New York / Khartoum — On Wednesday, the UN Security Council decided to set up a United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (Unitams). The mandate of the hybrid United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur (Unamid) was extended until December 31. According to Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, the new mission will help rebuild the country in a way similar to the Marshall Plan.
According to Resolution 2524 (2020) [see text attached below], Unitams will be established upon the adoption of this resolution, for an initial period of 12 months.
Unitams strategic objectives will be to assist Sudan "in its transition towards democratic governance, provide support for peace negotiations and bolster efforts to maintain accountable Rule of Law and security institutions," the UN said in a press release yesterday.
The new political mission will provide technical assistance to the Constitution drafting process, supporting implementation of all human rights, equality, accountability and Rule of Law provisions in Sudan's Constitutional Charter.
The UN mission is to "support Sudan's capacity to extend State presence and inclusive civilian governance, in particular by strengthening accountable rule of law and security institutions, and by building trust between State authorities and local communities".
Another objective concerns assistance in peacebuilding and civilian protection, notably in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile state.
In addition, Unitams will collaborate with international financial institutions to mobilise economic and development assistance, and facilitate full, rapid and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid.
'Sudan has been at the mercy of Chapter VII for more than 15 years' - PM Hamdok
In a separate press statement on Thursday, the UN reported the extension of Unamid until December 31.
"Adopting Resolution 2525 (2020), unanimously under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council expressed its intention to decide by 31 December courses of action regarding Unamid's drawdown and exit," the statement reads.
"The mission's strategic priority will be the protection of civilians, including by supporting Sudan's capacity to carry out that duty and by preserving requisite capacity, particularly in Jebel Marra."
The Security Council further instructed Unamid and Unitams to create "a coordination mechanism to determine the modalities and timelines for the handover of responsibilities where they have common strategic priorities in Darfur".
At the end of March, a draft resolution to the Security Council suggested that the current Unamid mission, that came into existence in 2007, could be disbanded as early as May 1. Protection of civilians, the primary mandate of Unamid, would be transferred to Sudan's interim government.
Nature of the mission
On February 27, the Sudanese government officially requested the UN Secretary General support to Sudan, following a letter sent by Hamdok to Antonio Guterres a month earlier.
The Sudanese government requested the UN 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," Hamdok wrote.
On May 4, a group of 98 Sudanese civil society activists urged Hamdok to add 'physical protection' to his request for a new UN force to be deployed in the country.
"As you're well aware that Chapter VI of the UN Charter aims to support the maintenance, monitoring, and building of peace, usually in the context of peace agreements, but not a peace enforcement mechanism to prevent violent conflict as it is the case in Chapter VII," they wrote in their petition to the PM.
The activists doubted if Sudan is able protect its citizens one year after the ousting of the regime headed by Omar Al Bashir. "It has never been disputed fact that security forces remain part of the problem and have done little to prevent clashes, despite the ouster of the Al Bashir regime. We wonder to what extent your government is aware of such threats that may lead to renewed atrocities and perhaps full fledge civil war in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan."
In response to the UN Security Council resolutions, Hamdok said in a television interview on Thursday that "Sudan has been at the mercy of Chapter VII for more than 15 years."
The billion and a half Dollars annually spent on Unamid could now better be used for civil development issues.
The PM further explained that the new political mission requested by Sudan in accordance with Chapter VI "is not an occupation by any country", but rather a full-fledged civilian UN mission "that does not have military forces, as the police issue was cancelled in the previous request".
Khartoum's request for such a mission is based on two basic conditions: The ownership of the mission and the sovereignty of Sudan. "Sudan is a genuine member of the United Nations. We asked for a Chapter VI mission according to our vision and we also define the areas in which it will help us," he said.
"We requested assistance in the form of a mission that helps us in addressing transition issues, chief among which is financing the implementation of the peace agreements that are imminent, for instance the establishment of schools and hospitals, something similar to the Marshall Plan."
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