Briefing and Consultations on AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur
Tomorrow morning (23 January), the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on the most recent report (S/2014/26) of the Secretary-General on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), likely by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous. Council members will hold consultations on UNAMID following the briefing.
The mix of insecurity and lack of progress in the Darfur peace process are likely to be key themes of the briefing and consultations. One area of great concern to several Council members that will probably be emphasised by Ladsous is the devastating toll that the conflict continues to take on civilians. As the Secretary-General’s report notes, “intermittent clashes between Government and armed movement forces, resource-based inter-communal fighting and widespread banditry continued to place civilians at serious risk of physical violence.” Related concerns about impunity, widespread displacement, and reports of sexual and gender-based violence have been consistently and publicly voiced by several Council members as well. Unfortunately, international efforts to help address the situation on the ground have had little impact to date.
Another issue that Ladsous will likely discuss is the ongoing violence against UNAMID peacekeepers. While the Council as a whole has strongly condemned attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers (S/RES/2113), this is an especially important issue to Council members such as China, Jordan, Nigeria, Republic of Korea and Rwanda that have personnel in UNAMID. The most recent UNAMID fatalities were two police officers (one from Senegal, the other from Jordan, which joined the Council on 1 January) who were killed on 29 December by unidentified assailants in Southern Darfur. They were among a total of 16 peacekeepers killed in Darfur in 2013.
The implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) is another matter of concern to the Council where there has been limited progress. When the Implementation Follow-Up Commission on the DDPD held its seventh meeting on 16 December 2013 in El Fasher, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud of Qatar, who chaired the session, said that the prevailing insecurity in Darfur had stalled implementation of the DDPD. Participants also expressed concern that none of the approximately $1 billion committed by donors to support Darfur’s reconstruction and development at the Doha Conference on 7-8 April 2013 had yet been delivered. And while UNAMID Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator Mohamed Ibn Chambas noted after the meeting that 315 reconstruction and development projects had recently been initiated in Darfur, it is unclear how much progress has been made on the implementation of these projects. Regarding the DDPD, the Secretary-General’s report states that “more emphasis is…needed on activities that bring about tangible benefits to ordinary Darfuris,” while calling on “the signatory parties to accelerate implementation…of the agreement.” While concerned about the lack of progress, the Council and other international actors have been unable to date to play a meaningful role in facilitating implementation of the DDPD.
Also a key issue that will likely be addressed by Ladsous tomorrow is the need for an inclusive peace process in Darfur. To date, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) and the Justice and Equality Movement—Bashar are the only Darfur rebel groups that have signed the DDPD, having done so in July 2011 and April 2013 respectively. While Chambas has continued his efforts to reach out to the non-signatory movements (JEM-Jabril Ibrahim, Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)- Minni Minawi and the SLA-Abdul Wahid), it does not seem that much progress has been made in compelling them to join the peace process. Council members may be interested in what needs to be done to break this impasse.
Another matter that may be discussed tomorrow is the relationship between the conflict in South Sudan and the situation in Darfur. Recently, rebels fighting in South Sudan have accused the JEM Jabril Ibrahim of participating alongside South Sudan, an allegation denied by the JEM. On 2 January, El Tijani Seisi, the chairperson of the Darfur Regional Authority, expressed concern that fighting in South Sudan could result in large numbers of refugees entering Darfur, stating that authorities did not have the capacity to address such a situation. Some Council members may be interested in an assessment of whether such a scenario could occur, and what role UNAMID, in conjunction with the UN country team, might play in addressing it.
Given the many challenges facing UNAMID in recent months, several Council members are awaiting the Secretary-General’s options and recommendations for improving UNAMID’s effectiveness, as requested by resolution 2113 on 31 July 2013. However, this is not likely to be addressed in-depth tomorrow, as the due date for these options and recommendations is the end of February, with the Council only likely to take this issue up in March. (At press time, it was unclear whether this review would take the form of a written report or a letter). According to the most recent UNAMID report, the UN Secretariat is working on the review in consultation with the AU Commission, UNAMID and the UN country team, and will hold “consultations with senior African Union officials and discussions with the Government of Sudan on the findings” on the margins of the AU Summit, currently planned for 24-31 January.