What's In Blue

Posted Fri 8 Mar 2024

Sudan: Vote on a Draft Resolution*

This afternoon (8 March), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Sudan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts on 10 March. The draft text was proposed by the UK, the penholder on Sudan. Following the vote on this draft resolution, the Council will vote on a draft resolution extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.

The UK circulated a one-page zero draft to Council members on Monday (4 March), inviting comments on the text until the next day (5 March). The penholder subsequently circulated a revised draft text on Wednesday (6 March) and put it under silence procedure until yesterday (7 March). Russia broke silence, after which some members submitted additional comments. Russia apparently expressed reservations about the need for a Council resolution and proposed a draft presidential statement as an alternative. The penholder subsequently amended the draft resolution, taking into account additional comments and incorporating some elements from Russia’s proposed presidential statement, and put the revised draft text directly into blue yesterday evening.

The draft resolution in blue calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities during the month of Ramadan and for all warring parties to seek a sustainable resolution to the conflict through dialogue. It also calls on all parties to ensure the removal of any obstructions to the delivery of aid and to enable full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access, including cross-border and cross-line, and to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and the “Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan”, which was signed by the warring parties in Jeddah on 11 May 2023 with the facilitation of Saudi Arabia and the US.

Over the last 11 months, Sudan has been grappling with the devastating political, security, and humanitarian consequences of fighting that erupted on 15 April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s military leader and chairperson of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemeti). As at 16 February, more than 14,600 people had reportedly been killed since the onset of the conflict, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that collects conflict-related data. OCHA’s 23 February Humanitarian Update noted that approximately 8.1 million people have been displaced since the start of the conflict, of whom 1.8 million have fled to neighbouring countries, including the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and South Sudan. In addition, according to the World Food Programme, nearly 18 million people are facing acute food insecurity in Sudan, including almost five million at emergency hunger levels. (For background and more information, see the Sudan brief in our March 2024 Monthly Forecast and our 7 March What’s in Blue story.)

The fighting has continued unabated despite several calls for a ceasefire from regional stakeholders and the broader international community. In his remarks during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Sudan held yesterday, Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned that the Sudanese conflict “could ignite regional instability of dramatic proportions, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea”. He added that there have been renewed offensives in several states, including Khartoum and Al Jazirah, and that the hostilities could expand further east. Guterres expressed alarm about calls for arming civilians and popular mobilisation activities in various states and took note of the involvement of other armed groups, primarily in Darfur and South Kordofan states. All these developments “are pouring fuel on the fire for an even more serious fragmentation of the country, a deepening of intra- and inter-communal tensions, and more ethnic violence”, Guterres said.

In light of the upcoming occasion of Ramadan, Guterres called on the warring parties to observe a cessation of hostilities, a call which most Council members supported in their statements at yesterday’s meeting. Algeria, speaking on behalf of the members of the “A3 plus one” grouping (Algeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Guyana), called on the warring parties to declare an immediate ceasefire, to put aside their differences, and to use the opportunity of Ramadan to exercise restraint for ensuring a durable peace in Sudan.

Leaders of several regional and intergovernmental organisations have also called on the Sudanese warring parties to observe a ceasefire during Ramadan. In a 6 March statement, League of Arab States (LAS) Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged all the parties to pursue efforts towards peace and dialogue. He expressed the LAS’ commitment to support efforts to restore peace and stability in Sudan. In a communiqué released earlier today, African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called on the warring parties to observe a ceasefire across Sudan during Ramadan, saying that this could help facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in need.

In his statement during yesterday’s Council meeting, Sudan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Al-Harith Idriss al-Harith Mohamed, conveyed al-Burhan’s message commending Guterres’ appeal for a cessation of hostilities during Ramadan. However, while expressing scepticism about the implementation of a cessation of hostilities in light of continuing attacks by the RSF, he said that “[a]ll those who would like to see that appeal transformed into action are welcome if they would like to present a mechanism for implementation”.

While Council members share concerns about the devastating effects of the ongoing conflict in Sudan, they have diverging views on the tools that the Council should use to address the situation. Throughout the negotiations, some members, including China and Russia, apparently pushed back against the need for a Council resolution and instead suggested adopting a presidential statement or a press statement, products which require consensus among Council members. It seems that these members argued for the need to have Council consensus on this subject and to respect the views of the concerned country. Commenting on the UK’s proposed draft resolution, China said in its remarks at yesterday’s Council meeting that “the Council’s actions should be conducive to diplomacy and avoid exacerbating tensions”. Despite these objections, the UK decided to continue negotiating the resolution and to put it to a vote today.

The draft resolution in blue encourages Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan Ramtane Lamamra “to use his good offices with the parties and the neighbouring States, complementing and coordinating regional peace efforts”. Lamamra assumed his role in November 2023 and has since been conducting diplomatic efforts, including through engagement with both warring parties and relevant stakeholders. Following yesterday’s open session on Sudan, Lamamra briefed Council members in closed consultations on his efforts towards resolving the crisis. (For more information, see our 6 March What’s in Blue story.)

It seems that on 5 March, the Sudanese government sent a letter to the Security Council, conveying its decision to facilitate the entry and delivery of humanitarian aid through several routes, including from Chad through the Tina border crossing; from South Sudan through the Renk border crossing; and through humanitarian flights accessing airports in the cities of Al Fasher, Kadugli, and Al Obeid. The draft resolution in blue includes language welcoming the Sudanese government’s announcement as a positive step.

The penholder made some additions and amendments to the preambular section of the draft resolution to accommodate comments from some Council members. Among other things, the draft resolution in blue, in its preambular paragraphs:

  • expresses grave concern over the spreading violence and the deteriorating humanitarian situation, including crisis levels or worse of acute food insecurity, particularly in Darfur;
  • takes note of the need for unhindered cross-border and cross-line humanitarian assistance into Darfur and encourages the parties to the conflict to continue working in close partnership with OCHA and international NGOs to ensure the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance;
  • expresses concern at ongoing reports of violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights law, including cases of sexual violence in conflict;
  • urges continuation and strengthened coordination of regional and international efforts to facilitate an end to the conflict and to restore a lasting inclusive civilian-led democratic transition; and
  • welcomes the appointment of an AU High-Level Panel for Sudan and the AU’s commitment to working with the people of Sudan to end the fighting and to put in place a process towards achieving a lasting and inclusive peace, democracy, and justice in Sudan.


Post-script: On 8 March, the Security Council adopted resolution 2724, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Sudan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and for all warring parties to seek a sustainable resolution to the conflict through dialogue. It was adopted with 14 votes in favour and one abstention (Russia).

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