Sudan Sanctions Resolution*
Tomorrow afternoon (11 February), the Security Council president (the UK) is expected to announce the results of the written voting procedure on a draft resolution extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March 2022. The US, the penholder on Sudan sanctions, circulated the initial draft to the full Council on 4 February and one round of formal negotiations was held on Monday (8 February). The draft was placed under silence until 7 pm on Tuesday (9 February). Silence was broken by Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (the “A3 plus 1”). A revised draft passed silence this afternoon (10 February) and was put into blue.
The Council last renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts through resolution 2508 of 11 February 2020. That resolution signalled the Council’s intention to regularly review the sanctions measures in light of the evolving situation in Sudan, as had been the case with the past three resolutions renewing the Panel’s mandate. It expressed the Council’s intention to consider establishing clear, well-identified and measurable key benchmarks to guide the Council in reviewing the sanctions measures on the government of Sudan, an intention also expressed in resolution 2455 of 7 February 2019. Following the adoption of resolution 2508, China said that regular review of the sanctions regime was necessary, and, along with Russia, advocated the development of a roadmap towards lifting sanctions measures.
The draft in blue expresses the Council’s intention to take appropriate action regarding the further extension of the Panel’s mandate no later than 12 February 2022, in advance of its expiration on 12 March 2022. It requests the Secretariat to produce a report by the end of July, containing recommendations for clear and well-identified key benchmarks that could serve in guiding the Council to review the measures on Darfur. This request appears to have been made in light of positive developments in the country over the past year and the intention expressed by the Council in past resolutions to consider such benchmarks. The draft in blue expresses the Council’s intention to establish those benchmarks by 15 September.
It seems that the most difficult aspect of the negotiations pertained to the deadline for the submission of the report on options for benchmarks. Some members, including the A3 plus 1 held the view that the Secretariat should present its report within three months, instead of within the six months proposed in the initial draft. Members supporting the six-month deadline believed that three months might not have provided enough time to produce a sufficiently detailed report, due in part to travel difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. After silence was broken, it seems a compromise was reached by agreeing on the end of July.
There seems to continue to be an overarching divergence of views in the Council on the utility of the Sudan sanctions regime. Those members eager to see the Council ease the sanctions measures tend to emphasise positive developments in the country over the past year. Other Council members appear more cautious about the removal of sanctions, including as a result of the violence in Darfur in January and the findings contained in the final report of the Panel of Experts.
There have been several significant developments in Sudan since the adoption of resolution 2508 in February 2020. The government has committed itself to assuming full responsibility for the protection of its civilians in line with a National Plan for Civilian Protection, transmitted to the Council in May 2020 (S/2020/429). On 3 June 2020, the Council adopted resolution 2524 establishing the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS). On 3 October 2020, a peace agreement was signed in Juba by the government, the Sudan Revolutionary Front and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi. (The agreement has been rejected by the Darfur-based Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid, however.) The Council adopted resolution 2559, on 22 December 2020, on the exit of the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The resolution terminated the mandate of UNAMID on 31 December 2020 and requested the Secretary-General to complete the withdrawal of all uniformed and civilian UNAMID personnel by 30 June 2021. In January, intercommunal clashes in West and South Darfur resulted in the death of hundreds of people and mass displacement. The draft in blue contains additional preambular paragraphs, based on previously agreed language, in relation to some of these developments.
These and other developments are outlined in the final report of the Panel of Experts, which was considered by the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee on 11 January (S/2021/40). The report notes that the humanitarian situation in Darfur has not improved, the situation of internally displaced persons remains unchanged, and sexual and gender-based violence is endemic. The Panel found that the government continued to transfer arms and other military material into Darfur in violation of the arms embargo, without submitting any exemption requests or notifications. The implementation of the travel ban and asset freeze remained a challenge, due to lack of cooperation by the government and region, the report states. (There are four individuals listed under the sanctions regime, all in 2006.) The report also states that most of the Darfuri rebel groups have strengthened their presence in Libya, where they participated heavily in major military operations of the militia the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF, also known as the Libyan National Army).
*Post-script: On 11 February, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2562, which extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March 2022.