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The first months of 2021 have seen the peace process in Sudan reach a “significant new stage”, with notable reductions in clashes between Government forces and rebel factions in Darfur, the head of that country’s sanctions committee told the Security Council in a videoconference meeting today.
Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), briefing the 15-member organ in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan, said that, while the reporting period — 11 December 2020 to 24 March 2021 — was characterized by a marked drop in violence, fighting between splinter rebel factions continued in some areas. The final report of the Panel of Experts on the Sudan and the Committee’s annual report for 2020, which were both issued during the reporting period, also reveal progress towards implementing the Juba Peace Agreement, signed by the Government and a growing list of non-State groups.
Noting that the Panel of Experts submitted its report to the Committee in December 2020, he said the latter discussed its contents and recommendations and considered follow-up action. Committee members issued a press release on 25 February, urging the Juba Peace Agreement signatory movements to stop recruiting fighters, including in internally displaced persons camps. They also urged the major non-signatory groups to engage in peace talks with the Government as soon as possible. Those recommendations were reiterated in a letter from the Committee, addressed to the Permanent Representative of Sudan to the United Nations.
He said the Committee received on 11 March the Panel’s last quarterly update, containing information about the implementation of the Peace Agreement, regional dynamics, the status of the armed groups in the region and intercommunal violence. Aside from the notable drop in violence in Darfur, the update cited some outstanding intercommunal clashes and reported on measures taken by the Government in response. However, the Panel made clear that more measures are needed to prioritize the protection of civilian communities in Darfur. Also on 11 March, the Secretary‑General appointed the Experts to serve on the Panel until 12 March 2022.
Among the Committee’s other activities during the reporting period, he spotlighted its virtual informal “informal” consultations with Sudan, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya and Uganda. The invited States were also encouraged to share their views on the final report of the Panel of Experts, with the representative of Sudan emphasizing that the situation in Darfur has improved considerably compared to 2005, when the sanctions were imposed. All neighbouring States supported Sudan in its efforts to implement the Juba Peace Agreement, and voiced their commitment to implementing the sanctions measures.
Regarding a delisting request previously submitted by Sudan, he said, the Committee removed one individual, Adam Yacub Shareif, from the 1591 Sanctions List. It objected to the delisting of one individual, and continues its consideration of the request to delist two remaining individuals. Concluding, he reiterated that the sanctions regime was established for the sole purpose of helping to bring peace to Darfur. “It is not to punish Sudan, but to support the attainment of sustainable peace,” he stressed, pledging the Committee’s commitment to work together with Khartoum to make that peace a reality.
Following that briefing, the representative of Sudan said that his country, year after year, comes before the Council to reiterate its position on the sanctions regime. “These sanctions no longer correspond to the situation on the ground in Darfur,” which have improved considerably since 2005, he stressed. In recent months, the Transitional Government has been working tirelessly to achieve a far-reaching political solution, silence the guns and bring peace, security and stability to all Darfuris.
Outlining his Government’s close cooperation with regional partners, he went on to note that the Sudanese armed forces are rapidly expanding their reach, and efforts are under way to bring the Abdul Wahid movement into the peace process. Those positive developments merit the lifting of the sanctions regime, he said, thanking the Committee for removing Adam Yacub Shareif from its Sanctions List and reiterating his request that the other two listed individuals also be removed. Sudan stands ready to work constructively with the Council and the Panel of Experts towards developing specific, benchmarked criteria aimed at finally lifting the sanctions imposed against it.