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Darfur: UN Security Council members resolve to let the crisis continue

23 September 2004

The increasingly ineffective position of the UN Security Council members in relation to the current crisis in Darfur has been underlined in its latest resolution (1564), adopted on 18 September, stating that it would ‘consider taking additional measures, including sanctions, should the Sudan fail to comply fully with the Council’s July resolution’. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has consistently called for ‘urgent action on Darfur’ and asserted that the Council has, for the first time in its history, been required to act under Article 8 of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The ineffectiveness of the action of Security Council members comes, ironically, as the UN General Assembly debates how to strengthen the organization’s role in solving and preventing world crises.

The text of the Resolution 1564 refers to ‘reports by the Cease Fire Commission of Government of Sudan helicopter assaults and Janjaweed attacks on Yassin, Hashaba and Gallab villages on 26 August 2004’. According to MRG such reports of government attacks should warrant immediate implementation of stringent measures and sanctions to ensure that attacks cease without further delay. The fact that attacks were continuing almost one month after the initial 30 July UN resolution is clear and unequivocal evidence of the bad faith of the Sudanese Government, given that they were offered an initial 30 day period to demonstrate action to stop such attacks, stated MRG. In fact the government of Sudan agreed with the UN to take immediate action to stop the killing as early as 3 July, through its joint communiqué agreed with Kofi Annan. A number of Security Council member states, including Russia, China, Pakistan and Algeria have insisted on weakening references to sanctions within the new resolution.

The July 30 resolution (1556) alluded to the possibility of sanctions (further actions) under Article 41 of the UN Charter if immediate action was not taken to end attacks by the government and Janjaweed militias. According to MRG the new resolution brings ‘little or nothing new to the table’ and merely reasserts that relatively weak economic and political sanctions under Article 41 will be considered. Clear disregard for the threat of such measure by the government of Sudan, should be noted and result in consideration of stronger Article 42 sanctions, which may include the use of military intervention in extreme circumstances should Sudan continue to attack and fail to protect its citizens, states MRG. Security Council acknowledgement within Declaration 1564 that the situation in Darfur ‘constitutes a threat to international peace and security and to stability in the region’ clearly allows for such Article 42 measures to be considered. MRG has recently called for such measures as no-fly zones and safe-havens to be considered without delay, in addition to fully supporting the expansion and extension of the African Union monitoring mission in Darfur.

The resolution also calls for the rapid establishment of an international commission of inquiry, to investigate human rights violations and consider whether acts of genocide had occurred in Darfur. According to MRG, such a statement requires immediate action consistent with the UN’s stated objective to prevent genocide from taking place, in addition to legal obligations under the Genocide Convention for states to act to prevent the crime of genocide.

‘The next step after the failure of resolution 1556 to stop attacks should have been implementation of sanctions, not further consideration’, stated MRG spokesperson, Graham Fox. ‘The resolution fails to create even a time frame for the implementation of sanctions, which remain remarkably vague in their reference only to affecting Sudan’s petroleum sector and the Government of Sudan or individual members of the Government. Security Council members have effectively resolved to let the crisis continue. Holding sanctions in reserve for later, as some states have suggested, is not a viable position to take while the killing continues’.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, currently visiting Darfur alongside the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez, spoke today to the BBC of continuing violations ‘with impunity’ and the fact that those internally displaced peoples within camps continue to face attacks and rape if they venture outside to collect wood or water. Many of those within the camps perceive that they are being ‘protected’ by the perpetrators of the original attacks against them, who have recently been incorporated into police units, stated Arbour. The African Commission has convened an extraordinary session on the crisis to meet in Pretoria from Thursday, although this follows a missed opportunity to take a tougher line on Sudan when the ACHPR considered Sudan’s state report in May 2004.

Notes for editors

For more information, contact the MRG Press Office on [email protected].