The 13-0 vote, with abstentions from China and Pakistan, came after the United States deleted the word "sanctions" and substituted a reference to a section of the UN Charter permitting punitive measures to gain more support.

 

The Article 41 provision allows the "interruption" of economic, transport, communications or diplomatic measures, which amounts to sanctions.

 

The measure, co-sponsored by Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Chile and Romania, demands that Khartoum disarm and prosecute within 30 days militia known as Janjaweed or the Security Council will consider punitive measures.

 

Chinese reservation

 

But China's deputy UN ambassador, Zhang Yishan, said this was still too harsh and was "not helpful in resolving the situation in Darfur and may further complicate the situation."

 

Unconfirmed report says at least 30,000 civilians have been killed and thousands have been raped in Sudan's western region of Darfur. Some 1 million villagers have been driven into barren camps and 2 million need food and medicine in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"It is not helpful in resolving the situation in Darfur and may further complicate the situation"

 Zhang Yishan, China's deputy UN ambassador

The resolution places an immediate weapons embargo on all armed groups in Darfur, where government forces and Janjaweed militia have been battling a rebellion by some African tribes. But Sudan security forces, accused of protecting the Janjaweed, are excluded from the arms ban.

 

"The responsibility for this disaster lies squarely on the government of Sudan," said US Ambassador John Danforth, who ushered through the resolution. "It is time to start the clock ticking on the government of Sudan."

 

"This resolution guarantees that Darfur will be before the Security Council and before the world next month and the month after that and for as long as it takes to ensure that the people of Darfur will live in peace," Danforth said.

 

The United Nations has been planning a peacekeeping force after a final peace pact in southern Sudan, where a decades-old civil war is ending. The resolution says the planning should also include Darfur, although troops are not expected soon.

Sudanese government says it can
control Janjaweed militias

 Sudan had signed an agreement with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that pledges to disarm the militia allow humanitarian access and take other measures in its western region of Darfur, the size of France.

 

Criticism

 

But first reports from African Union monitors in Darfur show deterioration in the past few weeks. Annan said the Janjaweed were continuing attacks and rapes while government personnel were abusing and beating villagers, he added.

 

Humanitarian organisations, as well as US congressmen who have branded the violence genocide, have criticized the Bush administration for not threatening military intervention or imposing sanctions immediately on Khartoum.

 

The United States and its European allies faced an uphill battle in the Security Council, where developing nations as well as Russia questioned the 15-member body's right to interfere in internal affairs.

 

Janjaweed colloquially means "demons on horses with guns." The Sudan government has described the Janjaweed as criminals and insists it can control them and its own forces in the region.