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Sudan (Darfur)

Expected Council Action

In March, the Security Council will be briefed on the 60-day report of the Secretary-General on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, is expected to provide the quarterly briefing to Council members on the Committee’s work. The mandate of UNAMID expires on 30 June 2018.

Key Recent Developments

Although major armed clashes between the government of Sudan and Darfur armed groups were last reported in July 2017, no significant progress has been made on the political process, including implementation of the Doha Document for Peace adopted in 2011 and agreement on a permanent ceasefire. Nor has improvement in the overall security situation translated into a commensurate reduction in the level of human rights violations and abuses, such as sexual and gender-based violence and serious violations against children, which continue to be perpetrated with impunity. With the total population of Darfur estimated at around 10 million, there are still approximately 2.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), including 2.1 million in need of assistance, across Darfur. Inter-communal conflicts remain a source of violence, although at lower levels than in previous years. The government’s mandatory weapons collection programme, launched in October 2017, has strengthened the control of the Sudanese Armed Forces/Rapid Support Forces (RSF) over the security situation. While there have been no major recent incidents, the disarmament campaign has raised tensions in some contexts, particularly at the Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur, considered a stronghold of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid rebel group.

In accordance with the timeline set out in resolution 2363, UNAMID concluded phase one of its reconfiguration at the end of 2017 and commenced phase two on 31 January. Scheduled to end on 30 June, phase two will include further reductions of UNAMID’s authorised troop and police ceilings from 11,395 to 8,735 military personnel and from 2,888 to 2,500 police personnel. The assessment report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, requested in resolution 2363 on phase one of the reconfiguration, found that while it is still early to reach conclusions on the full impact of the reduction and reconfiguration in areas where the 11 UNAMID team sites closed, as required under phase one, no adverse effects have been reported so far. However, the report said that the closure of team sites has created a gap in early-warning mechanisms, and human rights teams continue to have only limited access to verify human rights violations. The report concluded that because of the security situation in Kalma camp, some adjustments will be made to enable continued military coverage for Kalma camp until the end of phase two.

On 31 January, the Council adopted its first presidential statement on Darfur since April 2012. The statement dealt with the security and political conditions in Darfur, the situation of IDPs, and the government’s weapons collection campaign. It requested UNAMID and the UN Country Team to continue to monitor closely the impact of the reconfiguration on the situation on the ground. It also specified that the handover of Kalma camp to UNAMID Formed Police Units would be conducted by the end of phase two. It welcomed the signing at the end of January of a memorandum of understanding on the opening of a temporary operating base in Golo, while expressing regret over the government’s delayed consent as the base was required to become operational during phase one. The statement requested a written report of the review of UNAMID’s mandate by 1 June. (For more details see our What’s In Blue story from 30 January.)

The Council was last briefed on Darfur on 10 January by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who presented the findings of the assessment report on phase one of the reconfiguration and recommended the review of UNAMID’s mandate ahead of its 30 June expiration, as called for in the assessment report.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 2 February, the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee met with representatives from Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, South Sudan and Uganda to discuss the implementation of sanctions measures. On 8 February, the Council adopted a resolution extending the current mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March 2019. It expressed the intention to regularly review the measures on Darfur in light of the evolving situation on the ground, and requested the Panel of Experts to provide an interim report by 12 August and a final report by 12 January 2019.

Key Issues and Options

A key issue that Council members will want to follow closely is the effect of further troop reductions on the security and human rights situations. An option in this context would be to invite the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an update on the human rights situation.

Another key issue is to support efforts to break the ongoing impasse in the negotiations between the government and Darfuri rebel movements, leading to a durable cessation of hostilities and a final settlement. One option is to invite Thabo Mbeki, chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel, to address the Council on his efforts as well as Special Envoy for the Sudan and South Sudan Nicholas Haysom. Another option moving forward could be for the Council to consider seeking an African member to share the pen as co-penholder on Darfur with the current penholder, the UK, to enhance African involvement on this issue in the Council.

The Council may also need to tackle how to promote intercommunal reconciliation, given the high levels of intercommunal fighting in Darfur in recent years. An option for the Council would be to request the Joint Special Representative for Darfur and head of UNAMID, Jeremiah Mamabolo, to brief on the issue.

Council Dynamics

Improvements in the overall situation in Darfur, combined with the completion of phase one of the reconfiguration without major incidents to date and the government’s cooperation during the process, have created an opportunity for a degree of unity amongst Council members, evidenced by the adoption of the first presidential statement on Darfur in almost six years on 31 January. However, during the course of negotiations of the presidential statement, one of the key issues was determining the appropriate tone to take with regard to the actions of the government of Sudan and the evolving situation in Darfur. While some members advocated more guarded recognition of progress, other members, including Russia and Ethiopia, generally sought to include references to improvements in the situation in Darfur and positive steps the government of Sudan has taken to date.

At the 10 January briefing, seven Council members made statements. Bolivia, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Kuwait assessed positively the situation in Darfur and the government’s actions in general. Côte d’Ivoire emphasised the need for progress on the political front, while Peru highlighted continued violations of human rights.

The UK is the penholder on Darfur; Poland chairs the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee.

UN Documents on Darfur

Security Council Resolutions
8 February 2018 S/RES/2400 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Sudan for one year.
29 June 2017 S/RES/2363 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNAMID for an additional year.
Security Council Presidential Statements
31 January 2018 S/PRST/2018/4 This was a presidential statement on the situation in Darfur and UNAMID’s reconfiguration.
Secretary-General's Reports
22 February 2018 S/2018/154 This was the 60-day report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID.
4 January 2018 S/2018/12 This was the joint assessment by the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General of phase one of the reconfiguration of UNAMID.
Security Council Meeting Records
10 January 2018 S/PV.8155 This was a briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on the 60-day report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID and on the joint assessment by the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General of phase one of the reconfiguration of UNAMID.
Sanctions Committee Documents
8 February 2018 SC/13203 This was a press statement on the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee meeting with Sudan and several regional countries.
28 December 2017 S/2017/1125 This was the final report of the Panel of Experts on the Sudan.