Consultations on Sudan-South Sudan, UNISFA and UNAMID
Tomorrow (12 March) Council members will hold consultations on Sudan-South Sudan issues and the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in the morning and on the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in the afternoon. Haile Menkerios, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan and Head of the UN Office to the AU, is expected to brief via videoconference on Sudan-South Sudan. Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, is scheduled to brief on the reports of the Secretary-General on UNISFA released 25 February (S/2014/126) and UNAMID also released 25 February (S/2014/138) and other recent developments.
Consultations with Menkerios are likely to focus on the status of negotiations between Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) mediated by the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for Sudan and South Sudan chaired by Thabo Mbeki. Following talks that had started on 13 February and were then suspended from 18 to 27 February, Mbeki announced on 2 March that the AUHIP would refer the issue back to the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) due to an irreconcilable gap in the positions of the two parties. The principal point of disagreement appears to be over whether there should be a single forum and a national approach to addressing conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile (i.e. The Two Areas) and Darfur as advocated by the SPLM-N, or whether these should be mediated separately as argued by the delegation of Sudan. Mbeki briefed the PSC on this issue in a special session yesterday and a decision may be issued shortly. Council members had issued a press statement on 14 February that welcomed the resumption of negotiations between SPLM-N and the government of Sudan and are likely to be interested in any information from Menkerios on what may be needed to restart the talks.
Council members may also want further information from Menkerios on recent media reports of renewed violence involving Misseriya and Ngok Dinka in the contested region of Abyei. Sudan claims that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and allied Ngok Dinka are responsible for at least 10 Misseriya deaths and injuries to 20 others from clashes on 1 March. In response, South Sudan has claimed that Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), Misseriya and allied militia are responsible for the deaths of 77 Ngok Dinka in a series of attacks on 25 February and 1 March. Sudan has called for UNISFA to expel the SPLA from Abyei, while South Sudan has expressed disappointment in UNISFA’s failure to forcefully intervene against the SAF. Council members are likely to be interested in whatever clarification Ladsous may be able to provide regarding these competing claims, as well as insights regarding long-standing unresolved issues such as the creation of the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone and implementation of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism highlighted in the Secretary-General’s quarterly report covering the period from 27 November 2013 to 25 February 2014.
Regarding UNAMID, Council members will be looking forward to discussing with Ladsous the most recent report of the Secretary-General. The report provides conflict analysis, assesses UNAMID’s capabilities, identifies operational challenges and suggests options for improving effectiveness (e.g. adjusting strategic priorities, improving troop and police capacity, addressing gaps in integration within UNAMID and coordination with the UN country team, and adding a monitoring mechanism to track UNAMID’s performance). Ultimately, the report recommends adjusting UNAMID’s performance benchmarks and then re-assessing the mission’s mandate by the Council after a one year period.
Council members are also likely to be seeking an update regarding the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Darfur. In the last two days statements issued by the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concern about an escalation of violence – particularly against civilian populations – and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Darfur.