Welcoming recent political rapprochement between Sudan and South Sudan but calling on those countries to make more progress on border issues, the Security Council today renewed the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 15 May 2021.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2550 (2020), and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council kept the authorized troop ceiling of UNISFA at 3,550 and the authorized police ceiling at 640 personnel, including 148 individual police officers and three formed police units.
The Council, through the resolution, also maintained – for the term of the mandate extension – the Mission’s support for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, which watches the Sudan‑South Sudan border. However, as in previous resolutions, it decided that such support would end without measurable progress on border demarcation in several specified areas.
Underlining that over the course of nine years the parties have not made progress establishing joint institutions in Abyei, the Council encouraged them to engage in substantive dialogue and to advance the political process for resolution of the Abyei dispute. It also called for a responsible exit strategy for UNISFA to be developed through dialogue among all stakeholders, with a report on options issued by March 2021.
In order for UNISFA to be able to complete its mandate towards that exit, the Council demanded that the parties provide full support to the Mission in deployment of personnel and promptly issue visas without prejudice of their nationalities as well as remove obstacles in other key areas.
It also demanded that the parties allow and facilitate all needed humanitarian assistance, adding that such assistance should be consistent with “United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance, including humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence.”
Following the adoption of the draft, the representative of the United States expressed thanks for the Council’s steady support for UNISFA, as well as for Ethiopia’s cooperation with the Mission. He called on Sudan and South Sudan to maintain the momentum from their recent political agreements and to move forward on resolving outstanding issues in Abyei. He added that a responsible exit strategy had to be developed along with those efforts.
Germany’s representative also welcomed the mandate extension but expressed strong objection to the wording regarding unhindered humanitarian assistance. He stressed that he did not recognize any subordination of international humanitarian principles to other United Nations guiding principles.