During an ambassadorial briefing, Volker Perthes warned that the conflict in Sudan could rapidly escalate into “a large-scale civil war,” as neither of the two parties appears close to a decisive military victory. Following his dire assessment, the UN Special Envoy announced his resignation, likely prompted by pressure from the incumbent regime.
Volker Perthes tendered his resignation while addressing the UN Security Council on September 13. He was briefing ambassadors on the latest developments in the conflict between the two Sudanese military leaders.
“I thank the Secretary-General for this opportunity and the trust he placed in me, but I have requested to be relieved of this function,” Perthes stated before the Security Council, without specifying the reasons for his departure.
Perthes delivered a scathing report to the Council, placing blame on both sides of the conflict, the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). “What began as a conflict between two military formations could evolve into a full-fledged civil war,” he asserted, emphasizing that “the fighting shows no signs of abating, and neither party seems close to a decisive military victory.”
The Sudanese government had previously declared Volker Perthes persona non grata in June, which had garnered strong condemnation from the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who had dispatched Perthes to Sudan two and a half years ago to support the democratic transition.
This week, the Sudanese government escalated matters by resorting to outright blackmail, as publicly disclosed by the US Ambassador, Linda Thomas Greenfield, during the Security Council meeting. “Once again, I understand that the Sudanese government has warned that it would request the departure of the United Nations Mission in Sudan if the Special Representative participated in this meeting,” she stated. “These threats are unacceptable. The United States strongly supports the Special Representative’s work. No country should be allowed to undermine this Council’s ability to fulfill its peace and security responsibilities.”
In his final report, Volker Perthes denounced the Sudanese army’s indiscriminate airstrikes, sexual violence, and looting by soldiers. The UN envoy reminded the warring parties that they would be held accountable for their crimes, as the conflict has claimed over 5,000 lives since mid-April, with five million new displacements. The head of the UN Mission in Sudan opted to secure the mission’s future for the time being.