Human Rights Watch supports the recommendations and plans for a robust U.N. force in Darfur as set forth in the July 28 report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on Darfur. We urge you to act quickly to fully implement the planned U.N. peacekeeping mission at the earliest feasible date and to bolster the 7,000 African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) civilian protection troops in Darfur in the interim, as recommended by the Secretary-General.
It remains essential for the Security Council to protect the people of Darfur, including the two million forcibly displaced civilians and other victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The peace agreement signed by the government and one rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M)-Minni Minawi, on May 5 in Abuja has not led to peace. It has not prevented more fighting and attacks on civilians.
The Security Council initially deferred to, and relied on, AMIS forces responsibility for civilian protection in Darfur. In hindsight, that attempt at regional peacekeeping failed: no newly formed regional force could possibly surmount the government obstacles, the protracted conflict, the magnitude of continuing war crimes and the harsh environment and vast expanse of Darfur. This will be a challenging job even for the U.N. forces.
The African Union is running out of money and is set to withdraw its forces as of September 30. The present protection gap will dramatically widen unless the Council acts immediately to authorize U.N. deployment, with support for AMIS in the interim.
1. Khartoum Consent: Overcoming Sudan's Intransigence
The only barrier remaining to a life-saving U.N. force in Darfur is the opposition of the Sudanese president and others in the ruling party. To remove that barrier, the Security Council must take further strong steps to compel Khartoum to agree to a U.N. force for Darfur.
The precedent of international dealings with the Sudanese government shows that this government will not respond unless faced with hard-hitting measures, but that it is likely to concede once they are imposed. The Security Council must take the following steps to compel Khartoum to agree to a U.N force for Darfur:
- Apply targeted sanctions to Sudanese government officials should they continue to fail to consent to the deployment of the U.N. force in Darfur beyond August 15, as already described in Security Council Resolution 1591, section 3 (e) of March 29, 2000. The resolution must specifically mention the Sudanese government's failure to assume its responsibility to protect civilians.
- Expand the arms embargo to cover the entire country of Sudan, not just the region of Darfur.
Sudan is a government demonstrably incapable of protecting its own citizens in Darfur, and unwilling to do so. Our reports have shown that it and its militias are guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes across Darfur. It is unacceptable for such a government to repeatedly defy Security Council efforts since early 2004 to protect civilians and stabilize Darfur, Chad and the region.
The Sudanese government has shown bad faith by reneging on many promises to the international community. The lynchpin to peace in Darfur is curbing the government-backed Janjaweed militia. The government has never disarmed, prosecuted or neutralized the Janjaweed, despite its promises.
During the peace negotiations, Sudanese government diplomats assured the participant states that the U.N. forces could go to Darfur, once a peace agreement was signed. No sooner was the ink on the peace agreement dry, however, than the Sudanese government withdrew its consent. It had the audacity to argue that, since there was a peace agreement, U.N. troops were no longer necessary. But the violence against civilians relentlessly continues.
Now the Sudanese government is not even implementing the DPA it signed. A recent U.N. report concluded that, "without additional government support, the DPA is doomed to failure." (emphasis supplied)
It is contrary to the facts on the ground and disingenuous for the Sudanese government to raise arguments about national sovereignty. There have been elaborate international assurances about respect for Sudan's independence. In addition, 10,000 U.N. forces, mostly Asian and African, have been in Sudan for more than a year, pursuant to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement with southern rebels. The Sudanese government has never claimed that these troops are interfering with its sovereignty. Nor would any U.N. force in Darfur interfere with Sudan's sovereignty. If Sudanese leaders believed their own rhetoric, they would have asked these 10,000 forces to leave long ago.
The Sudanese government has no valid basis for withholding its consent to life-saving U.N. forces in Darfur. Its refusal should be seen for what it is: an attempt to preserve and consolidate "ethnic cleansing" of its own citizens for its own political purposes.
2. The Need for Immediate Action to Deploy an Effective U.N. Force
The need to act promptly to introduce U.N. forces with a strong mandate into Darfur to stem the spiral of violence and deter "spoilers" is clear from recent U.N. reports from Darfur: in an August 9 report the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights states notes that "there has been no improvement in the human rights situation in Darfur" since the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed. On August 10, Jan Egeland, the U.N.'s top humanitarian official, said, "The situation in Darfur was going from really bad to catastrophic." Nine humanitarian workers have been deliberately killed since early July, the highest monthly toll ever in the three-year conflict.
In addition to continued Janjaweed and government attacks on civilians, a new and dangerous factor exists: the splintering of the rebel movements over the merits of the May 5 peace agreement, and their attacks on civilians. The rebel tendency to disagree and form factions, seemingly on personality and then ethnic bases, was already apparent at the peace talks.
The Security Council must provide a sufficiently strong mandate and capacity for the U.N. force for Darfur, including:
- Assist in the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), including
o actively participate in disarmament, in close cooperation with others.
o monitor and verify implementation of redeployment and disengagement under the Darfur Peace Agreement.
o actively provide security and patrol DPA demilitarized and buffer zones and areas where internally displaced persons are concentrated, key migration routes, and other vital points.
- Use "all necessary means" to protect civilians under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter and to deter potential spoilers through robust action.
- Authorize at least 17,300 forces and 3,300 civilian police specifically for Darfur.
- Assure that the forces possess sufficient capacity [including surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities; an assessment capability to steer operations; and air and ground reaction forces with sufficient military power] to deter or defeat spoilers, as requested by the Secretary-General.
- Monitor the arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council on Darfur in Resolution 1556 and elaborated on in Resolution 1591.
- Promote and protect human rights, cooperate with efforts to end impunity, including the International Criminal Court, and publicly report on human rights developments.
- Monitor the arms embargo and the Chad-Sudan border and to protect Darfurian refugees and Chadian internally displaced persons in Chad including by basing some U.N. forces in eastern Chad.
The 10,000 U.N. Mission in Sudan forces designated for support of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 2005 and mostly based in southern Sudan should not be relocated to or used for Darfur, absent extraordinary circumstances. That would be robbing Peter to pay Paul. The situation in southern Sudan remains volatile.
We urge you to act firmly on behalf of Darfurians who are now at greater risk of violence than they have been since they were driven from their homes two to three years ago. All other means have been exhausted, and the Security Council stands as their last resort.
Executive Director, Africa Division