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Christian Entity Faults Sudan’s Exit from UN HR Council Support, Says Timing “Critical”

Credit: CSW

Sudan has exited the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) agenda at a critical point in the country’s political transition, a time it needs global support the most, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has said.

CSW reports that the October 6 interactive dialogue led by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) marked the last of the HRC’s reporting on Sudan, which is a member of HRC.

This, according to the Christian entity, followed a decision by Sudan not to renew a resolution mandated to maintain critical technical assistance and capacity building support to the country, and with human rights monitoring and reporting elements.

The organization reports that since 2019, the Sudanese transitional authorities have actively supported annual resolutions, which aim to provide human rights support.

“Sudan’s decision not to renew the mandate at the most recent session of the HRC brings an end to the OHCHR’s reporting to the Council on the situation of human rights in Sudan,” the organization reports.

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The decision by Sudan to withdraw from the HRC support coincides with an attempted coup on 21 September which, according to CSW, exposed “deep fissures” between the civilians and military, both of whom are represented in the transitional government.

The disparity in Sudan’s transitional government, the leadership of CSW notes, has raised serious questions over the future of the leadership transition in the country.

Addressing the Council during the dialogue on 6 October, CSW’s Deputy Team Leader for Press and Public Affairs and UN Officer, Claire Denman, said, “We regret that this interactive dialogue will be the last of its kind on the situation of human rights in the country… The attempted coup has underscored the fragility of the transition and highlighted the importance of the Council’s support to the Sudanese people.”

The Christian human rights foundation reports that 38 civil society organizations had already called on the HRC to renew a mandate for technical assistance and capacity building for Sudan ahead of the October 6 council session.

The support that the organizations called for included a monitoring and reporting aspect to the Council.

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The mandate would have worked to support Sudan’s transitional authorities through technical assistance and to ensure that there were no reporting or protection gaps, particularly in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, CSW reports, and adds, “Instead, the transitional government decided to discontinue the mandate, and no other member State took it forward.”

The HRC has 47 member States who are elected for a three-year term. Any member State can table a resolution on situations of human rights on a thematic or geographical basis.

Where a mandate refers to a State, which is a member of the Council, the country is encouraged to take a proactive lead in the drafting, negotiating, and tabling of a resolution.  

If the country concerned decides not to table or support a resolution, another member State can table a resolution, but as this requires the support of a majority of Council members, if a vote is called and will be seen as a hostile mandate, it goes against the Council’s preferred method of adopting resolutions by consensus.

Sudan has been a country of concern for the UN’s human rights entity since 1993, CSW reports, and explains, “The Omar al-Bashir regime, which ruled from 1989 to 2019, argued that the country was unfairly targeted, despite a crackdown on independent civil society, political oppression, violations of freedom of religion or belief and the rights of women, wars with the South, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and conflict in Darfur which was found to have genocidal elements by the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

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Sudan’s transitional government, which took over in September 2019, has reportedly maintained a positive relationship with the OHCHR, for example by allowing the opening of offices in the country, including, crucially, outside of the capital.

Unfortunately, according to the organization that advocates for religious freedom across the world, serious violations of human rights persist, including reports of attacks on places of worship, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and the continued use of corporal punishment.

In the October 9 report, Ms. Denman condemned attacks on people who speak out against ongoing atrocities in Sudan and called on the government of the country to ensure that perpetrators of such attacks are brought to book.

“We remain concerned by violent attacks against those who speak out against ongoing violations to freedom of religion or belief, including against Mr. Boutros, an adviser to the Minister of Religious Affairs, and Mr. Osama Saeed, who was tortured by GIS Officers after advocating for the rebuilding of a church burned in an arson attack,” Denman said, and added, “We condemn such attacks and urge Sudan to ensure the perpetrators are held to account.”

The Deputy Team Leader for Press and Public Affairs at CSW further called on Sudan’s transitional authorities to engage with the OHCHR offices and the United Nations Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) “to positively address the significant human rights concerns in the country.”

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“CSW also urges the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue including oral updates to the UNHRC on the work of her office at every opportunity during the transitional period,” the CSW official said.