UNAMID Extension & the Situation in Darfur
Darfur Network for Monitoring and Documentation(DNMD) appreciates the much-needed extension of the joint United Nations – African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID. This force was set to end by June 30, 2019, but due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the lack of safety and security on the ground in Darfur, the mission is now extended until Oct. 31, 2019. These four extra months will provide much needed civilian and humanitarian support to the ongoing peacekeeping operations in Darfur, but we do not think the situation will be solved in such a short time frame. Security Council Extends Mandate of African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2479 (2019)
The Security Council, acting unanimously, today decided to extend for four months the mandate of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), while also “temporarily and exceptionally” extending the period allocated for the mission’s drawdown.
Adopting resolution 2479 (2019) under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council extended UNAMID’s mandate until 31 October. While deciding that UNAMID should continue to implement its mandate as set out in resolution 2429 (2018), it decided to extend the period for drawing down the mission’s military component to maintain its self-protection capacities.
By other terms of the text, the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide members with an oral update on the situation on the ground in 60 days. It also asked him — along with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission — to submit by 30 September a special report containing an assessment of the situation, recommendations on the appropriate course of action for UNAMID’s drawdown and a joint African Union-United Nations political strategy detailing options for a follow-up mechanism to succeed the mission.
Speaking after the adoption, Jonathan Guy Allen (United Kingdom) welcomed the Council’s consensus, as well as its responsible decision to pause UNAMID’s withdrawal in light of the wider situation unfolding in Sudan. In the resolution’s request for options to develop a follow-up mechanism to UNAMID, the Council has also demonstrated to the people of Darfur that they will remain engaged even after the mission’s eventual withdrawal, he said, calling for a swift transition to a civilian-led Government in Sudan. However, he said his delegation would have preferred a longer extension to provide more time for ongoing talks in Khartoum.
Christoph Heusgen (Germany) welcomed the Council’s decision to “turn off our autopilot” in pursuing UNAMID’s drawdown by pressing pause. The extra time afforded by today’s technical rollover will provide the parties a chance to move towards a civilian-led transitional Government, which is of paramount importance. Agreeing with other speakers that the wider situation in Sudan has an impact on Darfur, he said the pause does not imply a pause in the mission’s mandate — including its protection of civilians in Darfur. Sudan’s authorities should cooperate closely with the mission, including in view of a potential exit. Going forward, a realistic road map must look beyond UNAMID’s lifespan, he said.
François Delattre (France) said his country has always been in favor of a prudent withdrawal of UNAMID in light of appropriate conditions on the ground. Stressing that the current situation in Sudan merits that the drawdown is interrupted, he condemned acts of violence committed in recent weeks and called for renewed political dialogue aimed at establishing a civilian-led transitional Government. He also joined other speakers in expressing support for the African Union’s leadership in helping to resolve the conflict.
Maduisca Batista Díaz (Dominican Republic) declared: “Sudan is in the midst of a political crisis and therefore needs us to act cautiously and brace ourselves.” Welcoming today’s adoption, as well as the United Nations recent decision to suspend the handover of team sites to Sudan’s authorities, she said the Council must ensure that UNAMID has a mandate commensurate with the challenges it faces, as well as the capacity to discharge it.
Jonathan R. Cohen (United States) said ongoing armed clashes in the Jebel Marra region, as well as inter-communal violence in other parts of the country, demonstrate the ongoing challenges in Sudan. Welcoming today’s technical rollover, he underlined his delegation’s expectation that the Transitional Military Council work towards a civilian-led Government and urged all stakeholders to support those efforts in the coming months.
Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia) said his country has long advocated for the responsible and well-calculated drawdown of UNAMID, which should include an honest assessment of the situation on the ground. Welcoming the resolution’s inclusion of a request to the Secretary-General to provide options for the way forward, he noted that Indonesia has contributed troops to UNAMID since 2008 and said much progress has been made since that time.
Jerry Matthews Matjila (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the three African members of the Council (Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and his own country), welcomed the 15-nation organ’s unity in adopting the resolution. That consensus demonstrates the importance of recognizing the political and security uncertainty that currently prevails, he said, noting that, while the three members would have preferred a six month technical rollover — to ensure adequate time for the African Union and the United Nations to comprehensively assess and evaluate the situation — he nevertheless urged that the four extra months provided by today’s resolution be used effectively by Sudan’s authorities to address the political impasse, usher in stability and fulfil the aspirations of the country’s people.
Joanna Wronecka (Poland) agreed that a pause in UNAMID’s drawdown is required in light of the situation on the ground. Unfortunately, today, the Council is not in a position to make any long-term decisions, she said, voicing support for the region and subregion’s roles in resolving the situation.
Alexander V. Repkin (Russian Federation), echoing the need for a responsible withdrawal, called on Council members to refrain from any attempts to tie the situation in Darfur to the wider situation in Sudan. Noting that all the conditions are in place for the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding to begin, he pointed out that Sudan’s authorities are keeping their promises and engaging in mutual cooperation. He further rejected any attempts to change the scheme agreed for in UNAMID’s drawdown.
Ma Zhaoxu (China) said the situation in Darfur has remained stable in recent years, thanks largely to UNAMID’s successful execution of its mandate and to the good offices provided by the region. The Council should continue to steadily implement the mission’s transition plan, he said, noting that China is one of its major troop contributors.
Mansour Ayyad Sh. A. Alotaibi (Kuwait), Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, noting his delegation voted in favor of the resolution in line with its broader support for UNAMID and for the people of Sudan. In the next four months, discussions should continue to support the mission’s smooth exit, and the situation in Darfur should be followed closely. Expressing support for the authorities and its regional partners, he underlined the primacy of the political track and said all international partners should avoid interfering in Sudan’s political affairs.
Omer Mohamed Ahmed Siddig (Sudan), pledging to cooperate closely with the Council, emphasized that the situation in Darfur is constantly improving as attested to in recent United Nations reports. He would have hoped the drafters would take those into account. Underlining Sudan’s determination to return life in Darfur to normal, he echoed calls to begin the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and for more support to the country’s effort to address the root causes of the conflict. Welcoming UNAMID’s work and thanking its personnel, he nevertheless concluded: “We can see no valid reason that justified peacekeeping forces remaining in Darfur.”