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UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow (13 July), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) until 30 June 2019. This follows the 29 June adoption of resolution 2425, a technical rollover of the mandate of UNAMID until 13 July. This technical rollover was to allow more time to consider possible changes to the force configuration and mandate, particularly those proposed in the 1 June joint special report of the UN Secretary-General and the AU Commission Chairperson (S/2018/530). The draft was initially circulated last week by the UK, the penholder on Darfur. Following several rounds of negotiations and bilateral discussions, it passed silence earlier this evening.

Consistent with a proposal in the special report, the draft requests UNAMID to consolidate a “whole-of-system” approach to Darfur that focuses on both peacekeeping and long-term solutions to conflict-drivers in Darfur in order to prepare for the eventual exit of the mission. While the mission is in the process of drawing down, the draft in blue underscores “the need to keep the situation in all areas of Darfur under review” and “to maintain the flexibility within UNAMID to respond to developments throughout Darfur as the situation requires”. It further supports the special report’s call for the establishment of joint UNAMID-UN Country Team offices in the capitals of the states of Darfur, “except for where Mission sites would remain”, during the envisaged two-year draw-down period.

As in previous years, the mandate continues to prioritise the protection of civilians, the facilitation of humanitarian access, mediation between the government and armed groups, and inter-communal mediation. Nevertheless, the priorities have been slightly revised. For example, with regard to the protection of civilians, new language has been added calling for “monitoring and reporting on human rights, sexual and gender-based violence and grave violations against children”. The priority related to intercommunal mediation has been expanded to include a focus on mediation with regard to “other local conflict that could undermine the security situation”.

Some of the more difficult aspects of the negotiations related to the proposals in the joint AU-UN report. The report said that security conditions had improved in Darfur and called for a reduction in UNAMID’s troop strength from the current 8,735 to 4,050 by 30 June 2019 and reduction of police from 2,500 to 1,870 personnel. China, Ethiopia, Russia, and others were comfortable with the pace and scope of this reduction, but some members maintained that it was too severe. As a compromise, UNAMID will draw down its troop strength to 4,050 over the next year, but maintain its police strength at its current level.

A related source of disagreement was how to characterise the timeframe for the mission’s withdrawal. The report proposed a two-year transition strategy during which the mission and the UN Country Team would collaborate to promote “sustainable solutions to the drivers of conflict” by:


  • supporting the government’s ability to extend the rule of law,

  • working with local communities and state authorities to promote livelihoods for displaced persons;

  • enhancing the delivery of services to displaced persons; and

  • promoting human rights.

While some members emphasise that the mission should withdraw by the end of the two-year period, the P3 and others underscore that this timeline is not absolute, and should be conditioned on success in addressing the drivers of conflict in Darfur. Finding language to address the timeline question was one of the more difficult areas of discussion on the draft. In this regard, the draft in blue notes that the mission will exit on 30 June 2020 and liquidate by December 2020, “provided that there is no significant change in the security situation in Darfur and key indicators are fulfilled”. (These indicators are in the areas of security sector reform, the rule of law, durable solutions for displaced host communities, the immediate delivery of services for internally displaced persons, and human rights.) In addition to conditioning UNAMID’s withdrawal on the achievement of indicators, the draft calls for the Secretary-General in his initial 90-day report following the adoption of the resolution to “include a detailed and clearly benchmarked exit strategy for UNAMID”. Furthermore, the draft requests that the Secretary-General report in all of his 90-day UNAMID reports on progress made with regard to strategic priorities, benchmarks, and indicators in preparation for the mission’s exit. It stresses that the mission’s drawdown “should be based on progress against the indicators and benchmarks…and the conditions on the ground”.

Another issue of some controversy was that an earlier version of the draft welcomed the special report’s recommendation that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) open an office in Sudan to promote and protect human rights. Some members maintained that creating this office would be difficult because Sudan would not accept such a proposal and maintained, on procedural grounds, that establishing such an office would be outside the Council’s purview. Concerns were further raised that calling for a “Sudan” office would imply that OHCHR could have a mandate for all of Sudan, rather than just in UNAMID’s area of operations in Darfur. In an effort to compromise, the text in blue “takes note” of the special report’s recommendation for an OHCHR office, rather than welcoming it. It does, however, request the Sudanese government “to engage in discussions with the OHCHR as regards the establishment and activities” of such an office.

There are several references to countering sexual violence in this year’s resolution. In addition to the language on monitoring and reporting on this issue under the mission’s strategic priorities, the draft welcomes a recommendation of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence, Pramila Patten, that the government of Sudan “look to adopt” a joint communiqué with the UN “to address conflict-related sexual violence…focusing on survivors’ access to medical, psychosocial, legal and socioeconomic services”. It requests the Secretary-General to take all steps to ensure the adherence of UNAMID to his zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to vet potential peacekeepers for past sexual misconduct in an effort to achieve this goal. The draft resolution further includes text urging all troop- and police-contributing countries to “take appropriate preventative action including the delivery of robust sexual exploitation and abuse pre-deployment awareness training and to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel”.

There is also new language this year on the link between climate change and the situation in Darfur. The draft requests the UN and the government of Sudan “to consider the adverse implications of climate change, other ecological changes and natural disasters among other factors” in programmes in Darfur. This would include consideration of risk assessments and risk management strategies relating to these factors. The inclusion of this language reflects a trend in the Council to call for climate-related risk assessment and risk management strategies in various contexts. For example, in the past 16 months, the Council has referred to such strategies in the context of the Lake Chad Basin (S/RES/2349 of 31 March 2017), West Africa and the Sahel (S/PRST/2018/3 of 30 January 2018), Somalia (S/RES/2408 of 27 March 2018), and Mali (S/RES/2423 of 28 June 2018).

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