Whether or not it is decided to place peacekeeping in Darfur under United Nations auspices, certain measures should now be urgently undertaken to improve AMISs immediate impact on civilian protection. These include: (1) full deployment of troops and civilian police under AMIS II-E; (2) an immediate increase in the numbers of AMIS civilian police deployed in Darfur; (3) ensuring that the Sudanese government provides full access and operationalization of all the armored personnel carriers, and accompanying weapons and ammunition, provided to AMIS by the Canadian government and other countries and other logistical equipment for use in Darfur; (4) changes in the rules of engagement to clearly permit use of deadly force to protect civilians, and delegation of authority to use deadly force from the Force Commander to responsible officers in the field; (5) aggressive patrolling; and (6) creation of quick reaction units in each sector to back up and extend the patrols with a further and immediate increase in mobility, such as more armored personnel carriers and helicopters.
AMIS does not need a new mandate to protect civilians; the rules of engagement need to be clarified to permit the use of deadly force to protect civilians and aggressively applied by the troops on the ground. Additionally, AMIS can do much more with the forces it has. By being robust and by mobilizing international diplomatic support, the mission can take this critical step forward.
Formal consideration of placing AMIS under U.N. authority is reported to occur soon. Reasons of fiscal stability have been given, but the well-established and tested command and control structure needed for such a large mission might also justify that AMIS be blue-hatted. One option that has reportedly received serious consideration is folding the AMIS operation into the U.N. Mission in Sudan and specifically placing it within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the U.N.which is managing the 10,000 peace support troops pursuant to the north-south peace agreement. A.U. and U.N. Planners will need to address several key issues as they consider this option. The terms of reference of the two military operations are not the same: a peace exists in southern Sudan but not in Darfur. The need for civilian protection is much greater in Darfur and as a consequence AMIS requires rapid reaction forces, APCs, helicopters and attack helicopters, and a more robust profile than the U.N. Mission is deploying in the rest of Sudan. Should any combination of the forces take place, it would be necessary to preserve and strengthen the capacity of the Darfur operation to act decisively to protect civilians. Any merger that would diminish the mandate, mission tasks, rules of engagement or equipment AMIS has or plans to acquire would not be advisableunless these are rendered unnecessary by a durable peace agreement.
At least in the short-term, however, AMIS is the only game in town. For however long AMIS is to continue as an A.U. mission, resources and political pressure should be applied to make sure that it has the capacity, will and backing to protect civilians in Darfur.