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With the security situation in Darfur remaining largely stable, now was the time for the United Nations — in partnership with the African Union — to closely couple the drawdown of its hybrid peacekeeping mission in the Sudanese province with the build-up of a peacebuilding effort that would focus on addressing the root causes of conflict, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations told the Security Council this afternoon.
Briefing the Council on the Special Report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the strategic review of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), Jean-Pierre Lacroix said the situation on the ground in Darfur had changed — and to best serve the Darfuri people, UNAMID must change accordingly.
The 19-page Special Report set out two central concepts that would work hand-in-hand over two years: a peacekeeping concept, focusing on the most precarious areas where protection of civilians, humanitarian support and mediation efforts were still needed, and a transition concept which — in collaboration with the United Nations country team — would aim to bridge the transition from peacekeeping to early recovery and development.
“Now is the time to plan for the future of United Nations and African Union support to Darfur — by closely linking the drawdown in peacekeeping to the build-up in peacebuilding and development,” he said. What was proposed in the Special Report was a way to draw on the capabilities of the United Nations system, in partnership with the African Union, to better tailor the Organization’s work to the reality on the ground.
Recalling that UNAMID was in the final stages of a year-long reconfiguration, he said the Mission would, going forward, focus its peacekeeping work on Jebel Marra, scene of persistent clashes between Government forces and rebel groups. At the same time, UNAMID’s overall force strength would be reduced from 8,735 to 4,050 military personal, and 2,500 to 1,870 police officers.
He cautioned, however, that long-term peace and stability would require longer-term funding arrangements. It was essential to raise voluntary contributions, use funding from the Organization’s assessed budget during the transition period, and work closely with the Peacebuilding Support Office to access funding.
In the ensuing debate, representatives voiced support for the Special Report’s proposals. They underscored a need for parties to the conflict to agree on a permanent cessation of hostilities and to commit to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. They also proposed that the Council give some thought to imposing sanctions on those deemed to blocking the peace process.
Ethiopia’s representative said the situation in Darfur could no longer be characterized as an armed conflict between Government forces and non-State actors, but rather as criminality aggravated by a humanitarian crisis and human rights violations. A paradigm shift was needed, with the international community intensifying its assistance to the Government of Sudan. He added that he saw no reason for the Council not to have a unified position on the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid, whose leader he said had been holding the peace process hostage.
The representative of Kuwait, advocating capacity-building for the rule of law, said the Doha Document was the cornerstone for all discussions with non-signatory parties as well as decisive for UNAMID’s performance. The coming two years of UNAMID’s mandate could be tailored to developments, with a focus on the Doha Document, he said, calling also for support to be given to development programmes that would sustain peace in Sudan.
Sudan’s representative, taking the floor at the end of the meeting, said the question of displaced persons — numbering more than 2 million — was a priority for his Government, which going forward would require substantial human and humanitarian resources as well as international support. “Peace has become a tangible fact seen all over Darfur,” he said, noting that even the pockets controlled by Abdul Wahid were pushing for reconciliation and sustained peace. On sanctions imposed on his country, he said the Council had to choose between removing certain individuals from the sanctions list or adding Abdul Wahid.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Peru, and Kazakhstan.
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 4:09 p.m.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on the Special report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the strategic review of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document S/2018/530). It pointed a way forward as the Organization — in partnership with the African Union — adapted to the changing reality in Darfur, he said, recalling that UNAMID was in the final stages of a year-long reconfiguration. Turning first to the security situation, he said it had remained stable overall, with fighting between the Government and rebel groups confined to parts of Jebel Marra. Intercommunal violence remained low, although violence against internally displaced persons — including attacks on camps and reports of forced evictions — remained a concern. Efforts to reinvigorate the peace process had continued, including a meeting in Berlin on 16 and 17 April between the Government of Sudan and groups that had not signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, at which those groups accepted the principle of negotiation on the basis of that text.
“The conflict in Darfur has changed, and to best serve the Darfuri people, UNAMID must change with it,” he said. The peacekeeping mission should be directed to that section of Jebel Marra where conflict was ongoing. Elsewhere, the United Nations system should leverage the capabilities of its agencies, funds and programmes best suited to addressing outstanding problems. “Now is the time to plan for the future of United Nations and African Union support to Darfur — by closely linking the drawdown in peacekeeping to the build-up in peacebuilding and development,” he said. The Special Report presented two central concepts that would work hand-in-hand over two years: a peacekeeping concept, focusing on the most precarious areas where protection of civilians, humanitarian support and mediation efforts were still needed, and a transition concept which — in collaboration with the United Nations country team — would aim to bridge the transition from peacekeeping to early recovery and development.
Elaborating, he said UNAMID would focus its activities on protection of civilians, monitoring human rights and facilitating humanitarian assistance; mediation between the Government and non-signatory armed movement; and local-level mediation to address intercommunal or other local conflict. The area of operations would be reduced to 13 team sites in Jebel Marra while the Mission headquarters would move to Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur, from El Fashar, which would serve as a logistics hub. Overall force strength would be reduced from 8,735 to 4,050 military personal, and 2,500 to 1,870 police officers. Meanwhile, the transition concept would focus on the critical drivers of conflict and preventing relapse, with a focus on the rule of law; resilience and livelihoods, including durable solutions for internally displaced persons and host communities; immediate service delivery to internally displaced persons; and human rights. He cautioned, however, that long-term peace and stability would require longer-term funding arrangements. It was essential to raise voluntary contributions, use funding from the Organization’s assessed budget during the transition period, and work closely with the Peacebuilding Support Office to access funding.
Concluding, he said the situation in Darfur had changed radically for the better, with the needs of its people changing with it. What was proposed in the Special Report was a way to draw on the capabilities of the United Nations system, in partnership with the African Union, to better tailor the Organization’s work to the reality on the ground. That would require committed support from the Government of Sudan, the United Nations country team and humanitarian partners, troop- and police-contributing countries and Council members. Working together, the new approach would help improve the lives of the Darfuri people, now and in the longer term.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that the generally stable security situation in Darfur amid a decrease in intercommunal violence, as acknowledged by the African Union Peace and Security Council, had created conditions for UNAMID to prepare its exit from Sudan. While the causes of the Darfur conflict remained unaddressed, the Mission no longer represented the appropriate tool to address the remaining challenges. The situation could no longer be characterized as an armed conflict between Government forces and non-State actors, but rather as criminality aggravated by a humanitarian crisis and rights violations. A paradigm shift was needed and the Government had made efforts to address the challenges. The international community must intensify its assistance to the Government to relieve people’s suffering. While United Nations engagement in Darfur had fostered developments in the area, it was not the only solution. Sudan required immediate and substantial financial support and he thanked Sweden for leading a changed approach in that regard. He hoped the President’s appeal for Sudan to receive funds from the Peacebuilding Fund would be accepted. He saw no reason for the Council not to have a unified position on Abdul Wahid and his group, stressing: “The bottom line is he should not be allowed to hold the peace process hostage.” The remaining groups outside the Darfur peace process were engaged in criminal activity in Libya and South Sudan and should not be allowed to benefit from those illegal acts, using the Darfur peace process as a pretext. If they continued to refuse to participate in the peace process, the Council should deal with them as transnational organized criminal groups rather than Darfur rebels, he said, advocating a “whole-of-system” approach to Darfur.
ALCIDE DJEDJE (Côte d’Ivoire), welcoming the Government’s weapons collection campaign, nonetheless said that the Sudan Liberation Army–Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) continued to destabilize the situation in Jebel Mara. International efforts were needed to stamp out such armed groups. He welcomed the extension by Sudan and other groups of the unilateral cessation of hostilities, encouraging them to sign a ceasefire. Land management issues had obstructed the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons, he said, noting that the Doha Document’s provisions on that issue would help achieve lasting settlement. He advocated financial support for the Government to continue its operations, in part to meet food security needs under the Sudan Humanitarian Assistance Plan. More efforts should be made to prompt rebel groups that had not signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur to agree to that accord. He also advocated implementation of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, expressing support for outlining the shared priorities and joint implementation of relevant operations in cooperation with the United Nations country team, which itself required financing to ensure rollout of recovery and peacebuilding activities. He also supported the Government’s request to be declared eligible for resources from the Peacebuilding Fund.
Job Obiang Esono Mbengono (Equatorial Guinea) welcomed the positive results achieved by Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations, which had reduced confrontations between the Government and rebel groups in Darfur. Those developments also had allowed UNAMID to prepare its exit from the area, as the security situation was more stable. However, the traffic and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Africa’s subregion was affecting young people’s future, an issue his delegation planned to address during its Council tenure. He recommended that the UNAMID exit strategy be flexible, consensual, realistic and reflective of ground developments. The source of fighting was inter-ethnic conflict, as well as competition over resources and lands, he said, stressing that land issues needed to be resolved, notably through the creation of a mechanism in eastern Darfur to determine land ownership through tribunals.
Pedro Luis Inchauste Jordán (Bolivia), emphasizing the need for a permanent ceasefire in Darfur, said a political process that addressed root causes — including natural resources and land ownership — was the only possible solution to the conflict. The Security Council must examine ways to increase pressure on those who were undermining the peace process. He emphasized the need for international cooperation to address the humanitarian situation, and commended progress made so far on UNAMID’s reconfiguration. Bolivia supported repositioning the Mission’s priorities with a focus on dealing with root causes, he said, adding that international cooperation would be essential for setting up funding mechanisms.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said the international community must redouble efforts to address humanitarian needs and protect the human rights of the more than 2 million internally displaced persons. All parties to the conflict must commit to addressing the root causes of the conflict and to mitigating the risks posed by climate change. Peru was pleased that progress towards UNAMID’s withdrawal had not led to reduced security, but the humanitarian and human rights situation must continue to be monitored. Peru supported substantive investment in peacebuilding in Darfur, as well as the new Mission concept. He went on to call for a permanent cessation of hostilities agreement among armed groups, as well as full implementation of the Doha Document and financial support from the international community.
KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) said his delegation supported the Special Report’s recommendations. Developments in Darfur were encouraging, although insufficient progress had been made in implementing the Doha Document. He emphasized the need for a permanent ceasefire agreement and called on all parties to participate in an inclusive political process. For its part, the Security Council must consider appropriate measures to increase pressure on those who were undermining the peace process. He said his country supported a whole-of-system approach for Darfur within a two-year timeframe, with the Organization delivering as “one UN”.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) welcomed the stability in Darfur and positive impacts of the weapons collection campaign, despite fighting in Jebel Mara. He advocated capacity-building for the rule of law, including for security and judicial institutions. The Doha Document was the cornerstone for all discussions with non-signatory parties; it was also decisive for UNAMID’s performance. He welcomed that the drawdown had been reflected in the Mission’s strategic review, advocating continued discussions with Sudan to lay out a new mandate that would accompany that strategy and the decision by the League of Arab States taken last April during the Jerusalem summit. Indeed, in the coming two years the mandate could be tailored to ground developments, with a focus on the Doha Document. He advocated support for development programmes to sustain peace in Sudan, stressing that Kuwait would cooperate in efforts to tackle the causes of conflict.
MAGDI AHMED MOFADAL ELNOUR (Sudan) said the Government would continue all activities to promote sustained peace and stability in Darfur, including the weapons collection campaign, which had stabilized the security situation throughout the area. The question of displaced persons was a priority. The Government’s plans required huge human and humanitarian resources, and he requested international support, stressing that Sudan would continue to cooperate with the African Union and the United Nations, especially the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support. Noting that the Doha Document was the only agreed framework for peace, he said Sudan had worked to implement its provisions on the ground and, along with Qatar, was studying the means for implementing its remaining elements.
It was also cooperating with the African Union High-level Implementation Panel and others to include non-signatories in the peace process. The international community should bring pressure to bear on those groups that had not engaged with the political process, he said, stressing that Sudan would continue to cooperate with UNAMID and the country team, which he hoped would be provided with the necessary human and financial support. “Peace has become a tangible fact seen all over Darfur,” he said, noting that even the pockets controlled by Abdul Wahid were pushing for reconciliation and sustained peace. The international community must help implement social cohesion projects, either directly or via United Nations agencies or the country team, and he called on donors to fulfil their pledges.
More broadly, he called for coherence of all mechanisms established by the Council to help bring about final peace in Darfur, stressing that targeted sanctions must be in line with the relevant Council resolutions. He also called for reducing the number of experts and lifting the military embargo on Darfur pointing to a choice to be made: either lift certain individuals from the sanctions list, or add Abdul Wahid al Nur. Sudan’s military forces must be in the lead, controlling all corners of Darfur, following UNAMID’s exit.