What's In Blue

Posted Wed 2 Jun 2021

Sudan: Vote on UNITAMS Mandate Renewal*

Tomorrow (3 June) morning, the Security Council is expected to vote in person on a draft resolution extending the mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) for one year, until 3 June 2022.

The UK, the penholder on Sudan, circulated an initial draft text to the Council on 17 May. Two rounds of formal negotiations were held on 20 May and 26 May. The penholder placed a draft text under silence until noon on Friday (28 May). Silence was broken by the US on a preambular paragraph. A slightly revised draft text passed silence and was put into blue yesterday (1 June).

It seems that negotiations on the text went relatively smoothly, with areas of disagreement mostly centring on preambular language. In addition to addressing the views of Council members, the penholder apparently consulted with Sudan and took its views on the text into account throughout the process.

The draft resolution in blue retains the four strategic objectives for UNITAMS outlined in resolution 2524, which established the mission on 3 June 2020. It contains several adjustments, including to reflect the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) signed on 3 October 2020. Broadly, UNITAMS’ strategic objectives are: (i) assisting the political transition; (ii) supporting the peace processes and the implementation of the JPA; (iii) assisting peacebuilding, protection of civilians and rule of law, particularly in Darfur and the Two Areas (that is, South Kordofan and Blue Nile); and (iv) supporting the mobilisation of economic and development assistance, and coordination of humanitarian and peacebuilding assistance. On the latter, apparently there was some debate during the negotiations on the extent to which a special political mission should engage in economic mobilisation as a core task. In this regard, the draft contains language on supporting the coordination between international financial institutions (IFIs) and donors to optimise collective UN, IFI and donor resources in support of the government’s national priorities. On humanitarian assistance, the draft reflects some changes such as language on support to the coordination of provision of humanitarian assistance, including the government’s facilitation efforts, and the mobilisation of humanitarian financing.

The draft resolution in blue decides that, in line with its strategic objectives and support to the government’s national priorities, UNITAMS should prioritise support to six specified areas during the mandate period. These areas include support to ceasefire monitoring in Darfur; implementation of the National Plan for Civilian Protection; and the constitution drafting process. The draft text in blue requests the Secretary-General to swiftly increase the deployment of personnel to UNITAMS. (UNITAMS has reached its initial operational capacity, with 12 national staff and 62 international staff as of 1 May, according to the Secretary-General’s 17 May report on the mission.) The draft text also requests the government to swiftly sign the UNITAMS Status of Mission Agreement. A further request is for UNITAMS and the UN Country Team with which it is integrated to establish an Integrated Strategic Framework or an equivalent within 60 days of the resolution’s adoption.

The draft text takes note of the benchmarks and indicators outlined in an annex to the Secretary-General’s 17 May report (S/2021/470), which tracks UNITAMS’ progress against its strategic objectives. (The request for benchmarks was made in resolution 2524.) An earlier version of the draft text welcomed the benchmarks, but following opposition from Russia, it was changed and now takes note of them. A request from Russia to delete references to the indicators altogether was not accepted by the penholder. The draft does, however, request UNITAMS to identify qualitative indicators to complement the existing indicators that are quantitative in nature.

On the protection of civilians, new preambular language was included urging the government to swiftly implement its National Plan for Civilian Protection (S/2020/429) and the provisions of the JPA that are aimed at improving civilian protection, including the formation and deployment of the Joint Security Keeping Force and state-level protection of civilians committees. A new operative paragraph welcomes the positive dialogue established between UNITAMS and the Sudanese authorities regarding capacity building to strengthen the protection of civilians and requests the Secretary-General to facilitate the deployment of additional individual police officers to UNITAMS.

The draft resolution expresses concern that the security situation in some areas of Darfur has deteriorated because of increased intercommunal violence and underscores the need to intensify peacebuilding efforts. Intercommunal clashes remain a major source of insecurity in Sudan, especially in Darfur, where 170 people were killed and over 230 injured during the reporting period of the Secretary-General’s most recent report.

During the negotiations, China and Russia apparently opposed language on conflict- related sexual violence and climate change. It seems that proposed language referencing sexual and reproductive health services in an operative paragraph was also unacceptable to some members and was not included in the draft text in blue. Following the breaking of silence by the US, a preambular paragraph underlining the importance of sustainable socioeconomic development for sustaining peace in Sudan was removed. A new reference to desertification was also removed in a preambular paragraph addressing climate change, to reflect previously agreed language. Apparently, the changes made following the breaking of silence were acceptable to all Council members except Russia.

The draft text in blue contains several additions in the resolution’s preambular part to reflect developments over the past year, including language welcoming steps taken to implement the Constitutional Document; steps taken by the government to enact necessary macroeconomic reforms; the signing of the JPA; and the signing of the Declaration of Principles on 28 March by the government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North Al-Hilu. The draft resolution contains some new operative paragraphs, which include language encouraging the government to engage with the UN Peacebuilding Commission and requesting the Secretary-General to include information on participation of youth in the implementation of the JPA. There is also a new paragraph encouraging the government to cooperate closely with the AU on issues of regional peace and security. It also encourages UNITAMS to ensure coordination with the AU and the Inter-governmental Authority for Development (IGAD).


*Post-Script: On June 3rd, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2579, which extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) until 3 June 2022.

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