posted on Thu 23 Apr 2020 7:25 PM
UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID): Open and Closed VTC Meeting

Tomorrow (24 April), Security Council members will hold an open VTC, followed by a closed VTC, on the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo and Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix are expected to brief. This meeting will take the place of consultations on UNAMID that had been initially scheduled for 18 March. That meeting was rescheduled due to COVID-19’s impact on the work of the Council and delays in the Council’s receiving a special report from the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, which had been requested in resolution 2495.

Resolution 2495 set 31 March as the date by which the Council should decide “courses of action regarding the responsible drawdown and exit of UNAMID…[and]… adopt a new resolution…establishing a follow-on presence to UNAMID”. However, due to the above-mentioned extenuating circumstances, the Council instead adopted resolution 2517 on 30 March, delaying these decisions until 31 May and in the meantime maintaining the mission’s troop and police ceilings and its team sites.

The briefers are expected to provide an update on the findings of the special report, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on Sudan (specifically in Darfur), on UNAMID’s current operations and on the timelines for a follow-on mission. The special report, which was circulated to Council members on 12 March, provides an assessment of the situation on the ground, an update on the peace process, recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID, and options for a follow-on UN presence. The overall security situation in most parts of Darfur, the report asserts, remains unchanged, while “intercommunal tensions…can escalate to a significant level of violence, far beyond the capacity of the Sudanese rule of law institutions to respond”.

As for options for a follow-on presence, the report sets out four core objectives for UNAMID’s successor: support for the achievement of political benchmarks in the Constitutional Declaration, including the Constitution and elections; implementation of peace agreements in the conflict-affected areas; strengthening human rights and rule of law institutions and scaling-up support for recovery and development to build resilience and mitigate protection risks; and facilitating international support for economic reform with a path to sustainable development.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be the first opportunity that Council members have had to discuss the special report. They are likely to seek the views of the briefers on several aspects of the report, including the report’s assessments of the current political transition in Sudan, the security and human rights situation in Darfur and the situation of protection of civilians. They may want to seek a better understanding of tasks a follow-on mission could be expected to carry out. Council members may also ask about the views presented by Prime Minister Hamdok in his two letters, dated 27 January and 27 February, to the Council, and how these have influenced planning for a follow-on mission. The January letter requested a special political mission with a strong peacebuilding component operating under Chapter VI, while the February letter requested the UN’s support in peace negotiations among the Sudanese parties, assistance with mobilising economic and development aid, and coordination and facilitation of humanitarian aid, among other things.  The role of the AU will also need to be assessed, given UNAMID’s hybrid nature.

The meeting will also be the first opportunity that the Council has had to discuss COVID-19 in the context of Sudan and in light of UNAMID’s transition. Given that the Secretary-General has suspended troop rotations until 30 June and that Port Sudan and Sudan’s airports remain closed, the timelines for the drawdown of UNAMID and the establishment of a follow-on mission could be delayed by several months. Council members may seek clarifications on what can be reasonably anticipated in establishing a follow-on mission in the current context and with a view to UNAMID’s current mandate expiration of 31 October 2020.