top of page

UN Security Council calls for ceasefire in El Fasher, Sudan



UN Security Council Adopts Resolution 2736 Calling for Ceasefire in El Fasher*

Security Council Reports

13 June, 2024

 

The UN Security Council adopted resolution 2736 demanding that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a Sudanese paramilitary group, halt the siege of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, and calling for an immediate halt to the fighting and for de-escalation in and around El Fasher. The resolution further demands that all parties to the conflict ensure the protection of civilians, including by allowing civilians wishing to move within and out of El Fasher to safer areas to do so, and recalled that all civilians must be protected in accordance with international law. The resolution was adopted with a vote of 14 in favour and one abstention (Russia).The draft text was proposed by the UK, the penholder on Sudan.

 

Background

 

Sudan continues to grapple with the devastating political, security, and humanitarian consequences of fighting that erupted in April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s military leader and chairperson of the Transitional Sovereign Council, and the RSF, led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemeti). As at 17 May, more than 16,650 people had reportedly been killed since the onset of the conflict, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a non-governmental organisation that collects conflict-related data.


Since early April, fighting, with a marked intercommunal aspect, has been particularly severe in El Fasher, the only capital in the Darfur region that is not under the RSF’s control. In an 8 June post on X (formerly Twitter), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that since 10 May, at least 192 people had been killed and more than 1,230 have been wounded in El Fasher. Several media outlets in recent weeks have accused the warring parties of indiscriminately killing civilians and damaging civilian infrastructure. On 10 June, MSF announced that it had suspended all activities in El Fasher’s South Hospital after “RSF soldiers stormed the facility, opened fire, and looted it, including stealing an MSF ambulance” on 8 June. According to MSF, this hospital served as the main referral hospital for treating war-wounded people in El Fasher and one of the two hospitals with surgical capacity. (For background and more information, see the brief on Sudan in our June 2024 Monthly Forecast.)

 

Several UN officials have expressed alarm about the continuing violence and resulting grave humanitarian and other consequences, including fragmentation of Darfur along ethnic lines. In a 5 June statement, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu noted that, between 1 April and 31 May, nearly 130,000 people are estimated to have been displaced due to fighting in El Fasher. She added that “[i]t is unquestionable that risk factors and indicators for genocide and related crimes are present, and the risks are increasing”. Nderitu also expressed serious concern about reports of ethnically motivated attacks against non-Arab communities in and around El Fasher, including by the RSF and their allied militias, while noting that there had also been reports of retaliatory attacks targeting Arab civilians in the region.

 

Council members have been following closely the developments in North Darfur. They adopted a press statement on 27 April, co-authored by the UK and “A3 plus one” members (Algeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Guyana), which expressed concern over the growing tensions and military operations around El Fasher. Since the beginning of April, the Security Council has held three meetings to discuss the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Sudan, including in El Fasher, most recently on 24 May. (For more information, see our 19 and 28 April as well as 23 May What’s in Blue stories.)

 

Negotiations on the Draft Resolution


The UK circulated the initial draft of the resolution to all Council members on 30 May. The penholder apparently discussed the product with Sudan before sharing the text with Council members. After receiving the first round of comments, the UK circulated a revised draft on 7 June, which was open for comments until 11 am on Monday (10 June). Later that day, the penholder circulated a second revised draft, which was put under silence procedure until 12 pm on Tuesday (11 June). It appears that China, Russia, and the “A3 plus one” members broke silence, after which several members submitted comments. Following bilateral consultations with some members, the UK placed a revised draft text in blue yesterday (12 June). It appears that several non-Council regional stakeholders also engaged on the draft text during the negotiations.


It seems that Council members recognised the importance of sending a unified and strong message in response to the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the country. However, during the initial comments period, Russia apparently expressed the view that the proposed draft represented an excessive reaction to the situation in El Fasher and Sudan in general, and instead suggested pursuing a press statement, a product which requires consensus among Council members. Nonetheless, Russia engaged in the negotiations on the draft resolution.


In addition to calling for an immediate halt to the fighting and for de-escalation in and around El Fasher, the draft resolution in blue demands that all parties to the conflict ensure the protection of civilians, including by allowing civilians wishing to move within and out of El Fasher to safer areas to do so, and recalling that all civilians must be protected in accordance with international law. It appears that the “A3 plus one” members and Russia proposed including language on other conflict areas, such as El-Obeid in North Kordofan and Kadugli in South Kordofan. The UK sought to keep the focus of the draft resolution on the developments in El Fasher, however, and these proposals were not incorporated in the draft resolution in blue.


The initial draft proposed by the penholder apparently called for the withdrawal of fighters from all sides that threaten the safety and security of civilians, with the support of local mediation mechanisms. It seems that Russia expressed reservations about this language, arguing that Sudanese government forces remain responsible for protecting civilians and that the Council should not impede their ability to do so. The penholder subsequently tweaked the language on the matter in the draft resolution in blue, which calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians, with the support of local mediation mechanisms, where appropriate. The draft text in blue also contains language proposed by France, which calls for the parties to withdraw fighters as necessary to enable agricultural activities throughout the planting season to avoid compounding the risk of famine.


It seems that one of the difficult aspects of the negotiations pertained to language proposed by the penholder in the initial draft calling on the parties to invite the UN or another neutral actor to monitor and coordinate safe passages for civilians and the withdrawal of fighters, as necessary. The “A3 plus one” members and Russia apparently requested the deletion of this reference. It seems that the US called for retaining the language, arguing that it would allow the UN to provide recommendations on a possible monitoring mechanism. In the subsequent revised draft, the penholder apparently replaced this reference with text requesting the Secretary-General to make further recommendations as necessary for the protection of civilians in Sudan. It seems that this formulation was also unacceptable to some members, including the “A3 plus one” and Russia. In an apparent compromise, the draft resolution in blue requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Sudanese authorities and regional stakeholders, to make further recommendations for the protection of civilians in Sudan, building on the existing mediation and good offices mechanisms.


Another contentious aspect of the negotiations related to language on humanitarian relief assistance. It seems that Russia opposed any reference that might suggest placing the Sudanese authorities on a par with any other Sudanese entity in addressing humanitarian issues and border control. It apparently argued that any cooperation and coordination on humanitarian assistance should be carried out via channels agreed upon by the Sudanese authorities, stressing that they remain the only entity responsible for aid distribution and relief assistance. However, some other members maintained that the draft text should reference all parties to the conflict to broaden the scope of all actors needed to facilitate humanitarian aid. During the negotiations, China and Russia also apparently suggested replacing the term “Sudanese authorities” with “Sudanese government”; this proposal was not incorporated in the draft resolution in blue, however.


During the negotiations, the US apparently also proposed language calling on the Sudanese authorities to re-open the Adre border crossing at the Sudan-Chad border—used by UN humanitarian agencies and their partners for conducting cross-border humanitarian operations. (On 21 February, Sudan announced its decision to suspend cross-border aid delivery through the Adre border crossing, citing concerns about potential weapons transfers into Darfur.) It appears that some members, including China and Russia, expressed reservations about this proposal, stressing the need to respect the sovereignty of the host country in terms of cross-border and cross-line humanitarian access.


The penholder incorporated some changes to address the concerns raised by these members. The draft resolution in blue reiterates the Council’s “calls for all parties to work in close partnership with UN agencies and other humanitarian actors to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need, and with the prior agreement and coordination of the Sudanese authorities, calls for them to re-open the Adre border crossing for the delivery of humanitarian assistance”. The draft text in blue further requests that parties to the conflict allow and facilitate the rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need. It notes the measures taken by the Sudanese authorities in this regard and urges their further cooperation.


Another issue that required discussion during the negotiations related to a reporting requirement proposed by the penholder. The initial draft text apparently requested the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the resolution within 30 days of its adoption. It seems that while several Council members supported mandating a reporting requirement, the “A3 plus one” members and Russia opposed supplementary reporting on El Fasher. During the negotiations, the “A3 plus one” members and Russia apparently also proposed language requesting the Secretary-General to include in his regular updates on the situation in Sudan, pursuant to resolution 2715 of 1 December 2023, a section on external interferences and their role in fuelling the conflict in Darfur and other parts of Sudan. In an apparent attempt to address these members’ concerns, the penholder amended the text, as reflected in the draft resolution in blue, to request the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of “all elements” of this resolution within his regular updates pursuant to resolution 2715.


The preambular section of the draft resolution in blue includes language voicing alarm over the catastrophic and deteriorating humanitarian situation, including crisis-level or worse acute food insecurity, and the imminent risk of famine, particularly in Darfur. It also expresses grave concern over the spreading violence, including credible reports of ethnically motivated violence, including violence perpetrated by the RSF in and around El Fasher, and in El Geneina in West Darfur state between 24 April and 19 June 2023.


Text of UN Security Council Resolution 2736 S/Res/2736 (2024) : https://www.un.org/en/media/accreditation/pdf/SCRes3.pdf


United Nations S/RES/2736 (2024)

Security Council

Distr.: General

13 June 2024 Resolution 2736 (2024)

Adopted by the Security Council at its 9655th meeting, on 13 June 2024


The Security Council,


Reaffirming all its previous resolutions, presidential statements and press statements concerning the situation in Sudan, and reiterating its strong commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity of Sudan,


Expressing deep concern at the outbreak of fighting in El Fasher with the potential for further escalation and the risk of harm to civilians, most of whom need urgent humanitarian assistance and protection,


Expressing grave concern over the spreading violence, including credible reports of ethnically motivated violence, including inter alia the violence perpetrated by the Rapid Support Forces in and around El Fasher, and in El Geneina in West Darfur between 24 April and 19 June 2023, condemning the use of all force in populated areas against civilians and critical civilian infrastructure, including attacks on medical and humanitarian facilities, reaffirming the obligations of all parties to the conflict under international humanitarian law, including with regard to respecting and protecting civilians and taking constant care to spare civilian objects including such objects critical to the delivery of essential services to the civilian population, and with regard to refraining from attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects that are indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, as well as respecting and protecting humanitarian personnel and consignments used for humanitarian relief operations, and urging all parties to the conflict to protect civilian infrastructure, which is critical to the delivery of humanitarian aid, including for the provision of essential services in line with resolution 2573 (2021),


Expressing alarm at the ongoing reports of violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights, including cases of sexual and gender-based violence, and calling for accountability for such violations,


Expressing concern over the catastrophic and deteriorating humanitarian situation, including crisis-level or worse acute food insecurity, and the imminent risk of famine, particularly in Darfur, Noting the need for full, rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained cross-border and cross-line humanitarian assistance into Darfur, and other conflict affected areas, urging the Sudanese authorities to allow and facilitate humanitarian access for UN 2/3 agencies and other humanitarian actors, urging the parties to the conflict to ensure humanitarian assistance safely reaches those in need, and welcoming in this regard the recent commitment by Sudanese authorities to facilitate access, including visa and travel authorizations,


Condemning the looting of humanitarian stockpiles, expressing concern at the increasing mobilization of armed groups or militia, and calling on all sides to exercise strict command and control on their forces,  


Recognizing the importance of de-escalatory measures and the role of local dispute resolution and ceasefire efforts in Darfur, in line with Sudanese -led and Sudanese-owned peacebuilding and peacemaking efforts, and encouraging the parties to the conflict to empower Sudanese elders and community leaders to secure local conflict mitigation and ceasefire arrangements including monitoring, coordination, and liaison mechanisms,


1. Demands that the Rapid Support Forces halt the siege of El Fasher; and calls for an immediate halt to the fighting and for de-escalation in and around El Fasher, and further calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians, with the support of local mediation mechanisms, where appropriate;


2. Demands that all parties to the conflict ensure the protection of civilians, including by allowing civilians wishing to move within and out of El Fasher to safer areas to do so, and recalling that all civilians must be protected in accordance with international law, and requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Sudanese authorities and regional stakeholders, to make further recommendations for the protection of civilians in Sudan, building on the existing mediation and good offices mechanisms;


3. Calls for the full implementation of the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan, and requests that parties to the conflict allow and facilitate the rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need, including by removing bureaucratic and other impediments, the rapid provision of the required visas and travel authorizations for humanitarian personnel and essential supplies, notes the measures taken by the Sudanese authorities in this regard and urges their further cooperation, reiterates its calls for all parties to work in close partnership with UN agencies and other humanitarian actors to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need and, with the prior agreement and coordination of the Sudanese authorities, calls for them to reopen the Adre border crossing for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and further calls for the parties to withdraw fighters as necessary to enable agricultural activities throughout the planting season to avoid compounding the risk of famine;


4. Underscores the urgency of addressing the funding shortfall of the Humanitarian Response Plan and the Regional Refugee Response Plan and encourages Member States, international donors and partners to ensure that all pledges are honored in full and in a timely manner, and to step up contributions to enable the scaling-up of humanitarian assistance needed to prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation;


5. Demands that all parties to the conflict comply with their obligations under international law, including international human rights law, as applicable, and international humanitarian law including with regard to the conduct of hostilities and 3/3 the protection of civilians and civilian objects, recalling that civilian facilities, including hospitals, medical facilities, schools, places of worship, and facilities of the UN, as well as humanitarian personnel, and UN and associated personnel, includi ng national and locally recruited personnel, as well as medical personnel, and their means of transport, must be respected and protected, in accordance with international humanitarian law;


6. Calls on all Member States to refrain from external interference which seeks to foment conflict and instability and instead to support efforts for a durable peace, and reminds all parties to the conflict and Member States who facilitate the transfers of arms and military material to Darfur of their obligations to comply with the arms embargo measures as stipulated in paragraphs 7 and 8 of resolution 1556 (2004), and reiterates that those who violate the arms embargo may be designated for targeted measures in accordance with paragraph 3 (c) of resolution 1591 (2005);


7. Calls on the parties to the conflict to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities, leading to a sustainable resolution to the conflict, through dialogue, with the continued support of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy on Sudan Ramtane Lamamra and the African Union High-Level Panel on Sudan;


8. Encourages the coordinated engagement of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy on Sudan Ramtane Lamamra, with the African Union, the League of Arab States and other key regional actors, to help advance peace and an inclusive and comprehensive Sudanese-led political process, with the full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of women, that reflects the aspirations of the Sudanese people;


9. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of all elements of this resolution within his regular updates as stipulated in resolution 2715 (2023);


10. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.



UK explanation of vote delivered by Ambassador Barbara Woodward, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, following the Security Council adoption of resolution 2736 on El Fasher.


 The adoption of this resolution sends a clear message: the Council demands that the Rapid Support Forces immediately stop the siege of El Fasher and that all sides step back from the brink.  An attack on the city would be catastrophic for the 1.5 million Sudanese civilians sheltering in the city.


We tabled this resolution to help secure a localised ceasefire around El Fasher – and create the wider conditions to support de-escalation across the country and ultimately, save lives.  Civilians need to be allowed to leave the city should they wish, and aid needs to get in.


President, the situation in Sudan is desperate and the humanitarian needs of Sudan’s population are severe, particularly across Darfur.  This resolution underlines the need for full, rapid, safe and unhindered cross-border and cross-line humanitarian access. 


It calls on the Sudanese authorities to increase cooperation with UN agencies and to urgently reopen the Adre border to help facilitate a significant scale-up of humanitarian assistance. And in this regard, the resolution urges the international community to increase their support and fulfil existing pledges.


The protection needs in Sudan are alarming. Through this resolution, we request that the Secretary-General provide recommendations on supporting the protection of civilians in Sudan, building on the existing good office’s work, and the vital mandate of his Personal Envoy on Sudan Mr. Lamamra.  Let me take this opportunity to underline the United Kingdom’s full backing of Mr. Lamamra’s mediation efforts and his work to help complement and coordinate regional efforts to restore peace.


President, this Council has sent a strong signal to the parties to the conflict today. This brutal and unjust conflict needs to end. Today’s resolution shows the Council remains committed to supporting efforts for peace in Sudan. We look forward to continuing to work across the UN, across the region and with Council members towards this goal. 


And in that regard, I close by thanking my colleagues, across the Council, for their engagement on this resolution.


Published 13 June 2024

 

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


Follow Genocide Watch for more updates:

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey YouTube Icon
bottom of page