What's In Blue

Posted Sun 23 Nov 2014

Sudan Sanctions Committee Briefing

Tomorrow (24 November), the Security Council will hold a public briefing, followed by consultations, on the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee. Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval of Argentina, chair of the Committee, is expected to brief.

Monday’s briefing follows on the heels of the 13 November Sudan Sanctions Committee meeting. In a departure from standard practice, the meeting was attended by Sudan and countries in the region such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Libya, and South Sudan. (Traditionally sanctions committee meetings are only attended by members of the committee i.e. the 15 Council members, although there has been a movement in recent months toward broadening participation in sanctions committee meetings to include regional actors, as has been done in recent meetings of the Yemen and Libya Sanctions Committees). It appears that Argentina’s intention was to promote constructive dialogue with countries neighbouring Sudan with the hope that this could generate strategies for better enforcement of the sanctions regime. During the meeting, Chad asserted that it had cooperated with Sudan in establishing joint border mechanisms in an effort to stem the illicit flow of weapons into Darfur. While Sudan affirmed its cooperation with the sanctions regime, one Council member argued that the real problem is that weapons are being shipped into Darfur from other parts of Sudan, rather than directly across the border into Darfur from neighbouring countries. (The most recent final report of the Panel of Experts [S/2014/87] found that Sudan was responsible for violations of the arms embargo.)

On Monday Perceval may emphasise in her briefing that the 13 November Sanctions Committee meeting was an effort to enhance the transparency of the work of the Council’s subsidiary bodies for the wider membership and that it provided a forum for a useful exchange of ideas. She may also share with the Council some of the substance of that meeting. Finally, it is possible that she will outline the reporting schedule of the Panel of Experts, which submitted its third quarterly report earlier this month and is expected to submit its final report by 17 January 2015.

The fact that Perceval will provide her briefing in an open session reflects another recent trend, one toward greater transparency in the work of sanctions committees. In recent months, for example, Lithuania has held public briefings on the work of the sanctions committees that it chairs (on the Central African Republic and Yemen) while Chile briefed the Council on the work of the Cote d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee in a public briefing late last month.

A number of issues may be raised in the consultations that follow the meeting. It is possible that some members may raise concerns about violations of the arms embargo, which have been described in reports of the Panel of Experts in recent years. There may also be differing perspectives expressed on Sudan’s cooperation with the Committee and its Panel of Experts. Some members may take the position that Sudan processed visas for members of the Panel quickly this year, while others may be more critical noting that only one of the members of the Panel received a multi-entry visa.

While the meeting is focused on the Sanctions Committee, general concerns may also be raised about the strained relations between UNAMID and the Sudanese government. On 21 November, Abdallah al-Azraq, a representative of Sudan’s foreign ministry, said in a press briefing that UNAMID should prepare to leave Sudan. The statement follows shortly after Sudan’s 16 November letter to the Council indicating it would not permit UNAMID to return to the North Darfur village of Tabit in order to further investigate allegations that Sudanese security forces raped 200 girls and women in the village on 4 November (S/2014/819). (After being denied access for several days, UNAMID investigators were allowed to enter the village on 9 November; there was a heavy Sudanese military presence in the village when the investigators were interviewing the inhabitants and due to an environment of intimidation they were unable to confirm during their visit whether rape had occurred.)

Monday’s briefing will be Perceval’s final quarterly briefing as the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, as Argentina’s term on the Council ends on 31 December. At press time, it remains unclear who will replace Argentina as chair of the Committee.

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