8446th Security Council Meeting: Reports of Secretary-General on Sudan and South Sudan

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17-Jan-2019 01:21:20
Head of Sudan Sanctions Committee briefs Security Council as delegates debate criteria for lifting 13-year-old measures, ongoing sexual violence at 8446th meeting.

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Speakers in the Security Council today debated the future of sanctions imposed on Sudan more than 13 years ago, as the 15-nation body took up the latest report of the Panel of Experts appointed to monitor those measures against individuals and entities obstructing peace in the Darfur region.

Some called for the arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze — which have their origins in Council resolution 1591 (2005) — to be eased, given an improving security situation in Darfur and a peace process that has prompted the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to reduce its troops. Others proposed that sexual violence become a stand-alone criterion for sanctions.

Briefing the Council, Joanna Wronecka (Poland), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005), recalled a meeting on 24 October with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, who said that despite a significant improvement in many parts of Darfur, women and girls still face considerable security challenges.

Citing the Special Representative’s guidance, she said stopping the use of sexual violence, ensuring accountability for such crimes and enacting prevention and protection measures are requirements for delisting the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces from the Secretary-General’s reports on sexual violence in conflict. She also conveyed the Expert Panel’s recommendation that the Council urge Libya’s warring factions to stop cooperating with Darfuri armed groups.

In the ensuing debate, delegates focused on the future of the sanctions regime and persistence of sexual violence. They raised humanitarian concerns in Darfur and discussed the region’s peace process — including a pre-negotiation agreement reached in December in Berlin between the Government and two rebel groups — as well as protests over food and fuel shortages that have taken place in several cities since 19 December.

The United Kingdom’s representative, the Council penholder on Sudan, encouraging the Government to cooperate fully with the Sanctions Committee, expressed concern about reports of widespread sexual violence. Clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army and national armed forces were a stark reminder that the situation remains fragile. All parties must adhere to the arms embargo and address sexual violence. Appalled at reports that Sudanese authorities used tear gas against protestors, he called for restraint in policing social demonstrations.

Belgium’s delegate called on the Government to strengthen its national capacities to provide legal, medical and psychosocial support for victims of sexual abuse. He supported making sexual violence a stand-alone criterion for sanctions — a point raised by Peru’s delegate — and shared the Expert Panel’s concerns about armed groups operating outside Sudan and weapons trafficking.

Outlining a different perspective, the representative of the Russian Federation said there seems to be a lack of political will to lift sanctions. Instead, activists are seeking more sanctions, including making sexual violence a criterion for embargoes. Those introducing such innovations are only pursuing their own national agendas and creating a notion that the Security Council is tasked with addressing social protests. Any Council actions must reflect the situation on the ground, he said, expressing hope for an examination of sanctions in Sudan with a view to eventually lifting them.

Kuwait’s delegate meanwhile said it is time for the Council to review the sanctions with the aim of lifting them gradually and in a way that will enable the Government of Sudan to enhance its authority on the ground. A political solution in Darfur must be the priority.

South Africa’s representative said that despite its expected drawdown, UNAMID must continue to protect civilians, especially those at risk of gender-based violence. His Government remains concerned about the transfer of weapons to Darfur and growing presence of Darfuri armed groups in Libya, as further arms embargo violations could potentially fuel conflict in the region.

Rounding out the debate, Sudan’s representative said his Government is fully committed to the Darfur peace process. He flatly rejected false facts contained in the Expert Panel’s report that were collected from non-credible and non-neutral sources. The situation in Darfur today is different from 13 years ago when sanctions were imposed. With successive reports of the Secretary-General and the Panel of Experts confirming improved conditions, he expressed hope that the Council, when considering the renewal of the Panel’s mandate, will review the sanctions regime so that Sudan’s armed forces can carry out their duties to combat transnational organized crime, human trafficking, illegal migration and terrorism.

Responding to Council members who spoke about recent demonstrations, he said the Government is fully committed to giving Sudanese citizens the space to peacefully express their views. At same time, it must uphold its constitutional duty to protect lives and property against sabotage, arson and all other forms of violence.

Also speaking were representatives of Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, United States, China, Peru, France, Germany, Poland (in its national capacity) and the Dominican Republic.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:26 a.m.

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