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UNHRC Expands Mandate to Monitor Human Rights Violations in Sudan Conflict

The United Nations Human Rights Council(UNHRC) wrapped up its thirty-sixth special session on Thursday, May 11, with a significant decision concerning the ongoing conflict in Sudan. A resolution was adopted, expanding the mandate of the designated Expert of the High Commissioner on human rights in Sudan. The resolution called for detailed monitoring, documentation, and reporting on all allegations of human rights violations and abuses since October 25, 2021, including those directly linked to the current conflict.

With 18 in favor, 15 against, and 14 abstentions, the resolution (A/HRC/36/L.1) received mixed support from Council members. Expressing deep concern over the escalating violence in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, the Council acknowledged the potential threat to Sudan’s progress toward a peaceful transition to democracy and stability. In response, the Council urged an immediate cessation of violence, unrestricted humanitarian access, infrastructure rehabilitation, inclusive dialogue, and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Condemning reported human rights violations and abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence committed by all parties since the conflict’s inception, the Council called for restraint and an end to such violations. It also emphasized the need for all parties to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and allow unhindered delivery of relief aid to affected civilians.

The Council strongly denounced attacks on humanitarian and health workers, international organizations, civil society groups, and diplomatic personnel in Sudan. It demanded that all parties involved respect and safeguard the well-being of civilians, including those engaged in humanitarian efforts, and protect civilian infrastructure. Additionally, unrestricted access to humanitarian aid throughout Sudan was emphasized.

Under the resolution, the Council extended the mandate of the designated Expert of the High Commissioner to include monitoring and documenting allegations of human rights violations and abuses since October 25, 2021, including those directly related to the ongoing conflict. The resolution stressed the importance of preventing future violations and requested the High Commissioner, assisted by the designated Expert, to provide oral updates on the human rights situation in Sudan during the Council’s fifty-fourth and fifty-seventh sessions.

The voting outcome for the resolution revealed 18 countries in favor (Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Czechia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Montenegro, Paraguay, Romania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States), 15 countries against (Algeria, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Gambia, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Viet Nam), and 14 countries abstaining (Bangladesh, Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Maldives, Nepal, South Africa, and Uzbekistan). The Council adopted the report of the special session ad referendum.

During the special session, Volker Türk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, strongly condemned the indiscriminate violence witnessed in the conflict, emphasizing that both parties had violated international humanitarian law, including fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution. Türk urgently called for both parties to commit to an inclusive political process and prioritize negotiations for peace.

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