February 10, 2016 (WASHINGTON) — The U.N. Security Council extended for one year a panel of experts monitoring violations of the UN arms embargo in Darfur, without reference to the controversial illicit gold mining in the western Sudan region.
- A UN Security Council meeting (Photo: UN/Paulo Filgueiras)
In a meeting held on Wednesday, the Security council unanimously adopted a resolution expending until March 12, 2017 the Panel of Experts on the Sudan established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) .
However, the Security Council’s decision didn’t take into account the recommendations designating for sanctions individuals and entities that impose illegal taxes on artisanal gold miners, also it designated people engaged in the illegal exploitation and trafficking of gold.
"Recalling the report (S/2015/3l) by the Panel of Experts, and expressing its intent to further study, through the Committee, the Panel’s recommendations and to consider appropriate next steps," says the resolution.
The initial version drafted by the United States and supported by the United Kingdom provided that profits from the illicit trade in gold and other natural resources in Darfur may constitute a threat to stability in Darfur and the region.
However, Russia, China, and other non permanent members were opposed to this attempt.
"Russia proved most unreceptive to the Panel’s report, rejecting proposed compromise language that would have only “expressed concern” over the Panel’s finding that armed groups control artisanal gold mines in Darfur," said Enough Project an American advocacy group in a statement issued after the vote .
"By doing so, these Security Council members undermine important efforts to bring peace and stability to Darfur and allow those profiting from this illicit trade to continue doing so with impunity,” said John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project.
On the other hand, a Senior Advisor to the group, Omer Ismail, pointed to the impact of the illicit gold trade on the conflict in Darfur saying it is " most evident near Jebel Amer, where former Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal controls a significant mining operation outside of the control of the Government of Sudan.
He further accused Hilal of making millions from Sudanese gold at the expense of the local population.
Gold is the primary source of hard currency for Sudan since the secession of South Sudan in 2011. The government is expecting that country’s gold production reaches 100 tonnes in 2016.
In Khartoum, the Sudanese government strongly reacted to this step and summoned the United States chargé d’affaires in Khartoum, Jerry Lanier, to protest against the draft resolution.
Also, the Sudanese mining minister Mohamed Sadiq al-Karuri Wednesday met with the Russian Ambassador to Sudan Mirgayas M.Shirinskiy to brief him about the mining industry in the country
According to a statement released after the meeting, al-Karuri stressed that Sudan’ gold production does not fund the war as it is claimed by some "western circles and the U.S".
The minister said gold is the main source of poor family income in Sudan.
He further that 82% of Sudan gold production comes from the artisanal mining, adding more than one million Sudanese are gold miners and their production feed more than 5 million people
He stressed that gold companies work in safe zones far from the conflict affected areas.
The Security Council requests the Panel of Experts to provide a midterm update on its work to the Sanctions Committee no later than Aug. 12 2016 and to submit a final report to the Council by Jan. 13, 2017, said the resolution.
Otherwise, the resolution is identical to last year’s resolution on the Sudan Panel of Experts.
The resolution 1591 (2005) places a travel ban and asset freeze on those "impeding the peace process" in Darfur. A panel of experts was subsequently established to monitor the arms embargo on Darfur.