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UNSC extends Sudan sanctions amid wavering support

February 13 - 2020 NEW YORK
The United Nations Security Council (File photo: UNSC)
The United Nations Security Council (File photo: UNSC)

The United Nation Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday extended until 12 March 2021 the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the sanctions regime on Sudan; however some Council members, including China and Russia, urged the 15-member organ to consider lifting the restrictive measures.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2508 (2020) under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, it requested to the Panel to submit an interim report on its activities no later than 12 August 2020 to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan.

Further, it requested the Panel to provide to the Council, after discussion with the Committee, a final report by 13 January 2021, including its findings and recommendations.

The UNSC expressed its intentions to regularly review the measures on Darfur in light of the evolving situation on the ground, and to establish clear, well identified, and measurable key benchmarks that could serve in guiding the Security Council to review measures on the Government of Sudan.

China: ‘Regular review of the sanctions regime is necessary as the situation in Darfur is stable’

Following action, China’s delegate said he voted in favour of the resolution, adding, however, that regular review of the sanctions regime is necessary as the situation in Darfur is stable. That region is in transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. The Council should fully acknowledge the efforts of Sudan’s government and carefully listen to them. Sanctions are not an end in itself, he said, urging Council members to consider developing a road map towards lifting such measures.

Russia: ‘15-year-old sanctions on Sudan have fulfilled their objectives’

The Russian Federation’s delegate said he also voted in favour, but argued that the 15-year-old sanctions on Sudan have fulfilled their objectives. Noting positive trends towards normalisation of the security situation, he said it is time to formulate a road map towards the lifting of sanctions. Council members should find the courage to make a step in that direction. Any Council sanctions regimes are subject to review, he added.

Sudan’s delegate said that the Council’s presidential statement in 2018 welcomed the continued improvement in Darfur’s security situation. During a briefing on 12 December 2019 by Joanna Wronecka, the former Chair of the sanctions committee, after having visited Sudan, acknowledged that the security situation has largely normalized since the imposition of sanctions, encouraging the Committee and the Council to explore different options. “Sanctions imposed on Sudan 15 years ago are no longer useful,” he said, urging the Council to reconsider the measures given that the situation in Darfur is improving day by day, the ceasefire is holding, and an agreement was signed between the Government and armed groups. Regarding four listed individuals, one retired from active duty and one is detained. The government does not know the whereabouts of the other two, he added. As terrorist organizations, such as Boko Haram and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), remain active in the western border areas, Sudan’s security force and law enforcement capacities must be enhanced. However, this is not possible without lifting sanctions, he emphasized.

Sudan: ‘Routine procedure’

In Sudan, Minister of Culture and Information, Faisal Mohamed Salih, attributed the resolution of the Security Council to extend mandate of the experts’ group on Darfur to the fact that no final peace agreement was reached up to now.

He said in a press statement via the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) that “the step taken by the UN Security Council to extend the mandate of the experts was not worrying for Sudan and the government sees nothing new in it.”

He indicated that the extension was “a routine procedure carried out annually by the United Nation Security Council”.

Salih pointed out that the mandate of the experts’ group will expire after the signing of a peace agreement is signed, departure of the Unamid peacekeeping force from Darfur, and Sudan emerging from Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

Unamid drawdown

As reported by Radio Dabanga on February 9, Sudan’s transitional government has asked the United Nations Security Council to establish a Special Political Mission/Peace Support Operation to assist in the peace process and help Sudan to mobilise international financial assistance.

In a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres dated January 27, signed by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, and seen by Radio Dabanga, deals with political developments in Sudan and the government’s position on what might occur following the scheduled drawdown of the Unamid Darfur peacekeeping mission.

The Sudanese government “requests the United Nations to seek a Security Council mandate to establish, as soon as possible, a Chapter VI peace support operation in the form of a special political mission with a strong peacebuilding component,” he wrote in a letter seen by Radio Dabanga.

Cabinet briefing

On Wednesday, PM Abdallah Hamdouk presented a briefing to the Council of Ministers on the message he presented to the United Nations that “raised some confusion in the social media”.

In a separate press briefing via SUNA after the cabinet session today, Minister Salih said that the Prime Minister indicated that Sudan has remained under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter for several years, which gives the United Nations through the Security Council the right to define steps to be taken on Sudan.

Salih said that Chapter VII permits the presence of military forces, which is the chapter under which Unamid forces entered Darfur, indicating that when a decision was taken to withdraw Unamid forces in stages, discussions and consultations began to prepare for the post-Unamid phase, where a national committee was formed from several competent authorities that has been in dialogue and consultations with internal actors and the United Nations.

Salih said that the Prime Minister presented this letter, which is a proposal to move Sudan from Chapter VII to Chapter VI, under which Sudan can decide what it wants from the United Nations, pointing out that Hamdok’s letter specified the assistance requested by Sudan from the United Nations that contribute to supporting the process of democratization, support the peace process, and the enhancement of development efforts by converting the United Nations operations from humanitarian relief to realizing development in Sudan.

He said that the letter would be subject to consultations in the corridors of the United Nations to reach agreement on it.


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