Representatives of Sudan, South Sudan Differ over Text’s Request that Secretary-General Appoint Civilian Deputy Head of Mission
The Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 15 November today, deciding also to reduce its authorized troop ceiling to 3,550 and increase its authorized police ceiling to 640 personnel, including 148 individual police officers.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2469 (2019), the 15-member Council requested that the Secretary-General appoint a civilian deputy head of mission for UNISFA to facilitate further engagement with the relevant parties in a manner consistent with the Agreement on Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area, including agreement to establish the Abyei Police Service.
By the terms of that text, the Council expressed deep concern that the Government of Sudan has not promptly issued visas to support the deployment of personnel critical to UNISFA’S mandate, and urged continued progress towards establishment of the Abyei Area interim institutions.
Also by the text, the Council condemned the intermittent presence of South Sudan security service personnel and the deployment of Diffra Oil Police units in the Abyei Area, in violation of the 20 June 2011 Agreement. It urged the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to take all necessary steps to ensure that Abyei is effectively demilitarized, and immediately to implement confidence‑building measures among the communities in the Abyei Area.
Women must be involved at all stages of negotiation, including through grass-roots reconciliation processes, the text urged. It further demanded that the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan facilitate the deployment of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and that all parties allow full and unhindered access to civilians for all humanitarian personnel.
Jonathan R. Cohen (United States), speaking after the adoption, said that increasing the number of UNISFA police officers while reducing the number of its peacekeepers will help to address crime and other local challenges. He encouraged all parties concerned to resolve their differences and engage constructively in monitoring mechanisms and African Union initiatives.
Dmitry A. Polyanskiy (Russian Federation) emphasized the essential need to maintain peacekeepers on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, noting with concern that the text does not address the fundamental concerns of the two countries. The Russian Federation hopes such shortcomings will not impact effective mandate implementation for the “Blue Helmets”, he said, adding that UNISFA must continue to build confidence between Khartoum and Juba.
Yao Shaojun (China) said the relatively calm situation in Abyei reflects the cooperation between Sudan and South Sudan. Noting UNISFA’s continuing contributions to peace and stability in the region, he stressed that the international community must support its efforts and refrain from imposing solutions. Instead, it must foster initiatives based on dialogue, he added.
Yasir Abdalla Abdelsalam Ahmed (Sudan), emphasizing that the 2011 agreement on temporary arrangements for security in the Abyei Area must continue unchanged, pointed out that the text adopted today abolishes one of the most important principles of peacekeeping by creating a civilian deputy head of mission without the approval of the countries involved, particularly Sudan — the host country. Underlining that Abyei is part of his country’s territory, he said that Sudan rejects all steps to change UNISFA’s mandate, composition and tasks, including its deployment of a civilian component and a police force. He called upon the United Nations to refrain from taking any action without approval from the Government of Sudan, stressing that Khartoum is determined to ensure cooperation with all parties in seeking a permanent and comprehensive solution that maintains security in the region.
Cecilia A. M. Adeng (South Sudan) said: “As much as UNISFA is an interim security force, what we are dealing with is not interim.” Welcoming the text’s request that the Secretary-General appoint a civilian deputy head of mission, she said this will help facilitate the Ngok Dinka people’s return to their villages. However, she expressed regret that the resolution does not mention the report on the assassination of Paramount Chief Deng Kuol and United Nations peacekeepers. She recalled that the joint police experiment in the Abyei area failed twice, resulting in the double displacement of the Ngok Dinka community in 2008 and 2011. Emphasizing that consent of the parties is one of the cardinal principles of peacekeeping, she urged the Council to respect this important standard, especially when dealing with the deployment of peacekeepers. South Sudan is interested in determining the final status of the Ngok Dinka people and the Council must support that, she stressed.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended 10:22 p.m.