Wednesday, June 02, 2004
[Combine leverage, internationalism and aid to stop the killing in
By Samantha Power and John Prendergast
After two years of peace talks, the Sudanese government and
southern-based rebels signed a long-awaited preliminary peace deal last
week, agreeing to final principles for ending a 21-year civil war that
has taken 2 million lives. The accord -- which provides for sharing
power and oil revenue between the government and rebels, and a future
referendum on secession for the south -- would not have been reached if
the Bush administration had not used its vast economic and political
leverage to extract concessions.
Though the administration deserves credit for the breakthrough, it must
urgently apply the lesson of this experience to another Sudan crisis, in
Darfur, where U.S. officials are predicting about 350,000 Darfurians
could be dead by December. That lesson is that humanitarian actions do
not solve what are, at base, political problems; only by urgently
applying high-level and sustained pressure on Khartoum will lives in
Darfur be saved.
The stakes cannot be overstated. Some 30,000 Darfurians have already
been murdered, and nearly 1.5 million have been ethnically cleansed from
their villages and farms. Hundreds of thousands have been penned into
concentration camps, which are patrolled by government-supported
janjaweed militiamen who rape women nightly and murder men who try to
leave to gather food for their families. Other displaced people roam the
region in search of food and water. Meanwhile, Khartoum has blocked and
manipulated international food aid.
With the specter of forced famine looming, the United States and its
allies are treating symptoms and ignoring causes. They have pressed for
humanitarian access to Darfur without demanding that the homeless be
returned to their torched villages and farms. They have supported the
deployment of international cease-fire monitors but have settled for 60
African Union observers to patrol a region the size of France. And they
have denounced atrocities without attempting to create mechanisms for
punishing the perpetrators.
In order to ameliorate the current humanitarian emergency and address
the roots of the crisis, the United States must work far more urgently
with the United Nations to stave off famine, reverse the ethnic
cleansing, demand accountability and bring peace to Sudan.
First, famine must be prevented. The homeless have missed their spring
planting season, and militia members have seized their cattle and
livestock and blown up or poisoned their water wells and food stocks.
Western powers must stop begging for humanitarian access and start to
plan a rescue. Concerted, high-level diplomacy should be used to insist
that Khartoum meet its many promises of full access for international
aid workers and, crucially, the supplies they are delivering. This will
require using the country's major rail line to run continuous food
convoys from Port Sudan to Darfur. Simultaneously, international
agencies should plan emergency operations from Libya and Chad or even
southern Sudan in order to reach those whom Khartoum is starving.
Further, the United States must drastically expand the number and
mandate of monitors who will be sent to the region. The proposed African
Union mission should serve as the nucleus of a team that must include
human rights monitors as well as cease-fire inspectors, and it must be
large enough to reach the most isolated displaced people and deter
abuses, thus encouraging those in the concentration camps to return home
so they can rebuild and plant in order to avoid perpetual famine.
Second, the U.S. must find a way to internationalize a response to the
crisis. Multilateral pressures and incentives have caused Khartoum to
cooperate in the past: It expelled Osama bin Laden, abandoned its
support for Al Qaeda, halted a resurgent slave trade, ended aerial
bombing in southern Sudan, ceased population clearing around the
southern oil fields and launched peace talks with southern-based
To be fair, this time it is U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the
Europeans who have left President Bush looking unilateral on Sudan.
Annan issued one sharp criticism of Khartoum and then went quiet. Some
European powers seem to be muting their criticisms in the hopes of
making commercial investments in Sudan, especially in the oil industry.
If Annan, with American political, financial and logistic backing, were
to take the lead in uniting the international community, European and
African countries would probably be far more receptive than they are to
Washington alone, which has lost legitimacy as a result of the Iraq
Third, the United States must use all its leverage to turn up the heat
on Khartoum. Bush has promised to begin to normalize relations with
Sudan upon the signing of the accord between the government and
southern-based rebels, but the administration must now hinge its warming
with Khartoum upon progress in Darfur.
U.S. leverage is not what it was immediately following 9/11, when
Khartoum feared possible U.S. military action. But even as Washington's
capacity for military intimidation has waned with the Iraq quagmire, the
U.S. retains vital economic and political leverage, especially if it
gets U.N. and European support.
The U.S. and other Western powers should threaten to impose
multilateral, targeted sanctions -- travel bans and asset freezes --
against members of Sudan's regime who are most directly responsible for
the human rights violations in Darfur. And Annan, with or without
Security Council authorization, should appoint a panel to investigate
Sudanese war crimes and crimes against humanity in order to lay the
groundwork for future prosecution.
Speaking out on the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of the Rwandan
genocide in April, Bush rightly accused Khartoum of being "complicit in
the brutalization of Darfur" and urged it to "immediately stop" the
atrocities and "provide unrestricted access to humanitarian aid
agencies." Nearly two months later, 1.5 million Sudanese victims of
ethnic cleansing remain in grave peril, the killer militias continue
their rampage and aid deliveries are still not flowing freely. The only
difference, all these precious weeks later, is that it is no longer only
the Sudanese who are complicit.
[Samantha Power is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "A Problem
From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide" (Basic Books, 2002). John
Prendergast is special advisor to the International Crisis Group and a
former National Security Council and State Department official.]
from the International Herald Tribune, June 2, 2004
"Lay down the law to the killers of Khartoum"
by Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch
"Genocide in Darfur"
GENEVA When foreign ministers from major countries meet in Geneva on
Thursday to address the horror in Darfur, they must demand in no
uncertain language that Sudan's government stop the ethnic cleansing
A million people have been chased from their homes in the west of
Sudan; untold thousands have been murdered or raped. Hundreds of
thousands face imminent death from starvation and disease.
The public knows little about their plight because the Sudanese
government has been refusing visas to humanitarian workers and
journalists, and entering Darfur over the border from Chad is risky. But
the Darfur crisis is just as pressing as Bosnia in 1993, if not more so.
The United Nations recently called it the world's biggest humanitarian
The foreign ministers meeting in Geneva should commit generous
resources for humanitarian relief and human rights monitoring; insist on
unhindered access; demand that the appointed UN humanitarian coordinator
be allowed to take up his post, and ensure that humanitarian programs do
not inadvertently promote ethnic cleansing.
But they must not stop there.
As in Bosnia, the people of Darfur need foreign aid so desperately
because armed forces have been committing crimes against humanity in
their villages. Unless those crimes are stopped, reversed and punished,
the humanitarian crisis will continue.
Left to its own devices, the Sudanese government will not stop those
crimes; on the contrary, it is sponsoring them. Deploying militia known
as Janjaweed with the backing of government troops and aircraft, it has
pursued a scorched-earth campaign against the members of three African
ethnic groups. Hundreds of villages have been left in smoking ruins.
Intense international pressure is needed to force the government to end
these atrocities and permit the displaced to return home.
Last week, Human Rights Watch and others briefed the UN Security
Council, the body most capable of putting pressure on Sudan. We told of
the deadly campaign in Darfur. We described the remedial steps needed.
Council members listened attentively. But their public statement fell
short of what is needed.
When the Security Council wants to insist on action, it adopts a
mandatory resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. But in the
case of Darfur, it issued only a nonbinding statement. Instead of
"demanding" action, it politely "urged" it. It did "condemn" the
atrocities - a useful step. But it didn't even name the perpetrator, as
if these government-directed atrocities were somehow spontaneous
Sudan's government undoubtedly noticed these distinctions. A few days
later, on May 28, its aircraft attacked a village in northern Darfur on
market day, killing at least 12. In a weeklong spree that coincided with
the Security Council statement, 3,000 Janjaweed were reportedly
marauding in southern Darfur, burning villages and killing civilians,
apparently heeding President Omar al-Bashir's plea to "secure" the area.
These atrocities make a mockery of a cease-fire agreement reached on
Western governments are filled with excuses for why more can't be done.
The African Union is handling it, they say. The African Union is playing
a useful role trying to implement the cease-fire agreement, but it has
no mandate to protect civilians or reverse ethnic cleansing. Nor does it
begin to have the clout of the Security Council.
Pressing too hard on Darfur might upset the peace process in southern
Sudan, they say. There, a conflict decades long is waning, with a
milestone political agreement signed last week. Growing international
attention to Darfur has not upset that process. But Khartoum can hardly
be a reliable partner for peace in the south if it is simultaneously
murdering civilians and blocking emergency relief in the west.
But where will peacekeepers for Darfur come from? some governments ask.
The African Union has offered limited troops to protect cease-fire
observers. But commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in Africa
mean that Western militaries are depleted. With slaughter raging in
Darfur, the only way to avoid the need for peacekeepers is to send an
unequivocal message to Khartoum now.
It is time to move from lip service to conviction. The Security Council
should insist, in mandatory language, on pain of targeted sanctions,
that ethnic cleansing stop and conditions for the safe return of the
displaced be established. Only such clarity stands a chance of being
heeded by the killers of Khartoum.
[Kenneth Roth is executive director of Human Rights Watch]