U.N. Council Threatens to Punish Sudan Over Militia Killings

Posted in Other | 01-Aug-04 | Author: Warren Hoge| Source: The New York Times

Members of the United Nations Security Council vote during a meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York, July 30, 2004.

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 — The Security Council passed a resolution on Friday that threatens the Sudanese government with punitive measures if it does not disarm and prosecute Arab militias that have forced black Africans off their land in the Darfur region of western Sudan through a campaign of killing, rape and pillage.

The vote on the United States-drafted resolution was 13 to 0, with China and Pakistan abstaining.

Passage was achieved after the United States on Thursday revised the measure to drop the word sanctions and substitute a reference to an article of the United Nations Charter that in effect lays out economic and diplomatic sanctions as the likely consequence of noncompliance with the resolution's demands.

Principal among those demands is the call on the government in Khartoum to show tangible progress in disarming and bringing to justice the marauding militias in 30 days. Under the terms of the measure, the Security Council will receive reports every month on whether Sudan is fulfilling its commitments or should be subject to international sanctions.

The Arab militias, known as Janjaweed and equipped by the Sudanese government, are accused of killing up to 30,000 darker-skinned Africans, raping women and girls, destroying crops and polluting water supplies in a campaign that United Nations officials say constitutes ethnic cleansing and Congress has called genocide. More than one million people have fled to refugee camps in Sudan and Chad.

John C. Danforth, the American ambassador to the United Nations and a former Bush administration special envoy to Sudan, told the Council that it had long been his hope to see Sudan emerge as a "model of ethnic reconciliation."

"The last thing we wanted to do was lay the groundwork for sanctions," he said. "But the government of Sudan has left us no choice."

"It has done the unthinkable," he continued. "It has fostered an armed attack on its own civilian population. It has created a humanitarian disaster. So the resolution we have just adopted is our necessary response if we are to save the people of Darfur."

The measure — co-sponsored by Britain, Chile, France, Germany, Romania and Spain — also places an immediate embargo on supplying arms to fighters in Darfur and calls on the government to end all restrictions on aid workers and relief equipment.

Pakistan and China said they had abstained out of concern that Sudan was not given enough time to live up to its commitments and that outside action would be complicating rather than helpful.

The Sudanese ambassador, Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, said that he was "overwhelmed with sorrow and sadness over the hasty resolution" and that it came at a time when his government "is in a race for time to implement its agreement with the United Nations."

In Khartoum, Information Minister Al-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik was more explicit in expressing the government's displeasure. "Sudan announces its rejection of the Security Council's misguided resolution," he said, according to Reuters.

Sudan signed a joint communiqué in Khartoum with Secretary General Kofi Annan on July 3 pledging to rein in the violence in Darfur, and Mr. Erwa complained Friday that the accord was now being used as a "Trojan horse" by "some activists within the U.S. administration" to bring military pressure on the Islamic government in Khartoum.

He said that his government had responded immediately to the terms of the communiqué, deploying police officers and arresting militia members, but that the United States and its allies on the Security Council had acted in a "colonial" fashion.

"Aren't these the very same states that we see daily on TV monitors and their massive military machine while they are practicing the occupation of nations, pouring their fire on innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan?" he asked.

In Cairo, Hossam Zaki, a spokesman for the Arab League, asked, "How come the Security Council and those with a humanitarian agenda are so active when it comes to such a situation, when they turn a blind eye to the miserable situation in the Palestinian territories?"

Rights groups had been hoping for a stronger resolution, and Adotei Akwei, a spokesman for Amnesty International in Washington, said the organization was "extremely disappointed" with the weakened language on sanctions. "It represents the abandonment of the people of Darfur and an abdication of the Security Council's role as a human rights enforcing agent," he said.

France announced Friday that it was ordering its troops stationed in Chad to provide security along the border and to help with the supply of relief aid.

In Accra, Ghana, the African Union said Sudan must act now to protect its citizens, after a fact-finding mission reported back that the security situation in the Darfur area had worsened.

The African Union has 96 military observers monitoring a cease-fire between the Sudanese government and rebel groups in Darfur and plans to send 270 troops from Nigeria, South Africa and Rwanda next week.