from the 25 July presidential statement, while others wanted to use a modified version of this.

As in the Sudan-South Sudan draft presidential statement, the agreement that was reached was to substitute the verb “to expedite” for “to allow” with respect to humanitarian access.

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