9581st Meeting* (AM)

Arms Embargo Violations, Violence against Civilians on Rise in Sudan, Committee Chair Tells Security Council, Underlining Importance of Sanctions Regime

Violence against civilians and violations of the arms embargo continue to increase in Sudan, the senior United Nations official of that file warned the Security Council today — while Khartoum’s representative stressed that sanctions imposed in 2005 are no longer relevant and hamper its Armed Forces’ efforts to defeat the Rapid Support Forces and bring peace to the country.

Joonkook Hwang (Republic of Korea), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan, briefed the 15-member organ on work covering the period from 13 December to today, including releasing its annual report for 2023; and receiving the Sudan Panel’s final report on 22 December 2023, as well as its third quarterly report on 23 February 2024.  He reported increasing violence against civilians, including widespread cases of sexual and gender-based violence in the conflict across Darfur, particularly in West Darfur.  He further reported violations of the arms embargo and of international humanitarian and human rights law, ethnically-based recruitment by the warring parties, as well as increasing divisions within the Darfurian armed movements.

On 6 February, the Committee issued a press release reminding the parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law, including to protect civilians from violence — including women and children from sexual violence, and children from recruitment into their armed forces.  Those who commit violations and other atrocities may be subject to targeted sanctions measures as well as parties and Member States who facilitate the transfers of arms and military materiel to Darfur in violation of the arms embargo.  He underlined that the purpose of the sanctions regime is to contribute to bringing peace to Darfur.

However, the representative of Sudan reiterated his Government’s position that the punitive measures of the Sanctions Committee are no longer suitable, compared to the situation that existed in 2005 when they were imposed.  There was a different system of governance and security situation, and ending sanctions would allow the Government to better protect its civilians and the Sudanese Armed Forces to end violations perpetrated by the Rapid Support Forces and their atrocities against children and women.

The Government is working in full coordination with most of its partners in order to implement the Juba Peace Agreement.  “Sudan is defending itself justly against the militias well known to you for their atrocities against civilians and innocents for over two decades,” he stressed — while the Sudanese Armed Forces are waging their just war in strict abidance of international humanitarian law, distinguishing between civilians and fighters.

He noted that the Government of Sudan recently undertook measures to facilitate further humanitarian aid to those citizens who need it, citing land routes, seaports and airports, as well as transit permits for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  The weak flow of humanitarian aid is not due to obstacles to access, but because donors have not fulfilled their pledges.  Urging the international community to provide financial support to the underfunded 2024 Sudan humanitarian response plan, he recalled the country team leader of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Chad’s warning that food aid for hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees and children will stop next month without more funding. Sudan will not accept the politicization of humanitarian aid.

On the arms embargo, he recalled that the final report of the Panel of Experts named specific countries that are arming the Rapid Support Forces while others allow their territories to be used to transport weapons, some of them doing so “while they were members in this very Council”, he stressed.  He urged Member States to name those responsible for arming the militias on the sanctions list, while Sudan will provide the Committee with names of some foreign persons who are involved in the provision of arms to the militias. Citing resolution 2725 (2024), he confirmed his delegation’s commitment to work with the Council to end sanctions.

Meanwhile, some Council members supported sanctions, with the representative of the United States pointing out that, in December 2023, his Government determined that members of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces were committing war crimes in Sudan, and that members of the latter were committing ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  Calling on both to immediately cease these atrocities, he urged the Committee to apply targeted sanctions to signal to perpetrators that they will be held accountable.  He also expressed concern over reported violations of the arms embargo, particularly the scale of weapon transits into Darfur from Chad, Libya and the Central African Republic.

He welcomed the 12-month renewal of the mandate of the Committee’s Panel of Experts, as this will allow it to provide the Council with insight into the factors exacerbating insecurity in Darfur and recommendations to address them.  Further, the renewed mandate — and the investigations it allows — will enable action to limit the movement of arms into Darfur and support international efforts to end the ongoing conflict.

France’s representative condemned all violence committed in Sudan, regardless of the perpetrators.  She voiced particular concern over the atrocities committed against populations in Darfur based on their ethnicity.  She also called on all foreign actors to refrain from arming, financing or logistically supporting the parties.  She echoed that the sanctions regime is a means for the Council to support settlement of the conflict.

Similarly, the representative of the United Kingdom emphasized the disastrous impact of the conflict on the Sudanese people — especially in Darfur, where over half the local population face acute food insecurity.  “The imperative to silence for guns could not be clearer,” he stated, including during the month of Ramadan.  He further called on the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law — voicing extreme concern over reports widespread sexual violence and child recruitment.

The representative of Algeria focused on paragraph 4 of the briefing, which mentions the flow of weapons and ammunition to Darfur.  He recalled an embargo on arms and ammunition in the region, adding that the perpetrators of this trafficking are liable to be sanctioned by the Council.  After 90 days, the perpetrators responsible for the arms transport should be identified and denounced by the Council, he stressed.

Pushing back on those statements, the representative of the Russian Federation — while emphasizing that Sudan “absolutely needs” the international community’s support — said her delegation was not inclined to “overly dramatize” the humanitarian situation, “nor use it as a lever to exert pressure on the Sudanese”.  The Sudanese authorities have consistently shown a willingness to cooperate to resolve humanitarian issues, and she said that any destructive outside influence is unacceptable as the country’s people can — and must — independently resolve their internal problems.

Further, she insisted that imposing “dubious socioeconomic solutions” is both unacceptable and counterproductive. Council sanctions have not normalized the situation in Darfur, into which weapons continue to flow illegally, and any new restrictions “will not help bring peace any closer”, she stressed — rejecting “illegal unilateral restrictions applied by Western countries to artificially reshape the Sudanese political landscape”.


* The 9580th Meeting was closed.

For information media. Not an official record.