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Sudan: More Delay on Darfur

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Mar 25, 2005 (050325)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

On March 24, the United Nations Security Council approved a peacekeeping mission of more than 10,000 personnel to help implement the peace agreement in southern Sudan. But it postponed action on measures that have been proposed to deter ongoing killing and displacement in Darfur, in western Sudan. The resolution mentioned strengthening the African Union mission in Darfur, but made no specific commitments to do so. Other measures are still blocked by U.S. opposition to referring Darfur to the International Criminal Court, and by Russian and Chinese hostility to any new sanctions.

In a week in which U.S. media and politicians were exhibiting their preoccupation with the life of one woman in a hospital in Florida, the renewed failure to act on Darfur gained little new public attention. Next week, however, France is planning to present a resolution referring the case of Darfur to the International Criminal Court. The Bush administration, that has officially termed the violence in Darfur "genocide," but opposes the court, will be faced with the choice of vetoing or abstaining on the resolution.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a statement from Human Rights Watch following the March 24 Security Council resolution, and three documents from earlier this month with background on specific actions that could be taken but are being delayed: a statement from the Darfur Consortium of African civil society organizations, a summary of proposed actions from the International Crisis Group, and a report on the need for increasing the number of African Union monitors in Darfur.

For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan, and additional links to news and background information, visit

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Human Rights Watch

U.N.: Pass Resolution to Refer Darfur to ICC
Threat of Prosecution Would Help Protect Civilians; U.S. Should Allow Referral

(New York, March 25, 2005) U.N. Security Council members should urgently pass a new French-proposed resolution that would refer Darfur to the International Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch said today. The United States should abstain on the vote if it decides not to vote in favor.

Today [March 24], the Security Council adopted a resolution establishing a U.N. peace-support mission for Sudan. This mission is to implement the Naivasha peace agreement, the accord ending the 21-year civil war between the Sudanese government and southern-based rebels. The peace-support mission will be deployed in the north and south of Sudan, but not in Darfur, where Sudanese forces and government-backed Janjaweed militias have been responsible for atrocities against civilians.

The Security Council today also delayed a vote on targeted sanctions and accountability for Darfur. These were initially included in a single resolution on Sudan. But on Tuesday, the United States announced a decision to split the single Sudan resolution into three separate resolutions.

France yesterday put forward a resolution that would refer Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The move comes shortly after the United States indicated it would put its resolution on the peace-support mission to a vote. The United States has proposed putting forward a resolution on accountability. But the U.S. resolution would fail to authorize any tribunal to prosecute the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

"The threat of serious criminal prosecution would send a powerful message to those most responsible for the atrocities in Darfur," said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's International Justice Program. "An ICC referral would help deter attacks against civilians."

A wide majority of Security Council members already support referring Darfur to the International Criminal Court, but the United States opposes this measure. U.S. opposition is rooted in the Bush administration's aversion to the court.

"Given the mayhem and murder in Darfur, it's long past time for the United States to get past its ideological fixations about the ICC," said Dicker. "The United States should abstain on ICC referral so the court can immediately open investigations on crimes in Darfur."

The French-proposed resolution would offer the possibility of immunity from ICC prosecution to personnel serving in U.N. operations in Sudan. The exemption would apply to personnel contributed by countries that have not ratified the ICC treaty - such as the United States - if the country notifies the U.N. Secretary-General. Human Rights Watch opposes this exemption, which is included as a concession to the United States. By offering the possibility of blanket immunity to a class of individuals, the resolution distorts the Rome Treaty that established the ICC.

While the referral to the ICC would be a decisive step towards preventing further abuses, other concrete measures are desperately needed, Human Rights Watch said. The U.N. Security Council should support an immediate increase in the protection force in Darfur and greater monitoring of the Sudanese government's commitment to end its aerial bombing of civilians. Since the Darfur conflict began two years ago, Sudanese forces and government-backed Janjaweed militias have forcibly displaced almost two million people from their homes. Most of the displaced remain in camps and towns due to ongoing attacks, rape, looting, and assault by Janjaweed militias.

The Sudanese government has been unable or unwilling to stop ongoing atrocities. The prevalent insecurity, which has led to attacks against humanitarian aid convoys and commercial vehicles, is increasing fears of dangerous food shortages in the coming months.

African Civil Society Calls on UN Security Council to Ensure Protection and Justice for Darfur

(New York, March 11, 2005) The Darfur Consortium, an umbrella group of primarily Africa-based civil society organizations, today called on the UN Security Council to take decisive action to address the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.

The Darfur Consortium brings together African civil society committed to working together towards finding a lasting, peaceful and just resolution to the current crisis in Darfur. Members of the Darfur Consortium recently traveled to Darfur and eastern Chad to assess the situation firsthand and to meet with representatives of Darfurian and Sudanese civil society. The Darfur Consortium also held an African civil society consultation in Kampala to discuss a platform for action.

The Darfur Consortium has identified two paramount concerns raised by the victims of the Darfur crisis: ensuring protection and security for civilians in Darfur and taking immediate international action to bring those responsible for atrocities in Darfur to justice. These two imperatives are equally critical for achieving sustainable peace.

In a series of letters to diplomatic missions in New York, the Darfur Consortium called on the Security Council to pass a resolution which:

*. provides the necessary authorization and financial and logistical resources to the AU mission on the ground to develop a clear mission mandate and strong presence in Darfur which will allow adequate protection of civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid;

*. refers the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) without further delay, as recommended by the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur;

*. imposes a precisely targeted scheme of sanctions (economic, travel, appropriate extension of the arms embargo) against the Government of Sudan and specific individuals who are responsible for the commission of serious international crimes in Darfur.

Emphasizing that all three elements were essential to an effective response to the crisis in Darfur, the Darfur Consortium declared that "previous Security Council resolutions have failed to halt the violence and robust action is needed now in order to prevent further loss of life. The people of Darfur deserve no less."

For further information please visit

Sudan: UN must grow teeth on Darfur, says crisis group

10 March 2005

International Crisis Group

[To the Secretary General, Foreign Ministers and Permanent Representatives of the Security Council member states, and Foreign Ministers of the member states of IGAD]

As the Security Council continues to debate Sudan, I am writing to urge you to act forcefully and without delay to prevent further death, suffering, and destruction in Darfur. Since the crisis began two years ago, the Security Council has passed three resolutions demanding an end to the conflict. Yet, over 200,000 people have died, on the best available evidence, and thousands more continue to die each month from violence, malnutrition and disease. The emerging risk of famine in parts of Darfur, especially in places beyond the reach of relief agencies, will further compound the humanitarian crisis.

It is time to acknowledge that the nuanced approach of the international community -- including the Security Council -- has failed. It will take a coordinated set of measures to curtail the violence and to send a clear message to both the Sudanese government and rebels that the international community will no longer tolerate empty promises and broken agreements. Failure to demonstrate urgently that the Security Council will hold the parties in Sudan accountable to their commitments will not only lead to more bloodshed in Darfur, but will also eventually undermine the recently signed North-South peace agreement.

The mandate of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was developed in the summer of 2004, when it was expected that the parties would abide by their commitments. AMIS's weak monitoring mandate is now obviously inadequate to the ongoing crisis, especially as parties to the Darfur conflict, and in particular the Government of Sudan, continue to obstruct aid to civilians. The Security Council must urge the African Union to expand its role in Darfur in the crucial areas of protection for civilians and humanitarian convoys. The United Nations and member states must be prepared to provide strong support to the AU as it performs that protective role, in the ways described below. And the Security Council must also act to ensure accountability for atrocity crimes through the best available mechanism, the International Criminal Court.

Protecting Civilians

Thus far, the Government of Sudan has blatantly refused to take action against its allied militias despite committing to do so on six separate occasions since April 2004 and as demanded repeatedly by the Security Council. The rebels have also violated the ceasefire, including by attacks on humanitarian convoys and civilians. The cost of non-complianc has been minimal for all parties, particularly the Government. Until it faces strong repercussions, the Government will not undertake the difficult process of disarming and neutralising the Janjaweed militia, which it continues to arm and supply, and of arresting those responsible for atrocity crimes.

Stopping the violence in Darfur and protecting civilians must be the primary goal of international action. The current African Union assessment mission to Darfur, conducted with broad international participation, will review AMIS and its capabilities. The Security Council must support stronger action in three key areas: tougher sanctions, including a country-wide arms embargo; a more robust AMIS to protect civilians and relief deliveries; and an effectively enforced no-fly zone over Darfur.


A package of targeted measures against those perpetrating the violence can lead to great improvement on the ground in Darfur. The draft resolution before the Security Council proposes a set of appropriate sanctions against culpable individuals. However, it does not extend the arms embargo across the entire country, thereby failing to acknowledge that the Government of Sudan has had a heavy hand in arming and unleashing the deadly Janjaweed militias. Only a country-wide, closely monitored arms embargo will further the goal of ending the repeated violations of the existing arms embargo established by UNSC Resolution 1556.

UN support for an expanded AMIS role.

To implement an enhanced mandate, AMIS must expand both its troop and police components. AMIS has been able to deploy less than two thirds of its authorised 3,320 troops to Darfur as African nations have been unconscionably slow in providing troops and the international community has equally failed to provide the AU with adequate logistical and related support. It is now clear that a much larger and better supported force is needed to stem the violence in Darfur. The Security Council should act on the recent call by Under Secretary General Jan Egeland and urge an increase of the AMIS deployment, to at least 10,000.

The terms of the resolution adopted should:

  • urge the AU force to explicitly protect civilians and relief deliveries; under Chapter VII, authorise the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to provide support to such an expanded AMIS;
  • call on member states (African and non-African) to contribute troops, police, and other support, including through provision of greater command and control, operational and logistic capabilities, to a strengthened AU mission, and on NATO to begin planning to assist the mission; and
  • authorise the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to deploy an additional 100 Human Rights monitors in Darfur.

No-Fly Zone.

In light of Khartoum's continued use of aerial bombardment against civilian targets in Darfur, in patent violation of its commitments under the 9 November Abuja Protocols, the current draft resolution rightly demands that the Government of Sudan "cease conducting offensive military flights in and over the Darfur region." While military options to enforce this demand may not presently be feasible, other options are. The Council should:

  • endorse an AU-monitored no-fly zone over Darfur;
  • request the AU to notify it immediately upon determination of a serious violation;
  • call on member states to provide such technical and other assistance as the AU may require to carry out effectively this monitoring and notification responsibility; and
  • identify specific targeted sanctions that the Council will apply immediately upon receipt from the AU of a report of serious non-compliance by a party to the conflict.

Accountability for Atrocity Crimes

As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour pointed out in her 16 February 2005 presentation to the Security Council, "there is no hope for sustainable peace in Darfur without immediate access to justice." Crisis Group strongly endorses the recommendation of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur that the Security Council refer the situation of Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Unquestionably, the ICC is the body best positioned to uphold justice most promptly and effectively. Suggested alternatives -- such as the ICTR or a similar body established under the auspices of the African Union -- would be more time-consuming, more costly, less effective in bringing to justice those responsible, and crucially, because any impact they might have would be much delayed, be less likely to persuade the parties to the conflict of the need to comply immediately with all UN resolutions and their commitments under the Abuja Protocols.

Immediate robust measures to protect civilians and establish a credible mechanism for justice and accountability are the essential components to stopping the violence in Darfur. If divisions within the Security Council and potential veto threats again water down the final text of the resolution, the situation in Darfur will only worsen. And the hard-won peace agreement for the rest of the country will be put in jeopardy as well.

I urge you to live up to the Security Council's responsibility and use your power to take the necessary strong action to protect those still acutely at risk in Darfur.

Yours sincerely,

Gareth Evans President

Contact: Dismas Nkunda +1-646-546-7152

UN urges larger African peacekeeping force for Darfur

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

NAIROBI, 18 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - An 8,000-strong African Union (AU) peacekeeping force with an enhanced mandate would be needed to protect the nearly two million displaced people in the western Sudanese region of Darfur and bring stability to the volatile area, a UN spokesperson said on Friday.

"Jan Pronk [the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for the Sudan] felt that, for the AU [African Union] to strengthen its role in Darfur, it would need to expand its capacity to 8,000 troops and adopt a mandate with a stronger focus on protection," Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman for the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS), told IRIN.

"When you look at their [the AU] experience on the ground, whenever they were there, such as in Labado [a town in South Darfur which suffered some of the worst fighting in recent months], the situation stabilised," Achouri added.

An AU-led assessment team, consisting of senior AU, UN, EU (European Union) and US officials, arrived in Addis Ababa on Friday, having completed a week-long assessment of peacekeeping requirements in Darfur. The team was expected to finalise its joint report over the next few days.

"The assessment team looked with satisfaction at the situation in local communities in which the AU was present," Nourreddine Mezni, spokesman of the AU in Khartoum told IRIN on Friday, adding that the AU presence had encouraged local communities and internally displaced persons to resume their normal life activities.

A preliminary observation by the assessment team, Mezni noted, was that, given the current AU troop strength of 2,193 soldiers, the mission was doing the utmost within the possibilities of their limited resources.

"The assessment mission is looking at ways to enhance the performance of AMIS [African Union Mission in Darfur] and it is understood that proposals to increase the size of its force are part of that discussion," Mezni added.

Pronk was in Luxembourg to meet with the EU ministers to request technical, financial and logistical support for the AU forces in Darfur, and EU troop commitments for the proposed UN peace support mission for southern Sudan.

"If the AU would agree to expand their number of troops in Darfur, additional support is needed, as it would pose a considerable burden on the African countries that are providing the troops," Achouri added.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council on Thursday extended the mandate of UNAMIS by a week, after having done the same on 10 March, while its members discussed the establishment of the peace mission for southern Sudan.

A draft resolution, prepared by the US, seeks to authorise the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force of over 10,000 soldiers for southern Sudan, impose targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for atrocities in Darfur and specify where to try the perpetrators.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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