What's In Blue

Posted Tue 30 Jan 2018

AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID): Presidential Statement

Tomorrow (31 January), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a presidential statement on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The initial draft was circulated by the UK as penholder to the full Council on Monday (22 January). After a round of formal negotiations on Thursday (25 January) and several subsequent revisions to the initial text, the draft passed silence this afternoon (30 January).

The presidential statement is being adopted against the backdrop of the assessment report by the AU Chairperson and the UN Secretary-General of phase one of UNAMID’s reconfiguration, requested by resolution 2363 of 29 June 2017 and received by Council members on 4 January (S/2018/12), which authorised a two-phase reconfiguration of UNAMID. Phase one of the reconfiguration, which was completed on 1 January, includes the closure of 11 UNAMID team sites and reductions in military personnel from 15,845 to 11,395 and in police personnel from 3,403 to 2,888. Phase two, which will include further reductions in UNAMID personnel, is set to begin on 31 January and last until 30 June.

During the course of negotiations, one of the key issues was determining the appropriate tone to take with regard to the actions of the government of Sudan and the situation in Darfur. While some members advocated more guarded recognition of progress that has been made, other members generally sought to include the addition of references to improvements in the situation in Darfur and positive steps the government of Sudan has taken to date.

The presidential statement welcomes improvements in the security and humanitarian situations and the ongoing absence of armed clashes between government forces and the armed opposition. However, it expresses concern about the considerable challenges that remain, particularly ensuring sustainable solutions for Darfur’s 2.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and addressing inter-communal violence. In this regard, an amendment was added to the draft recognising the government of Sudan’s stated desire and plan to sustainably address the IDP situation, while stressing that this should be done in accordance with applicable international law and calling for enhanced cooperation between the government and the international community to find a solution. Language was also incorporated during the negotiations recognising the significant decrease in inter-communal conflict, while stating that it remains a source of violence in Darfur, and expressing concern that the improvement in the overall security situation has not translated into a commensurate reduction in the level of human rights violations and abuses, such as sexual and gender-based violence and serious violations against children, perpetrated with impunity.

With regard to the political situation, the statement reiterates the Council’s support for the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) as a viable framework for the peace process. Amendments were made to the draft in order to calibrate the language on the Doha Document in a way acceptable to all members. For example, text was added noting that six years after the adoption of the DDPD, the people of Darfur have yet to benefit fully, as implementation remains uneven and unsustainable. In addition, language was added encouraging UNAMID and the UN Country Team (UNCT) to continue to engage fully in support of the DDPD. The statement further urges all parties to make immediate progress on the implementation of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AU-HIP) Roadmap, including the signing of cessation of hostilities and humanitarian assistance agreements, while urging the non-signatory armed groups to sign it without delay.

Regarding the assessment report on the conclusion of phase one of UNAMID’s reconfiguration, the statement notes the assessment’s findings that the closure of team sites has created a gap in early warning systems designed to prevent human rights violations and abuses. In light of this, it requests UNAMID and the UNCT to continue to monitor closely the impact of the reconfiguration on the ground and to report any adverse effects to the Council. Nonetheless, language was also added during the negotiations noting that no adverse effects have been reported so far, while recognising that it is still too early to reach conclusions on the full impact of the reconfiguration.

The statement welcomes the government of Sudan’s written consent on 8 January to the opening of a temporary UNAMID base in Golo, Jebel Marra, but regrets that this late consent has caused delays in establishing a timetable for opening the base. The draft also welcomes the Memorandum of Understanding signed between UNAMID and the government on the opening of the base and the transfer of the required land, and calls on the government to provide cooperation to ensure no further delays. The issue of progress on the opening of Golo, which was required during phase one, has been raised at the past several Council briefings on Darfur.

The statement deals with the government’s current weapons collection programme, including at the Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur. Kalma is one of seven team sites required to be handed over to UNAMID Formed Police Units (FPU) as part of phase two of the reconfiguration. According to the assessment report, due to the disarmament campaign, the security situation in Kalma camp, considered a stronghold of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid rebel group, has again deteriorated after a couple of years of relative calm. Negotiations in this area proved especially difficult, with Russia, supported by other members, insisting that more generally positive language be included with reference to the government’s weapons collection programme. In this regard a compromise appears to have been reached, with the final draft including language noting “the finding in the assessment report that the weapons collection programme launched by the government is reportedly creating conditions to further improve the security in Darfur beyond the state capitals”.

Another area of divergence related to language on the timing of the handover of Kalma to FPUs. The initial draft circulated decided to delay the handover of Kalma “until the end of phase two of the reconfiguration by which time the weapons collection campaign would hopefully have been completed”. This delay was apparently unacceptable to Russia and some other members, and the final text states that the handover “will be conducted by the end of phase two”.

Finally, the statement supports the recommendation in the assessment report to conduct a review to consider a new mission concept with adjusted priorities, and requests a written report of this review by 1 June that includes:

  • an evaluation of the progress in implementing phase two;
  • an update on the situation in the areas from which UNAMID withdrew during phase one;
  • an assessment of the government’s cooperation with UNAMID, including on the establishment and operationalisation of the temporary operating base in Golo;
  • an update on UNAMID’s freedom of movement; and
  • consideration of a new mission concept with adjusted priorities.

According to the statement, the report should also provide an assessment of UNAMID’s fulfilment of its mandate and strategic priorities as set out in its resolution 2363, as well as an evaluation of the progress made in addressing the root causes of the conflict.

The Council was last briefed on the situation in Darfur, including the assessment report and the 60-day report of the Secretary-General (S/2017/1113), on 10 January by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix (S/PV.8155). Council members issued press elements following consultations that anticipated some aspects of the presidential statement.

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