What's In Blue

Posted Sun 28 Jun 2015

AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur Mandate Renewal

On Monday (29 June), the Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for an additional year in keeping with the recommendation made by the Secretary-General in his recent report (S/2015/378). For the last week, Council members have been negotiating a draft text which was circulated to the full Council on Friday (19 June). There were two negotiating sessions and several bilateral discussions that extended into the weekend. After three attempts, the draft passed the silence procedure this morning (28 June) and was put in blue for adoption tomorrow.

The draft resolution proposes maintaining a force structure of up to 15,845 military personnel, 1,583 police, and 13 formed police units (up to 140 police per unit). The mission’s core mandate remains essentially the same, with the Council reiterating the strategic priorities of the mission. These include the protection of civilians; the facilitation of humanitarian access and the safety and security of humanitarian personnel; mediation between the government of Sudan and rebel groups; and support to inter-communal conflict mediation. Regarding the mission’s use of resources, the draft resolution prioritises the protection of civilians and the facilitation of humanitarian access. With regard to the protection of civilians, it calls for the mission to continue to move in the direction of a more preventive and preemptive approach, while engaging in effective and active patrolling in high risk areas, including in areas with large numbers of internally displaced people. Concerning humanitarian access, it calls for such access to be unhindered, safe and timely, while also noting the mission’s role in protecting humanitarian workers.

Like last year’s resolution, the draft text paints a dire picture of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. It expresses deep concern over the deteriorating security situation in the region and its effect on civilians. It highlights the heightened fighting between the government and rebel forces and an escalation of inter-communal violence. Aerial bombardments, criminality, banditry, inter-communal conflict, and attacks by the government and rebel groups are among the factors noted that undermine the security of civilians.

UNAMID’s benchmarks are attached to the draft resolution as an annex, along with relevant indicators for each benchmark. (The benchmarks include: an inclusive peace process through mediation between the government and non-signatory armed movements on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DPDD); protection of civilians and unhindered humanitarian access and safety and security of humanitarian personnel; and prevention or mitigation of community conflict through mediation and, in conjunction with the UN Country Team, measures to address root causes.)

Negotiations were difficult on a number of issues. There were differences over the inclusion of a preambular paragraph expressing concern over evidence of the use of two cluster bombs near Kirigiyati in North Darfur, and reiterating the Secretary-General’s call on Sudan to investigate the use of cluster munitions. Several members supported this paragraph, and the US, while not a signatory of the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions, accepted the way the language had been formulated by the penholder. China and Russia, also not signatories to the Oslo convention, did not appear comfortable with this paragraph. Ultimately, however, it was retained in the final draft text in blue.

Another area of disagreement related to how to characterise the exit strategy for UNAMID and the work of the tripartite UN, AU and government of Sudan Working Group established to develop the exit strategy. The P3 and others wanted to note that the exit strategy is tied to the mission’s benchmarks. These members also wanted to emphasise that the UN Secretary-General will make recommendations to the Council on the exit strategy, in accordance last year’s UNAMID renewal resolution, taking into consideration the Working Group’s perspectives. On the other hand, Russia, supported by the African members of the Council, preferred not to emphasise the conditionality of the exit strategy. They also wanted the Council to highlight the role of the tripartite Working Group in developing suggestions that will inform the Secretary-General’s recommendations to the Council. Several proposals were made for how to calibrate language on the Working Group and the exit strategy in an attempt to find a compromise. The text in blue takes note of consultations among the UN, AU and Sudan, notably in the framework of the tripartite Working Group to develop an exit strategy “in accordance with the mission’s benchmarks,” calls for an early resumption of its consultations, and “looks forward to the Secretary-General’s recommendations, including by building on any agreed recommendations of the Joint Working Group.” This language appears to emphasise the Secretary-General’s authority to provide recommendations on the exit strategy, while also noting that the Working Group has an important role to play in feeding into those recommendations.

A paragraph has also been incorporated in the final draft text that stresses that any refinement of the mission should “be based on progress against the benchmarks and the conditions on the ground” while being “implemented in a gradual, phased, flexible and reversible manner.” Whereas an earlier version of this paragraph noted that there had been a significant deterioration of the security situation and a lack of progress against the mission’s benchmarks, the final version merely notes that the security situation is “evolving.” This revision appears to reflect the view of some members that concerns over the security situation should not be highlighted in this paragraph. There was also a split among Council members over whether the word “reversible” should be used to describe refinements in the mission. The P3 and a few others were supportive of the use of this term, while Russia, China, the African members and some others were not. Ultimately the term “reversible” was retained in the text in blue.

How to describe the mediation processes in Darfur was another contentious area. Russia, China and African members apparently wanted the same language as used in resolution 2173, highlighting the efforts of the Joint Special Representative in revitalising the peace process in coordination with the AU High-Level Implementation Panel and the UN Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan. Other members argued that this language would continue to privilege the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, rather than broader, more comprehensive approaches related to Sudan as a whole. As such, the US, supported by others, preferred to emphasise the role of all three mediators in pursuing a holistic approach to peace in Sudan. This is consistent with the language of the AU Peace and Security Council’s 22 June communiqué. Although the PSC reiterates its support for the Doha Document in that communiqué “as a viable framework for bringing lasting peace and reconciliation in Darfur”, it also stresses that the Darfur crisis needs to be addressed “as part of this holistic approach to challenges of peace, governance and democracy in Sudan.” In the version in blue, the language used was consistent with resolution 2173, in line with what Russia and the African members of the Council wanted.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails