Draft resolution on Sudan issued

The United States has circulated a draft UN resolution that would send as many as 10,000 peacekeepers to southern Sudan.

    The US submitted a draft to the Security Council on Monday

    But Monday's draft document distributed to the Security Council dodges the question of where to try perpetrators of atrocities in Darfur.

    The draft resolution would also impose sanctions, including a travel ban and a freeze on assets, on those responsible for violating a ceasefire in Darfur, a region in Western Sudan where civil war has killed at least 70,000 people and driven 2 million from their homes.

    The resolution, which US officials said they hoped to bring to a vote within two weeks, is intended to help implement a peace agreement reached at the end of last year in a separate conflict in southern Sudan.

    But the draft stresses the need to build on the agreement in the south to achieve peace in Darfur as well, emphasising that "there can be no military solution to the conflict in Darfur".

    Committee identifies criminals

    The text would create a Security Council committee to identify which individuals should be subjected to the sanctions.

    Government and rebel officials
    signed a peace deal last month

    It also would widen an arms embargo already in force in Darfur. While the existing embargo applies only to non-governmental units including rebel groups and the Janjawid militias, the draft would ban arms sales to Sudan's government as well.

    However, the US draft is silent on where those responsible for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur should be tried.

    A UN-appointed commission reported two weeks ago that Sudan's government and its militia allies had committed serious crimes under international law, setting the stage for Sudanese, militia and rebel leaders to be tried as war criminals.

    Sudan not ready

    The commission said Sudan's judiciary could not handle such a task and recommended the perpetrators be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague.

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said the Security Council should refer the case of Sudan to the ICC, and nine of the council's 15 member-nations belong to that court.

    But the Bush administration strongly opposes the ICC, fearing it could be used to prosecute US soldiers and other officials serving abroad.

    As an alternative, it has floated the idea of setting up a new UN-African Union tribunal in Tanzania, an idea that so far has won little support in the council.

    The Khartoum government has declared its opposition to any outside court, saying it wants to handle any charges of serious crimes on its own.

    The draft text expresses only the council's determination that perpetrators of the crimes identified by the UN commission "be brought to justice through internationally accepted means".

    SOURCE: Reuters


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