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24 September 2007
Responsibility to Protect Engaging Civil Society

In this issue: [Commentary on Darfur; Global Day for Darfur Coverage and Other Reports of Interest]

I. Commentary on Darfur
II. Related Events (Global Day For Darfur Coverage)
III. Other Reports of Interest

I. Commentary on Darfur

By: Adam LeBor
The New York Sun
21 September 2007

The United Nations 62nd General Assembly opens today and the genocide continues in Darfur. Sudan's Islamist regime has caused the death of more than 400,000 people and displaced 2.5 million, yet Sudan remains a member of the United Nations in good standing. () Like his predecessors, Mr. Ki-Moon is obsessed with neutrality, impartiality, and the equal treatment of all U.N. states, even if they commit genocide. He prefers refuge in a make-believe world where things are always improving even as they get steadily worse. In this Mr. Ki-Moon is at least consistent, for the pattern of the United Nations's failure in Darfur was set in Rwanda and Bosnia.

() Haunted by Rwanda, Mr. Annan eventually built up some momentum to confront Sudan over Darfur. He called for perpetrators of war crimes to be held accountable. He berated U.N. member states for failing to stop or halt genocide. All member states signed up for the doctrine of "Responsibility to Protect," civilians in danger. Certainly, much of the blame for not stopping carnage in Darfur lies with the five members of the U.N. Security Council: America, Britain, France, Russia, and, most of all, China, which buys Sudanese oil. But the Secretary General and his officials still have powerful moral authority to shape policy. It seems that like Yasushi Akashi, Mr. Ki-Moon will go to absurd and bizarre lengths to avoid confronting the perpetrators of genocide.

() So today, as every day, Mr. Ki-Moon and the United Nations dither and the carnage in Darfur continues. But perhaps we should no longer be surprised that the United Nations is unable to confront those involved in genocide. It seems it prefers to honor them.

Full text available at:

U.N. Envoy Struggles to Bring Warring Parties, Allied Nations to Peace Talks
Maggie Farley
Los Angeles Times
20 September 2007

NYALA, SUDAN -- -- Here on the territorial edge of one of the world's most intractable crises, U.N. peacemaker Jan Eliasson looks a gray-bearded tribal leader in the eye and tells him that there are moments in history that can make the difference between peace and more war.

Talks are taking place aimed at solving the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, and the elder, called the makhtoum of Nyala, needs to persuade a rebel leader from his tribe to join in, Eliasson says.

() But Darfur, Sudan's vast, arid western region, has become a lesson in the limits of diplomacy, an example of how a single regime can defy world opinion seemingly with impunity. ()Darfur, he [Eliasson] says, "is one of the most difficult problems I have ever faced."

() 'Responsibility to protect'

Two years ago, world leaders agreed at the U.N. General Assembly that they had a "responsibility to protect" -- a duty to intervene to help people whose governments would not safeguard their lives.

The responsibility to protect was a breakthrough in theory, but the U.N. had no way to enforce it. The U.N. has no army, and the nations that contribute troops to peacekeeping efforts would not send them if they thought their soldiers would need to participate in an invasion.

"They have agreed there is a duty to protect, but not who is supposed to do it," said John Prendergast, a Sudan expert at the International Crisis Group in Washington. "And so far, nobody has the will."

() As a result, although the council has passed six resolutions -- some demanding that Sudan end the violence, disarm militias and embargo arms to Darfur -- none have included sanctions strong enough to cause Khartoum to end the fighting.

Full text available at:,0,5098336.story?coll=la-home-world

The Herald (Glasgow)
19 September 2007

Exactly two years ago the world's governments came together at the United Nations to sign an agreement undertaking a "responsibility to protect" people at risk of genocide.

() If Darfur could be saved by fine words and good intentions, thousands of people could have stayed at home and enjoyed a Sunday with their families yesterday. Instead, for the second year running, in 30 cities around the world, campaigners took to the streets to draw attention to the crisis that continues to unfold there.

Already there are signs that the timetable is slipping for deploying the extra troops. () In camps and villages beyond the reach of food or medical aid, and out of sight of the western media, hundreds continue to die. Promises made in New York seem to count for little.

() The most positive development, and one that needs maximum international support, is peace negotiation between Darfur's warring factions, instigated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, due to open in Libya next month. He is right to say that peacekeepers can achieve little if there is no peace to keep.

Secondly, though 26,000 troops cannot be expected to patrol 200,000 square miles, they could protect small areas that could serve as pilot projects for returning villagers, provided the troops are properly armed and equipped and their rules of engagement empower them to respond robustly to aggression.

Thirdly, it is important to keep up pressure on the Chinese, who, as Sudan's main trading partner, have spent too long sitting on their hands in this matter. () Lastly, the Sudanese government, something of a byword for broken promises, must be made to stand by its pledge to permit multiparty politics and free elections in 2009 or face crippling international sanctions. () There is an agenda for change in Darfur but it must be grasped. There is no reason why Darfur Day should become a permanent fixture in the calendar.

Full text available from:

II. Related Events (Global Day For Darfur Coverage)

Sophia Morris-Jones
Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra)
19 September 2007

() Last Sunday marked the 4th Global Day for Darfur since the beginning of the dreadful conflict. Protests have been held across the world on September 16 since 2005. This day was chosen because it is the day the UN General Assembly World Summit historically acknowledged that protecting citizens was its duty. This was termed their official 'Responsibility to Protect', something they were reminded of by the Amnesty-International slogan - "Don't look away now: protect the people of Darfur."

() The message of the protesters to the International Community was to keep up pressure on the UN Security Council and the African Union to ensure fast and effective deployment of the joint peace keeping force, known as UNAMID, the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur. ()

The other key aims are to keep up pressure on the international community to maintain their force in the region such as it is, and also to block the efforts of the Sudanese Government to hinder aid. Its support of the Janjaweed with arms has resulted in mass killings of ethnic Africans, as well as such atrocities as December 26 last year when a stronghold of the opposing Sudan Liberation Army was attacked. About 50 women were abducted and taken to a dry riverbed where they were raped and then made into sex slaves. This is a risk women and girls face every time they attempt to find water or firewood.

() The situation has deteriorated since the protests began in 2005, but the dedicated supporters of the cause still turned out in their thousands world-wide to try and make their voices heard. Since the beginning of the year, over 400,000 have died. The death rate is pegged at 500 a day or 1500 a month.

Full text available at:

Dr. James Smith, Chief Executive- The Aegis Trust
The Sunday Times
16 September 2007

While we mark another Day for Darfur, 4.2m Darfuris are dependent on international aid and with each passing month less territory is accessible to aid agencies. () There is well placed anxiety that a half-hearted attempt at protecting civilians will lead to disastrous consequences.

Gordon Brown is making all the right noises. "Darfur demands quick and decisive action," he and Nicolas Sarkozy wrote in August. However, the deployment timetable is threatening to slip. If the troops are poorly resourced and their mandate weakly interpreted, they will make a bad situation worse. () Their priorities must be to create a secure environment in which the displaced can return home and start rebuilding. This will include disarming the Janjaweed who attack civilians.

() It is two years to the day since leaders at the UN world summit took "responsibility to protect " people from genocide. Two years of empty promises for Darfur. The message at today's rally, "Darfur: don't look away," couldn't be more apt.

Full text available from:

Tom Stoppard
The Times (London)
15 September 2007

Its coming up to crunch time for Darfur. On Friday at a high-level meeting at the UN there will be nothing else on the agenda. Tomorrow, as heads of state and government prepare to converge on New York for the General Assembly, campaigners will be demonstrating in London and in more than 30 capital cities.

() You might be thinking that its over three years since the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on the militias doing the pillaging, raping, torturing and killing; three years since the Secretary-General set up a commission of inquiry to determine whether the Sudanese forces and their allied militias were carrying out genocide (answer: no, only pillaging, raping, torturing and killing); two years since the UN signed up to the responsibility to protect civilians caught up in mass atrocities; 16 months since the African Union came up with the Darfur Peace Agreement, and almost a year since the inception (on paper) of a hybrid UN/African Union force that was finally going to put a stop to the bizarre and horrendous spectacle of a population terrorised by savagery arriving on camels and in bomber planes; and that, meanwhile, the story on the ground has got nowhere except worse.

() But tomorrow is the Day for Darfur, and, yes, the igh-level meeting in New York on Friday is new news, and, yes, the General Assembly that follows from Tuesday is the first and as far as the eye can see last chance to establish a ceasefire and the means to make it stick. () But although UNAMID will operate under UN auspices, its components, in fact its existence, will depend on the donations of individual countries.

() The deal is done, but (assuming that the rest of the world comes up with the goods) nations leaders will also be urged to keep pressure on Khartoum to stick to the agreement. The Sudanese have a track record of calculated procrastination.

The mood of tomorrows march on London will be angry at its place of departure, outside the Sudanese Embassy in St Jamess, but perhaps closer to a demonstration of encouragement at its destination, Downing Street. Gordon Brown has worked hard to bring the story to this point. ()

Full text available from:

The nomination of Ahmed Haroun to a human rights committee is an affront to the victims of Darfur and a slap in the face to the UN.
Tom Porteus
Human Rights Watch
16 September 2007

Two years ago today, over 150 nations signed up to the "responsibility to protect," the principle that governments have a duty to intervene to protect civilians threatened by war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

() Around the world campaigners and ordinary people are today demonstrating to draw attention to the plight of millions of civilians in Darfur. In London, Cairo, Berlin, Ulan Bator, Bamako and many other cities around the world, they will be gathering to demand serious action to end the atrocities and secure justice for the victims.

The received wisdom is that now, thanks to pressure from the United States, the UN the EU and others, the Sudanese government is at last cooperating. ()But is the Sudanese government really playing ball?

() On September 5, during a visit to Khartoum by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, the Sudanese government nominated Ahmed Haroun to co-chair a committee which has been established to hear complaints of victims of abuses in Darfur.

() On April 27 this year the court issued an arrest warrant against Haroun on 42 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. () Evidence indicates Haroun recruited, paid and supplied arms to the Janjaweed who carried out the attacks.

() Now, in their haste to applaud the Sudanese government for its grudging acceptance of a new peacekeeping force for Darfur and for a halting return to peace negotiations, the world's politicians and diplomats are turning their backs on the principle of justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

() The nomination of Haroun to a human rights committee is an affront to the victims of Darfur and a slap in the face to the UN. If the international community remains silent in the face of this provocation, instead of insisting that Khartoum cooperates with the ICC, the Sudanese government will conclude rightly that it can continue to commit atrocities in Darfur with impunity.

Full article available at:

III. Other Reports of Interest

19 September 2007

Amnesty International (AI) has, for several years, received reports of serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by members of disparate armed groups and government soldiers in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR). The abuses include unlawful killings, abductions, destruction of private property, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women.

() AI's recent research mission has established that the authorities have taken no steps to protect the civilian population from such attacks. AI was unable to visit northern CAR due to the insecurity that continues to affect the region, but was able to visit Bangui, the capital, and southern Chad where more than 50,000 CAR refugees are currently sheltered in refugee camps.

Full text available from:

Africa Report No. 132
18 September 2007

Six months before scheduled elections, Zimbabwe is closer than ever to complete collapse. Inflation is between 7,600 per cent (government figures) and 13,000 per cent (independent estimates). Four out of five of the countrys twelve million people live below the poverty line and a quarter have fled, mainly to neighbouring countries. A military-led campaign to slash prices has produced acute food and fuel shortages, and conducting any business is becoming almost impossible. An initiative launched by the regional intergovernmental organisation, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to facilitate a negotiated political solution offers the only realistic chance to escape a crisis that increasingly threatens to destabilise the region. But SADC must resolve internal differences about how hard to press into retirement Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwes 83-year-old president and liberation hero, and the wider international community needs to give it full support.

()The ultimate objective of the reform process, however, is not regime change as such but to guarantee that all adult citizens can freely and fairly choose their rulers and that an electorally legitimated government can reengage with donors to turn the economy around. ()

Full text is available at:

Stephen Lewis
13 September 2007

In this statement, former UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa and current Co-Director of AIDS-Free World Stephen Lewis calls for a new UN initiative to end sexual violence in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Full report available at:


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