Sun, Nov 21, 2004 - Page 6 News List

UN resolution calls for action in Sudan

RESPONSE The Security Council voted unanimously to take the `appropriate action' if the Sudanese government or rebels break their commitment to a peace initiative

DPA , Nairobi

The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously passed a resolution on the two crises in Sudan, saying it would take "appropriate action" against any party failing to fulfil its commitments.

The council also strongly endorsed an agreement signed by the Sudanese government and the southern SPLA rebels earlier Friday, in which they promised to reach a final peace deal before the end of the year.

In the resolution, the Security Council "condemned all acts of violence and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by all parties, and emphasized the need for perpetrators of all such crimes to be brought to justice."

But the resolution immediately drew harsh criticism from humanitarian and human rights organizations as being too weak, and no improvement from previous resolutions.

The Human Rights Watch senior Sudan researcher Jemera Rone said that although it was positive that the north-south conflict was put into the spotlight, the resolution had taken a big step back on the Darfur conflict.

"This resolution is much weaker on Darfur than previous ones, which included deadlines for improving the situation in Darfur and threat of sanctions if they failed to do so. I am afraid the government of Sudan will take this as a blank check to continue its persecution of civilians in Darfur," Rone told reporters.

"It has failed to put words into action. It doesn't give any signal to Khartoum that it has to stop arming the Janjaweed militia," James Dyson of Amnesty International told reporters as the resolution was passed.

Dyson said the priority, in order to stop violence in Sudan's western Darfur region, must be to place a full UN arms embargo on the Sudanese government.

The European Union already has an arms embargo in place against the government, but the UN has only a limited arms embargo in place, covering non-government entities, in reality the Janjaweed militias accused of committing widespread atrocities against civilians in Darfur.

One of the rebel groups in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLM) had earlier urged the Security Council to impose an arms and oil embargo in the Sudanese government.

The humanitarian organization Oxfam condemned what it called the "Security Council's weakness on Darfur."

"From New York to Nairobi a trail of weak resolutions on Darfur has led nowhere ... we needed the council to take action now, not more diplomatic dithering," the organization said in a statement.

The resolution also expressed its "serious concern at the growing insecurity and violence in Darfur, the dire humanitarian situation, continued violations of human rights and repeated breaches of the ceasefire."

Jemera Rone of Human Rights Watch said she believed the resolution had been watered down on Darfur because of "a false idea of the Security Council that the government of Sudan will not sign a north-south peace agreement if it is under too much pressure regarding Darfur.

"But this government does not respond very well to carrots -- it responds better to threats," said Rone.

The highly-publicized war in Darfur in western Sudan started early last year, when non-Arab rebels rose up against the government, saying they had been denied a fair share of the country's resources.

The government then unleashed the Arab Janjaweed militias, who have been accused of a wide range of atrocities against civilians in Darfur.

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