8549th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Sudan and South Sudan

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14-Jun-2019 02:02:20
Amid sweeping political change in Sudan, Peacekeeping chief says Security Council must carefully weigh options for drawdown, liquidation of Darfur mission at 8549th meeting.

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Given the significant political developments unfolding in Sudan, the Security Council must carefully consider the options for the drawdown and liquidation of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the head of United Nations peacekeeping said today.

“While the impact of the post-11 April events on the prevailing situation in Darfur has been so far moderate, the uncertainty of the negotiations’ outcome may have repercussions well beyond Khartoum and lead to escalation of violence,” said Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, recalling that Sudan’s President was removed on 11 April and the Transitional Military Council is currently negotiating the nature and structure of the governance system with the opposition group.

Presenting the findings from a joint assessment of UNAMID by the United Nations Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, he said conflict trends in Darfur have remained the same since 2016, with the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid — the only “rebel group” active there — restrained to pockets of Jebel Marra. The assessment concludes that peacekeeping is no longer the most appropriate tool to address the situation in Darfur. The mission’s posture, operations and capabilities must be adjusted towards the final stages of its existence.

The conclusions point to UNAMID’s continued drawdown and exit in 2020, he said, in line with one of the proposed options, which were carefully crafted to shape a gradual and responsible drawdown that reflects current realities. The assessment recommends that UNAMID focus on revitalizing the political process, strengthening Sudan’s rule-of-law institutions and supporting long-term stabilization through rights-based solutions for internally displaced people across Darfur.

Briefing on the human rights situation, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour welcomed a decrease in violence between armed militias and State security forces in Darfur, but expressed concern over reports of killings, abduction, sexual violence and other violations.

He said protests across Sudan and political developments in Khartoum have had a ripple effect on Darfur, where many protests were violently repressed by security forces, including Rapid Support Forces. The human rights component of UNAMID has documented the killing of 47 civilians in various regions of Darfur between 11 April and 12 June, with another 186 injured. The mission has also received accounts of intensified attacks, harassment of civilians and the looting of homes and livestock by the same Rapid Support Forces involved in suppressing the Khartoum protests.

Any transition map, he emphasized, should include measures that permit the people of Darfur to regain confidence in law enforcement bodies, the rule of law and broader State institutions, as well as a belief that there will be accountability for excessive use of force and serious rights violations.

In the ensuing debate, Council members expressed their positions on the future of UNAMID, with several delegations proposing a technical rollover of its mandate. The United Kingdom’s delegate said UNAMID’s departure must be carried out responsibly without creating a security vacuum. A technical rollover would allow the Council, African Union and other stakeholders time for careful considerations. Germany’s delegate agreed, as the mission is at the intersection of peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

The Russian Federation’s delegate cautioned against proposing a specific course of action through “megaphone diplomacy”, especially when the Council has just begun discussing the options for mandate renewal. Welcoming Ethiopia’s mediation effort, he said the Sudanese people can reach an agreement much faster without external interference.

Indonesia’s delegate said deliberations on UNAMID’s future should be guided by the options set out in the strategic assessment. Priority should go towards building upon UNAMID’s achievements and supporting a transition to peacebuilding. The United States’ delegate meanwhile urged all parties to work towards a civilian transition in an atmosphere of calm, adding that his Government is ready to work with its partners in the Council and the region to support these efforts.

Sudan’s delegate rejected attempts to postpone or suspend the drawdown, reminding Council members that the deadline for UNAMID’s exit is June 2020 and urging them to respect the principle of “African solutions to African problems”. The situation in Darfur is not affected by political developments in Khartoum, he asserted, pointing out that Sudan’s internal political affairs should not have been a topic of today’s discussions.

Also speaking today were representatives of France, Côte d’Ivoire, Belgium, Peru, Poland, China, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Dominican Republic and Kuwait.

The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 12:02 p.m.

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