AMIS Is more effective than UNAMID
It is important to begin by noting that since the conflict between the Government of Sudan, backed by armed Militia, and the Darfur Movements, in early 2003 erupted, the African Union (AU) as a newly born and sole continental body, assumed and took the leading role in all its form (there is less global interference since the end of the Cold war between the two superpowers in 1990s.) This was impossible in Organization of African Unity (OAU) for its charter stated full respect of the member countries and no intervention was allowed. But as part of the universal respect of the human rights, the new AU accepted interference in certain situations (intervention in a member State was permitted pursuant to a decision of the assembly in respect to grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.) The AU was driven by its slogan of “African solutions to African problems.” this because of the world shrinking in sending troops to other continents and supporting the regional organs to shoulder and play the crucial role in any conflict.
Following the signing of N’djamena Humanitarian Ceasefire on 8th of April 2004, and the Addis-Ababa Agreement on the Deployment of African troops in Darfur on 28th April 2004, and in implementation of these agreements, the AU courageously took the lead and dispatched its 300 soldiers into Darfur. This deployment was known as the African Mission In Sudan (AMIS). In June 2004, the AU upgraded its military to a full-scale military force of about 3,320 men, with the mandate to protect the humanitarian operation and deter the Government and armed groups from attacking the civilians.
AMIS reasonably carried out its mission in Darfur, despite many shortages, which made some people deny its tremendous success. This success included a decrease in the death toll, the creation of the Ceasefire Commission (CFC) for monitoring, verifying, investigating and reporting regularly to the Joint Commission (JC) on monthly basis, establishing effective communication with the rebel movements in the field, timely reporting of the violations including the human rights violations, etc. One example of the successful communication, cooperation, and coordination of AMIS and the movements was the events of July 2005. When some unidentified groups hijacked 10 AMIS vehicles and took 39 hostages. AMIS Commander Gen. Okonkow called then-JEM Vice-Chairman and Secretary for Darfur, Mr. Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, and asked for the intervention of JEM (this was before JEM divided into two movements on 4th October 2007; JEM-CL & JEM-K.) JEM forces led by Commander in Chief (CNC) Gen. Abdalla Banda carried out a successful operation; managed to free the 39 hostages unharmed and 8 AU vehicles (out of 10) were given back to the AU. A couple of lives lost including the Head of JEM vice-Chairman and Secretary for Darfur Mr. Abu Garda’s protection unit, Colonel Hamid Nimer.
Like any human activity AMIS performance was far from perfection, putting in mind its small number and experience, lack of essential combat equipments, shortage of logistical and financial support, collaboration and dependency on GOS ….etc. All these and other reasons made AMIS lose the confidence of the parties and the war-affected communities.
To cope with the gap, the international community, with the consent of the AU, looked for alternatives. Specifically, after the partial Agreement was signed on 5th May 2006 by SLA MM, the AU and UN stepped up diplomatic and political efforts to bring the non-signatures into peace process. In some cases threatening to impose sanctions on the rebel leaders if they did not participate in the Abjua agreement.
On 16 November, 2006, following intensive consultations between the AU and UN in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, attended by former UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan, the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, representatives from GOS, and other prominent States and some active organizations, the parties accepted the idea of deploying a joint UN/AU force (known as United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), as alternative to the AMIS. This was a compromise to GOS’ continuous rejection of any meaningful international troops. Such a hybrid force was the first of its kind in the history of UN –sponsored peacekeeping operations.
After open and closed doors talks, the new UN Secretary General Ban Ki –moon declared GOS’ acceptance of the force. The UNAMID was formally established by Security Council Resolution on 31 July, 2007 (Res. 1769.) under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, for a period of 12 months (subject to extension). UNAMID’s mandate includes, inter alia, protection of civilians, securing the humanitarian operations, monitoring and verifying the implementation of ceasefire agreements, and assisting in an inclusive political process. Promotion of human rights and rule of law, reporting along the border between Chad and Sudan, supporting the Mediation efforts for peace in Darfur and monitoring and preventing the disruption of the implementation of the DPA and subsequent peace process, were also part of its mandate.
After a careful examination of the UNAMID mandate, little has been achieved if anything. At the outset, UNAMID faced a series of operational, logistical and administrative difficulties posed by GOS to test the competence of the new organ. UNMIAD failed to take swift and firm decision; on the contrary it spent months seeking the approval of GOS. The international community reluctantly again accepted the GOS rejection of deployment of troops from Western Europe and Latin America, in Darfur, which led to some counties not providing UNAMID with necessary technical expertise and equipment, which included helicopters that are crucial for effective military operations. So far, most of the troops are contributed by countries that are either friends, or selected by the approval, of Sudan.
Reviewing its achievements and failures, there is no comparison; for in the field of humanitarian all forms of intimidation, abduction, hostage-taking, arbitrary expulsion of relief workers, paying of ransom for freeing abductees, and the hijacking vehicles, continued. In the protection of civilians and IDPs (a core element of its mandate), again UNAMID totally failed; for killing increased even some months were far worse than when the conflict at its peak in 2004-2005. Likewise, with regard to the implementation of ceasefire Agreements UNAMID is completely crippled by un-seen powers. For although the Liberation and Justice Movement/Army (LJM/A) signed Framework & Ceasefire Agreements on 18th March 2010, and Implementation Mechanisms in June 2010, as of now, UNAMID has failed to establish the CFC commission which supposed to monitor, verify, investigate, and report on the progress of the ceasefire, to the JC. The parties (LJM/A and GOS) both blame UNAMID for not establishing these mechanisms. LJM/A originally thought GOS was putting obstacles in the path of establishing the ceasefire, but in a joint meeting attended by the Joint Mediation (UN/AU and Qatari), LJM/A and GOS, the GOS protested what Dr. Amin H. Omer described as “UNAMID’s failure to bring the parties together and form the CFC although we provided the names of our representatives 2 months ago to the UNAMID.” Dr. Omer further said “within 3 days we want UNAMID to establish the CFC and any logistical difficulty GOS is ready to facilitate.” UNAMID therefore cannot claim that GOS is hindering the efforts of putting the CFC in action. If the GOS is hindering any such efforts, UNAMID has not said anything to the parties yet.
In addition, until now LJM/A field commanders are waiting here in Qatar for more than 4 months for UNAMID to transport them to the field in Darfur, but until now it did not carry that job. UNAMID is expected to contribute to the ongoing peace process in Doha by facilitating the transport of some consultative delegates to the field for purposes of providing them with latest in Doha before the resumption of the peace talks between LJM/A and GOS, which are due to take place on the 6th of December, 2010. So far UNAMID has not accomplished that duty yet. After almost three years of establishment, UNAMID has no periodic contacts with field commanders.
UNAMID, without reservations involved in supporting the recent GOS strategy of domestication, which many look at as undermining the Doha process.
It is clear that UNAMID has failed to rise to the challenges that face it. It has failed to meet the expectations of the people of Darfur and the world. This is despite the significant number of troops, facilities logistical and financial support it has received.
I appeal to the UN and AU, the EU, the USA, and other stakeholders and contributing countries, to reassess the mission and mandate of the UNAMID with the goal of objectively evaluating its function. If the result of this assessment is that UNAMID has failed, I urge these stakeholders to dismantle the UNAMID for failing to achieve its objectives and failing to benefit the people of Darfur.
By Tadjadine Bechir Niam
Researcher in International Affairs and Diplomacy/ Chief Negotiator for LJM/A
Doha, Qatar, 4th December 2010
The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of the organization to which he belongs, or his affiliates. The author can be reached at [email protected].