(New York)- United Nations Security Council members should act decisively to protect civilians in Darfur by establishing a mandatory Darfur Recovery Fund with Sudanese oil revenues, Human Rights Watch said today. In a letter to Security Council members, Human Rights Watch also called for targeted sanctions on top Sudanese leaders.

The Sudanese government continues to reject the full deployment of a proposed African Union-United Nations protection force to Darfur, and to resist all efforts to improve civilian protection for some 2.5 million displaced Darfurians who continue to be attacked, raped, and killed.

“Given Sudan’s blatant failure to protect civilians in Darfur, the Security Council should designate Sudanese oil revenues to create a fund to assist those suffering most from Khartoum’s abusive policies,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Such limits on Sudan’s oil revenues have the best chance of stopping the violence and compelling Khartoum to accept the full African Union-United Nations force.”

Human Rights Watch called for the Security Council to create a mandatory Darfur Recovery Fund into which all revenues from Sudanese oil exports would be paid. The fund would be a new measure, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. It would permit both the Sudanese government and private firms to continue to export oil – and Sudan’s existing customers could continue to buy it – but all proceeds from such exports and all royalties and similar payments owed to the Sudanese government would be paid directly to the fund. The proposed fund would be administered by an independent UN-designated financial institution that would serve as an escrow agent.

The fund would distribute the proceeds to the government of South Sudan in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 9, 2005; to the oil exporting firms for oil production and delivery costs; and to the Sudanese government for those substantiated expenditures on social services that are currently paid for with oil export revenues. The balance of the proceeds would go to victim compensation and recovery projects in Sudan, with the goals of facilitating the safe return of displaced persons, assistance in reconstructing homes, and replanting fields and other humanitarian needs in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan.

To ensure transparency, all Darfur Recovery Fund receipts and disbursements would be subject to regular independent audits, as would the assistance and recovery projects carried out with fund assistance, as recommended by the US General Accounting Office report for future UN-authorized trust fund programs. Domestic oil sales (about 15 percent of Sudan’s production) would not be affected by or subject to the fund.

Human Rights Watch said that the Security Council should also specify the actions required by the government of Sudan for rescinding the mandatory fund procedure. These conditions should include:

  • Consent by the Sudanese government to the full deployment of an effective and robust African Union-United Nations protection force in Darfur with a mandate to take all necessary measures to protect civilians;
  • Ending of further financial and logistical support to the government-backed “Janjaweed” militias and cooperation with African Union and the United Nations on a genuine plan for their disarmament;
  • An immediate end to attacks on civilians by Sudanese armed forces and government-backed militias;
  • Cooperation with the International Criminal Court in its investigations of crimes in Darfur and on any requests for extradition of Sudanese citizens; and
  • Full and unimpeded access to and within Darfur for Sudanese and international humanitarian workers, human rights organizations and media.

When the Security Council finds that these conditions have been met, the Darfur Recovery Fund would be terminated and any remaining proceeds distributed to qualifying recipients in accordance with the fund’s procedures.

Human Rights Watch has long called on Security Council members to impose individual sanctions (travel bans and asset freezes) on key Sudanese and militia leaders for their role in serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

“In addition to setting up the Darfur Recovery Fund, the Security Council should impose targeted sanctions on those senior Sudanese officials already identified by the UN as human rights abusers,” said Takirambudde.