February 12, 2009

XI. The Role of UN and International Donors

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) established in 2005 by Security Council resolution 1590,comprises close to 10,000 military personnel including military observers, protection force and staff for logistical support, 600 UN police advisers, as well as civilian staff including human rights monitors, protection and child protection officers, civil affairs officers, elections officers, and gender advisors.

The mission is mandated to support implementation of the CPA largely through monitoring of the ceasefire agreement and other aspects of the CPA. However, lack of access to many parts of Southern Sudan's vast and difficult terrain has hampered the mission's monitoring function by both military and civilian staff, and this has also affected its human rights monitoring work.[180]  With many remote areas beyond reach except by flight, UN personnel are often not able to fully document deadly conflicts and their human rights implications. An inter-agency conflict management taskforce has been formed to improve monitoring of potential conflicts across Southern Sudan and could help GoSS plan more effective and appropriate responses.

UNMIS also has a mandate to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, "in the areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities... and without prejudice to the responsibilities of the Government of Sudan."[181] To date, the mission has not interpreted this provision robustly. To many observers, the mission's failure to protect civilians during and immediately after the May 2008 clashes at Abyei encapsulated its shortcomings in civilian protection.[182] In an assessment of its own response to that crisis, UNMIS recommended additional military deployment to flashpoint areas.[183] The mission is in the process of redeploying forces to transitional areas, but it has not revised its directives to reflect a more robust interpretation of the civilian protection aspects of its mandate.

Various UN and bilateral agencies are meanwhile making efforts to strengthen rule of law institutions. UNMIS police advisors co-locate in police stations and monitor cases and police holding cells, while UNMIS corrections officers monitor the main prisons. This presence, according to UN, has helped reduce incidents of illegal arrests and detentions in some locations.[184]

Agencies and donors are also supporting police, courts, and prisons through training, material support, and by providing consultants to the judiciary and the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development. At the same time, agencies and donors have begun focusing more on security sector reform-a  broad field that includes DDR, SPLA reform and rule of law programs.[185] A major goal is to promote civilian (rather than military) oversight of law and order functions such as civilian disarmament.

With many actors involved in security sector and rule of law work, donors should assess the need for more coordination to rationalize resources and provide support to fill gaps that improve human rights in the short term. For example, donors could provide more support for specialized training for soldiers and police on their roles and responsibilities and applicable human rights standards; increase support for judicial and traditional authorities to work together to reduce instances of illegal and pro-longed detentions; and give support to detention facilities designed to bring them in line with basic minimum human rights standards.

In the lead-up to elections, UN agencies and donors should help GoSS develop a coherent strategy for managing conflict in a manner that protects human rights rather than violates them. They should also help ensure public education about the elections begins well in advance.

[180] UN Security Council Resolution 1590 (2005), S/Res/1590 (2005), March 24, 2005, article 16(viii), (ix) http://www.unmis.org/english/documents/resolutions/res1590.pdf (access September 4, 2008).

[181] UN Security Council Resolution 1590 (2005), S/Res/1590 (2005), March 24, 2005, article 16(i), http://www.unmis.org/english/documents/resolutions/res1590.pdf (access September 4, 2008).

[182] Human Rights Watch, Sudan - Abandoning Abyei: Destruction and Displacement, May 2008, July 2008, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2008/07/21/abandoning-abyei-0.

[183] United Nations Security Council, "Report of the Secretary-General on Sudan," S/2008/662, para.31-32, Oct 20 2008, http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N08/555/43/PDF/N0855543.pdf?OpenElement (accessed February 2, 2009).

[184] Human Rights Watch interviews with UNDP Rule of Law staff, Juba, June 26, 2008; Human Rights Watch interviews with UN Police staff, Juba, July 7, 2008.

[185] The UN Secretary-General, acknowledging that CPA implementation depends on successful integration of former SPLA combatants into professional military, police and other uniformed services, called for UN to coordinate security and justice sector projects more comprehensively. United Nations Security Council, "Report of the Secretary-General on the Sudan," S/2008/267, para. 58, April 22, 2008, http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=S/2008/267 (accessed October 6, 2008).