Sudan’s Delegate Decries ‘False Facts’ Outlined in Final Expert Panel Report
Speakers in the Security Council today debated the future of sanctions imposed on Sudan more than 13 years ago, as the 15-nation body took up the latest report of the Panel of Experts appointed to monitor those measures against individuals and entities obstructing peace in the Darfur region.
Some called for the arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze — which have their origins in Council resolution 1591 (2005) — to be eased, given an improving security situation in Darfur and a peace process that has prompted the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to reduce its troops. Others proposed that sexual violence become a stand-alone criterion for sanctions.
Briefing the Council, Joanna Wronecka (Poland), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005), recalled a meeting on 24 October with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, who said that despite a significant improvement in many parts of Darfur, women and girls still face considerable security challenges.
Citing the Special Representative’s guidance, she said stopping the use of sexual violence, ensuring accountability for such crimes and enacting prevention and protection measures are requirements for delisting the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces from the Secretary-General’s reports on sexual violence in conflict. She also conveyed the Expert Panel’s recommendation that the Council urge Libya’s warring factions to stop cooperating with Darfuri armed groups.
In the ensuing debate, delegates focused on the future of the sanctions regime and persistence of sexual violence. They raised humanitarian concerns in Darfur and discussed the region’s peace process — including a pre-negotiation agreement reached in December in Berlin between the Government and two rebel groups — as well as protests over food and fuel shortages that have taken place in several cities since 19 December.
The United Kingdom’s representative, the Council penholder on Sudan, encouraging the Government to cooperate fully with the Sanctions Committee, expressed concern about reports of widespread sexual violence. Clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army and national armed forces were a stark reminder that the situation remains fragile. All parties must adhere to the arms embargo and address sexual violence. Appalled at reports that Sudanese authorities used tear gas against protestors, he called for restraint in policing social demonstrations.
Belgium’s delegate called on the Government to strengthen its national capacities to provide legal, medical and psychosocial support for victims of sexual abuse. He supported making sexual violence a stand-alone criterion for sanctions — a point raised by Peru’s delegate — and shared the Expert Panel’s concerns about armed groups operating outside Sudan and weapons trafficking.
Outlining a different perspective, the representative of the Russian Federation said there seems to be a lack of political will to lift sanctions. Instead, activists are seeking more sanctions, including making sexual violence a criterion for embargoes. Those introducing such innovations are only pursuing their own national agendas and creating a notion that the Security Council is tasked with addressing social protests. Any Council actions must reflect the situation on the ground, he said, expressing hope for an examination of sanctions in Sudan with a view to eventually lifting them.
Kuwait’s delegate meanwhile said it is time for the Council to review the sanctions with the aim of lifting them gradually and in a way that will enable the Government of Sudan to enhance its authority on the ground. A political solution in Darfur must be the priority.
South Africa’s representative said that despite its expected drawdown, UNAMID must continue to protect civilians, especially those at risk of gender-based violence. His Government remains concerned about the transfer of weapons to Darfur and growing presence of Darfuri armed groups in Libya, as further arms embargo violations could potentially fuel conflict in the region.
Rounding out the debate, Sudan’s representative said his Government is fully committed to the Darfur peace process. He flatly rejected false facts contained in the Expert Panel’s report that were collected from non-credible and non-neutral sources. The situation in Darfur today is different from 13 years ago when sanctions were imposed. With successive reports of the Secretary-General and the Panel of Experts confirming improved conditions, he expressed hope that the Council, when considering the renewal of the Panel’s mandate, will review the sanctions regime so that Sudan’s armed forces can carry out their duties to combat transnational organized crime, human trafficking, illegal migration and terrorism.
Responding to Council members who spoke about recent demonstrations, he said the Government is fully committed to giving Sudanese citizens the space to peacefully express their views. At same time, it must uphold its constitutional duty to protect lives and property against sabotage, arson and all other forms of violence.
Also speaking were representatives of Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, United States, China, Peru, France, Germany, Poland (in its national capacity) and the Dominican Republic.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:26 a.m.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005), presented a briefing covering developments from 4 October 2018 to 17 January 2019, a period which included a meeting on 24 October 2018 with Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict. Briefing the Committee on her visit to Sudan at the invitation of the Government, the Special Representative said there had been a significant improvement in the security situation in many parts of Darfur. However, women and girls still faced considerable security challenges. She also expressed optimism regarding the Framework of Cooperation that aims to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence, adding that the cessation of sexual violence, ensuring accountability for such crimes and the implementation of specific prevention and protection measures, are requirements for de-listing the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces from the Secretary-General’s reports on sexual violence in conflict.
On the final report of the Panel of Experts appointed to monitor the arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze imposed on those impeding peace in Sudan’s Darfur region (document S/2019/34), transmitted to the Council on 10 January, Ms. Wronecka said she would not repeat its content in detail. Due to the period it covers, the report does not take into account the signing on 6 December 2018 by the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi and Justice and Equality Movement of a pre-negotiation agreement with the Government of Sudan, supported by the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). She said the Panel of Experts recommends that the Security Council urge the Libyan warring factions to stop cooperating with Darfuri armed groups, and that Member States support the Regional Operational Centre in Khartoum — and similar regional initiatives — as part of a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding, border management and addressing such cross-cutting challenges as migrant smuggling
GBOLIÉ DESIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), noting developments on the ground, said the Government of Sudan must take steps to prevent sexual violence in conflict and prosecute perpetrators of such crimes. Efforts must also be made to facilitate the sharing of information and foster cooperation between the Committee and the Government.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), concerned about the presence of armed groups in Darfur, said financing to them must be cut. Improvements in the security situation would enable efforts to focus on development initiatives, with resource mobilization being key towards a transition to peacebuilding activities. The international community must continue to lend assistance to ensure that peace is achieved in Darfur. Sanctions should be used as a last resort and reflect the latest situation on the ground while considering economic consequences.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said the Government of Sudan has spared no effort to address cases of sexual violence and the growing number of internally displaced persons. While the security situation remains stable at the moment, he worried about sporadic violence, some of which stemmed from exploiting natural resources. To tackle the debilitating activities of armed groups, sanctions must be strictly implemented to allow a return to normalcy. Steps towards this end include establishing a judicial system across the country.
RODNEY M. HUNDER (United States) said perpetrators of crimes must be held accountable and the Panel of Experts must be tasked to investigate reported cases of sexual violence in conflict. He encouraged authorities to work closely with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Alarmed by the arbitrary detention of journalists and activists, he urged the Government to release them. Highlighting continued clashes between the Government of Sudan forces and certain armed groups, resulting in casualties on both sides, conflict-related sexual violence and displacement, he called on all parties to cease hostilities. Regarding violations of the arms embargo, he called for compliance by all parties, and upon the Government of Sudan in particular, to cooperate with the Panel of Experts.
WU HAITAO (China) said the situation in Darfur remains stable, with the Government of Sudan pressing ahead with reconstruction while stepping up its engagement with those parties that did not sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. As UNAMID gradually withdraws, the Government should assume primary responsibility for security in Darfur, with the international community assisting in that regard. Sanctions should be reviewed by the Security Council in a timely manner, making adjustments in light of recent developments with a view to lifting them entirely. China hopes the international community will continue to provide humanitarian support, in line with Sudan’s needs. As a major troop contributor to UNAMID, China stands ready to work with the international community and play a constructive role for peace, stability and development in Darfur.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), emphasizing the importance of humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons, said it is time for the Security Council to review the sanctions regime in accordance with resolution 2400 (2018) with the aim of lifting those measures gradually and in a way that will enable the Government of Sudan to enhance its authority on the ground. On the future of Darfur, he said a political solution is a priority. The Government of Sudan is the only side that has participated in all negotiations, he said, with the Doha Document the foundation for building a lasting peace. He concluded by renewing Kuwait’s support for Sudan’s efforts to achieve peace and stability in Darfur.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that, despite the improved security situation in much of Darfur, the number of victims of sexual violence is alarmingly high. There is an urgent need to sanction those responsible for such heinous crimes, he said, stressing that sexual violence must be an independent listing criterion for sanctions. Rebel groups are still receiving financing from countries and other sources in the region, countering efforts to achieve peace. Expressing regret over violations of the arms embargo, he called on the Government of Sudan to comply with the asset freeze and cooperate with the Panel of Experts.
ANTOINE MICHON (France), mindful of the situation on the ground regarding social protests, called on authorities to guarantee the freedom of assembly and expression, pursuant to Sudan’s international commitments. All parties must refrain from actions that would exacerbate tensions. While the security situation in Darfur has improved, he condemned clashes in Jebel Marra and continuing human rights violations. Authorities and armed groups must advance the peace process, end hostilities and address the causes of conflict, including land ownership and recognition of the rule of law. The “Berlin agreement” among authorities and armed groups is a step in the right direction. Turning to concerns about sexual violence, he said the Government must hold perpetrators accountable and address victims’ needs. To resolve challenges related to humanitarian access, steps should include a ceasefire plan. With regard to UNAMID, he said a planned withdrawal must be gradual.
JUERGEN SCHULZ (Germany) said sanctions must be rigorously implemented. On Darfur, his delegation supported mediation and political dialogue, which is the only way to find a lasting solution. Acknowledging security improvements, he highlighted a lack of compliance with a recent ceasefire and pointed at the fragile conditions the population faced. Also worrisome are reports of violence at social protests. Given such developments, he said the Council’s unity remains of utmost importance.
Ms. WRONECKA (Poland), speaking in her national capacity, highlighted several concerns, including rampant reports of sexual and gender-based violence, human rights abuses related to fighting in the area of Jebel Marra, the current humanitarian situation and violations of the arms embargo. She called on authorities to bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice, and regarding embargo violations, to seek the Committee’s approval prior to moving weapons‑related materials. Expressing support for the Committee’s recommendations, she said that as its Chair she would continue to guide its work with a view to contributing to peace and stability in Darfur and the region.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) said positive trends required increased vigilance, given that sporadic violence continues to cause deaths in certain areas. As such, he called on all parties to join the peace process. The suffering of people in Sudan is far from over, he said, noting that sexual violence continues to be reported and calling on the Government to strengthen its national capacities to provide legal, medical and psychosocial support for victims. Belgium supports making sexual violence a stand-alone criterion for sanctions. Sharing some of the Panel of Experts’ concerns — including armed groups operating outside Sudan and ongoing weapons trafficking — he called on all parties to cooperate fully with the Panel so it can fulfil its mandate without interference.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) welcomed the dramatically improved security situation in Darfur in recent years and commended the role of UNAMID. Despite its expected drawdown, the Mission must continue to protect vulnerable civilians, especially in camps for internally displaced people, against violations, including gender-based violence. His Government remains concerned about arms embargo violations, including the transfer of weapons to Darfur which destabilizes the situation on the ground, he said, urging UNAMID to continue providing technical and logistical assistance to the Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission. He also expressed concern about the growing presence of Darfuri armed groups in Libya as further violations of the embargo could potentially fuel conflict in the region.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), noting the positive trend in security and political developments, said achievements include that refugees and internally displaced persons are returning to their places of residence. Moreover, the Berlin agreement to resume the peace process demonstrates the parties’ efforts to make further gains. Meanwhile, external sponsors of the Sudanese opposition must be more active in encouraging their protégés to make constructive efforts. Eritrea’s experience has shown that, when there is a political will, there is a possibility to lift sanctions. However, in Sudan, there seems to be a lack of political will to do so. Instead, activists are seeking even more sanctions, including making sexual violence a criterion for embargoes. Those introducing such innovations are doing so to pursue their own national agendas, with the goal of this tactic evident: to create a notion that the Security Council is tasked with addressing issues such as social protests. Any Council actions must reflect the situation on the ground, he said, expressing hope for an examination of sanctions in Sudan with a view to eventually lifting them.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) said the Council has a responsibility to demonstrate transparency in the Committee’s work. Taking issue with the Russian Federation’s position on others’ perspectives on embargoes, he said the United Kingdom will continue to act objectively on this and other sanctions regimes and encouraged the Government of Sudan to cooperate fully with the Committee. His delegation shared concerns about reports of widespread sexual violence and clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army and national armed forces, which provides a stark reminder that the situation remains fragile. As such, the Council must fulfil its obligations. Calling upon all parties to adhere to the arms embargo, he said the Government must communicate with the Committee regarding its own related shipments. Expressing support for the Special Representative’s recommendations, he encouraged stakeholders to take action to address the issue of sexual violence. Appalled at reports of authorities using tear gas against protestors, he called for restraint in policing social demonstrations.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic), Council President for January, spoke in his national capacity, commending the Berlin agreement and highlighting positive steps taken at a regional level. However, challenges continue to plague the peace process, including clashes in Jebel Marra, reports of conflict-related sexual violence and that the Government and armed groups are violating the arms embargo. He urged all parties to implement sanctions and eradicate sexual violence, ensuring accountability for those responsible for these crimes.
MAGDI AHMED MOFADAL ELNOUR (Sudan) said his Government is fully committed to the Darfur peace process and stands ready to resume negotiations with the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi and Justice and Equality Movement as per the pre‑negotiation agreement signed in December 2018. More pressure should be put on other rebel groups to join the peace process, in line with the Doha Document, he said, describing the situation in Jebel Marra as the direct result of the refusal of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid to participate in talks. He emphasized the close connection between peace and development in Darfur, stating that the conflict is about scarce resources and that addressing root causes will depend on the degree of commitment shown by development partners and the international community.
Turning to sanctions, he underscored the Government’s commitment to cooperate with United Nations entities working in Sudan so long as they abide by their mandates and respect Sudan’s sovereignty. Sudan flatly rejects false facts contained in the final report of the Panel of Experts that were collected from non-credible and non-neutral sources. The situation today in Darfur is different from 13 years ago when sanctions were imposed. All reports from the Secretary‑General and the Panel of Experts confirm an improved security situation in Darfur, prompting the Council to adopt resolutions 2363 (2017) and 2429 (2018) envisioning a reduction in UNAMID’s troop strength in preparation for a full exit by June 2020. He said the Government is working to normalize the situation in Darfur, enforcing its authority and the rule of law, bolstering security and prompting many refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their homes.
He recalled that, through operative paragraph 3 of resolution 2400 (2018), the Council expressed its intention to review sanctions in light of developments. With the reports of the Secretary-General and the Panel of Experts confirming an improvement in the situation, Sudan hopes that the Council, when considering the renewal of the Panel’s mandate, will review the sanctions regime so that Sudan’s armed forces can carry out their duties and combat transnational organized crime, human trafficking, illegal migration and counter-terrorism. That is particularly important given the reduction in UNAMID’s troop strength and with Darfur bordering three countries in the midst of conflict, he said.
Responding to those Council members who spoke about recent demonstrations in Sudan, he said the Government is fully committed to giving Sudanese citizens the space to peacefully express their views on the political and economic situation. At same time, the Government is committed to its constitutional duty to protect lives and property against sabotage, arson and all other forms of violence perpetrated by demonstrators. He added that the demonstrations are not remotely related to the topic of today’s meeting and asked that Council members remain focused on the issue at hand.