While the security situation in Sudan’s Darfur region remained stable, the causes of the conflict — and their related consequences — were largely unaddressed, the Joint Special Representative told the Security Council today, calling on armed groups that had not signed the foundational 2011 peace agreement to do so without delay.
Jeremiah Mamabolo, who is also Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), urged the Council to prevail upon Abdul Wahid al Nur, who leads a faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army, to join the peace process. “That would be the only way the people of Darfur, and indeed the international community, could have any realistic hope for the achievement of durable peace in Darfur,” he said.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s report via video-conference from El Fasher, he said conditions in Darfur were not the same as in 2003, when the conflict began. Aside from sporadic fighting in Jebel Marra, there was a general absence of war, a reality reflected in UNAMID’s adjusted mandate and posture, now in its second phase of reconfiguration.
Moreover, he said internally displaced persons had described the benefits of the Government’s civilian weapons collection exercise and did not want to return to their places of origin. Significant resources were needed for reconstruction, and he urged the Council to ensure they were mobilized apace with the mission’s drawdown.
Joanna Wronecka (Poland), speaking in her capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan, added that a 22 February letter from the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs had proposed five people to serve on the newly extended Panel of Experts monitoring the country’s sanctions regime.
On that point, Sudan’s delegate suggested the number of Panel members be reduced and the body disbanded. “Nothing remains of the conflict except the consequences of displaced persons and development,” he said, pressing the Secretariat to align its approach with that of the Council.
He said Sudan had spared no effort to enforce the weapons collection programme and looked forward to the closing of sites during UNAMID’s second reconfiguration phase. The Government would continue to “partner with everyone” until the last component left Sudan, especially in unloading containers, issuing visas and responding to Mission requests for a temporary operations base in Golo.
With those efforts, said Côte d’Ivoire’s delegate, Sudan had shown its willingness to assist UNAMID. He urged authorities to now ensure respect for the status of forces agreement, enabling the mission to carry out its mandate. More broadly, Equatorial Guinea’s delegate advocated greater support for the peace process facilitated by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel and efforts to bring parties to the negotiation table.
Also speaking today were representatives of Peru, Bolivia and Kazakhstan.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:02 a.m.
JEREMIAH MAMABOLO, Joint Special Representative and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), briefed the Council via video link from El Fasher, Sudan, on the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2018/154), covering the 16 December 2017 to 15 February 2018 period, during time which the mission launched phase II of its reconfiguration. Since January, it had embarked on the redeployment of military and police personnel, and civilian staff, to strengthen Jebel Marra Task Force operations. Construction of the temporary operating base in Golo was also under way but faced challenges in accessing that area through Kabkabiya, he said, noting that an engineering contingent was working to improve road conditions.
He said the Force was organized in two sectors: The Jebel Marra Task Force, with headquarters in Zalingei, and the State Stabilization Assistance Force, covering areas outside the former’s operation area. Phase II reconfiguration also entailed reduction in the number of military personnel, from 11,305 to 8,735; police from 2,888 to 2,500; and civilian staff from 2,918 to 2,760. The deployment of formed police units to team sites, from which the military had withdrawn or rotated, had begun, and he expected them to be fully operational in the Saraf Umra, Korma El Sireaf and Masteri team sites by 30 March.
While it was too early to assess the impact on the overall security and civilian protection situation in areas where UNAMID had withdrawn under its phase I reconfiguration, he said the Operation continued to engage with the Government to overcome access restrictions. In some areas of Darfur, intra and inter-communal clashes persisted, albeit at a reduced scale, and instability persisted in internally displaced person camps in Kalma, Hassa Hissa and Hamadiya, where clashes were mainly fuelled by longstanding unresolved socioeconomic and political issues at the root of Darfur’s conflict landscape over the years. UNAMID had been intervening within the protection of civilians’ strategy framework.
Turning to mediation, he said the stalemate in the Darfur peace process continued despite numerous efforts in support of former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki to persuade parties to sign a cessation of hostilities agreement and begin direct negotiations, the framework for which continued to be the main issue of contention. He met most recently with the Darfur armed movements on 1 March in Addis Ababa, urging them to accede to negotiations based on the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. He called on the Council to use bilateral channels to exhort the parties to sign the accords and resume talks, and to use leverage with Abdul Wahid al Nur to join the peace process.
“That would be the only way the people of Darfur, and indeed the international community, could have any realistic hope for the achievement of durable peace in Darfur,” he said. However, the situation in Darfur was not the same as it had been in 2003. Except for sporadic clashes between Sudan Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid in the Jebel Marra area, there was a general absence of war in Darfur. UNAMID’s adjusted mandate and posture recognized that reality, and on his recent visit to Darfur, people acknowledged the positive impact of the Government’s civilian weapons collection exercise. While internally displaced persons cited a perceived lack of fairness of that exercise, they did not want to return to their areas of origin. Rather, under conducive conditions, they wanted resources for post-conflict reconstruction.
More broadly, he said UNAMID and the United Nations country team prioritized activities to support economic, social and political initiatives, and assistance designed to consolidate the peace. Concerns persisted that, due to insecurity and land occupation issues, many internally displaced persons could not return to their areas of origin, a point on which he was engaged with the Government. He said significant resources, “without question”, were needed for post-conflict reconstruction and development in Darfur, either through bilateral commitments or advocacy for early recovery. He urged the Council to ensure adequate resources were mobilized commensurate with the pace of UNAMID’s drawdown.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan, said that under the stewardship of her predecessor, the Committee had on 28 December met to hear a presentation by the Panel of Experts on the Sudan on its final report and to discuss its recommendations. In its first recommendation, the Panel said the Committee should continue to monitor the presence and activities of Darfuri rebel groups in Libya and South Sudan. As a follow-up to the recommendation, the Committee agreed to encourage the Panel to continue to cooperate with other relevant panels. The Committee also agreed to consider organizing, when necessary, joint meetings with other Committees on Darfuri rebel groups.
The Panel informed the Committee on 30 January that the proposed amendments to the Sanctions List contained in the final report had inadvertently omitted some identifier information and subsequently provided it with revised proposed amendments, she said. Those amendments to the list of entries of three individuals were currently under consideration by the Committee. In addition, on 30 January the Committee sent a letter to the Permanent Representative of Sudan, encouraging the Government to instruct its border control agency to monitor the cross-border movement of the listed individuals.
On 2 February, the Committee met with Sudan and regional States to discuss the implementation of the various measures, she said. The meeting focused on the final report of the Panel of Experts, and the invited States shared their views and stressed their commitment to the implementation of the Council resolutions. On 22 February, the Committee received a letter from the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, proposing five individuals to serve on the newly extended Panel of Experts’ mandate. During the reporting period, the Committee received two quarterly updates from the Panel of Experts and an implementation report from a Member State.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that while he was encouraged by the relative peace in Darfur, he remained concerned that 2.7 million people were displaced amid reports of human rights violations. Welcoming the Government’s action plan, signed in March, to end child recruitment, he said it must do more to protect its people from that crime, foster access to justice and punish perpetrators. He welcomed the drop in intercommunal clashes, as well as efforts at reconciliation, and that a joint mechanism had been created to regulate farming and prevent livestock theft. He advocated greater cooperation by Sudan and others with the Sanctions Committee to prevent arms supply and financing for rebel groups. Stressing that institutional weakness and poverty must be addressed, he said provisions to guarantee food security and foster land ownership must be implemented, the political process reactivated and the Doha Document implemented.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said that security in Darfur had substantially improved, with no clashes between rebels and the Government during the dry season. He praised Sudan for creating the conditions for that continued improvement. The United Nations should offer greater support to the Government and UNAMID to address the causes of the crisis, as isolated conflicts could amplify and require mediation. Stressing that the Government weapons collection programme required support, he said “this programme is very important”, especially in areas of Jebel Marra controlled by Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid. He cautioned against provoking local populations, voicing hope the political context would improve and that the Doha Document would be implemented to bring about a full ceasefire. More support was needed for the peace process facilitated by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel.
PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) underscored the positive aspects of the Secretary-General’s report, particularly in the area of security, which had remained stable. The fact that there had been no major clashes between the Government and rebel groups in Darfur was fundamental for peacebuilding and addressing the root causes of the conflict. There had also been progress in the weapons collection campaign spearheaded by the Government. The success of that initiative was essential to ensure security for communities. UNAMID needed the support of the international community in support of the peacebuilding process. He noted that the situation for internally displaced persons was of great concern despite the efforts of humanitarian workers. He highlighted that there had not been new cases of obstruction of access to humanitarian assistance, which pointed to a good relationship between the Government and various United Nations agencies. Although violations of human rights had been reduced, efforts needed to be made to combat violence against women and girls. Those responsible needed to be brought to justice, he said.
DIDAR TEMENOV (Kazakhstan) said he was encouraged by the continuing improvement in the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, as well as the strengthened cooperation between the Government of Sudan, the United Nations and the African Union. He hoped that the arms collection campaign, which positively contributed to an improved security situation and an overall reduction in criminal activities, would be inclusive and conducted with respect of the rights of citizens. He welcomed the extensions of the unilateral ceasefire by parties to the conflict and hoped that they would undertake necessary efforts to invigorate an inclusive political process led by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel. He also hoped that the recent meeting between Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (Second Revolution) leader Abu Al-Qasim would facilitate the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and would further contribute to ensuring the voluntary return of internally displaced persons and refugees. He was also pleased to note the timely conclusion of Phase I of the reconfiguration of UNAMID, and expected that Phase II be successfully implemented in accordance with the established timeline.
BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire) welcomed that the weapons collection exercise had reduced both crime and intercommunal conflict. He voiced concern over the stalemate around the Doha Document and called for its implementation, welcoming efforts by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel to promote national dialogue and implementation of the peace agreement. He urged non-signatory armed groups to join that accord, and Sudan to implement its policy on the right of return of land. Welcoming that humanitarian access had improved in Jebel Marra, he voiced concern over the new displacement of people and heightened food insecurity risk, stressing that the global community must assist those in need and help Sudan create an environment so people could return to their places of origin. UNAMID must offer capacity-building to human rights institutions. Sudan had made the Golo site available, demonstrating its willingness to assist UNAMID, and he urged it to ensure respect for the status of forces agreement, enabling the mission to carry out its mandate.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) said the situation of Darfur was characterized by the general absence of war, conditions which provided the basis for a Council resolution in June 2017. UNAMID had placed itself in a corner, limiting itself to a 60-day report at a time when Darfur was stabilizing. “It contains nothing new,” he said, except petty crimes at police stations, proving that the situation had been transformed. On the implementation of resolution 2363 (2017), outlining UNAMID’s gradual withdrawal and reconfiguration, he reaffirmed that Darfur had entered a new phase of peacebuilding, which is what Sudan had called for since 2015. “Nothing remains of the conflict except the consequences of displaced persons and development”, he said, pressing the Secretariat to change its approach and align with the Council.
The weapons collection campaign continued “with great effectiveness”, he said, and despite limited resources, Sudan had spared no effort to enforce it and consulted with both UNAMID and the Joint Special Representative in that regard. He looked forward to the closing of sites under Phase II, stressing that Sudan would continue to cooperate in the unloading of containers, issuing of visas and responding to mission requests for a temporary operations base in Golo. The idea of a road should be revisited, as it would serve people in the region. More broadly, he said the sanctions regime must respond to positive developments in Darfur. Members of the Panel of Experts must be reduced and the body itself should conclude its work and ultimately lift the sanctions. He welcomed the dawn of peace and start of development, thanking UNAMID and troop-contributing countries for their work, stressing Sudan’s willingness “to partner with everyone” until the last of its components leaves Sudan.