Security Council agrees to terminate UN mission in Sudan
Sudan’s military Government, whose forces have been battling the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia for control of the country since April, has said that the UN mission was failing to meet expectations.
The end of the UN Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) comes against the backdrop of the continuing war raging between rival militaries that has claimed over 6,000 lives, driven millions from their homes, led to abhorrent sexual and gender-based violence, and precipitated a severe humanitarian crisis.
Adopting resolution 2715 (2023) by 14 votes in favour and one abstention (Russia), the Security Council requested UNITAMS “immediately start on 4 December 2023, the cessation of its operations and the process of the transfer of its tasks, where appropriate and to the extent feasible, to UN agencies, funds and programmes, with the objective of completing this by 29 February 2024.”
The Council also decided that the Mission’s liquidation shall commence 1 March 2024, and underlined the need for an orderly transition to ensure the safety of UN personnel and the effective functioning of all UN operations.
‘Not abandoning Sudanese people’
Following the vote to close the mission, Rosemary A. DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the Organization stands with the Sudanese people.
Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Ms. DiCarlo stated “the Security Council just voted to close down UNITAMS, but the UN is not abandoning the Sudanese people.”
“We urge full support for the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Ramtane Lamamra, to bolster efforts to bring the devastating conflict to an end,” she added.
Security a priority
The 15-member Security Council also authorized, for the duration of UNITAMS’ transition and liquidation, “the retention of necessary security personnel” to protect UNITAMS’ staffers, facilities and assets and called on all relevant Sudanese parties to cooperate fully with the UN during the process.
It also called on Sudan to act in accordance with its full legal obligations.
Not a good decision: UK
Speaking after the vote, Security Council members highlighted the volatile security and humanitarian situation in the country and stressed that the Sudanese authorities remain responsible for the safety and security of UNITAMS staff and assets during the transition.
“Let me be clear, the United Kingdom would not have chosen to close UNITAMS at this moment,” said Deputy Permanent Representative James Kariuki, commending the work of the mission “for and since the outbreak of the conflict”.
“But given the unequivocal demand of the Sudanese authorities for the immediate terminations, we have worked tireless as penholder to agree a compromise to allow an orderly transition and liquidation,” he added.
‘Sovereign right of Sudanese authorities’
The representative of Russia referred to the letter by the Foreign Minister of Sudan that called for the closure of UNITAMS.
She said that such a position “is not arrived at random” and that the Security Council “has to admit candidly” that the Mission did not manage to carry out its mandated tasks, created at the request of Sudan to support the political transition process following the ouster of former ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
“It stopped tallying with the changed reality of the country and basically it started working in the interest of just one political group, which did not enjoy mass support in the Sudanese society,” she said, underscoring that the ending of UNITAMS is the sovereign right of the Sudanese authorities.
Secretary-General’s new envoy
The Security Council also welcomed the appointment of the Secretary General’s Personal Envoy on Sudan, Ramtane Lamamra, to use his good offices with the parties in Sudan and neighbouring States, complementing regional peace efforts, including those of African Union (AU) and the east African regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The UN chief appointed Mr. Lamamra as his Personal Envoy for Sudan on 21 November.
Mr. Lamamra, a former Foreign Minister of Algeria had also served as the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and had been a member of the Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Board on Mediation since 2017.
UNITAMS established in June 2020
UNITAMS was established by the Security Council in June 2020 as a special political mission, to provide support to Sudan for an initial 12-month period during its political transition to democratic rule. Its mandate was subsequently extended in 2021 and 2022.
Headquartered in Khartoum, UNITAMS supported the country through a range of political, peacebuilding and development initiatives, including assisting the nation to achieve the goals of the Constitutional Declaration of August 2019, and carrying out its National Plan for Civilian Protection.