Sudan and South Sudan - Security Council, 8887th meeting
Reports of the Secretary-General on the Sudan and South Sudan.
Members also Discuss Joint Border Mechanism, Mandate of Abyei Force The Security Council today requested the Secretary‑General to set up a dedicated team to assist the electoral process in South Sudan towards the country’s democratic future, as members also discussed the impact of the 25 October military coup d’état in Sudan on the bilateral border administration. At the outset of today’s meeting, the 15‑member organ endorsed a presidential statement (to be issued as document S/PRST/2021/20), presented by Kenya, Council President for October, by which the Secretary‑General is requested to establish an integrated electoral assistance team led by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in support of the electoral road map detailed in the peace agreement of 2018. In the statement, the Council underscored that elections must be preceded by an inclusive, transparent constitution-drafting process, carried out in an environment that respects freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and encourages civic engagement. The Council then urged the South Sudanese authorities to make progress on key milestones, including the necessary security arrangements, the establishment of the legal framework for elections, and the establishment of a functioning National Election Commission both in Juba and at the subnational level. Today’s meeting took place as the 15 November expiration date approaches for both the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and its support to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, which monitors the demilitarized zone along the border between Sudan and South Sudan. Jean‑Pierre Lacroix, Under‑Secretary‑General for Peace Operations, said that the United Nations strategic review of UNISFA proposes two viable options for the reconfiguration of the mission. One would keep overall force numbers close to what they are currently, and the second would slightly reduce the troop ceiling, a move that will require more operational adjustments but should encourage Sudan and South Sudan to move forward on outstanding issues with increased urgency. It is also recommended that the United Nations establishes a rule of law support strategy, and keeps the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism intact, he said, adding that negotiations towards a political settlement concerning Abyei remain crucial building blocks towards an exit strategy for UNISFA. In that regard, a set of benchmarks should be established in close coordination with the two countries, including specific requirements for the inclusion of women. On the latest event in Khartoum, he said: “It is too early to know the impact of this week’s developments… will mean for UNISFA on a day-to-day basis.” But all parties in Sudan are, and have been, strong supporters of the Force, he said, noting that planning towards a full replacement of the current military contingent with a multinational one will continue at full speed. Injecting his observation, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Envoy of the Secretary‑General for the Horn of Africa, said the tragic events unfolding in Sudan following the unconstitutional change of Government reflect the shaky transitions that many countries are going through, adding that it will be critical to urgently restore constitutional order, consistent with the Constitutional Declaration as well as the 2018 peace agreement. Noting encouraging signs, including a deepening relationship between Sudan and South Sudan, demonstrated by high‑level visits and initiatives in support of each other’s peace processes, he added: “While most of what I am reporting on may sound a bit removed from the current situation in Sudan which could negatively impact bilateral relations, I sincerely hope that the recent positive trend will not be derailed.” Thabo Mbeki, Chairperson of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel and former President of South Africa, recalled that civil war broke out in 1965 between what are now Sudan and South Sudan and ended with a peace accord in 1972. That agreement stated that the people of Abyei must decide where the Area belonged — to the North or South — but the accord was never implemented. The African Union presented a proposal to both Governments in 2012 on how they should address administration, security and establishment of institutions in Abyei. The African Union must now approach the two Governments again, he said, reminding them they signed the Abyei Protocol in 2005, which states there must be a referendum for the residents of the Area. Steps must be taken to determine Abyei’s final status in achieving area stability. The representative of Tunisia, speaking also for Kenya, Niger and the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, stressed the importance of adequately endowing UNISFA’s rule-of-law capacity and then endorsed the Secretary‑General’s recommendation to extend UNISFA’s mandate and its support to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism for six months. India’s delegate agreed with the Secretary‑General’s assessment that a final decision on the drawdown of UNISFA should be deferred, in view of a pending consensus on the sensitive issue between the Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia. Many Council members condemned the military coup in Sudan, with Estonia’s delegate saying “it is a great loss for the Sudanese people, who have worked so hard towards a democratic transition and it could potentially destabilize the wider region.” Speaking after Council members, Sudan’s representative highlighted steady progress made in bilateral relations with South Sudan in recent months, stressing that three memorandums of understanding have been signed, and agreements have been reached on several issues, including opening border crossings, resuming the movement of goods and passengers, and removing all barriers to banking transactions. He reiterated Sudan’s commitment to cooperating with the Secretariat on the smooth replacement of peacekeeping troops with more neutral forces. South Sudan’s representative said his country’s Government, the African Union and the United Nations should determine an interim legal framework that would regulate operations of international organizations in the Abyei Area, as issuing visas and other documents should not be the monopoly of Sudan. An agreement must be reached also on a programme that would return and resettle Dinka Ngok. These communities should be provided with social and economic services as well as opportunities for their livelihoods under UNISFA protection, he said. Also speaking today were the representatives of the United States, Ireland, China, Norway, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, United Kingdom, France and Mexico. The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:04 p.m.