The Security Council on 15 May 2018 decided to extend, for six months, mandates of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) relating to the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the protection of civilians, among others, while also underlining that its tasks relating to the contested region’s Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism would be extended no further unless the parties to the dispute accelerated progress in several key areas.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2416 (2018) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council also decided to extend, until 15 November 2018, the mandate of UNISFA as set out in operative paragraph 2 of resolution 1990 (2011). That text calls on the Force to participate in relevant Abyei Area bodies as stipulated in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan. Also mandated by that paragraph are UNISFA’s tasks related to providing demining assistance; facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid and the free movement of humanitarian personnel; strengthening the capacity of the Abyei Police Service; and providing security for oil infrastructure, as needed.
Also by the terms of the resolution just adopted, the Council extended various tasks laid out in operative paragraph 3 of resolution 1990 (2011) until 15 November 2018. They related to the protection of UNISFA personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, as well as ensuring the security and freedom of movement of its staff, humanitarian personnel and members of the Joint Military Observers Committee and Joint Military Observer teams. Tasks involving the protection of civilians from imminent threats of violence — and of the Abyei Area from incursions by unauthorized elements — were also extended.
By other terms, the Council recalled its decision to extend, until 15 October 2018, UNISFA’s mandate modification set forth in resolution 2024 (2011) and operative paragraph 1 of resolution 2075 (2012) — relating to the Force’s support for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism — as well as its decision in resolution 2412 (2018) that the extension would be the last one unless both parties demonstrated measurable progress on border demarcation. It also decided to reduce UNISFA’s authorized troop ceiling to 4,500 until 15 November 2018, and that — as of 15 October 2018 — that ceiling would decrease further to 3,959, unless the aforementioned mandate modifications were extended.
Further by the text, the Council urged continued progress towards the establishment of the Abyei Area interim institutions; reaffirmed UNISFA’s authority to undertake the confiscation and destruction of weapons in the Abyei Area; demanded that all parties allow humanitarian personnel full, safe and unhindered access to civilians in need; and requested that the Force make rapid progress on deploying women and child protection advisers.
Expressing its intention to revise UNISFA’s configuration, and in light of the Secretary General’s recommendations contained in a letter dated 22 April 2018, the Council further requested that the Secretary General — in consultation with relevant stakeholders — report no later than 15 August 2018 on recommendations to create the space for a viable political process that would also serve as an exit strategy.
Following the vote, Sudan’s representative said the security situation in Abyei described in the report was the result of the joint efforts of his country’s Government and UNISFA. He emphasized the obligation of States not to take ill calculated actions until the final status of Abyei was determined. Until then, the region remained a part of Sudan which had full sovereignty over it. He also stressed that his country’s Government was committed to fully respect all agreements concluded with the Government of South Sudan, in particular those relating to the Abyei Area, and urged that country to work with the Government of Sudan and the African Union to accelerate the creation of Abyei institutions, in particular its joint administration, legislative council and police. He went on to urge respect for the peaceful coexistence among the area’s communities, and stressed the need to consider the question of Abyei in the wider context of relations between the two countries, and implementation of the provisional arrangements for the administration of Abyei. However, he expressed reservations concerning the High level Implementation Panel of the African Union.