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III. Background: Mission Evolution from Ceasefire Commission to AMIS II-E Conception

A. April 2004 agreement establishing Ceasefire Commission and AMIS

In April 2003 two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), attacked and destroyed several Sudanese air force planes on the ground in Fashir, the principal city of Darfur.4  Soon after, the Sudanese government launched a counterinsurgency campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against civilians of the Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit ethnic groups—the same ethnicities as the rebels—assisted by militias drawn from rival ethnic groups, known as the “Janjaweed,” whom the government supported, armed and trained. By mid-2004, hundreds of thousands of civilians had been displaced, thousands had been killed, and hundreds of villages had been burned and looted.5 

On April 8, 2004, under the auspices of Chadian mediation, representatives from the Darfurian rebel movements and the Government of Sudan (GoS) signed the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement (HCFA) in N’Djaména, Chad, along with its Protocol on the Establishment of Humanitarian Assistance in Darfur. In doing so, the parties agreed to accept an automatically renewable cessation of hostilities; to create conditions allowing for the delivery of emergency relief, including the facilitation of humanitarian assistance; and to establish a Ceasefire Commission (CFC) to monitor the Agreement along with a Joint Commission (JC) to which it would report.6

In agreeing to the establishment of a Ceasefire Commission, the parties to the HCFA accepted an offer from the African Union (which had been closely involved in bolstering the peace process leading to the agreement at N’Djaména) to monitor ceasefire compliance. The A.U. Special Envoy for Sudan, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, had met with Sudanese and Chadian government officials in March 2004 to discuss the role of the African Union in the Darfur crisis, and in late March, Ambassador Sam Ibok of the A.U. Peace and Security Department had led a team to N’djaména for further meetings on the A.U.’s role in addressing the situation. These discussions had paid particular attention to the humanitarian consequences of the ongoing conflict and the possible mobilization of assistance from the international community, primarily African states. Following the signing of the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement, the A.U. Peace and Security Council (P&SC) on April 13, 2004, requested that its Chairperson dispatch an urgent reconnaissance mission to prepare for the deployment of the CFC and to assess the need for a Protection Force for its military observers.7

The P&SC reported that in addition to a dramatically deteriorating humanitarian crisis, attacks against civilians had increased “both in scale and brutality.”8 Accordingly, immediate technical consultations concluded with an A.U. proposal for the CFC, including the possible deployment of an unspecified number of African Military Observers (MilObs) to monitor the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement. This plan was submitted to the Sudanese parties for approval on April 29, 2004. In a follow-up reconnaissance mission, representatives from the A.U., the Chadian mediation, and the international community met with the Sudanese parties, U.N. agencies and humanitarian organizations to obtain information required for rapidly launching operations.9

The Ceasefire Commission, with the African Union Monitoring Mission (AMIS) as its operational arm, was launched with the May 28, 2004 signing in Addis Ababa of the Agreement on the Modalities for the Establishment of the Ceasefire Commission and the Deployment of Observers in Darfur. This second agreement by the Sudanese parties determined the composition and mandate of the CFC, as well as the modalities for its monitoring and verification of alleged violations, and made provision for a protection element for the MilObs.


After an advance mission to secure the headquarters site at Fashir and to negotiate the Status of Mission Agreement with the Government of Sudan in Khartoum, AMIS became operational on June 19, 2004 when CFC Chairman then-Brig. Gen. Festus Okonkwo of Nigeria reported for duty.10

During the period from the April signing of the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement to the June beginning of AMIS/CFC operations, the absence of commitment to the ceasefire by parties to the conflict was already evident, with forced displacement and attacks on civilians continuing unabated (although access by humanitarian agencies improved—see below). That AMIS was effectively monitoring the absence of a ceasefire, rather than its maintenance, was evident from the mission’s earliest reports. Consequently, the A.U. almost immediately began rethinking AMIS’s operations

The P&SC Chairperson’s report on July 4, 2004, three weeks after AMIS became operational, expressed concern about ceasefire violations by all parties to the conflict, as well as ongoing abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law, such as the aerial bombardment of villages by the Sudanese government. The Chairperson also recalled the Sudanese government’s September 2003 commitment, and a reaffirmation of this commitment in June 2004, to control and disarm “irregular groups” contributing to the lawlessness and insecurity in Darfur.11

The A.U.’s Peace and Security Council on July 27, 2004, requested that the CFC assess the situation in Darfur and submit recommendations on how to enhance the effectiveness of AMIS's impact on the ground. This resulted in the introduction of a MilOb Protection Force of 310 troops.12  Despite regular patrols by MilObs “to promote confidence building,” the P&SC between July and October noted continuing violations of the ceasefire, including alleged Janjaweed raids; helicopter attacks, arson, destruction of civilian life and property, and hindrance of a CFC investigation by Sudanese government forces; and a range of abuses by the SLA/M (ambush, assault and abduction of health workers; extortion of commercial goods; recruitment and arming of child soldiers, and unlawful collection of taxes).13

On September 1 the parties agreed to a Protocol on the Improvement of the Humanitarian Situation in Darfur, primarily concerned with the free movement of humanitarian workers throughout the region. By October the Sudanese government was curbing abuses and refrained from large-scale coordinated attacks on villages—although village destruction was well advanced by then. It agreed to work with the International Organization for Migration on planning returns of internally displaced people, but displacement, carried out through small-scale government and militia attacks, continued to mount. Describing the situation in Darfur as an uneasy calm in which lawlessness “continued unabated,” the CFC Chairperson’s October 2004 report noted a serious humanitarian situation amid these violations, despite an increase in the number of agencies operating in Darfur.14

The September Protocol on the Improvement of the Humanitarian Situation included the request by the parties that the A.U. take all necessary steps to “strengthen AMIS on the ground.” However, there was no agreement on a plan to facilitate AMIS monitoring functions or on implementation procedures for the Protocols. Additionally, no modalities for neutralizing and disarming the Janjaweed militias were established.15

Rethinking AMIS operations, and the transition to AMIS II

The report of the CFC Chairman on October 20, finding that AMIS, where deployed, had contributed to overall security but was limited by issues of logistics and scale, proposed to increase the military component to 2,341 and to introduce a civilian police (CivPol) component of 815. Effectively broadening the AMIS mandate from simply monitoring compliance of the HCFA, the October plan called for a “balanced force” capable of implementing a mandate that would include instructions to:

  • monitor  “proactively”; 

  • report any violations of the CFC in accordance with the guidelines established in the relevant agreements;

  • assist in “the process of confidence-building”;

  • contribute to the security of the environment to allow for the delivery of humanitarian assistance;

  • contribute to the security of the environment for the “longer-term objective of supporting the return of IDPs and refugees to their homes”; and

  • Contribute to the improvement of the security situation in Darfur, “it being understood that the responsibility for the protection of the civilian population lies with the GoS.”16

    Endorsing this plan for a transition to what became known as AMIS II, the P&SC also decided that within the framework of AMIS’s revised mandate, it should perform a number of tasks including “Protecting civilians whom it encounters under imminent threat and in the immediate vicinity, within resources and capability, it being understood that the protection of the civilian population is the responsibility of the government of Sudan.”17 The P&SC determined that the enhancement of AMIS – to commence in November 2004 – should be completed within 120 days of receiving its mandate.18

    (For detailed analysis of the AMIS mandate and rules of engagement, see Section V, below.)

    Logistical challenges

    Under AMIS, five CFC sector sites, each with two MilOb teams to conduct verification and investigation, were established in Darfur at El Fashir, Nyala, El Geneina, Kabkabiyah and Tine, and at Abéché in Chad. The plan for AMIS II increased sector sites from five to eight in Darfur with the addition of Kutum (Sector 6), Zalingue (Sector 7), and El Daien (Sector 8). The new AMIS II sectors would give rise to 15 MilObs Groups Sites (MGS), including one in Abéché, comprising two MilObs teams and protection forces per site, each of which would have an operational radius (by ground) of 60-70 kilometers.19

    The Chairperson’s report to the P&SC on July 4, 2004 cited logistical problems hampering initial efforts to deploy the MilObs in Darfur, in particular a lack of accommodation in Fashir as well as slow construction of camps at regional sites. By September “organizational constraints” were still being cited, including poor infrastructure, as the mission continued to experience delays in the construction or improvement of office and accommodation sites as well as transportation routes between the sectors. Significant progress to overcome the accommodation problem was reported in early 2005, however.

    Elements of personnel deployment were slow under AMIS’s deployment schedule: although the protection element of 310 to support roughly 30 AMIS MilObs already operating in Darfur arrived in the region, in two companies provided by Rwanda and Nigeria, in late August,20 by January 2005 the CFC Chairman reported that only 7 of the intended 815 CivPols were on the ground. 21 The target full operational capacity (FOC) assumed that all forces would be in place by mid–April 2005, but only 2,200 of the full 3,320 were in place by that time.

    Recognizing these severe shortcomings, the Chairperson acknowledged that much more needed to be done “if the deployment [was] to be completed with the urgency required by the evolving complexity of the situation.”22 To address this reality, the Ceasefire Commission in January 2005 established the Darfur Integrated Task Force (DITF) at A.U. headquarters in Addis Ababa with the aim of supporting AMIS with “strategic planning and support.” The DITF would be responsible for scheduling deployment and coordinating with international partners to this effect.23  However, the DITF in turn reportedly faced problems getting personnel and accommodation.24

    Insufficient funding for AMIS was a further obstacle to mission planning and implementation. The P&SC in October 2004 updated its appeals for international support but by April 2005 only U.S.$43 million of U.S.$248 million pledged had been received in addition to substantial in-kind contributions. Most of the cash pledge was for “personnel costs.” However, the CFC Chairman in April 2005 stated that the mission was not experiencing any financial difficulties.25

    AMIS II Operating Environment

    The period following the October 2004 plan was marked by a deterioration in the human rights situation  on account of a government military  offensive taken under pretext of securing “safe areas” for the U.N. In its attacks on civilian villages during this period, the Sudanese government deployed Antonov aircraft and helicopter gunships in violation of its earlier agreement with the A.U.,26 and this led to the end of peace negotiations with the rebels for another seven months.

    In late January 2005, the Security Council referred the case of Darfur to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. After more government attacks on villages in Darfur in February, the government refrained from such attacks for several months as AMIS’s deployment unfolded slowly (see below). However, Janjaweed attacks continued, notably against civilians in Jabel Marra in April 2005 and rebel abuses and banditry began to increase, with more attacks on AMIS itself as well as on commercial vehicles. The April 2005 report by the CFC Chairperson concluded that compliance with the Ceasefire Agreement was “insufficient” and the security situation in Darfur was “unacceptable” during the period in question.27

    C. From AMIS II to the Beginnings of AMIS II-E

    AMIS first and second phase effectiveness

    The evolution from AMIS to AMIS II and ultimately towards AMIS II-E was clearly directed by the various assessments of mission effectiveness in the face of the grave external challenge of the security environment. In particular, neither AMIS nor AMIS II was deployed, structured or mandated to replace host nation security responsibilities, but rather to contribute to security, yet there was a clear and continuing reality on the ground that the Sudanese government had abrogated its responsibility to protect its own citizens.

    There were internal structural and operational shortcomings in AMIS and AMIS II aside from the logistical and donor support challenges mentioned above.  Some of these related to the Civilian Police (CivPol) component. It was clearly a mistake in the initial conception of AMIS that a civilian police component was lacking, an absolutely critical partner in the overall mandate. This oversight, while recognized in the Chairman’s October report leading to AMIS II, probably cost the mission countless weeks and perhaps months of progress.

    The CivPol tasks developed within AMIS II centered on confidence building, mentoring of the Government of Sudan police capability in and around IDP camps, as well as investigating non-compliance with the ceasefire.28 However, one aspect of CivPol work is illustrative both of the achievements of confidence building, and the shortcomings arising from inadequate rules of engagement: CivPol as well as AMIS military patrols began to accompany women and girls gathering firewood, a necessary task that exposed them to attack and rape.  These patrols were very well received by displaced persons and hundreds of people began to participate, including men. But sexual violence against women and girls continued to be rampant as no measures had been undertaken to seriously investigate or prosecute any of these crimes. Those few women who reported sexual assaults to the Sudanese police in many cases found they were mocked and humiliated. Unmarried women and girls who became pregnant from these rapes were threatened with jail for adultery on the basis of pregnancy outside marriage. The inability of CivPols to arrest those implicated meant that, even if they gathered sufficient evidence to identify the rapist or attacker, their investigation was disregarded by the Sudanese police and it never resulted in arrests or trials.29

    One significant achievement was the A.U.’s use of the reports detailing government involvement in attacks to pressure the government of Sudan to cease flying Antonov airplanes in Darfur; it also secured the government’s agreement to cease offensive flights in Darfur altogether. As the government had previously denied all use of airpower in its offensive military operations, being able to confront it with evidence was instrumental in securing agreement. Publication of the ceasefire violations and other findings on the Internet provided the greater public with information on AMIS’s work and benefited policymakers and donors, although the information usually did not trickle down to the civilian population.

    As described above, the period after AMIS II came into being but before its increased numbers were deployed was marked by deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation arising from the government’s South Darfur offensive in November-December 2004 and January 2005. 

    Once AMIS II began its enhanced deployment, in early 2005, marginal improvement in security was evident, noted by the reduction in both ceasefire violations and some rights abuses. With the inclusion of a Combat Support component including intelligence, communications and engineers and Combat Service Support such as logistics and military police capability, the force was more balanced and had an integral, albeit limited, self-sustainment capacity. This allowed the force to be mobile for greater distances and time enhancing its security role and visibility. Many international sources indicated to Human Rights Watch that security improved just by the increased AMIS II deployment and patrolling footprint. 

    March 2005 Assessment

    Despite some improvements, the ceasefire violations, militia attacks, lawlessness, human rights abuses, and humanitarian crisis continued. The P&SC led a joint assessment mission in March 2005 with the U.N. and other international partners to identify “all possible” means to strengthen AMIS and to further enhance its effectiveness. Citing changes in the dynamics of the demands placed on military observers, the Chairperson reported to the P&SC that there existed an “increasing need for AMIS to be much more proactive.” Although this assessment mission did not see a need to alter the mission’s mandate, it recommended the re-prioritization of certain operational tasks, including focusing on improved humanitarian access, confidence-building, and coordination with Sudanese police. While the mission report states that the A.U. force should “be in a position to promote a secure environment across Darfur,” it also acknowledges that “the need for permanent deployment in all areas will be proportional to the level of responsibility assumed by the GoS and the rate of IDP returns.” The mission, noting the limits of AMIS II despite having almost reached full troop deployment, identified weaknesses in its structure, including “command and control, logistic support and operational practice.”30

    In a paper published in April 2005, Commander Seth Appiah-Mensah, military advisor to the special representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) and head of the AMIS headquarters in Khartoum, suggested that many of the shortfalls and limitations experienced by AMIS were due to a “seriously constrained” concept of operations (CONOPS), a “chronic lack of resources,” serious “strategic and operation gaps,” and effectively crippling intelligence and communication gaps.31In addition, difficulties with contractors have been cited.32 Many of these issues, including a problematic lack of civil-military coordination and critical problems with the provision of adequate medical services, were acknowledged and reflected upon in the report of the March 2005 assessment.33

    To address these problems, and to improve support of the mission’s troubled CivPol component, the assessment exercise recommended a two-pronged enhancement of AMIS II, with a “possible follow-on operation” to be decided upon pending the full completion of the first two phases. Phase One was scheduled for completion by the end of May 2005 in the capacity detailed in the October 2004 enhancement (AMIS II) of the original plan (AMIS). Phase Two (AMIS II-E), envisioned a significant strengthening of AMIS II, with expectations for this phase described as “improved compliance” with the N’Djaména Agreement and security—including access to humanitarian relief—for IDPs and other vulnerable populations, recognizing that the Sudanese government is ultimately responsible for the welfare of civilians. Measurement for success in a projected Phase Three would be the reversal of ethnic cleansing—that is, the “return and resumption of livelihoods of IDPs and refugees with levels of security comparable to that which existed before the outbreak of the current conflict, in February 2003.” The implication of anticipating this third phase and the resulting stability was that a political settlement would accompany the increase in AMIS presence, allowing for the mission to assist in the resettling and securing of the entire region.34

    [4]  Administratively, Darfur is divided into three states—North Darfur, South Darfur, and West Darfur; Fashir is in North Darfur.

    [5]  For Human Rights Watch’s extensive coverage of developments in Darfur, see the reports listed in footnote 1.

    [6]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Situation in the Sudan (Crisis in Darfur) (PSC/PR/2(V)), African Union Peace and Security Council Fifth Session,  April 13, 2004, Addis Ababa [online]; African Union, Communiqué (PSC/PR/Comm.(V)), African Union Peace and Security Council Fifth Session, April 13, 2005, Addis Ababa [online]

    [7]  African Union, “AU Dispatches a Reconnaissance Mission to Darfur,” African Union Press Release No. 039/2004, May 7, 2004.

    [8]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (PSC/PR/2(V)), April 13, 2004.

    [9]  The reconnaissance mission looked at possible camp locations; IDP camp conditions; security issues; and possible logistics plans to support a monitoring mission in the regions of El Fasher, Nyala and Al Geneina. See“African Union, “African Union Submits Proposals to the Sudanese Parties for the Establishment of a Ceasefire Commission on the Agreement for a Humanitarian Ceasefire on the Conflict in Darfur,” African Union Press Release No. 35/2004, April 29, 2004.

    [10]  African Union, Overview of the AU’s Efforts to Address the Conflict in the Darfur Region of the Sudan (CONF/PLG/2(I)), African Union Pledging Conference for the AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS): An Opportunity for Partnership for Peace, May 26, 2005, Addis Ababa [online]; African Union, “The Sudanese Parties Sign the Agreement on the Modalities for the Establishment of the Ceasefire Commission and the Deployment of Observers in the Darfur,” African Union Press Release No. 51/2004, May 28, 2004.

    [11]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Situation in Darfur (the Sudan) (CONF/PLG/3(I)), African Union Peace and Security Council 12th Meeting, July 4, 2004, Addis Ababa [online]

    [12]  African Union, Overview of the AU’s Efforts to Address the Conflict in the Darfur Region of the Sudan (CONF/PLG/2(I)), May 26, 2005.

    [13]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Situation in Darfur (the Sudan) (PSC/PR/2(XVII)), African Union Peace and Security Council 17th Meeting, October 20, 2004, Addis Ababa [online]és/Report%20-%20Darfur%2020%20oct%202004.pdf.

    [14]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (PSC/PR/2(XVII)), October 20, 2004.

    [15]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (PSC/PR/2(XVII)), October 20, 2004.

    [16]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (PSC/PR/2(XVII)), October 20, 2004.  

    [17]  African Union, Communiqué (PSC/PR/Comm.(XVII)), October 20, 2004. This P&SC decision on protecting civilians also included the caveat that it was “understood that the protection of the civilian population is the responsibility of the government of Sudan.”

    [18]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Situation in the Darfur Region of the Sudan (CONF/PLG/3(I)), African Union Peace and Security Council 23rd Meeting, Libreville, January 10, 2005.

    [19]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (PSC/PR/2(XVII)), October 20, 2004.; Cdr. Seth Appiah-Mensah, “AU’s Critical Assignment in Darfur,” African Security Review, Vol.XIV, No. 2, Spring 2005, pp. 7-21, [online]

    [20]  “More African Troops to Deploy in Darfur,”, August 20, 2004, [online]:

    [21]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (CONF/PLG/3(I)), January 10, 2005.

    [22]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (CONF/PLG/3(I)), January 10, 2005.

    [23]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Situation in the Darfur Region of the Sudan (CONF/PLG/3(I)), African Union Peace and Security Council 28th Meeting, April 28, 2005, Addis Ababa; African Union, Overview of the AU’s Efforts to Address the Conflict in the Darfur Region of the Sudan (CONF/PLG/2(I)), May 26, 2005.

    [24]  Human Rights Watch interview, Addis Ababa, June 27, 2005.

    [25]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (CONF/PLG/3(I)), April 28, 2005.

    [26]  See Human Rights Watch report, Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur, December 2005, Volume 17, No. 17(A), pp.40-55.

    [27]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (CONF/PLG/3(I)), April 28, 2005.

    [28]  African Union, The AU Assessment Mission to Darfur (PSC/PR/2(XLV)), March 22, 2005.  Annex D.

    [29]  Human Rights Watch interview, Addis Ababa, September 14, 2005.

    [30]  African Union, Report of the Chairperson (CONF/PLG/3(I)), April 28, 2005.

    [31]  Appiah-Mensah, “AU’s Critical Assignment in Darfur,” Spring 2005.

    [32]  Appiah-Mensah, “AU’s Critical Assignment in Darfur,” Spring 2005; Human Rights Watch interviews, Addis Ababa, June 27-30 and September 12, 2005. Of particular note are reported difficulties between AMIS and the U.S. government contractor Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE), such as PAE subcontractor Medical Support Solutions (MSS) reportedly not being able to deal with “certain emergency cases” in its Darfur facility, according to the article by Appiah-Mensah. Problems with sufficient medical services were also cited as a significant concern in the March 2005 assessment report. Commander Appiah-Mensah was a participant in the assessment mission. The January 2006 Chairperson’s Report to the A.U. Peace and Security Council states that “[f]ollowing the new enhancement, the Mission has been able to cope with the requirements for life support elements, such as food and medical services.” See African Union, Report of the Chairperson of the Commission (PSC/PR/2(XLV)), January 12, 2006.

    [33]  African Union, The AU Assessment Mission to Darfur (PSC/PR/2(XLV)), March 22, 2005,

    [34]  HRW Interviews, Addis Ababa, June 27-30, 2005; African Union, Report of the Chairperson (CONF/PLG/3(I)), April 28, 2005.

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