Populations at Risk Previously Studied Situations


Populations in Sudan face an imminent risk of mass atrocity crimes due to ongoing political instability and violence against civilians committed by the security forces and affiliated militias.
Following months of mass demonstrations against President Omar al-Bashir's government, on 11 April the Sudanese military overthrew and arrested Bashir, installing a Transitional Military Council (TMC). Following Bashir's removal, protesters demanded the transfer of power to a civilian-led government. On 3 June the TMC ordered the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to bring an end to a peaceful sit-in outside the Army Headquarters in Khartoum, where demonstrators had been encamped since 6 April. During the violent crackdown by the RSF and security forces, at least 112 people were killed. On 30 June tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the country again, protesting against the TMC and demanding accountability for the massacre.

On 5 July the TMC and the opposition movement finally reached agreement on a power-sharing arrangement. The agreement includes a joint military-civilian authority – the Sovereign Council – consisting of 11 members (five civilians, five military officers and one independent member) that will govern Sudan during an interim period of 39 months, with a rotating leadership. Parties also agreed to an independent investigation into the 3 June massacre. On 11 July the TMC reported that it had foiled an attempted coup by sections of the military.

Since mass demonstrations broke out in December more than 200 people have been killed and thousands arrested. Since 6 April Sudan's security forces have fractured, with some low-ranking army officers protecting the protesters against the National Intelligence and Security Service and the RSF. Demonstrations against the TMC also broke out in Darfur, leading to the killing of 47 civilians between 11 April and 12 June.

During his 30-year rule, Bashir and other government officials allegedly committed crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide against civilians while fighting armed groups in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Darfur and elsewhere. During 2016 the Sudanese government and some armed groups signed the African Union High Level Implementation Panel's "Roadmap" agreement aimed at ending the armed conflicts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, but failed to agree on a permanent cessation of hostilities.

While the 5 July power-sharing agreement has brought an end to the standoff between the military and civilian protesters, the risk of further violence remains high unless the TMC strictly adheres to the terms of the agreement.

Impunity continues for perpetrators of past atrocities in Sudan, including Bashir and the former governor of South Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun, who are both wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Some members of the TMC are also implicated in atrocity crimes committed in Sudan since 2003. Mohamed Hamdan "Hemedti" Dagolo, former commander of militias responsible for atrocities in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile States and deputy head of the TMC, had command over the RSF during the Khartoum massacre.

While violence has generally decreased in Sudan, clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid faction have continued in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur. The current political instability may also affect how the AU-UN hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) is able to uphold its civilian protection mandate.

Sustained international support and pressure is necessary to ensure that the Sovereign Council upholds their responsibility to protect.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has adopted at least 58 resolutions on Sudan since 2004, most of which have not been fully implemented. The UNSC has imposed an arms embargo on Darfur since 2004 and travel ban and asset freeze against six individuals since 2006. Following a UNSC referral, between 2007-2014 the ICC issued arrest warrants for three Sudanese government officials, including Bashir and Haroun, and two anti-government militia leaders, for atrocities perpetrated in Darfur, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. All suspects remain at large.

Since the demonstrations started in December, multiple states and regional organizations have called upon the Sudanese authorities to respect human rights and ensure a peaceful transfer of power. On 27 June the African Union and Ethiopia mediated between the TMC and opposition and proposed the power-sharing deal.

On 29 June 2018 the UNSC adopted Resolution 2429, mandating the phased drawdown of UNAMID with an exit deadline for June 2020. Given the current circumstances, on 27 June 2019 the UNSC "temporarily and exceptionally" extended the mission's drawdown period for four months and will reconsider the situation on 31 October.

The newly-established Sovereign Council should fully implement the agreed upon power-sharing agreement and launch credible investigations into the killing of peaceful protesters. During the transitional period, the Sovereign Council should negotiate a comprehensive peace agreement with armed groups in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. The Sovereign Council should also sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately establish a fully-mandated country office.

Following the reconfiguration of UNAMID, the UNSC must closely monitor the precarious security situation in Darfur.

The Sovereign Council, with the support of the UNSC and the international community, should actively support ef-forts to bring ICC indictees to justice, especially former President Bashir and Haroun.

Last Updated: 15 July 2019

The most recent issues of R2P Monitor and Atrocity Alert are available in the side-bar. To see previous assessments of this country, please see R2P Monitor and Atrocity Alert on our Publications page. Sudan was previously featured in the R2P Monitor from January 2012 through January 2018.