The Security Council today decided to extend, until 15 April 2019, modifications to the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), while also stressing that the extension will be the final one unless the parties meet specific benchmarks.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2438 (2018), the Council extended for six months UNISFA’s mandate modification - first laid out in resolution 2024 (2011) and paragraph 1 of resolution 2075 (2012). Those modifications include the Force’s support for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism in the Abyei border region. The Council also decided that would be the final such extension unless the parties demonstrate measurable progress on border demarcation.
By the text, the required benchmarks include, among other things: Ensuring the full freedom of movement for all UNISFA air and ground patrols; establishing or finalizing plans for several Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism team sites; convening at least two meetings of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism; the withdrawal of both parties from the Safe Demilitarized Buffer Zone; developing and implementing a timeline for verifying the functioning of 10 border crossings; and convening at least two meetings of the Joint Border Commission and Joint Demarcation Committee, with one meeting of each occurring prior to 15 March 2019. The Council also tasked the Government of South Sudan with establishing a high-level team to undertake community sensitisation aimed at enabling UNISFA’s ground movement.
By other terms of the resolution, the Council decided to maintain UNISFA’s authorized troop ceiling of 4,500 until 15 November 2018. It also deciding that – as of April 2019 - the authorized troop ceiling will decrease by 541 troops unless the mandate modification set forth in resolutions 2024 (2011) and 2075 (2012) is once again extended.
Following the adoption, Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed (Sudan) reiterated his country’s commitment to cooperate with UNISFA. He added that Sudan is also committed to the activation of the Joint Border Verification Mechanism for Abyei and continues to respect all other agreements with South Sudan on that issue. He recalled that both parties agreed that the 2011 agreement applied until all issues were resolved and called for reaffirmation of that fact. Urging all stakeholders to refrain from any actions that would be counterproductive to the stabilization of the region, he expressed hope that current dialogue between the two countries will bring about a greater impetus to operationalization of the mechanism. He thanked all international stakeholders and pledged that his country would continue to carry out all its duties in line with resolution 1990 (2011).
Akuei Bona Malwal (South Sudan) said the six-month extension and the Council’s decision to maintain its current troop ceiling is reassuring to communities in Abyei. Reaffirming his Government’s commitment to continue to engage with the Council until a final solution is reached on that issue, he thanked Ethiopia – the sole troop contributor to UNISFA - for its steadfast dedication to maintaining peace and stability in Abyei.
The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 3:11 p.m.
The full text of resolution 2438 (2018) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its previous resolutions and its presidential statements on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan, and in particular, resolutions 1990 (2011), 2024 (2011), 2032 (2011), 2046 (2012), 2047 (2012), 2075 (2012), 2104 (2013), 2126 (2013), 2156 (2014), 2179 (2014), 2205 (2015), 2230 (2015), 2251 (2015), 2287 (2016), 2318 (2016), 2352 (2017), 2386 (2017), 2412 (2018), and 2416 (2018) as well as presidential statements S/PRST/2012/19 and S/PRST/2013/14, and the Council’s press statements of 18 June 2012, 21 September 2012, 28 September 2012, 6 May 2013, 14 June 2013, 14 February 2014, 17 March 2014, 11 December 2014, and 27 November 2015,
“Welcoming the progress made towards the implementation of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), while noting that measures set out in paragraph 9 of resolution 2386 (2017) and in resolution 2412 (2018) have not been completely achieved, and calling on the parties to fulfil these measures without delay,
“Stressing the need for the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to fully implement the JBVMM, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2046 (2012) and the African Union Peace and Security Council Roadmap of 24 April 2012, the Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) Communique of 31 October 2017, and the Decisions of the JPSM of 24 September 2018,
“Commending the continued assistance provided to the parties by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA),
“Taking note of the 20 August 2018 Secretary-General’s report (S/2018/778),
“Recognizing that the current situation in Abyei and along the border between the Sudan and South Sudan continues to constitute a serious threat to international peace and security,
“1. Decides to extend until 15 April 2019 UNISFA’s mandate modification set forth in resolution 2024 (2011) and paragraph 1 of resolution 2075 (2012), and further decides that this shall be the final such extension unless the parties take the specific measures described in paragraph 3;
“2. Decides to maintain UNISFA’s authorized troop ceiling of 4,500 until 15 November 2018; and further decides that as of 15 April 2019, the authorized troop ceiling shall decrease by 541 troops, unless it decides to extend the mandate modification set forth in resolution 2024 (2011) and paragraph 1 of resolution 2075 (2012), in accordance with paragraphs 1 and 3;
“3. Determines that both parties should also demonstrate measurable progress on border demarcation, specifically:
(1) UNISFA and JBVMM Patrols: Maintain standing clearance and achieve full freedom of movement for all UNISFA air and ground patrols, including landing within the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ), and maintain approval for 100 percent of requested sorties no later than 72 hours after the requests are delivered,
(2) JBVMM Team Sites: Establish Abu Qussa/Wunkur team site, and finalize agreement on the location of the As Sumayah/Wierayen and Safaha/Kiir Adem team sites,
(3) The Government of South Sudan to establish a high-level team, in coordination with the Ad-hoc Committee of the 14 Mile Area, to undertake community sensitisation to enable ground movement by UNISFA from Gok Machar into the SDBZ and the establishment of the JBVMM team sites as per benchmark 2,
(4) Convene at least two meetings of the JPSM during the mandate period that provide clear guidance to JBVMM, and for both parties to completely withdraw from the SDBZ,
(5) Border Crossing Corridors: Develop and begin to implement a timeline for verifying, together with UNISFA, the functioning of the 10 border crossings and free movement across the border,
(6) Customs and Migration: Each country establish customs and migration offices for, at least, two of the four Phase 1 border crossings between Sudan and South Sudan,
(7) Hold at least two meetings of the Joint Border Commission and Joint Demarcation Committee, with one meeting of each occurring prior to 15 March 2019, finalize the Joint Demarcation Committee’s report to the Joint Border Commission, discuss border demarcation of the agreed sections of the boundary per the 5 March 2018 JPSM decision, and resume border demarcation discussions including negotiations on the disputed areas within the framework of the signed agreements;
“4. Requests the Secretary-General to inform it of progress in implementing any steps taken per paragraph 3, in writing, no later than 15 March 2019;
“5. Decides to remain actively seized of this matter.”