After the historic 60th General Assembly meeting and the United Nations Day of October 24th, there is serious criticism over the UNs inaction in Darfur, and strong debate continues on UN reform, R2P and conflict prevention. The articles below include:
- Darfur crisis worsens despite affirmation of R2P precedent.
- Sudan reveals the bluff of the UN.
- UN depends on SC members for action; GA resolutions are non-binding
- Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette on mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution.
- US Ambassador Bolton statement on R2P to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and
- Desmond Tutu and Vaclav Havel appeal to Security Council to intervene in Myanmar.
Darfur is in peril
By Tod Lindberg
The Washington Times
October 25, 2005
Based on accounts from the scene, it looks like things are getting worse in a hurry in Darfur. At the U.N. summit in September, countries included an affirmation of their "responsibility to protect" their populations and the necessity for collective action to protect people when a government fails in this basic responsibility -- or worse, as in the case of the Sudan government, is actively complicit in war crimes against civilians. It would be tragic if, having declared this bold new principle, governments couldn't then bring themselves to act on it effectively in Darfur.
The United Nations, responding to the deteriorating security situation in Western Darfur, has ordered nonessential personnel out. The U.S. Agency for International Development has closed its field office in Genina. Nongovernmental organizations are feeling similar pressure, nor is the deterioration confined to the west. "The humanitarian space is closing," one Westerner e-mailed me from Darfur. Veteran Sudan-watcher Eric Reeves (sudanreeves.org) notes that the supposed "banditry" taking place along the roads looks to humanitarian workers on the scene more like coordinated political violence, with attacks on relief convoys. The U.N. special adviser on genocide, Juan Mendez, back from a late September trip to the region, noted in his report: "Though government officials attribute these attacks to banditry and common crime, their coordinated planning and apparent use of intelligence to prepare the attacks suggest a decree of organization and fire-power that is consistent with Janjaweed activity, albeit under a different name."
Khartoum has also been taking steps to halt aid, blocking essential equipment and restricting visas Anyone who knows anything about the history of governments perpetrating or abetting ethnic cleansing and genocidal acts will recognize that restricting access to outsiders and forcing humanitarian organizations to curtail operations due to security concerns have often been precursors to mass murder.
link to full article
Why Wait On Darfur?
Robert I. Rotberg
October 24, 2005
The Boston Globe
"NEVER AGAIN!" promised Washington, London, Brussels and the United Nations after the massacres in Bosnia, Cambodia, and Rwanda. But the killing fields of Darfur are more than two years old, and still the world permits innocent farmers, children, and displaced people to be killed and women repeatedly raped. What is to be done?
So far, the big powers and the UN have respected the Sudan's sovereignty and avoided forceful intervention. African Union observers have served as proxies for real action, but they are too few, have little equipment, fuel, and ability to patrol, and have their hands tied by wrong orders. Waiting for the AU to become more robust is a recipe of despair, because of the Sudan's prominent membership in the organization. Given the UN's newly endorsed "responsibility to protect" norm, much more can and should be done to save lives.
So far the Sudan has called the UN's bluff. It must not be allowed to operate any longer with impunity.
Why wait? It is true that China, which imports oil from the Sudan, might object. So might Russia, or African nation-states attempting to protect the Sudan.
But the UN General Assembly is now on record in favor of "protecting" innocent civilians within sovereign countries and within war zones. Local commanders of the AU monitoring force also know that they are making little difference in halting hostilities. They have told their governments they feel powerless and frustrated. Darfur is the place to begin showing that the world cares.
link to full article
October 22, 2005
WHO killed the UN?
It is a question that may be fairly posed about the fate of the UN after the political shambles that took place in New York last month at the opening of the 60th session of the General Assembly, an event that by tradition is addressed by heads of government before its longer, ongoing committees get to work..
And there were indeed solemn declarations to attempt to meet the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate poverty by 2015, to install better early warning systems for natural disasters and to mobilise new resources to fight AIDS. The meetings also accepted a notion dear to Annan's heart, that the world community had a collective responsibility to protect civilian populations against genocide, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity.
All that is fine and, as has already been mentioned, several national governments really believe in such principles. But such pronouncements, being General Assembly statements (as opposed to Security Council resolutions), are non-binding. It will be up to the regimes in Khartoum and Havana -- and Moscow and Beijing, for that matter -- to give those principles meaning. Or to disregard them, now that the annual New York posturings are over
The UN as a whole is not dead and there is ample evidence of life in many of its parts. The opening sentence of this article exaggerated the demise of the world body. But I hope it also drew attention to the fact there are many governments out there that are happy to see the UN crippled, weakened and incapable of playing a larger role in the political sphere, the role it was supposed to play when our planet emerged from the ashes and follies of World War II.
link to full article
Following is the text of Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette's address to the Occidental College Symposium in New York, 19 October 2005:
M2 Presswire-October 21, 2005-UN:
Certainly, the Summit did not achieve everything we might have hoped for, and I shall mention a little later some of the important opportunities that were regrettably missed. But I do want to stress up front that the Outcome Document contains very important advances, particularly when it is judged by the standards of any document that requires the consensus among 191 Member States.
Indeed, few would have dared to predict 12 months ago -- perhaps even less a few days before the Summit -- that, in one process, we could have achieved:
-- detailed agreement on the principle of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide and other heinous crimes;And, of course, the Security Council must be prepared to meet its responsibility to protect through timely and effective action.
For its part, the Secretariat needs to set up and get fully operational the Peacebuilding Support Office, the Peacebuilding Fund, the Democracy Fund, and the Rule of Law Unit. We need to work with the African Union on a 10-year plan to improve its peacekeeping capacity, and with all our regional partners to reach formalized agreements to improve cooperation. We must develop detailed proposals to strengthen mediation capacity and deploy peacekeepers rapidly, and to improve system-wide coherence through more tightly managed entities in the fields of development, humanitarian assistance and environment -- proposals that will then come back to the membership for their consideration and action.
link to full article
Bolton Testimony Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee
States News Service
Responsibility to Protect
Related to the issue of preventing conflict is the important progress we made in the section on the "Responsibility to Protect," which moves us toward a new strengthened international moral consensus on the need for the international community to deal with cases involving genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. We were successful in making certain that language in the Outcome Document guaranteed a central role for the Security Council. We were pleased that the Outcome Document underscored the readiness of the Council to act in the face of such atrocities, and rejected categorically the argument that any principle of non-intervention precludes the Council from taking such action
(link to full article unavailable)
Tutu, Havel Ask U.N. Intervention in Myanmar;
Human rights activists seek a nonmilitary response to restore democracy and deliver aid to nation called a 'threat to the peace.'
Los Angeles Times
October 21, 2005
By: Richard C. Paddock
Branding Myanmar's military regime a "threat to the peace," a global coalition of human rights advocates is urging the United Nations to intervene in the Southeast Asian nation to restore democracy, deliver humanitarian aid and win the release of political prisoners.
Led by retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and former Czech President Vaclav Havel, activists are calling on the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution that would pave the way for nonmilitary intervention in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
In a 70-page report that accuses the regime of using forced labor, rape, "ethnic cleansing" and child soldiers to control its population, Tutu and Havel make the case that abuses by Myanmar are more egregious than in countries where the United Nations intervened during the 1990s, including Sierra Leone, Haiti and Cambodia.
"If a government violates the fundamental rights of its own people, that can't be left as a domestic issue," said Tutu in a telephone interview from his home in Cape Town, South Africa. "I believe that we have an almost open-and-shut case for the intervention of the United Nations."
Tutu, 74, the 1984 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle against apartheid, and Havel, 69, the Czech playwright who helped end the era of Soviet domination, called on the Security Council to pass a resolution requiring Myanmar to work with the U.N. to achieve national reconciliation and restore a democratically elected government.
The proposed resolution also calls for the immediate release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and 1,100 other political prisoners and urges Myanmar to give unhindered access to international aid workers so they can deliver assistance in the impoverished country.
So far, the proposal has not won enough support from the 15-member Security Council to get on its agenda. Among those unwilling to discuss the measure is China, one of Myanmar's biggest investors and supporters. The United States, a vocal critic of the regime, supports the plan
The Tutu-Havel report, titled "Threat to the Peace" and prepared by the global law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, alleges numerous human rights violations, including the rape of ethnic minority women and the spread of HIV by soldiers; widespread forced labor; destruction of more than 2,700 villages; massive forced relocations; and the torture and killing of political prisoners.
lin k to full article