What's In Blue

Posted Wed 2 Apr 2014

Adoption of Resolution on AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur

The Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution on the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) tomorrow morning (3 April) that largely reflects the analysis of the special report of the Secretary-General of 25 February (S/2014/138). This report outlines the results of the review of the UNAMID mandate, as requested by the Council in resolution 2113, which renewed the mission on 30 July 2013 in the context of a deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Darfur and a lack of progress in implementing the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). The review provides an analysis of the mission’s progress in achieving its mandate.

It is also expected that the AU-UN Joint Special Representative/Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, will brief Council members tomorrow on recent developments on the ground during “any other business” following consultations on Syria.

The negotiations on the draft resolution were relatively smooth. The draft was circulated to Council members by the UK, the penholder on Darfur, on 21 March. After two negotiating sessions, followed by some bilateral exchanges to resolve final issues, the draft resolution was put under silence on 31 March. No one broke the silence, and it was put into blue yesterday (1 April) for adoption tomorrow.

In the past, negotiating outcomes on Darfur has at times been difficult because of different positions on some core issues. In the case of this draft resolution, negotiations may have been easier because the text largely draws from previously agreed language in resolution 2113, as well as from the Secretary-General’s special report. As a result, it contains balanced language regarding some of the more contentious issues that have divided Council members in the past. For example, the resolution welcomes President Omar al-Bashir’s announcement in January of a national dialogue process. In the past, China and Russia have been concerned about the imposition of a national dialogue process on the government, but acknowledgement of Bashir’s announcement in the resolution, as well as recognition of the continuing role of the DDPD as the basis of negotiation in Darfur, may have allayed these concerns. The draft also largely sidesteps an issue that has been controversial in the past: how to apportion blame for the violence in Darfur between the rebels and the government.

The key aim of the draft resolution appears to be to endorse the revised strategic priorities of the mission proposed in the Secretary-General’s special report. These include: (1) mediation between Sudan and rebel groups on the basis of the DDPD; (2) the protection of civilians, the facilitation of the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and the safety and security of humanitarian personnel; and (3) support to mediation of community conflict. The revised strategic priority relating to the protection of civilians and humanitarian issues clearly overlaps with the previous priorities outlined in resolution 2063. However, the other two priorities represent a departure from the past in that they emphasise the importance of mediation processes, both between the government and rebel groups and among communities. (While these were not originally among the mission’s priorities, the Council has in past UNAMID resolutions demanded that all parties reach a peace agreement based on the DDPD.) The revised priorities are also in keeping with the analysis of the Secretary-General’s report, which states that “the political and economic marginalization of Darfur by Khartoum continue to fuel the armed rebellion” while inter-communal violence has increased.

The draft resolution also takes note of the proposed adjustments to UNAMID’s benchmarks and indicators. The fact that it “takes note” rather than “endorses” the proposed adjustments appears to be a reflection of the fact that some members felt that the benchmarks and indicators were too general and could be further honed. As a result, the draft requests that the Secretary-General further refine these benchmarks and indicators for inclusion in his next quarterly report. The adjusted benchmarks that have been proposed are: (1) an inclusive peace process between Sudan and rebel groups that have not signed the DDPD; (2) protection of civilians and humanitarian access; and (3) prevention or mitigation of community-based conflict.

As might be expected, the proposed adjusted benchmarks are closely aligned to the priorities that the Secretary-General has identified in his report. The first two— an inclusive peace process and protection of civilians and humanitarian access—overlap existing benchmarks for UNAMID. The third one is new, again demonstrating the Secretariat’s concern with the intensification of inter-communal violence in Darfur.

While the negotiations were not divisive, revisions were made to the text to accommodate the concerns of certain Council members. In one operative paragraph encouraging UNAMID to adhere to peacekeeping principles but assume a “more preventive and preemptive” posture, Argentina objected to the use of the word “robust” before “preventive and preemptive.” To accommodate this concern, the word “robust” was removed.

Argentina’s concern may stem from the fact that the word “robust” has been used to describe UN peace operations that some troop contributing countries believe verge on war fighting, put peacekeepers at risk, and violate the three long-held tenets of peacekeeping (i.e. impartiality, use of force in self-defense or in defense of the mandate, and host country consent). Such concerns have been heightened in recent years, especially given the deployment and activities of the intervention brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as a part of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC, as well as the French parallel force operating alongside the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.

Another issue that resulted in changes to the draft text related to planned reductions in police components of the mission. In the original version of the draft resolution, the Council only requested that the Secretariat reduce the police components right away. However, some members wanted language in the resolution reflecting the view that such streamlining will enhance the mission’s effectiveness. They also want to receive detailed and timely information from the Secretary-General on this reduction in his next UNAMID report. These suggestions were added to the version of the draft resolution put into blue.

Other amendments from members were also incorporated in the final draft. For example, at the request of Rwanda, an operative paragraph was added expressing concern with the mobility challenges facing the mission, highlighted in the Secretary-General’s special report. In particular, this paragraph emphasises the need for enhanced aerial assets, including military utility helicopters, and calls on members to step up their efforts to increase the capacity of the mission in this regard.

In a paragraph in the original draft looking forward to an inclusive national dialogue in Sudan, as proposed in January by Bashir, some members suggested amendments that called for women’s participation in such a process, as well as in promoting peace in Darfur. This suggestion was incorporated into the final version of the draft resolution that will be adopted tomorrow, and indeed, prior UNAMID resolutions have called for women’s participation in Darfur peace processes.

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