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Letter to UK Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Jack Straw, MP: UN Security Council resolution on the situation in Darfur, Sudan

7 July 2004

Dear Secretary of State,

Re: UN Security Council resolution on the situation in Darfur, Sudan We welcome recent efforts made by the UK Government to address the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan. We were encouraged by the Secretary of State for International Development’s statement in the House of Commons, following his recent visit to Sudan, where he acknowledged publicly that the Sudanese Government bears the primary responsibility for this crisis.

We were also encouraged by the G8 statement in June which acknowledged that the crisis in Darfur is a humanitarian, human rights and political crisis. We concur completely with this analysis and would add that unless the conflict in Darfur is addressed on all three levels, it is impossible to see how the whole of Sudan can enjoy a sustainable peace, and build on the peace protocols agreed at Naivasha at the end of May.

However we believe that the international community has been far too slow to react to the unfolding human rights and humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Condemnatory words or pledges for action, though welcomed, are not enough. The Sudanese Government has pledged to ‘control and pursue all outlaw groups, including rebels and Janjaweed…, disarm the outlaws and present them to justice and prevent any groups from crossing into neighbouring Chad.’ Yet, we continue to receive news about continuing human rights violations including widespread rape, forced displacements, indiscriminate bombings, destruction of villages and extra-judicial killings.

Of the 6.5 million people living in Darfur at least 2.2 million have been directly affected by the widespread violence. As many as 30,000 people have been killed and at least 130,000 people are now living as refugees on the Chad border or in camps in Chad. More than one million people have become internally displaced, living in camps around the larger population centres, swelling the towns or hiding in the countryside. Internally displaced people are among the most vulnerable population in Darfur; they benefit from little assistance and have no protection from the international community. They are still exposed to serious human rights violations by Government forces and the Government-supported Janjaweed militia.

Against this background we call on the UK Government to push for the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on Darfur that:

  • immediately orders the suspension of arms transfers and related material used by the Janjaweed and Government forces to commit human rights violations in Darfur. The resolution must include a strong monitoring mechanism which could inter alia investigate possible violations of the arms embargo and report periodically on its findings
  • deploys human rights monitors in sufficient quantity and adequately resourced, with a clear mandate to investigate ongoing human rights violations in Darfur and monitor the protection of civilians in particular in the camps for internally displaced people, and to make its findings and recommendations public
  • creates an international commission of inquiry to examine evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of international humanitarian law as well as allegations of genocide, and to make its findings and recommendations public.

Decisive action is needed now. The UK Government, as the second largest donor to Darfur, one of the key states in securing the recent peace protocols in Naivasha and an important member of both the EU and the UN Security Council, is in a unique position to show international leadership and to make a real difference. For many civilians in Darfur it is already too late but the international community must act now if it is to avert further human suffering.

We look forward to hearing from you about the UK Government’s position on a strongly worded UN Security Council resolution on Darfur.

Yours sincerely,

Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK

Signed on behalf of:

  • Ann Feltham, Campaign Against Arms Trade
  • Steve Crawshaw, London Director, Human Rights Watch
  • Chris Chapman, International Officer, Minority Rights Group International
  • Ian Leggett, Director, People & Planet
  • Steve Tibbett, Campaigns & Policy Director, War on Want

Cc: Chris Mullin

Notes for editors

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