posted on Fri 27 Mar 2020 8:57 PM
UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID): Vote on Draft Resolution

On Monday (30 March), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) that will maintain the mission’s current troop and police ceilings until 31 May. Under normal circumstances this draft would be voted on in the Council chamber. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, and with members unable to agree on video-conferencing modalities for voting, the Council has decided to vote through written adoption procedures. Members are currently submitting their votes to the Security Council Affairs Division. China, as Council president this month, is expected to read out the results during the informal videoconference session on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, on Monday. It appears that the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the Council’s schedule and working methods have also had an impact on the substance of the draft.

Draft Text

On 31 October 2019, the Security Council adopted resolution 2495, extending the mandate of UNAMID until 31 October. Notwithstanding the 31 October mandate expiry, resolution 2495 also set 31 March as the deadline for the Council to make a decision on the mission’s troop and police ceiling. In this regard, the current draft decides to maintain the mission’s troop and police ceiling, as well as all team sites for mandate implementation, until 31 May.

Resolution 2495 also expressed the Council’s intention to decide by 31 March “courses of action regarding the responsible drawdown and exit of UNAMID…[and] its intention to adopt a new resolution at the same time, establishing a follow-on presence to UNAMID”. (For more details see our What’s In Blue story of 30 October 2019). The resolution that is expected to be adopted uses this same language from resolution 2495, but extends the deadline for these decisions to 31 May. The penholders felt that extending the deadline for decisions on the drawdown and exit of UNAMID and the establishment of a follow-on presence was necessary, given the current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, including the inability of Council members to conduct face-to-face negotiations. It seems Council members were supportive of this approach.

Another factor that may have contributed to this decision is that the Council was unable to hold the scheduled briefing and consultations on UNAMID on 18 March, having decided to postpone all of its meetings scheduled for the week of 16 March due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (The briefing had initially been scheduled for 12 March, but was apparently delayed due to late circulation of the special report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, which was to form the basis of the briefing.)

UNAMID Special Report

Resolution 2495 requested that the special report be provided to the Council by 31 January and that it include: 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, recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID, and options for a follow-on presence to UNAMID. On 31 December 2019, the Secretary-General sent a letter (S/2020/72) to the Council asking for a one-month extension for the submission of the special report, to 28 February, to allow for further consultations at a high level with the AU and the Sudanese authorities. A two-week extension was granted for the issuance of the special report by 14 February. It was ultimately released on 12 March (S/2020/202).

The delayed release of the special report, along with the postponement of the briefing, may have contributed to the need to allow Council members more time (that is, until 31 May) to make a decision on regarding the drawdown and exit of UNAMID and establishing a follow-on presence.

The special report (S/2020/202) states that the transitional Sudanese government “continued to embark upon urgent and complex transition tasks, as laid out in the Constitutional Declaration of 17 August 2019, albeit with some delays”. It also refers to security incidents in Khartoum and West Darfur that have “underscored the fragility of the transition period”. In Darfur, the overall security situation remained unchanged, but “intercommunal tensions over land, grazing rights and other scarce resources can escalate to a significant level of violence, far beyond the capacity of the Sudanese rule of law institutions to respond,” the report said. Human rights abuses, including some by uniformed personnel, remain prevalent while nearly two million persons remain displaced.

On options for a follow on presence to UNAMID, the special report sets out the following core objectives:

(a) To support achievement of the political benchmarks in the Constitutional Declaration, including the Constitution and elections; (b) To support implementation of peace agreements in the conflict-affected areas, including security arrangements, such as ceasefire monitoring and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, if required, and accountability and transitional justice; (c) To support national-led peacebuilding and the strengthening of human rights and rule of law institutions, and the scaling-up of support for recovery and development to build resilience and mitigate protection risks; (d) To facilitate international support for economic reform that would set the country on a path to sustainable development (S/2020/202).

The special report also refers to the letters of 27 January (S/2020/77) and 27 February (S/2020/221) from Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to the Secretary-General calling for the establishment of a Chapter VI peace support operation in the form of a special political mission covering the entire territory of Sudan.

Council members are expected to take into account the observations and recommendations contained in the special report to inform their positions ahead of 31 May.