African leaders attending the 53-nation African Union (A.U.) summit turned down Sudan's bid to lead the A.U. next year, announcing that Congo-Brazzaville will assume the leadership instead. Pressure to reject Sudan's bid came from leading human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, which has extensively documented Sudan's involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western state of Darfur.
In a report released prior to the summit, we called on the A.U. to preserve its credibility by denying Sudan the presidency. Our research and advocacy last year helped bring the crimes committed by the Sudanese government and its militias to the attention of the International Criminal Court, which is currently conducting an investigation to prepare for trials of the accused. We will continue efforts to block Sudan's presidency in coming years, so long as the human rights disaster in Darfur continues. We are also pressing the A.U. military force in Darfur to take tougher measures to protect civilians from the ongoing violence.