Sudan Avoids Condemnation by Agreeing to More UN Rights Scrutiny

GENEVA, April 21 (AFP) -- Sudan accepted greater United Nations scrutiny on Thursday after the European Union backed down from an attempt to seek explicit UN condemnation of Khartoum's role in human rights abuse in the strife-torn region of Darfur.

The UN Human Rights Commission unanimously adopted a milder resolution condemning "continued, widespread and systematic" violations by both sides in Darfur, without directly blaming Khartoum for abuse or mentioning war crimes.

It also called on the Sudanese government to disarm allied militia "and to stop supporting them", called for an increased UN monitoring force in Darfur, and upgraded the status of a UN human rights expert for a year.

The EU's original proposal had laid outright responsibility for deliberate attacks on civilians on the Sudanese government, but it was dropped just before it was due to be voted upon.

The move followed an agreement between European countries, Sudan and African countries, a representative of Luxembourg, the current head of the EU, told the Commission.

She said cooperation with the African group and Khartoum had "produced an agreement which offers the best chance of halting human rights violations in Sudan, which we are concerned about and which we condemn".

The EU effectively rallied around a strengthened African motion, which also called on the government and rebels in Darfur to resume peace talks, respect a ceasefire agreement and investigate crimes.

African and Sudanese diplomats said they had been obliged to make "painful concessions".

Khartoum had warned the UN this week against appointing a special human rights rapporteur for Sudan, arguing such an "irrational" move would only complicate the Darfur crisis.

But it backed down Thursday, allowing a UN "special rapporteur" to replace the existing "independent expert" with a one-year mandate.

About 300,000 people are estimated to have died and more than two million forced out of their homes during more than two years of conflict between Khartoum and rebels in Darfur.

The partly political and partly ethnic conflict in Darfur pits rebel groups from the local population of black African origin against government troops and Khartoum-backed Arab militia, the Janjaweed.

Commenting on the resolution passed Thursday, the UN High Commisioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said: "The substance seems very appropriate."

However, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticised the outcome as too weak and warned that it would only have value if it were implemented, after three years of unchecked violence in the region.

"Obviously this is not a text that is correct, or friendly to human rights," said HRW spokeswoman Loubna Freih.

US delegation chief Rudy Boschwitz gave full backing to the resolution.

"That it condemns those responsible for atrocities, including the government of Sudan, and that it provides for a strong mechanism for investigating ongoing human rights abuses and bringing about their end means that this Commission is, unlike last year at this time, doing its job responsibly," he added.

The EU motion withdrawn Thursday had sought condemnation of "the fact that most attacks have been deliberately and indiscriminately directed against civilians, many of them under the direct responsibility or tolerated by the government of Sudan".

It had also warned that "continuing, widespread and systematic violations of human rights" in Darfur "may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity".

Posted in: Governance
RSS comment feed
There are currently no comments, be the first to post one.
Add Comment

Name (required)

Email (required)


Enter the code shown above in the box below
Designed and built by Brand X