Carter calls for UN border force for Sudan-South border
April 24 (LONDON) – Former US president Jimmy Carter has said that he believes Sudan and South Sudan should accept a UN peacekeepers on either side of their contested border, which has seen serious fighting over the last month,
South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir suggested, while his troops still occupied the Heglig oil region, that peacekeepers be deployed to the area before he ordered a withdrawal. Juba says that the contested area, which it says is part of South Kordofan, is being used by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) to launch attacks on Unity State.
Sudan’s president Bashir visited the area on Monday rejecting the prospect of talks with Juba saying that they only understood “the language of the gun”.
Speaking to Al Jazeera Carter said: “I believe that both Bashir in the north and Kiir in the south would go along with a ceasefire as long as they knew that there were international peacekeepers along the border”.
There are already three UN peacekeeping missions operating in Sudan and South Sudan but none with the mandate to monitor the border.
Khartoum refused to allow the mandate of the former UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to be extended after South Sudan’s secession last year. South Sudan’s referendum in January 2011 and independence six months later were key parts of the north-south peace deal that UNMIS was mandated to help the two sides implement.
However, many aspects of the deal were not completed before South Sudan’s separation, including demarcating the border, which the two sides are now fighting over.
Khartoum and Juba also did not agree a new oil deal to replace arrangements during the six year period of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. This to is now a source of tension between to sides.
South Sudan stopped production altogether in January depriving itself and Khartoum of valuable revenue. After South Sudan’s army (SPLA) took control of Heglig Khartoum also lost over half of its oil production.
Juba claims that Heglig was not placed in Sudan by an international ruling in 2009 arguing that it was only placed outside of Abyei – another disputed territory – but not necessarily in South Kordofan.
On the same day as South Sudan’s plebiscite in January 2011 Abyei was due to hold a vote to decide whether it would join South Sudan. However, political difference over who could vote meant it was delayed and after a clash in May last year the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) took over the area.
In June 2011 UN resolution 1990 established the the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) consisting of Ethiopian troops.
In South Sudan after independence the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was established tasked with consolidating peace and security and helping to establish conditions for development in the world’s newest nation.
This has meant that in the recent border clashes the UN has been able to monitor events on the southern side of the border but not north of the border.
Carter’s suggestion will face many challenges. Not only is Khartoum likely to be reticent to another UN mission but it the UN Security Council would have to agree on the forces mandate – often a lengthy process.
In Sudan there is a joint African Union/United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which replaced the African Union mission in 2007. UNAMID’s core mandate is to protect civilians from the nine year conflict in the western region.