In Geneva, this will be a key week for Sudan. As we entered the third week of the UN Human Rights Council’s 48th session (HRC48), no draft resolution addressing Sudan’s human rights needs and challenges has been circulated. If no text is tabled with the Council’s Secretariat by Wednesday 29 September, no resolution will be adopted at the end of the session, on 8 October 2021.
This would be a first in the Council’s existence. Since its creation, in 2006, the Council has adopted at least one resolution on the country every year.
In practical terms, the Council’s failure to adopt a resolution on Sudan would mean that the country quietly leaves the agenda. There would be no more formal reporting and no more plenary debates on Sudan.
The country’s political, security, economic, and humanitarian situation remains fragile. The transition is incomplete. Justice and accountability remain elusive, including for the decades of conflict-related atrocities in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan and human rights violations committed in the rest of the country, including on 3 June 2019 in Khartoum. There has been human rights progress, including the opening of the civic space, but much remains to be done. The country needs to consolidate gains of its 2018-2019 Revolution and prevent setbacks. In short: we are still far from the democratic, rule-of-law, rights-respecting country that Sudanese citizens envisioned when they peacefully marched to demand change.
For the Council, Sudan is not yet a success story. The country needs continued support and scrutiny. This can be done through what close to 40 Sudanese, African, and international NGOs suggested in a letter — namely, that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) continue reporting to the Council on a yearly basis, and that its reports form a basis for debates on Sudan. To do this, the Council needs to adopt a resolution.
Such a resolution would provide for additional support to the OHCHR country office in Sudan, which plays a key role in helping the Sudanese authorities advance human rights in the country.
We don’t want to find ourselves in a situation in which, in one or two years from now, we regret this session’s decision and have to call for Sudan to be set on the Council’s agenda again.
The ball is in the Sudanese authorities’ court. It is up to the permanent mission of Sudan in Geneva to take the initiative, accept to discuss and draft a resolution, and lead negotiations towards its adoption.
African Group members should encourage Sudan to follow this path and continue sending the right signals to the international community.
Executive Director, DefendDefenders