UN Adopts Resolutions; Votes by Email 03/31 06:21
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted four
resolutions on Monday, with its 15 members voting by email for the first time
because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Members voted to keep troops in Sudan's restive Darfur region until the end
of May and maintain the U.N. political mission in Somalia until June 30. They
extended the mandate of the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions against
North Korea until April 30, 2021, and they stressed the importance of
supporting the U.N.'s far-flung peacekeeping operations.
The U.N.'s most powerful body has been meeting by video because of COVID-19,
which has hit New York City, where the U.N. has its headquarters, exceedingly
hard. The last council meeting in the headquarters complex was on March 12,
when a resolution was adopted extending the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping
mission in South Sudan and welcoming "encouraging developments" toward peace.
A resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Germany extends the joint
United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur known as UNAMID until
May 31 when the council said it will decide on "the responsible draw-down and
exit" of UNAMID. The council said it also intends to establish "a follow-on
presence to UNAMID" at the same time.
The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing
the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. The government in
Khartoum was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and
unleashing them on civilian populations --- a charge it denies. In recent
years, as the result of a successful government military campaign, the
rebellion has been reduced to a single rebel faction.
There has been pressure, including from the Trump administration, to scale
down the UNAMID force in response to reduced fighting and security conditions.
It was established in 2007 and was one of the U.N.'s most expensive operations,
with a ceiling of 15,845 military personnel and 3,403 police in June 2016.
In July 2018, the Security Council voted to dramatically cut the force, with
a target to end the mission on June 30, 2020, but the mass street protests by a
pro-democracy movement which began in late 2018 and led to last year's ouster
of Al-Bashir and a military-civilian transitional government caused a delay.
As of January, UNAMID had over 4,300 military personnel, more than 2,100
international police, and about 1,500 civilian staff. The resolution adopted
Monday will maintain that force for two months.
A proposed U.N. Security Council resolution obtained by AP earlier this
month would replace UNAMID with a U.N. political and peace-building mission
whose primary aim would be to support Sudan's fragile transition to democracy
including in drafting a new constitution and preparing for elections. But that
proposal could be changed before the council makes a final decision on UNAMID
and a follow-on mission at the end of May.
China, which holds the rotating council presidency in March, sponsored a
resolution adopted unanimously stressing "the crucial role" that U.N.
peacekeepers play "in achieving conditions for stability and a lasting peace,"
and urging countries where they are deployed to ensure their freedom of
U.N. peacekeeping currently has over 100,000 field personnel including
military, police and civilians from over 120 countries deployed in 13 active
missions across three continents.
The resolution expresses "grave concern about security threats and targeted
attacks" against peacekeepers in many missions, condemns "in the strongest
terms" all violence and killings of peacekeeping personnel, and calls for
prompt investigation and prosecution of those responsible for attacks against