posted on WED 8 AUG 2012 5:11 PM
Sudan/South Sudan and Abyei Meetings

Tomorrow morning (9 August) Council members are expecting to hold a regular fortnightly meeting to discuss Sudan and South Sudan. It seems that Thabo Mbeki, the Chair of the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), will brief (via videoconference) along with Haile Menkerios, the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan. (Given Mbeki’s participation, the meeting will likely be held in the interactive dialogue format as opposed to consultations.) No immediate outcome is anticipated although Council members may consider discussions in the near future concerning a statement intended to send a message to the two parties.

Additionally, Council members are scheduled to hold consultations tomorrow morning to discuss the situation in Abyei—the disputed region straddling Sudan and South Sudan—and the recent report (S/2012/583) of UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). Edmond Mulet, UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, is set to brief during the consultations.

During the interactive dialogue, Council members will likely be interested in an overview of the status of the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan following the expiration on 2 August of the three-month deadline set by resolution 2046 for the parties to resolve the outstanding issues separating them. (These included, oil wealth sharing, border demarcation, and the final status of Abyei.)

While little progress was made during the three months, on 3 August the parties agreed on a deal regarding oil revenue. Council members will be interested in hearing more about the agreement, including when it might be implemented and how it would be monitored. (Media reports indicate that the agreement would be valid for three and a half years and that the sides agreed on the amount South Sudan will pay Sudan in transit fees per barrel of oil, in addition to more than $3 billion in financial aid. However, some Council members have indicated that they have not seen a formal document, and Sudan has said that security arrangements need to be addressed before the deal could be finalised.)

The Council will also likely be focused on its next steps as a follow up to resolution 2046 given the lack of progress between the sides. The resolution requested that—in the event the negotiations failed to result in agreements on all the issues within the three months—the Secretary-General report to the Council by 2 September on proposals on all outstanding issues. (This report was to be “in consultation” with the AUHIP, the Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD] and the Chairman of the AU Commission.)

However, on 3 August, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) issued a communiqué which some Council members may consider complicates the situation. The communiqué requested the AUHIP also to submit a report, by 22 September, to the AU PSC outlining proposals on residual outstanding issues between the parties. According to the communiqué, these proposals would be “final and binding” and would be endorsed at an AU PSC ministerial level meeting held within two weeks of the submission of the report. The AU PSC further “seeks the support of the Security Council and its endorsement of the present communiqué.” Council members are likely to seek clarity on this development tomorrow and its seeming overlap with the Council’s own work.

Another point of interest for Council members tomorrow will be the 4 August Memorandum of Understanding between Sudan and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-North. (The memorandum concerns the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.)

Regarding the consultations on Abyei and UNISFA, Council members may be interested in hearing about the status of implementation of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism. According to the most recent report of the Secretary-General on Abyei, Sudan and South Sudan have both deployed national monitors to the Border Mechanism’s temporary headquarters in Assosa, Ethiopia. However, it seems that Sudan continues to raise objections to the map that the AU has presented to the parties as a basis for discussion on the geographical parameters of the buffer zone between the two countries. To date, Sudan’s unwillingness to accept this map appears to be a key reason for the delay in establishing the Mechanism.

Some Council members also appear to be concerned about the disagreements between the parties that have stalled the implementation of the Abyei Area Administration and the Abyei Police Service. These are important institutions that could help enhance governance and, according to the Secretary-General’s report, are critical in addressing “law and order concerns in the Abyei Area.”

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