What's In Blue

Posted Mon 10 Dec 2018

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

Tomorrow (11 December), 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, the penholder on Darfur, to the full Council on 5 November. One round of formal negotiations with all 15 Council members took place on 8 November. This was followed by multiple rounds of bilateral negotiations, in particular with Ethiopia. Several subsequent revisions were made to the initial text, and a revised draft passed silence and is now in blue.

The draft presidential statement was initially circulated following the Secretary-General’s most recent 90-day report, dated 12 October, which set out “proposed benchmarks and indicators of achievement” for the exit of UNAMID, in an annex to the report (S/2018/912). This was his first report since the 13 July adoption of resolution 2429, which extended UNAMID’s mandate until 30 June 2019 and reduced and reconfigured the mission along with redefining its strategic priorities. The resolution reduced UNAMID’s troop ceiling from 8,735 to 4,050 military personnel, while maintaining the authorised police personnel ceiling at 2,500, and proposed a reconfiguration of its mandate. It requested UNAMID to focus on both peacekeeping and long-term solutions to conflict drivers in Darfur “with a view towards the exit of the mission on 30 June 2020, and liquidation by December 2020, provided there is no significant change in the security situation in Darfur and key indicators are fulfilled”. It further asked that the Secretary-General’s first 90-day report include a detailed, clearly benchmarked exit strategy for UNAMID, as well as how progress on these benchmarks should be monitored. In addition, it requested the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Commission to conduct a strategic review of UNAMID by 1 May 2019.

The presidential statement that will be adopted tomorrow includes several additional paragraphs not contained in the initial draft circulated by the UK, which focused almost exclusively on the Secretary-General’s proposed benchmarks and indicators. This was done following input primarily from Ethiopia, supported by Bolivia, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kuwait and Russia. For example, language was added to the first paragraph expressing the Council’s “commitment to supporting the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and development in Darfur”. Language was also added welcoming continued improvements in the security situation across Darfur outside the Jebel Marra area, aided by the government’s arms collection campaign and efforts by the government and UNAMID to promote peaceful resolution of intercommunal disputes. The statement expresses concern over the security and humanitarian situation in the Jebel Marra area and urges all parties to adhere to their unilateral cessations of hostilities and to allow unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need. According to the Secretary-General’s report, intermittent clashes continue in the Jebel Marra area between government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid, and intercommunal conflict and disputes over land and resources also persist.

Language was added noting that the process of handing over additional UNAMID team sites in accordance with resolution 2429 is currently underway and encouraging the government of Sudan to ensure these are utilised in line with agreements made between UNAMID and the government of Sudan, and that UNAMID “has unfettered access throughout Darfur, including to the areas from which it has withdrawn”. The draft also recalls the Council’s “intention to consider imposing additional measures against any party that impedes the peace process” as stated in resolution 2429.

The focus of the draft in blue remains the Secretary-General’s proposed set of benchmarks and indicators, which are categorised into three main areas in his report:

  • Protection of civilians; monitoring and reporting on human rights, sexual and gender-based violence and grave violations against children; the facilitation of humanitarian assistance; and the safety and security of humanitarian personnel
  • Support for the mediation of intercommunal or other local conflict that could undermine the security situation, including through measures to address its root causes, in conjunction with the Government of the Sudan, the United Nations country team and civil society [and]
  • Mediation between the Government of the Sudan and non-signatory armed movements on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.

According to his report, the new set of indicators is meant to reflect the positive changes in the security situation in Darfur and political developments in Sudan since 2014. More specifically the indicators are intended to be (a) government of the Sudan-centred, (b) measurable and (c) realistic in terms of time frame. The report also recommends that the May 2019 strategic review include an assessment of their implementation.

The initial draft presidential statement welcomed the Secretary-General’s report and endorsed the benchmarks and indicators contained in it. This endorsement was removed from the draft in blue, which now only takes note of the report instead of welcoming it. In relation to reporting on the benchmarks and indicators, the draft in blue requests the Secretary-General, and invites the Chairperson of the AU Commission, to provide detailed reporting on the progress made towards achieving the benchmarks and indicators in the regular 90-day reports and further requests that UNAMID and the UN Country Team (UNCT) monitor progress against the benchmarks and indicators in a robust manner. Language was added acknowledging that while some of the proposed benchmarks and indicators are of more immediate priority, others reflect longer-term peacebuilding objectives in Darfur. It requests that the 90-day reports and upcoming strategic review give particular priority to progress against the benchmarks and indicators focused on protection of civilians, particularly relating to internally displaced persons and returning refugees, human rights, rule of law, the humanitarian situation, and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration “to help guide the Security Council’s considerations on the future of UNAMID’s mandate.”

The draft in blue retains language from the initial draft encouraging UNAMID and the UNCT, together with relevant stakeholders, to support efforts to advance progress on the proposed benchmarks and indicators and to ensure that sufficient human and financial resourcing is devoted to sustainable transition planning and activities. It also notes that the benchmarks and indicators contain a number of actions to be undertaken by the government of Sudan, and calls on the government to engage constructively with UNAMID, the UNCT, the International Implementation Follow-up Committee of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and relevant national stakeholders towards significant improvement in the situation in Darfur and progress towards the proposed benchmarks and indicators.

Lastly, the draft in blue acknowledges that adequate resources are needed to ensure that benchmarks and indicators are met, as well as for the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, development and sustaining peace in Darfur. In this regard, the draft takes note of the potential role of the Peacebuilding Fund and encourages member states and donors to participate in the pledging conference proposed during the High-Level Event on the Transition from Peacekeeping to Peacebuilding and Development in Darfur on 28 September as well as the ongoing Darfur Development Strategy. The issue of financing was also referred to in the Secretary-General’s 90-day report, which said that the “mission and its partners have the challenge of overcoming the chronic funding and personnel shortfall that the UNCT has increasingly faced as Darfur has moved out of the global spotlight.”

Looking ahead, on 14 December the Council expects to receive the semi-annual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor related to the court’s work on Darfur and on 17 December, the quarterly briefing by Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, on the committee’s work.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails