KHARTOUM – The military-led Sudan government has communicated its decision to terminate the UN mission to the country to Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Through a letter seen by The Brief dated November 16, 2023 by Sudan Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Idriss Al-Harith to Guterres, Khartoum said it has resolved to terminate the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan with immediate effect.
“Having brought this matter to Your Excellency’s kind attention, I would be grateful if this matter and its annex is circulated as an official document of the Security Council,” Amb Al-Harith said in the letter.
This follows a warning in September, when the Sudanese government threatened to terminate the UNITAMS mission, if its representative, Volker Perthes — who it had declared persona non grata — went ahead and briefed the Security Council on the situation in the war-torn country, and UNITAMS activities between May 7 and August 20th, 2023.
In a letter dated September 8 addressed to Ambassador Ferit Hoxha of Albania, who was the Council President for September, Amb AIharith said Perthes had been declared persona non grata on June 8, 2023, and that Sudan had the sovereign right to determine the foreign nationals that can enter and remain on its soil.
Army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan accused Perthes of inflaming the conflict and called for his removal.
However, Guterres, through spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said the doctrine of persona non grata is not applicable to UN personnel, and that its invocation is contrary to the obligations of states under the UN Charter.
The termination of the UNITAMS comes weeks to the deadline of its extended mandate.
On 2 June, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2685, renewing UNITAMS mandate for six months, until December 3, 2023.
The mission was initially deployed to support the political transition following the removal of President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
On 3 June, the UNSC adopted a resolution establishing UNITAMS as a special political mission for an initial 12-month period to facilitate transition back to a democratic rule.
Headquartered in Khartoum, UNITAMS was mandated to facilitate a range of political, peacebuilding and development initiatives, including assisting the nation to achieve the goals of the Constitutional Declaration of August 2019, and carrying out its National Plan for Civilian Protection, its mandate indicates on its website.
Other specific strategic objectives include protection and promotion of human rights, and SDGs, supporting peace processes and implementation of future peace agreements and assisting peacebuilding, civilian protection and rule of law, in particular in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states
The mission was also mandated to supporting the mobilization of economic and development assistance and coordination of humanitarian assistance by ensuring an integrated approach with UN agencies, funds and programs and through collaboration with international financial institutions.
On June 3, 2021, the Security Council in a resolution extended the mandate for a further 12 months, until June 3, 2022, which was again renewed for an additional year until June 3, 2023, according to resolution 2636 (2022).
On June 2, 2023, in its explanation of vote, the UK, the penholder on Sudan, said the six-month technical rollover would provide the necessary time for the council to assess the impact of recent developments in the country on UNITAMS’ ability to fulfil its mandate.
According to the UN, the six-month extension was proposed considering the escalation of the fighting between Sudan Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces, which “significantly” challenged the mission’s ability to implement its mandate.
The Secretary-General’s report on UNITAMS of May 16 noted that the fighting has posed severe operational difficulties for the mission, leading it to suspend such activities as capacity-building, development assistance, and field visits.
“It appears that many council members believe that the six-month extension will allow the council to monitor developments closely and then reassess UNITAMS’ mandate accordingly,” UN said.
Following the Sudanese government’s request, the UN Security Council convened an open briefing to discuss UNITAMS and the ongoing political developments in Sudan.
Assistant Secretary General for Africa Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee was expected to address the worsening humanitarian situation in Sudan.