As part of the negotiations pertaining to South Sudan’s secession from Sudan in July 2011 the two countries established the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) which consists of both sides as well as independent observers.
The JBVMM border mission is to work in an area defined as a “safe demilitarised border zone” (SDBZ). In November 2011 the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) laid out the are in a map, which has proved controversial with both governments raising objections over contested areas.
South Sudan has accepted the map for the purposes of the JBVMM, which the AUHIP insists will not be prejudicial to any final resolution of the many areas of contention along the 1,800km border.
Sudan’s opposition to the AUHIP map has focused on an area known as "Mile 14" - 14 mile wide area south of a river known as the Bahr el-Arab in Sudan and the Kiir River in South Sudan.
The UN Security Council has joined the AU in calling for Khartoum to accept the amp so that the mission can begin its work. That the SDBZ in no way prejudices any final resolution on the thorny issue has been strongly articulated in both the Roadmap on ost-secession issues put forward by the African Union Peace and Security Council and by UN Security Council resolution 2046 later in 2012. Furthermore the UNSC resolution obliges both Khartoum and Juba to accept the AUHIP map.
The SDBZ is designed to prevent borders clashes, such as those that erupted in April 2012 over the oil-rich region of Heglig/Panthou, which Sudan says lies South Kordofan, while South Sudan claims it is Unity State.
The temporary buffer zone is intended to prevent any attempts to alter the border by force, safeguard against cross-border military action and stop rebel groups moving across it.
The implementation of the SDBZ does not transfer sovereignty or alter local administration of any of the disputed border areas. It has no implication for any eventual agreement on the permanent Sudan-South Sudan border.
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