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UNMIS Background

«Since 2005, UNMIS supported the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.»

The latest north-south civil war began in 1983, following the breakdown of the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement. For more than two decades, the Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), the main rebel movement in the south, fought over resources, power, the role of religion in the state, and self-determination. Over two million people died, four million were uprooted and some 600,000 people fled the country as refugees.

Over the years, there were many attempts by neighbouring States, concerned donors, other States and the parties themselves to bring peace. One such effort, begun in 1993, was a regional peace initiative under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The United Nations closely followed and supported the IGAD initiative over the years.

To follow developments in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa, the Secretary-General, in December 1997, appointed Mohamed Sahnoun as his Special Adviser on Africa.

Machakos Protocol

During 2002, the Sudan peace process under the auspices of IGAD made significant progress. Adding impetus to peace efforts, the Secretary-General visited the Sudan from 10-12 July 2002.

On 20 July 2002, the parties to the conflict signed the Machakos Protocol, in which they reached specific agreement on a broad framework, setting forth the principles of governance, the transitional process and the structures of government, as well as on the right to self-determination for the people of South Sudan, and on state and religion. They agreed to continue talks on the outstanding issues of power sharing, wealth sharing, human rights and a ceasefire.

United Nations Advance Mission

To intensify the peace efforts and build on the momentum of the progress made—including the signing of the Agreement on Wealth Sharing on 7 January 2004 and the Protocol on Power Sharing on 26 May 2004 at the IGAD-led talks—the UN Security Council, on the recommendation of the Secretary-General, established by resolution 1547 (2004) PDF Document of 11 June 2004, a special political mission—the United Nations Advance Mission in the Sudan (UNAMIS). UNAMIS was mandated to facilitate contacts with the parties concerned and to prepare for the introduction of an envisaged UN peace support operation.

The Secretary-General then appointed Jan Pronk as his Special Representative for the Sudan and head of UNAMIS, who led UN peacemaking support to the IGAD-mediated talks on the North-South conflict, as well as to the African Union-mediated talks on the conflict in Darfur, a region in the western part of the Sudan.

The UN role in Darfur

As a response to the escalating crisis in Darfur, the Security Council, by its resolution 1556 (2004) PDF Document on 30 July 2004, assigned some additional tasks to UNAMIS relating to Darfur

Darfur had long experienced localized violence exacerbated by ethnic, economic and political tensions and competition over scarce resources. Beginning in February 2003, attacks on government targets by the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the Government’s decision to respond by deploying its national armed forces and mobilizing local militia, took the violence to unprecedented levels. The cycle of terror inside Darfur also threatened regional peace and security.

For several years, the African Union (AU) led international political efforts to seek a solution to the crisis in Darfur. In July 2004, the AU launched negotiations at the inter-Sudanese peace talks, also known as the Abuja talks. AU political initiatives were complemented by the deployment of 60 AU military observers and 310 protection troops in Darfur to monitor and observe the compliance of the parties to the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement signed in N’Djamena on 8 April 2004 by the Government of the Sudan, SLM/A and JEM.

At the same time, the United Nations and a collection of non-governmental organizations launched a massive humanitarian operation in Darfur, constantly expanding activities to respond to the needs of an increasing number of people displaced by violence.

As a result of these developments, the Special Representative and UNAMIS were deeply engaged in Darfur over the ensuing months, particularly in supporting the African Union and its mission in the Sudan by, among other things, participating in the Abuja peace talks and establishing a United Nations assistance cell in Addis Ababa which supported deployment and management of the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS).

Comprehensive Peace Agreement

On 9 January 2005, in an event that marked a turning point in the history of the Sudan, the Government of the Sudan and SPLM/A signed in Nairobi, Kenya, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA included agreements on outstanding issues remaining after the Machakos Protocol and had provisions on security arrangements, power-sharing in the capital of Khartoum, some autonomy for the south, and more equitable distribution of economic resources, including oil.

While the parties established the unity of the Sudan as a priority under the agreement, they decided to set up a six-and-a-half-year interim period during which interim institutions would govern the country and international monitoring mechanisms would be established and operationalized. 

UN Mission in the Sudan is proposed  

Reporting to the Council on 31 January [S/2005/57] PDF Document, the Secretary-General recommended the deployment of a multidimensional peace support operation, consisting of up to 10,000 military personnel and an appropriate civilian component, including more than 700 police officers.

The UN Mission in the Sudan would be headed by his Special Representative and would include components focusing on the following four broad areas of engagement: good offices and political support for the peace process; security; governance; and humanitarian and development assistance.
As UNMIS Mission would be dealing with a broad range of issues, the Secretary-General stressed the importance of a joint, integrated strategy among the UN agencies, funds and programmes in order to successfully implement the CPA. The Mission would be headquartered in Khartoum and would be widely represented in the South, including in Rumbek, the provisional capital of Southern Sudan.


Even as the civil war in the south concluded with the signing of the CPA, conflict continued in the Darfur region. According to the Secretary-General, “a stable Sudan requires a peaceful Darfur". In this regard, it was essential that the work of the United Nations and the African Union in the Sudan be complementary.

AMIS had enhanced its numbers in October 2004, bringing it to a total of 3,320 personnel, including 2,341 military personnel and 815 civilian police, as well as complementary civilian personnel. The mandate of the enhanced mission was to monitor and observe compliance with the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement signed in N’Djamena on 8 April 2004, and to contribute to a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.

UNMIS is established

On 24 March 2005, the Security Council by its resolution 1590 (2005) PDF Document established the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS). The Council decided that the tasks of UNMIS, among others, would be: to support implementation of the CPA; to facilitate and coordinate, within its capabilities and in its areas of deployment, the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons and humanitarian assistance; to assist the parties in the mine action sector; to contribute towards international efforts to protect and promote human rights in the Sudan. See the UNMIS Mandate, for further information.

The Security Council further decided that UNMIS would consist of up to 10,000 military personnel and an appropriate civilian component, including up to 715 civilian police personnel.

Deployment of UNMIS

Following the establishing resolution, the deployment of UNMIS military elements commenced, enabling the force headquarters in Khartoum and the Joint Monitoring Coordination Office in Juba to achieve an initial operating capability, but a number of factors resulted in delays in the deployment rate of some military and police elements. In the following months, UNMIS continued its deployment at a steady pace, albeit behind schedule, and assisted the parties in implementing the CPA and resolving ongoing conflicts. At the same time, the deployment of UN human rights monitors to Darfur accelerated. 

In a parallel development, on 28 April 2005, the AMIS force in Darfur was increased by the AU Peace and Security Council to a total authorized strength of 6,171 military personnel and 1,560 civilian police.

By September 2006, UNMIS military and police components were close to full strength at 8,727 troops, 695 military observers, 186 staff officers, and 666 police officers.

The Darfur Peace Agreement

African Union efforts to seek a solution to the crisis in Darfur culminated in the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) on 5 May 2006. The Secretary-General said that the DPA, signed after more than three years of conflict, had given hope that the parties might be prepared to lay down their weapons. At the same time, he noted that the Agreement still faced formidable challenges. Following the signing of the Agreement, there was an escalation of clashes between those who supported it and those who did not.

Recommendations on expanding UNMIS into Darfur

With all this in mind, the Secretary-General suggested in his report [S/2006/591] PDF Document to the Security Council of 28 July 2006 that a United Nations peacekeeping force of as many as 18,600 troops might be needed in Darfur to ensure that all sides complied with the peace agreement. The mission’s main focus would be on protecting civilians, especially the vast population of internally displaced persons living in camps across Darfur’s three states. The Secretary-General urged the Government of the Sudan to accept a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur, arguing that the peace in southern Sudan could be put in jeopardy.

Expansion of UNMIS

On 31 August 2006, the Security Council, by its resolution 1706 (2006) PDF Document, decided to expand the UNMIS mandate to include its deployment to Darfur, without prejudice to the mission’s existing mandate and operations. The Council invited the consent of the Sudanese Government of National Unity, called on Member States to ensure expeditious deployment and requested the Secretary-General to ensure additional capabilities to enable UNMIS to deploy in Darfur.

The Council decided that the mandate of UNMIS would be to support implementation of the DPA and the N’djamena Agreement on Humanitarian Ceasefire on the Conflict in Darfur by performing a number of specific tasks.

The Council decided that UNMIS would be strengthened by up to 17,300 military personnel and by an appropriate civilian component including up to 3,300 civilian police personnel and up to 16 Formed Police Units.

By further terms of the text, the Council requested the Secretary-General to consult jointly with the African Union on a plan and timetable for a transition from AMIS to a United Nations operation in Darfur.

UNAMID is established

In the following months, however, UNMIS was not able to deploy to Darfur due to the Government of the Sudan’s steadfast opposition to a peacekeeping operation undertaken solely by the United Nations as envisaged in Security Council resolution 1706 (2006) PDF Document. The UN then embarked on an alternative, innovative approach to try to begin stabilize the region through the phased strengthening of AMIS, before transfer of authority to a joint AU/UN peacekeeping operation.

Following prolonged and intensive negotiations with the Government of the Sudan and significant international pressure, the Government accepted peacekeeping operation in Darfur. On 31 July, the Security Council by its resolution 1769 (2006) PDF Document, authorized the establishment of the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

UNMIS continues its mission

For its part, UNMIS has continued to support implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, by providing good offices and political support to the parties, monitoring and verifying their security arrangements and offering assistance in a number of areas, including governance, recovery and development. The Mission has focused on the parties’ outstanding commitments, including the redeployment of forces, a resolution of the dispute over the oil-rich Abyei region, and preparations for national elections in 2010 and the referendums in 2011, which will decide the fate of Southern Sudan.

Referendum process

The referendum to determine the status of Southern Sudan was held on schedule in January 2011, with the overwhelming majority, 98.83% of participants, voting for independence. The Secretary-General welcomed the announcement of the final results ,stating that they were reflective of the will of the people of southern Sudan.

The Secretary-General said that the peaceful and credible conduct of the referendum was a great achievement for all Sudanese and he commended the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) partners, the Government of Sudan led by President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, and the Government of Southern Sudan led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, for keeping their commitment to maintain peace and stability throughout this crucial period.

The Sudanese authorities were responsible for the referendum process. Under the leadership of the Secretary-General, the United Nations provided technical and logistical assistance to the CPA parties’ referendum preparations through support from its peacekeeping missions on the ground in Sudan, as well as the good offices function provided by the Secretary-General’s panel aimed at ensuring the impartiality, independence and effectiveness of the process, and by the UN Integrated Referenda and Electoral Division (UNIRED).

Closure of UNMIS

On 9 July, the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) ended following the completion of the six-and-a-half-year interim period set up by the Government of Sudan and SPLM during the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005.

On 17 May 2011, the Secretary-General urged the parties and the Security Council to consider a three-month extension of UNMIS due to ongoing security concerns in South Sudan that were directly related to security issues that the North and South had to address together.  In his report to the Security Council
(S/2011/314 PDF Document), the Secretary-General explained that this period would allow the mission to begin downsizing its presence in Khartoum while assisting the parties in seeking resolution to the ongoing security issues, as well as the residual CPA and post-referendum issues, including finding a mutually acceptable arrangement for monitoring the border.

On 31 May 2011, the Secretary-General transmitted a letter from the Government of Sudan (GoS) to the Security Council (S/2011/333 PDF Document) announcing the Government of Sudan’s decision to terminate the presence of UNMIS as of 9 July 2011.

Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Field Support, Susana Malcorra paid tribute to the work of the mission on a visit to Sudan in July:  ‘I believe that the people of this Mission need to be proud of what has been done in the referendum - it was an incredible achievement – it was an incredible challenge that most of the world believed was not going to happen.’ She continued: ‘I think people in this Mission have done an incredible job in the process of DDR in the processes of for example of mine action – trying to make sure that they clear for mines important extensions of the territory; in supporting all the important mandated tasks by the Security Council but most importantly engaging with the Sudanese in trying to arrive to a better place where peace can be achievable.’

New UN Mission in South Sudan

The Security Council established as of 9 July 2011 the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) for an initial period of one year. The resolution 1996 PDF Document (2011) mandated UNMISS to consolidate peace and security, and to help establish the conditions for development with a view to strengthening the capacity of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to govern effectively and democratically and establish good relations with its neighbours.

New UN Mission in disputed Abyei

A separate referendum to determine whether the future of the area of Abyei lies in northern or southern Sudan was not held in January 2011 as originally planned, as a result of a failure to establish a referendum commission and lack of agreement on who could vote.  Renewed fighting broke out in the area at the beginning of March 2011, driving an estimated 20,000 people their homes, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The Security Council, by its resolution 1990 PDF Document of 27 June 2011, responded to the situation in Sudan’s Abyei region by establishing the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). The Security Council was deeply concerned by the violence, escalating tensions and population displacement. The operation will monitor the flashpoint border between north and south, and is authorized to use force in protecting civilians and humanitarian workers in Abyei.