posted on Thu 7 Feb 2019 11:40 AM
Sudan Sanctions Regime Renewal

This afternoon (7 February), the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee until 12 March 2020. The US, the penholder on Sudan sanctions, circulated a draft last week and one round of formal negotiations was held on Monday (4 February).

A slightly revised draft passed silence yesterday evening and was put into blue. During the negotiations, it appears that one member, supported by others, wanted to note steps taken by Sudan to improve the situation in Darfur; however, some members did not share this view. Then, as a compromise, reference to the presidential statement (S/PRST/2018/19) adopted on 11 December 2018 was included. That statement welcomed the progress in UNAMID’s reconfiguration and expressed the Council’s “commitment to supporting the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and development in Darfur”.

The draft in blue retains the paragraph contained in resolution 2400 adopted on 8 February 2018, which previously extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts, expressing the Council’s intention “to regularly review the measures on Darfur…in light of the evolving situation on the ground” and in light of the findings of the interim and final reports of the Panel of Experts.

The draft also contains an additional paragraph in which the Council expresses “its intention to establish clear, well identified, and measurable key benchmarks that could serve in guiding the Security Council to review measures on the Government of Sudan”. This language is similar to paragraph nine of resolution 2454 adopted on 31 January 2019, which renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 Central African Republic Sanctions Committee (for more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 30 January). However, unlike resolution 2454, the draft in blue does not specify a date for such benchmarks to be established or outline specific areas to which these benchmarks may relate. The language is also sufficiently general to leave open whether the outcome of such a review could lead to an expansion or lifting of the sanctions regime. As a result, this additional paragraph was acceptable to members, despite their different positions on the sanctions regime, as referred to below.

The draft recalls the final report of the Panel of Experts, dated 10 January 2019 (S/2019/34). The report finds that challenges remain in the implementation of the sanctions regime. In relation to violations of the arms embargo, the report finds that the government of Sudan had continued to transfer military equipment into Darfur without seeking the Committee’s approval, as required by resolution 1591. It also refers to violations of the arms embargo by the Justice and Equality Movement (a Darfuri rebel group) and the government of South Sudan. In relation to the travel ban and assets freeze of the four designated individuals, the report says that the government of Sudan has not submitted its implementation report, and in the absence of cooperation from Sudan on the issue, “the implementation of this measure remains difficult.” The report notes that most of the Darfuri armed groups have consolidated their presence in Libya, where they derive income from mercenary activities, smuggling, and other criminal actions.

On 17 January, Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, briefed the Council on the Committee’s work. (For more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 16 January.) Wronecka referred to the 24 October 2018 briefing to the Committee in informal consultations by the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten.  Patten “informed the Committee on the ongoing patterns of sexual violence in Darfur as well as the progress made by the government of Sudan to address them”, according to a 15 November 2018 Committee press statement. During her briefing, Patten apparently recommended to the Committee that it consider expanding the regime’s designation criteria to include the commission of acts of rape or sexual violence. The Council failed to reach consensus on this recommendation, which subsequently was not referred to in the 15 November 2018 Committee press statement or in the chair’s briefing on 17 January. (All sanctions committee press statements and chair’s briefings must be agreed by consensus.)

During the 17 January briefing, at which all 15 Council members made statements, several members, including France, Germany and the UK, expressed disappointment over the Committee’s failure to reach consensus on reflecting the full content of Patten’s statement and the recommendations to the Committee in the Chair’s statement. In addition, Belgium, France, Germany, Peru and the UK expressed support for including sexual violence as a new listing criterion for targeted sanctions, which Russia expressly opposed in its statement.

The threat of sexual violence in Darfur remains “significant”, according to the Secretary-General’s latest report on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), with most cases of conflict-related sexual violence occurring in Jebel Marra, notably during clashes involving Sudanese government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid rebel group. The report said that the protection of women in that region is still a “major challenge” for UNAMID. The final report of the Panel of Experts also notes that “[a]cross Darfur, women and girls continue to be subjected to conflict-related sexual violence.”

Council members have contrasting assessments of the overall situation in Darfur and the sanctions regime. At the 17 January briefing, China, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait and Russia presented positive assessments of the situation in Sudan and expressed support for reviewing the sanctions regime with a view to lifting the sanctions. Other members maintain that it would be premature to consider lifting the regime at this time, and also   support expanding its listing criteria to include the commission of acts of sexual violence.

Members seemed generally to be satisfied by the inclusion of the paragraph on establishing benchmarks to review the sanctions measures, viewing this as an opportunity to advance their positions on the issue in the future. The late compromise (that is, the addition of the reference to the December presidential statement) was made shortly before the text was put into blue.

In relation to reporting, the draft resolution requests the Panel of Experts to provide the Committee with an interim report no later than 12 August 2019, and a final report by 13 January 2020. It further requests the Panel of Experts to provide updates every three months to the Committee regarding its activities.