Assistant Secretary-General Urges Readjustment of Mandate to Accompany Drawdown of African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur

14 June 2017
7969th Meeting (AM)

Assistant Secretary-General Urges Readjustment of Mandate to Accompany Drawdown of African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur

Briefing Security Council, He Cites ‘Significantly’ Reduced Hostilities in Presenting Special Report on Strategic Review of UNAMID

With the level of armed hostilities significantly lower than in previous years, the focus of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) should be readjusted as the mission reduced the number of peacekeepers deployed in that region of western Sudan, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations told the Security Council today.

Presenting the recommendations of the Special Report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Secretary-General on the strategic review of UNAMID (document S/2017/437), El-Ghassim Wane said the nature of the conflict that had prompted the Council to create the mission a decade ago — adopting resolution 1769 (2007) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter — had changed markedly following a military campaign by the Government of Sudan that had reduced the rebellion in Darfur to a small presence of Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid fighters in western Jebel Marra.

However, several grievances at the origin of the conflict — and key issues related to its aftermath — remained to be addressed, he warned, citing militia activities, unresolved intercommunal disputes over land and other resources, the prevalence of weapons and crime, and weak rule-of-law institutions.  In light of that situation, the report recommended a two-pronged approach, he said, explaining that it would combine peacebuilding in most parts of Darfur with traditional peacekeeping tasks in Jebel Marra and the vicinity, thereby addressing the insecurity that prevented the return of internally displaced persons.

Such a concept would entail the closure of 11 team sites, the opening of a temporary operating base in the Jebel Marra town of Golo and military withdrawal from another 7 team sites out of the current total of 36, he continued.  That, in turn, would enable UNAMID to reduce its troop ceiling to 8 battalions, or 8,735 troops, from the current 16 battalions, and its police ceiling to 2,360.  The report also recommended adjusting the mission’s priorities to place a stronger focus on implementing the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, protecting civilians in Jebel Marra and tackling intercommunal conflicts that could potentially result in casualties and derail national political processes, he said.

Meanwhile, a stronger partnership with the United Nations country team would respond to Darfur’s seasonal migration and the need to extend rule-of-law institutions.  “The reconfiguration of UNAMID is an important milestone towards the completion of its mandate,” he emphasized.  Successful implementation would require the full support and cooperation of the Government of Sudan to ensure there were no security vacuums in areas vacated by the mission and to address tackle issues of land, internally displaced persons, transitional justice and reconciliation.

Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed (Sudan) emphasized the Government’s readiness to cooperate fully with UNAMID, the African Union, the United Nations and other partners to ensure a smooth, phased and complete UNAMID exit that would set an example for other missions.  A logical and inevitable next step would be to reconsider the sanctions imposed by Council resolution 1591 (2005), he added.

On the question of internally displaced persons, he called attention to a Government plan entailing three options:  voluntary return to their places of origin; the integration of camps into nearby cities; and enabling internally displaced persons to choose where they wished to be relocated.  That plan, however, would require international financial resources and assistance, he added.  Emphasizing the need for accuracy in counting internally displaced persons, he said the actual number was 1.8 million, compared to UNAMID’s figure of 2.7 million.  As for humanitarian access, he said 92 per cent of Darfur could be reached without authorization.

Cristina Carrión (Uruguay) said armed groups had exacerbated Darfur’s intercommunal conflicts amid the reality of territory contaminated by landmines and other remnants of war.  Efforts must be made to remove all improvised explosive devices in order to ensure the people’s safety.  On efforts for national dialogue, she said the Government and armed groups must continue to work on a peace process, address the root causes of the conflict and the issue of returning internally displaced persons.  UNAMID’s amended mandate must fit the impending challenges, she emphasized.

Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia), Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, saying the proposed amendments to UNAMID’s mandate reflected the situation on the ground.  The improved security situation had allowed the mandate’s reconfiguration to focus also on peacebuilding, police training and support for the political process, which would, in turn, help to usher in long-awaited peace.  Emphasizing the importance of protecting the most vulnerable civilians, he said the Government’s suggestions and concerns in that regard must be considered when creating the relevant task force.

The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:39 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.