What's In Blue

Posted Wed 21 Aug 2013

Consultations on Sudan/South Sudan

Tomorrow morning (22 August) the Council is scheduled to hold its semi-monthly consultations on Sudan/South Sudan issues. Haile Menkerios, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the AU and Head of the UN Office to the AU, is expected to brief in his capacity as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan.

Council members have been focusing largely on negotiations on a draft presidential statement on Sudan/South Sudan and on a draft press statement addressing the latest violence in Jonglei state in South Sudan. Both have been put into silence, although it is unclear whether they will be adopted tomorrow.

A number of issues are likely to be discussed tomorrow. An immediate primary concern for many Council members is Sudan’s threat to cut off the oil flow from South Sudan, considering the potential impact of such a decision on relations between the two countries and on their economies. The current date that Sudan has given for the shutdown is 6 September, which may give the Ad hoc Investigative Mechanism (AIM) — the body responsible for studying allegations by Sudan and South Sudan that each supports rebels in the other’s territory – time to complete its work before the deadline.

The findings of the AIM are important as Sudan is basing its decision to shut down the flow of oil on its belief that South Sudan supports rebels in Sudan. Council members will likely be interested in hearing about the progress of the investigations and any information on when the AIM is expected to complete its work.

There is hope among some members that relations between Sudan and South Sudan are improving. While several members are critical of Sudan playing the oil card, some are encouraged that it extended the date for the shutdown to 6 September (it was initially 7 August and then, 22 August). Members have also been encouraged by recent indications that President Salva Kiir of South Sudan may visit Sudan to meet with President Omar al-Bashir later this month to discuss political and economic issues. Members may ask Menkerios for information on this upcoming summit.

In addition to the AIM, Council members may be interested in learning more about the progress made by two other recently established mechanisms. One is the AU Border Program Technical Team, which is tasked with determining the centre line of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone along the mutual border. The other is the Abyei Area Joint Investigation Committee (AAJIC), consisting of representatives of the AU, the UN, Sudan and South Sudan, which is tasked with investigating the killing of the Ngok-Dinka paramount chief and a UN peacekeeper in Abyei on 4 May. (It seems that Sudan has finally agreed to the terms of reference for the AAJIC.)

Menkerios may also share with Council members any developments on the operationalisation of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) between the two countries. In particular, there may be interest in any news on when the advance team (approximately 120 troops) will be deployed to provide protection to the JBVMM monitors. The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has indicated that on the ground monitoring and verification will commence once forces are in place to provide security for the monitors along the volatile border.