What's In Blue

Council to Adopt Resolution Renewing the Sudan Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts

On Thursday (12 February), the Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the panel of experts of the Sudan Sanctions Committee for an additional 13 months until 12 March 2016. (The current mandate expires on 13 March.) The first draft was circulated early last week, and after two rounds of negotiations and further bilateral exchanges between Russia and the US, the resolution was put under silence late Friday evening (6 February) until Monday morning (9 February) and was put into blue on Monday.

This draft resolution builds largely on last year’s resolution renewing the mandate of the Panel (S/RES/2138). However, some adjustments have been made. Most notably, the draft to be voted on strengthens the language regarding restrictions against the movement of weapons and ammunition by Sudan and government-affiliated armed groups into Darfur. Noting that such movements are “routine”, it recalls that Sudan is obliged under resolution 1591 to request approval from the Committee in advance of transporting military equipment and supplies into Darfur. Language has also been added requesting the Panel to share any evidence of potential non-compliance with the assets freeze and travel ban with the Committee as soon as possible. Additionally, the draft resolution condemns the use of camps for internally displaced persons by armed groups in ways that benefit them and pose risks to civilians; this also represents a departure from last year’s resolution.

A number of Council members have described the negotiations on the draft as contentious, with the US and Russia being the most vocal. By and large, Russia argued that the text initially circulated tended to be too critical of the government without sufficiently acknowledging the role of the rebel groups in the conflict. As a compromise, references to “armed groups” committing crimes against civilians were amended in two places to specify that such groups are opposed to the government. Language in the initial draft stating that UN personnel and humanitarian organisations had been denied access to North Darfur was also amended to specify that access had been denied only to “areas in North Darfur.”

There were also differences over how to characterise the work of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which plays a mediating role in Sudan’s conflicts. The original draft referred to the AUHIP’s efforts to coordinate a comprehensive negotiating framework in Sudan, in keeping with the AU Peace and Security Council’s 12 September 2014 communiqué [PSC/PR/COMM.(CDLVI)] and the government’s commitment to an inclusive national dialogue. This is consistent with the notion that while there are two separate tracks for peace talks (one on Darfur and another on South Kordofan and Blue Nile states), they are both part of one, holistic process. However, Russia objected to this language. As a result, rather than referring to a coordinated negotiating architecture, the draft put into blue merely notes the importance of the AUHIP, the aims of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and the stated commitment of Sudan to an inclusive national dialogue that builds on the AUHIP’s efforts.

Thursday’s adoption occurs a week after the quarterly briefing by the chair of the Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Rafael Ramírez (Venezuela), on 5 February. The briefing took place in consultations. (This breaks with the recent practice of holding sanctions committee briefings in an open session, followed by consultations.) Ramírez apparently told Council members that the Committee recognised the quality of the Panel’s final report (S/2015/31). He added that the Committee was concerned about attacks on civilians and UN personnel, while noting that several Committee members remarked on continued violations of the arms embargo.

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