posted on Wed 30 Oct 2019 4:06 PM
UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID): Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow (31 October), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) until 31 October 2020. The initial draft was circulated by the UK and Germany, the penholders on Darfur, on 23 October. One round of formal negotiations was held on 25 October. A slightly revised draft was put under silence on Tuesday (29 October) until this morning (30 October). The draft passed silence and is now in blue.

The issue of the scope and pace of UNAMID’s drawdown, reconfiguration, and eventual exit has been contentious among Council members in the past (see our What’s In Blue stories in 20172018 and 2019). Resolution 2429, renewing UNAMID’s mandate in July last year, took note of the recommendations in the special report of the Secretary-General and Chairperson of the AU (S/2018/530), which stated that the mission would exit in June 2020 “provided that there is no significant change in the security situation in Darfur and key indicators are fulfilled”. On 27 June, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2479, extending UNAMID’s mandate until 31 October. That resolution was a technical rollover of the mandate set out in 2429, and the Council did not authorise any changes to the role of the mission or any further reductions in its troop and police ceiling. The technical rollover of the mandate in June reflected the view held by the penholders and most other Council members, including the three African members, that the mission’s drawdown and reconfiguration should be paused in light of the evolving situation in Sudan following the 11 April ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir and the significant ongoing political and security developments.

Since the adoption of resolution 2479, further positive developments have taken place in Sudan. In this regard, the draft in blue welcomes the 17 August signing of the Constitutional Declaration and the establishment of a new civilian-led transitional government and transitional institutions, as well as the inauguration on 21 August of the Sudanese prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and the Sovereign Council, and of the Cabinet on 8 September. It also welcomes improvements in the security situation in Darfur, while expressing concern that it remains precarious in some regions. It further welcomes the government’s decision to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the agreement signed on 25 September to open an OHCHR country office, with field offices, in Sudan.

The draft in blue extends the mandate of UNAMID until 31 October 2020, as was requested by Hamdok in a letter to the Secretary-General on 22 October that the draft takes note of.  Some members, in particular Russia, have been adamant in the past that the mission should withdraw by June 2020. At the most recent briefing on 17 October (S/PV.8643), Russia said that “it is essential to stay the course for the phased drawdown and withdrawal of UNAMID in accordance with the time frame established in resolution 2429”, while adding that “the opinion of the government in Khartoum, as the host party, should be decisive in every case”. It seems the letter from Hamdok requesting a one-year extension of the mission’s mandate made negotiations on the issue of timing uncontentious, with all members seeking to support his request.

The draft in blue decides that UNAMID will maintain its current troop and police ceilings until 31 March 2020. In this regard, it takes note of the recommendation to do so made in paragraph 45 of the 15 October special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General (S/2019/816). The draft also states that after 31 March 2020, the Council will decide on “courses of action regarding the responsible drawdown and exit of UNAMID” and “adopt a new resolution at the same time, establishing a follow-on presence to UNAMID”. While the mandate was extended for one year, the 31 March 2020 deadline provides an opportunity for the Council to reassess the situation in Darfur as well as further progress in the political situation and peace process, including the envisaged signing of a comprehensive peace agreement in the first six months of the transition. This approach, contained in the initial draft, was acceptable to Council members with the exception of one issue. The initial draft proposed a deadline of 30 April for the assessment of the mission, in keeping with the recommendation of the Special Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General, but this was shortened by one month to 31 March, apparently at the request of the US.

The draft decides that the mission will continue to implement its mandate as set out in resolution 2429, while focusing on three specific areas as set out in the draft. These include:

  • support to the peace process, as recommended in the special report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General (S/2019/816);
  • support to peacebuilding activities, also recommended in the special report; and
  • the protection of civilians, monitoring and reporting on human rights, including sexual and gender-based violence and grave violations against children, the facilitation of humanitarian assistance and support to the voluntary, informed, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees and IDPs.

In relation to reporting, the draft requests the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to provide the Security Council with a special report by 31 January 2020, including an assessment of the situation on the ground, an update on the peace process, information on the status of UNAMID team sites previously handed over to the government, and recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID, as well as options for a follow-on presence to UNAMID. This report is expected to inform any decisions that may be made by the Council ahead of the 31 March 2020 deadline.