28 May 2013

ICBL Comments on Sudan's Article 5 Extension Request May 2013 

(To download the critique please click on the PDF icon on the top right corner of this page.)

Article 5 deadline: 1 April 2014 Extension period requested: Five years (until 31 March 2019)

Key Issues

  1. The request does not include a budget and does not indicate what national and international resources are needed or are available.
  2. There is little clarity on activities for the period post-2015 given the current instability in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
  3. The departure of international NGOs is not adequately discussed in the request given the implications for past and future productivity.

Observations and Recommendations Past Progress 

According to the ICBL's understanding, the primary reason why Sudan did not meet its 10-year deadline is that for most of those years, clearing mined roads and areas in what is now South Sudan was the priority under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Although Sudan benefited from the presence of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and from assessed funds for mine action from the peacekeeping operations, most of the money was spent clearing mines in present-day South Sudan.

In addition, the recent departure of international operators also has contributed to the decline in productivity since 2011.

Plans for Extension Period

While Annex 1 presents a clearance calendar covering the full extension period, the extension request makes it clear that activities in 2016-2019 are heavily dependent on an improvement in the security situation in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. These are the two most heavily affected states, but ongoing conflict is preventing access to most mine-affected areas. In addition, continued fighting in the two states may regrettably result in more contaminated areas than listed in the extension request.

Sudan does note that certain parts of Blue Nile are currently accessible, but does not specify how this has impacted past or planned clearance.

Recommendation: Knowing that the security situation is likely to fluctuate, Sudan should regularly update States Parties on the status of access to, and progress in clearing of, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition, as the security situation in these states will have an important impact on Sudan's ability to carry out planned activities, an updated plan for antipersonnel mine clearance covering the post-2015 period should be shared with States Parties by the Third Review Conference (mid-2014).

A number of international mine clearance NGO have closed down their operations in the country recently, which we understand was because they faced substantial administrative restrictions that impeded their operations. The request notes that "it is hoped that with bilateral funding other international NGOs … will be encouraged to come to Sudan," but it appears the real barrier to their engagement has been the administrative and other obstacles placed by Sudan. The request does not specify whether the current capacity is sufficient to implement the clearance plan in accessible areas or, if not, how it plans to increase its capacity.

Recommendation: Sudan should clarify why these organizations have left, and what steps it may take to facilitate their return. It should also provide more information on whether its available clearance capacity is sufficient to fulfil its 2013-2019 plan, and if not, what steps it will take to increase capacity.

Sudan has three categories of contaminated areas: danger areas (DA), minefields (MF) and suspected hazardous areas (SHA). The characteristics of these different areas are not explained in the request, but according to information available to the ICBL, DAs are areas reported as suspect to the National Mine Action Centre. They require further survey, which has three possible results: not contaminated, confirmed as a minefield or designated for UXO spot clearance.

SHAs come from the Landmine Impact Survey (LIS). All SHAs from the LIS must be re-surveyed and re-categorized. MFs are confirmed mined areas. Historically, most DAs are cancelled or cleared of UXO, and many SHAs are either cancelled or measured as smaller, meaning the 5-year deadline extension request is viable if the security situation improves.

Recommendation: In order for States Parties to better assess whether the request is both ambitious and realistic, Sudan should explain the differences between dangerous areas (DA), minefields (MF), and suspected hazardous areas (SHA), as well as cost and operational differences in addressing each of them.

Financing Resources are critical if Sudan is to meet its extended deadline. Sudan lost considerable funding from assessed peacekeeping funds when the UNMIS ended in July 2011. Little progress towards meeting Article 5 obligations has been made since then. Given the difficulties in raising funds from international donors, Sudan should meaningfully increase its financial commitment to mine clearance in order to become the main contributor to its mine action program.

Like any other extension request, Sudan's request should include an overall budget with annual breakdown; it should clarify the amount of national contribution and explain the resource mobilization plan.

Recommendation: Sudan should fill the financial gap to ensure the 2019 deadline is met. It should submit a budget for the extension period, including strong commitments for national funding.