What's In Blue

Posted Mon 10 Feb 2014

Consultations on South Sudan, Sudan-South Sudan and Sudan Sanctions

Tomorrow (11 February), Council members will hold consultations on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Sudan-South Sudan relations and Sudan sanctions. Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, are expected to brief on UNMISS and Sudan-South Sudan issues whereas Ambassador María Cristina Perceval (Argentina), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, will do so on sanctions. Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan and head of UNMISS Hilde Johnson appears likely to brief via video teleconference. At press time no outcome had been circulated by the US, the penholder on South Sudan. However, given that the second round of peace talks on South Sudan did not begin today as scheduled due the rebels’ refusal to participate until political prisoners are released and Ugandan troops leave the country, some Council members may want to discuss the possibility of reacting to this development through a statement.

UNMISS

Council members will likely be keen to hear Ladsous’ insights from his recent trip to South Sudan on 2-3 February. There are a number of issues that Ladsous and potentially Johnson, if she participates, are likely to cover in briefing on UNMISS. Some of these are operational in nature, while others relate to the broader political processes.

Regarding operational issues, the security of UNMISS bases, both in terms of external threats and internal policing, will probably be of interest. Members will also likely want to receive an update on the deployment status of the 5,500 additional troops authorised by the Council in resolution 2123 on 24 December 2013. A related area of interest to Council members is the extent to which UNMISS now has the capacity to extend operations beyond its bases and regularly patrol in conflict-affected areas.

The briefers may also discuss efforts that have been made by UNMISS to coordinate with the advance team of ceasefire monitors deployed 2-7 February by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Some members may also want information on how UNMISS may be able to assist the upcoming AU Commission of Inquiry which, according to the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) communiqué of 30 December, is expected to make recommendations on the best ways to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing in South Sudan. The UN Security Council welcomed this Commission of Inquiry in a 10 January press statement (SC/11244) which also endorsed the PSC’s “intent to take appropriate measures” against those who incite or perpetrate violence or undermine UNMISS’s protection mandate.

Other matters related to the peace process and political developments in South Sudan will likely be addressed as well. There may be interest in receiving information on the negotiating positions of the government and the opposition, particularly as the second round of peace talks which were scheduled for today have now been postponed, possibly to tomorrow afternoon. Some members may also inquire about the implications in Jonglei state of the recent peace agreement between the Government of South Sudan and the South Sudan Democratic Movement rebel group, whose military wing has been led by David Yau Yau.

Council members may also be keen to know more about the status of Ugandan troops deployed in South Sudan. On 31 January, Uganda said that it would not withdraw all its forces, although a ceasefire deal signed on 23 January called for progressive withdrawal or redeployment of allied forces. Uganda’s presence in South Sudan has been complicated by its admittance that its troops were fighting alongside the government against the rebels, particularly in and around Bor. This is a cause of concern to some because it calls into question IGAD’s impartiality as a mediator, as Uganda is a member of IGAD.

Members may also be interested in an update on the UN report on human rights abuses in South Sudan. On 20 January UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic indicated that the initial findings would be released in a few weeks but so far Council members have not been given details of the findings.

More generally, issues related to UNMISS’s mandate and its potential revision taking into consideration the forthcoming recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report due in March may also be raised during the briefing and consultations. A key consideration for Council members is whether UNMISS’s mandate should be adapted moving forward to emphasise protection of civilians as the main priority of the mission.

The briefing by Amos will likely draw upon her recent trip to South Sudan from 27-29 January, as well as cover a broad range of humanitarian issues facing the country. Citing the displacement of approximately 900,000 people and increasing food insecurity, on 4 February UN agencies and their partners appealed for $1.27 billion in donor assistance for South Sudan. The humanitarian situation is particularly urgent as the rainy season is approaching, greatly complicating any future delivery of emergency relief supplies. One issue that Council members may wish to discuss with Amos is what steps are being taken to improve the security of humanitarian supplies. In one incident, approximately 3,700 tonnes of food were looted from a World Food Programme warehouse in Malakal, Upper Nile state. Council members could also raise the issue of public health concerns in South Sudan and what steps UN agencies are taking to prevent an outbreak of various diseases in UN camps and the country more broadly.

Sudan-South Sudan

While the attention of international actors has largely been focused on the internal conflict in South Sudan since the alleged 15 December coup, the monthly consultations on Sudan-South Sudan are a useful opportunity to highlight important border issues and other dynamics between the two countries. There are several points that Ladsous may include in his briefing and Council members may wish to discuss further in consultations including the implications of a reported increase in conflict intensity in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states during the last few months and the status of negotiations regarding humanitarian access in both states.

Some members may be looking as well for an update on the situation in Abyei and the work of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei. This could include any progress in establishing the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone between South Sudan and Sudan, and the current state of inter-communal relations in Abyei between the Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka ethnic groups.

Other issues that could be covered include how the recent conflict has affected oil production in South Sudan and an update on Sudan potentially providing technical assistance to operate oil facilities. The overall status of implementing the 27 September 2012 agreements between Sudan and South Sudan may also come up.

Sudan Sanctions

During her briefing in consultations with Council members, Ambassador Perceval is expected to communicate findings from the final report of the Panel of Experts (PoE) as well as providing an update on the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee. It seems that the Committee has yet to finalise consideration of the report but there has been no indication so far that the report will not be published in the near future. (The 2011 final report has not yet been released and publication of the 2010 report was delayed six months.)

Ambassador Perceval may also wish to share insights from a 20-23 January trip to Khartoum and Darfur, where she met with members of the government and UN officials. The importance of attaining access to Darfur for all members of the PoE may be raised in the discussion with Perceval in consultations.

On 13 February the Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the PoE and the Sudan sanctions regime. It seems that there have been three rounds of negotiations on the draft resolution.

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