What's In Blue

Posted Wed 19 May 2021

Sudan: Briefing on UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan

Tomorrow (20 May), the Security Council will convene for a videoconference (VTC) briefing, followed by VTC consultations, on the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS). Special Representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS Volker Perthes is expected to brief. The briefing will cover the latest Secretary-General’s 90-day report on UNITAMS (S/2021/470), which includes information in an annex about the drawdown and withdrawal of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), as requested in resolutions 2524 and 2559.

At tomorrow’s briefing, Perthes is expected to provide an assessment of the political situation in Sudan. According to the Secretary-General’s report, there has been limited progress in advancing key elements of the political transition and the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA). Following several postponements, state governors have yet to be appointed (except for the governor of Darfur who was appointed on 29 April) and the Transitional Legislative Council has yet to been formed. Efforts to engage with the non-signatories of the JPA have continued. On 28 March, the Chairman of the Transitional Sovereign Council, Lt. General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the Commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North Abdelaziz Al-Hilu faction (SPLM-N Al-Hilu) signed a Declaration of Principles affirming their engagement in negotiations in Juba, which are due to begin at the end of May.

Council members may be interested in hearing details of how UNITAMS can support the implementation of the JPA, in line with the mission’s mandate and as requested by the signatories to the agreement. In their statements, some members may stress the need for the meaningful participation of women in the transitional government and other decision-making bodies, including a minimum of 40 percent female representation in the Transitional Legislative Council, as stipulated in the Constitutional Document and the JPA.

In relation to the security situation, Perthes may highlight that intercommunal clashes remain a major source of insecurity in Sudan, especially in Darfur where 170 people were killed and over 230 others injured during the reporting period, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report. Council members may be interested in hearing more about what steps the transitional government has taken following the outbreak of violence in El Geneina in early April. There are concerns over the transitional government’s inaction in restoring order and immediately deploying protection forces in Darfur as stipulated in the National Plan for the Protection of Civilians, transmitted to the Council in May 2020 (S/2020/429), whereby the transitional government took responsibility for the protection of its civilian population. The Secretary-General’s report calls on the transitional government “to do more to effectively protect its civilians”. At tomorrow’s briefing, several members may express concern that the security situation in some regions of Darfur is still precarious and underscore the need to avoid further violence and address the root causes of the conflict. The situation of more than 2.5 million internally displaced persons as well as the economic and humanitarian situations are also likely to be raised.

During his briefing, Perthes may note that the AU Peace and Security Council conducted a three-day field mission to Sudan from 29 March to 1 April. It issued a communiqué on 13 April which, among other things, takes note of the request by the transitional government of Sudan for support in the organisation of a constitutional conference and elections. It also “expresses concern over the security challenges exacerbated by the withdrawal of UNAMID troops in Darfur and urges the transitional government of Sudan to prioritize protection of civilians”. Regarding the regional situation, Council members may seek to learn more about the impact of tensions which have escalated over the eastern border in the Fashaqah area between the Sudan and Ethiopia, resulting in sporadic clashes, as well as tensions over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Council members may be particularly interested in hearing further details on the implementation of UNITAMS’ mandate and what potential adjustments might be useful in this regard, given that the Council is expected to renew the mandate ahead of its expiration on 3 June. Perthes may note that UNITAMS has reached its initial operational capacity, with 12 national staff and 62 international staff as of 1 May. He may refer to the mission’s recent activities, including the development of plans to support the Sudanese Police Force, in line with the human rights due diligence policy. In accordance with the mission’s electoral assistance mandate, and following a request made by the national authorities for support, an Electoral Needs Assessment Mission visited Sudan from 5 to 23 April and is expected to submit its recommendations to Sudanese partners, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report.

Perthes is also expected to brief the Council on the benchmarks and indicators contained in the Secretary-General’s report designed to measure progress in the delivery of the nine strategic priorities across the four pillars of UNITAMS’ mandate, as requested in resolution 2524. Members are likely to be interested in hearing further details on how the mission expects to use the 20 benchmarks and 107 indicators, included as an annex to the report. According to the report, UNITAMS will work with the UN country team and the transitional government to establish a baseline and targets for the benchmarks in the second quarter of 2021 to begin tracking progress, with some indicators potentially being adjusted. The mission will also seek to establish a robust monitoring and data collection mechanism on progress toward the benchmarks.

Some members may be interested in hearing an assessment of UNAMID’s drawdown and exit, including in light of the difficult security situation in Darfur. The 90-day report notes that UNAMID remains on schedule for the closure of its 14 team sites and will enter its liquidation phase on 1 July, which is expected to be completed within one year. It states that the mission is in the process of finalising the establishment of a guard unit consisting of 363 formed police unit personnel, as authorised in resolution 2559 to protect UNAMID’s personnel, facilities and assets.