Security Council Terminates Mandate of UN Transition Mission in Sudan, Adopting Resolution 2715 (2023) in Vote of 14 in Favour to 1 Abstention
The Security Council today decided to terminate the mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS) under resolution 2579 (2021) and begin winding down its operations over a three-month period slated to end on 29 February 2024.
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council adopted resolution 2715 (2023) (to be issued as document S/RES/2715(2023)) in a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with one abstention (Russian Federation), by which it asks the Mission to begin the cessation of its operations on 4 December 2023 and transfer its tasks to UN agencies, funds and programmes. The Council also decided the liquidation of UNITAMS shall commence 1 March 2024 and calls on UNITAMS to establish appropriate, financial arrangements with the UN country team, enabling the United Nations to oversee residual activities of programmatic cooperation previously initiated by UNITAMS.
By further terms, the Council underlines the necessity of an orderly UNITAMS transition and liquidation to ensure the safety of UN personnel and the effective functioning of all UN operations, including humanitarian and development assistance. It also decides to authorize, for the duration of the Mission’s transition and liquidation, the retention of necessary security personnel from within the existing footprint in Sudan to protect the Mission’s personnel, facilities and assets. It calls on relevant Sudanese parties to cooperate fully with the UN during the Mission’s transition and liquidation, and requests that the Secretary-General keep the Security Council regularly informed about the transition and liquidation.
Also by the text, the Council recalls the importance of legal obligations of Sudan, under the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, and the 4 July 2021 status of mission agreement, until the departure of the Mission’s final element from Sudan, and calls on parties to act in accordance with the obligations of Sudan under these instruments. It welcomes the appointment of the Secretary General’s Personal Envoy on Sudan, Ramtane Lamamra, and calls on all parties to cooperate with his office. The Council also requests the Secretary-General to provide a written report in 90 days, and then brief the Security Council every 120 days on UN efforts to support Sudan on its path towards peace and stability, and to keep this reporting under review.
As the penholder of the resolution, James Kariuki of the United Kingdom, noting that his delegation would not have chosen to close the Mission, said it worked diligently to ensure the resolution lays down a plan to achieve an orderly transition as the Mission winds down its activities. He reminded Sudanese authorities of their responsibility to ensure the safety of Mission staff and the need for the UN and international community’s ongoing support in Sudan.
Other Council members echoed the need for an orderly withdrawal of UNITAMS personnel and the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid to ease the enduring humanitarian crisis.
Arian Spasse of Albania expressed concern over Sudan’s escalating insecurity and humanitarian crises. “Therefore, terminating the mandate of UNITAMS was not a decision taken lightly,” he stressed, emphasizing the paramount importance of security for UN personnel. It is crucial that the risks associated with the Mission’s termination are mitigated, he added.
Dai Bing of China said he expects that the UN Secretariat will develop a well-thought-out and comprehensive plan for the withdrawal of UNITAMS personnel, handover of its tasks, and asset liquidation. Adding that the conflict in Sudan has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, he said facilitating a restoration of peace and stability in the country is the fervent aspiration of its people and shared desire of the international community.
Explaining her delegation’s abstention from the vote, Anna M. Evstigneeva of the Russian Federation said the draft resolution did not include her country’s main concerns. The Mission did not manage to carry out tasks put before it, as it started working in the interest of only one political group that does not enjoy the support of Sudanese society.
Harold Adlai Agyeman of Ghana, speaking on behalf of the “A3” (Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique), emphasized the need to engage closely with Sudan to ensure a smooth transition. The situation in Darfur and other parts of Sudan are disturbing, he said, adding that it is vital to respond to calls of the suffering Sudanese people. Members of the “A3” remain concerned and will engage constructively within the Council and on the African continent to establish a pathway towards peace, national reconciliation and the restoration of constitutional order.
Daffa-Alla Osman of Sudan assured the Council of the Government’s intention to work constructively with the United Nations country team and thanked the Council for responding to its request to terminate the Mission’s mandate. Ending the war is a top priority for the Government, he said, reiterating Sudan's commitment to enable the delivery of emergency relief from Port Sudan to all parts of the country. He stressed that the Government’s engagement with the UN will include cooperation with the new Personal Envoy of Secretary-General António Guterres.
Action on Draft Resolution
The resolution was adopted by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with one abstention (Russian Federation).
Explanations of Vote
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) said his delegation would not have chosen to close the Mission, commending its work before and since the conflict in Sudan began. His delegation worked diligently to ensure the resolution helps achieve an orderly transition as the Mission winds down its activities. The Sudanese authorities remain responsible for the safety of Mission staff, he said, calling for their full cooperation and the granting of necessary visas in a timely manner. The conflict has derailed the peace that the Mission was established to maintain, he noted, adding that the hostilities have also caused enormous human suffering and ethnic cleansing in Darfur. He urged the two parties to engage in talks to end the conflict. Although the Mission will close, the need for the United Nations and international community has not been reduced. He welcomed the appointment of the Secretary-General’s personal envoy, encouraging all parties to engage with the envoy constructively and support the Sudanese people.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), speaking on behalf of the “A3” (Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique) in explanation of the vote after the vote, emphasized the need to engage closely with Sudan to ensure a smooth transition. He noted that a clear set of expectations have been established to enable the United Nations and Sudan to carry out the transitional phase as well as the end of the Mission in an orderly manner. The situation in Darfur and other parts of Sudan are disturbing, he said, adding that it is vital to respond to calls of the suffering Sudanese people. Members of the “A3” are concerned by the situation and will continue to engage constructively within the Council and in its continental context to help establish a pathway towards peace, national reconciliation and the restoration of constitutional order, he said.
He reiterated support for all coordinated international efforts, especially, the Jeddah-led process facilitated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with the involvement of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and called on all parties in Sudan to cooperate with the UN Country Team and humanitarian agencies following the exit of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS). He underscored the importance of diplomacy in that context, encouraging the Secretariat country team to demonstrate the same level of constructive engagement exhibited within the Council in the final moments of negotiation to resolve all technical challenges associated with the drawdown. Though the resolution did not address every concern, the “A3” voted in favour of the resolution based on the above considerations, especially for the interests of the people of Sudan and lasting peace.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) said she abstained on the draft resolution because her country’s main concerns are not included. The Mission did not manage to carry out tasks put before it, as it started working in the interest of only one political group that does not enjoy the support of Sudanese society. Furthermore, some donors — for political reasons — did not honour their economic assistance pledges, she added, stressing that instead of helping to resolve the crisis, UNITAMS undermined interaction between the leadership of Sudan and the United Nations. Noting that UN humanitarian agencies are still operating in the country, she appealed for more assistance. She also said she cannot agree with resolution provisions stipulating that, in the absence of the Mission’s representative in Sudan, a report should be issued, emphasizing that documents drafted under such conditions are not reliable.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) expressed concern that the lack of international presence in Sudan will embolden the perpetrators of atrocities and increase the growing risk of spillover conflict in the region. As of October, more than 10,500 civilian deaths have been reported, he said, also pointing to the large numbers of internally displaced individuals as well as those who fled the country. There are also reports of continued atrocities, including killings on the basis of ethnicity as well as targeted attacks on human rights defenders, which are ominous reminders of the 2004 genocide. The belligerents, particularly the Rapid Support Forces, are involved in the majority of these violations, including the abuse of children’s rights through sexual violence and forcible recruitment. Throughout the debate over this resolution, his delegation put forth common sense recommendations to extend the Mission’s mandate and enable a thorough strategic review of the Mission. However, the narrow demands of Sudan’s military Government were placed ahead of the needs of its people, he said.
DARREN CAMILLERI (Malta) expressed regret that the Council is convening today to terminate the Mission at a time when Sudan and its people need it the most. The Mission’s transition must include continued tangible UN cooperation that addresses the dire needs of the Sudanese. Further, as UNITAMS moves into the next phase, a safe and orderly transition and liquidation is important, along with ensuring the safety of all UN personnel is safeguarded. He specifically recalled the legal obligations of the Sudan Government in relation to the status of mission agreement until the Mission’s final departure and again called on both parties to immediately cease ongoing hostilities, enable the delivery of humanitarian aid and seek the eventual return to the political transitional process.
SHINO MITSUKO (Japan) said her country voted in favour of the resolution because it will enable the United Nations to seamlessly continue its support for Sudan, calling on parties in Sudan to fully cooperate with the United Nations. Further calling for Sudan’s cooperation on a safe and orderly transition and liquidation of the Mission, she stressed the need to ensure a realistic timeframe and necessary administrative and financial arrangements for these processes. “Japan welcomes the appointment of Mr. Ramtane Lamamra as the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Sudan,” she said, wishing him all success in using his good offices to engage with Sudanese parties and neighbouring States to complement regional peace efforts, as well as in assisting Sudan’s transition toward democracy when the fighting ends. She also welcomed Sudan’s stated intention to continue cooperating with the United Nations, including with the Special Envoy, and called on Sudan to fulfil its responsibility as the host country.
DAI BING (China) said his country voted in favour of the resolution and expects that the United Nations Secretariat will develop a well-thought-out and comprehensive plan for the withdrawal of UNITAMS personnel, handover of its tasks, and asset liquidation. Adding that the conflict in Sudan has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, he said facilitating a restoration of peace and stability in the country is the fervent aspiration of its people and the shared desire of the international community. He noted that the Sudanese Government is open to exploring continued collaboration with the UN and called on the UN Secretariat to carefully heed the views of that Government and regional organizations, including the African Union and IGAD, to ensure cooperation in meeting practical needs and providing tangible support for the peaceful development of Sudan.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) said the Sudanese authorities' decision to terminate the Mission’s mandate comes against the backdrop of persistent fighting with a catastrophic toll on the civilian population. Millions of people are displaced and millions are dependent on humanitarian aid, desperately seeking safety from violence. Warning about the risks of genocide and other atrocity crimes that are taking place in a context of almost complete impunity, he urgently called on the parties to cease hostilities immediately and respect their obligations under human rights and international humanitarian law. The resolution just adopted rightly requests that the Council be regularly informed by the Secretary-General of threats to international peace and security arising from the situation in Sudan and efforts undertaken by the UN. This is essential to enable the Council to assume its responsibilities, he said, welcoming the appointment of Ramtane Lamamra as the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy.
ARIAN SPASSE (Albania), while noting that he voted in favour of the resolution, expressed concern over Sudan’s escalating insecurity and humanitarian crises. “Therefore, terminating the mandate of UNITAMS was not a decision taken lightly,” he stressed, emphasizing the paramount importance of security for UN personnel. It is crucial that the risks associated with the Mission’s termination are mitigated, he added.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said: “Let me be clear, the UN is not abandoning Sudan.” Noting that the Council will follow the drawdown and transition process to its conclusion, she said the findings of the independent strategic review will help the body understand what is needed to support the Sudanese people. Highlighting logistical challenges that must be overcome during the Mission’s withdrawal process, she stressed the need for close cooperation with the host State. Sudan's letter of 16 November expressed this commitment, she recalled, also reiterating the call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and implementation of previous commitments regarding unhindered humanitarian access and protection of civilians. Expressing support for all diplomatic efforts aimed at bringing the crisis to an end, she stressed that there is no military solution.
SÉRGIO FRANÇA DANESE (Brazil) recalled that, although his country entered negotiations with a renewal of the UNITAMS mandate in mind, the consent of the host Government is required for any UN mission. Looking forward, the safe and orderly withdrawal of UNITAMS personnel in Sudan is essential, he stressed, adding that concerns of both the international community and Sudan must be met. Brazil remains gravely concerned about the current situation in Sudan. Months of conflict have caused unbearable pain to the Sudanese people, particularly women and girls, he said. Voicing regret that the press statement drafted by the British delegation detailing such worries was not issued, he underscored the importance of including those worries in the present resolution. Finally, welcoming the appointment of Ramtane Lamamra, he voiced hope that the Envoy’s engagement will produce constructive dialogue in the pursuit of peace.
ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador), Security Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity to express regret regarding the violent combats that were impacting civilian population and resulting in millions fleeing violence. He also expressed concern about reports of events that could constitute crimes against humanity. Calling on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and respect human rights and international humanitarian law, he stressed: “We believe that the recently adopted resolution correctly addresses this alarming situation, establishing regular reports to the Council on the threats to international peace and security arising from the situation in Sudan, as well as the efforts deployed by the UN.” This mechanism is fundamental for the Council to be able to fulfil the responsibilities entrusted to it. He also welcomed the appointment of Ramtane Lamamra and expressed his gratitude to all the UN staff who have worked tirelessly and selflessly in recent years in Sudan.
DAFFA-ALLA OSMAN (Sudan) first thanked all permanent and non-permanent Council members for listening to the country’s vision of itself. The country’s senior leadership is working to stop the war and revive an expanded political process that will lead to free and transparent elections, which will hand power over to a civilian-elected Government. He thanked the Council for responding to the Government’s request to terminate the Mission’s mandate. He affirmed the Government's keenness to work constructively with the United Nations country team. This includes cooperation with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to deliver relief to those in need. Ending the war is a top priority for the Government, he said, reiterating Sudan's commitment to enable the delivery of emergency relief from Port Sudan to all parts of the country. He stressed that the Government’s engagement with the UN will include cooperation with the new Personal Envoy of Secretary-General António Guterres.
The Sudanese Government renews its commitment to cooperate with the United Nations on measures needed to facilitate the Mission’s liquidation, exit of staff and removal of equipment, he said. He also reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the status of mission agreement. Sudan is engaged in a just war of defence against a transborder national aggressor militia that has targeted the people of Sudan, its capabilities and life affairs. This militia is driven by tribal tendencies that run counter to Sudan's ethnic, cultural and religious pluralism. Sudan needs the Council’s support and understanding of the exceptional circumstances, he said, appealing to the Council to stand by the country and help it maintain its unity and dignity. He condemned crimes being committed by the rebel militia that violate international human rights law and undermine the stability of Sudan and the entire region.