Khartoum’s Representative Joins Him in Urging Action against ‘Recalcitrant’ Armed Movements Rejecting Return to Negotiations
Ahead of the planned drawdown of the joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping operation in Darfur, the head of that mission set out before the Security Council today a concept for continuing international support for the consolidation of stability in that troubled western region of Sudan.
Jeremiah Mamabolo, Joint Representative and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), said that particularly important is meeting benchmarks for the mission’s exit, as proposed by the Secretary-General. Also important is a concept for the country team in Sudan “based on a holistic United Nations system collaboration through joint analysis, planning and delivery with the aim of achieving stabilization to avoid relapse into conflict”.
Presenting the latest 90-day report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (document S/2018/912), he said that with the Council’s July adoption of resolution 2429 (2018), UNAMID has embarked in earnest on its reconfiguration and drawdown, while monitoring the impact on security and the protection of civilians. “So far, we have not witnessed any adverse impact,” he added.
He said the concept for country team operations was developed in conversations with the Government of Sudan. The report’s proposed benchmarks for UNAMID’s exit are in accordance with the mission’s redefined priorities of protecting civilians, monitoring and reporting on human rights, facilitating humanitarian assistance, mediating intercommunal conflicts and addressing the root causes of the conflict, as well as mediating to advance the peace process between the Government and non-signatory armed movements.
Recalling that the Secretary-General’s reports of the past several months have indicated a relatively calm security situation, he said, however, that they also note pockets in the Jebel Marra area where armed conflict continues between the Government and rebel forces, as well as low-level intercommunal clashes over land and resources. UNAMID is focusing on efforts to address the root causes of conflict, in collaboration with the Government and the United Nations country team.
Humanitarian partners continue to provide assistance across Darfur despite conflict and limited resources, he continued. Although decreasing, incidents of human rights abuse, including sexual violence, continue, and the focus now must be on building Government capacity to protect civilians, he emphasized. In that context, UNAMID continues its capacity-building efforts in the criminal justice field, and discussions are under way to establish an outpost of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Sudan, he added.
Implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur remains slow, he said, reporting that, in his capacity as Joint Mediator, he continues to engage with the Government and the non-signatory movements. Reiterating appeals for them to finalize their negotiations, he said all efforts to bring the Abdul Wahid Nour faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) into the peace process have so far failed and urged the Council to support stern measures against the leader of that movement.
Council members speaking after the briefing welcomed the overall calm in Darfur but expressed concern over continuing clashes and intercommunal violence. They called for strong international support to help the Government of Sudan address the root causes of conflict.
Most speakers also expressed concern over the lack of progress in the peace process and urged action to encourage progress, with some calling for greater pressure on recalcitrant movements and more international support to assist the Government’s weapons-collection programmes.
Equatorial Guinea’s representative said that the Council, the African Union, the international community and donors should lend greater support to efforts by the Government and UNAMID to end intercommunal violence in Darfur. The Government also needs support to continue its critical weapons-collections programmes, especially in the Jebel Marra area. Calling for the full implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and complete adherence to the ceasefire agreement by all parties, he urged the Council to consider imposing sanctions against movements that refuse to return to negotiations, especially the group led by Abdul Wahid Nour.
Ethiopia’s delegate pointed out that still-active armed groups have no incentive to pursue peace because their illegal activities in neighbouring States continue to reap a profit. He urged the Council to consider such movements transnational organized criminal groups and to lift the arms embargo in order to enable Sudan to properly protect its borders.
While most speakers supported the Secretary-General’s benchmarks for UNAMID’s exit, Kuwait’s representative cautioned that “Darfur indicators” should be applied only to that specific region and not to all parts of Sudan.
Sudan’s representative said that in concert with his country’s security measures, the main benchmark allowing UNAMID’s exit – an overall improvement in the security and humanitarian situation – has nearly been achieved, and pledged the Government’s continued leadership of the peacebuilding phase in Darfur. To help the Government, he said, Sudan’s partners should fulfil their pledges to support the necessary development and stability efforts without delay. He noted that the rebel group led by Abdul Wahid Nour continues to ignore the will of the international community, and called upon the Council to take action against him. He also asked neighbouring States to prevent the group from threatening the gains already made in Darfur.
Also speaking this morning were representatives of Kazakhstan, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru and Bolivia.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:15 a.m.
JEREMIAH N. MAMABOLO, Joint Special Representative and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), said that with the adoption of resolution 2429 (2018), the mission has embarked in earnest on its reconfiguration and drawdown. In that context, its headquarters are being relocated from El Fasher to Zalingei and State liaison functions are being finalized in concert with the United Nations country team in Sudan. UNAMID is on course to reducing its military component by 3,265 personnel by December 2018 and another 1,420 by June 2019, he said, adding that civilian posts will also be eliminated, while the police component will maintain an overall strength of 2,500 personnel. The mission’s military component will maintain a presence in the greater Jebel Marra area, focusing on traditional peacekeeping functions while maintaining the flexibility to respond in the rest of Darfur if the situation demands, he said. As team sites begin to close, the impact on security and the protection of civilians will be continuously monitored, he added. “So far, we have not witnessed any adverse impact.”
He went on to state that as a result of discussions with the Government of Sudan, the concept for the country team is “based on a holistic United Nations system collaboration through joint analysis, planning and delivery with the aim of achieving stabilization to avoid relapse into conflict”. To ensure coordination with the Government, the concept envisages liaison offices in the capitals of all three Darfur states. In concert with that concept, the proposed benchmarks contained in the Secretary-General’s report for the exit of UNAMID are “realistic, measurable time-wise and centred on the Government, which ultimately has the responsibility of provision of services to its citizens”. They accord with UNAMID’s redefined priorities of protecting civilians, monitoring and reporting on human rights, facilitating humanitarian assistance, mediating intercommunal conflict and addressing root causes of conflict, as well as mediating between the Government of Sudan and armed movements that have not signed any peace accord.
Noting that the Secretary-General’s reports of the past several months have indicated a relatively calm and peaceful security situation, he said they also note pockets in the Jebel Marra area where armed conflict between the Government and rebel forces continue. It refers also to low-level intercommunal clashes and an increase in tensions between herders and farmers – mainly displaced persons and those returning – over land and resources. He also noted reports that, despite a unilateral ceasefire by the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid faction (SLA-AW) to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance following the landslides in Jebel Marra, the Sudan Armed Forces reportedly attacked them, and in-fighting also broke out within the faction. Despite such tensions, UNAMID and the country team delivered assistance in areas under their control following the mudslides, he said. In response to intercommunal violence and crime, the mission is focusing on prevention, as well as addressing the root causes of conflicts, in collaboration with the Government and the country team, he said, adding that humanitarian partners continue to provide assistance across Darfur despite the conflict and limited resources.
While noting a decrease in reported human rights violations and abuses during the reporting period, he said, however, that continued incidents of abuse, including sexual violence, create a hostile environment in and around camps for the displaced. The focus now must be on building the Government’s capacity to protect civilians, receive reports of abuses and provide basic social services, he emphasized. UNAMID continues its work of building capacity in criminal justice, and discussions on establishing an outpost of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Sudan are under way.
Implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur continues slowly, he said, explaining that it is undermined by capacity and resource-related constraints that he has been addressing in meetings with stakeholders. He has also, in his capacity as Joint Mediator, continued to engage with the Government as well as the non-signatory Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minnawi (SLA-MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement-Jibril (JEM-Jibril) in order to bridge their differences, he said, reiterating appeals that they finalize negotiations. Unfortunately, all efforts to bring the SLA-Abdul Wahid Nour faction into the peace process have so far failed. He urged the Council to consider stern action against that movement’s leader, emphasizing that it is highly unlikely that he will change his persistently belligerent position any time soon.
TAYE ATSKE SELASSIE AMDE (Ethiopia) said the more stable situation in Darfur is a testament to the Council’s decision to lay down the conditions for UNAMID’s exit and to the joint special report of the Secretary-General and the African Union. Spotlighting the mission’s successful efforts on the ground, he said its weapons-collection campaigns, for example, have helped to mitigate intercommunal violence. However, the Government continues to require international support “which has hardly been forthcoming”. Hailing the proposal to convene a pledging conference in support of Darfur’s transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and development, he warned that the international community has invested too much to allow gains to be reversed. Emphasizing that armed groups active in Darfur currently have no incentive to pursue peace – since their illegal activities in neighbouring States continue to reap profits – he urged the Council to consider them transnational organized criminal groups – rather than mere rebels - and to lift the arms embargo, finally allowing Sudan to properly protect its borders.
BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) urged the Council to continue to support the Government of Sudan’s significant progress and welcomed its decision to reduce UNAMID’s troop ceiling. Noting that the number of displaced persons continues to fall, he nevertheless expressed concern over continued threats they face from armed groups. Underlining the important work of the commission tasked with following up on implementation of the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, he emphasized that “Darfur indicators” are meant only for that specific region and cannot be applied to the rest of Sudanese territory. Recalling that the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy recently reported that 85 per cent of the stipulations laid out in the Doha Document have been implemented, he stressed that efforts going forward should focus on those elements that have yet to be fully implemented. Kuwait, for its part, will continue to support Sudan’s efforts to reach a lasting political solution to the situation in Darfur, he said.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), voicing concern over Darfur’s still-fragile humanitarian situation, nevertheless welcomed improvements, echoing other speakers in expressing full support for the Government of Sudan’s efforts to achieve a lasting political solution to the conflict. Meanwhile, the Council, the African Union, the international community and donors should lend greater support to the Government and UNAMID in order to help them fully end intercommunal violence in Darfur. The Government also needs support to continue its critical weapons-collections programmes, especially those in the Jebel Marra area. Calling for the full implementation of the Doha Document and complete adherence to the ceasefire agreement by all parties, he said the Council should consider how best to help them overcome their current political impasse. In that regard, he invited Thabo Mbeki – head of the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel on Darfur – to brief the Council on the current state of the political process. In addition, the Council should consider taking action against recalcitrant groups that refuse to return to the negotiating table – especially the group led by Abdul Wahid – by imposing sanctions, he said.
DIDAR TEMENOV (Kazakhstan) expressed concern at the lack of progress in the peace process, underscoring the need for a permanent ceasefire agreement that will create a suitable environment for resuming peace talks. It is important to reinvigorate the outstanding provisions of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, he said, urging the parties in Darfur to participate in an inclusive political process led by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel. Expressing concern over ongoing clashes in Jebel Marra, he called upon the Council to consider appropriate measures to increase pressure on those who refuse to cease hostilities and continue to obstruct efforts towards peace. Food insecurity and the large number of internally displaced persons with limited or no access to basic services remains extremely concerning, he noted. “All measures should be taken to address the root causes of the conflict,” he stressed. The inclusion of women in decision-making, education for children and jobs for young people are also essential for stability, he added. Regarding UNAMID’s reconfiguration, he welcomed the finalization of a new mission concept aimed at preventing a relapse into conflict and preparing for the mission’s exit.
GBOLIÉ DESIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), welcoming the progressive stability in Darfur while remaining concerned over the lack of progress in the political process, called upon all stakeholders, including non-signatory movements, to intensify their efforts. Concerned also over reports of continuing conflict, he called upon all parties to end violence and on donors to increase their assistance in order for stakeholders to address root causes of the conflict. Appropriate responses to human rights violations are also needed, he said, adding that access to all areas of Darfur is critical for both those purposes. He encouraged the Government to create conditions for the return of displaced persons, as laid out in the humanitarian response plan and with the necessary international support. UNAMID must also be allowed to complete its mandate in the present phase of the transition to ensure the consolidation of the rule of law, justice and security in Darfur.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), also welcoming the overall calm, emphasized the need to end the remaining violence, emphasizing that political agreements are the only way forward. He called upon the African Union Peace and Security Council to impose strict measures on those who impede the peace. He welcomed the proposed approach to the transition period, saying it will allow the United Nations country team to address the conflict’s root causes and ameliorate the human rights situation. Reiterating condemnation of sexual violence and abuse of children, he welcomed the recent prosecution of those accused of such crimes. In supporting the benchmarks proposed by the Secretary-General, he called for the translation of the reduction in peacekeeping costs into more funding for sustainable development. In addition, he called for the upcoming review to address all of the Secretary-General’s indicators.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia) expressed hope that recent developments will allow the root causes of the conflict in Darfur to be addressed, emphasizing that the rule of law is particularly important. Agreeing with the parameters proposed in the Secretary-General’s report, she stressed the need for realistic timelines for achieving them. She also encouraged the Council to support the exertion of pressure on hold-outs from the peace process, saying non-signatory movements must be encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue with the Government. Only a political agreement addressing the root causes of conflict will resolve disputes and allow the return of displaced persons to their homes, she said, underlining that it is also crucial to allow unhindered access by humanitarian workers to all areas. She called on the international community to continue its support for Darfur beyond UNAMID’s mandate in order to continue advancing its sustainable development.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) said the situation in Darfur has been largely stable since the Council’s adoption of resolution 2429 (2018). Among other measures, the Government has deployed additional police forces and established new courts and administrative units, allowing the population to feel more secure. To fight impunity, the Office of the Public Prosecutor examined more than 100 cases in recent months, leading to a major increase in the rate of voluntary returns to the area. Noting that more than 385,000 formerly displaced persons have now returned, he said the United Nations country team, the Government and the African Union should jointly coordinate UNAMID’s exit plans.
The main benchmark relating to the situation in Darfur – overall improvement in the security and humanitarian situations – has nearly been achieved, he said, calling for the adoption of a similar approach – in which benchmarks are subject to continuous improvement – for the 2018-2020 period. Recalling that the head of UNAMID focused his statement on the importance of Darfur’s ongoing peacebuilding phase during the high-level event on 28 September, he pledged the Government’s continued leadership in those efforts. Indeed, the great improvements seen in Darfur’s security and humanitarian situation in recent years mean that the Government must forge ahead with development and solidify stability, he said, emphasizing that pledges by Sudan’s partners should be fulfilled without delay. Noting that the rebel group led by Abdul Wahid continues to ignore United Nations resolutions and the will of the international community, he called on the Council to take action against him, and on neighbouring States to prevent his group from threatening the gains already achieved in Darfur.