UN deadlocked on Sudan steps

Even after weeks of negotiations, the UN Security Council remains deadlocked on the next steps in Sudan, where a 21-year civil war has just ended and a two-year conflict that has killed an estimated 180,000 people is still raging.

    The cisis in Darfur has displaced more than two million people

    The council is under mounting international pressure to act  quickly; but members are still divided over sanctions against the government and punishment for the perpetrators of atrocities.

     

    At the request of the United States, the council voted on Thursday for a second week-long extension of the UN political mission in Sudan. But many members, including France, Algeria and Britain, made clear they were fed up with the delays and wanted a vote next week on a new resolution.

    "The time has come now to adopt the resolution", said France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, stressing that the council members agree on these provisions.

    Disagreements

    Diplomats are concerned that the large UN peacekeeping force will be deployed in generally quiet areas, monitoring the north-south peace deal while the much smaller African Union force is struggling on its own in Darfur to help end a conflict that has forced more than two million people to flee their homes.

    African Union forces are
    deployed in Darfur

    But council members disagree on sanctions and punishment. The US draft resolution would impose a travel ban and asset freeze against those who block peace efforts, threaten stability in Darfur, violate international humanitarian or human rights law, or are responsible for military overflights.

    It also wants those responsible for "crimes and atrocities" to be punished, but does not specify how, saying this needs "to be developed". 

    The United States dropped an earlier proposal to extend an arms embargo already in force in Darfur for both black African rebel groups and the Arab militia known as Janjawid to include Sudan's government.

    US vote pressure

    The US, instead, is pressing for the council to vote on the peacekeepers and sanctions but leave the issue of a tribunal to a later date, diplomats said.

    China, Russia and Algeria were opposed, according to UN diplomats.

    China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya has said his government has problems with the concept of sanctions. Diplomats said it was still unclear whether Beijing or Moscow would veto a resolution that included a travel ban and asset freeze or simply abstain.  

    The issue of punishing perpetrators of violence is equally divisive. Two months ago, a UN Commission of Inquiry had said crimes against humanity - but not genocide - probably occurred in Darfur and recommended that those responsible be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. It drew up a secret list of top suspects. 

    UK ambassador to the UN
    Emyr Jones Parry

    Nine of the 15 council members, including Britain and France, are parties to the court and three others have signed but not ratified the treaty establishing it. But the United States vehemently opposes the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal and wants suspects to be tried by a new tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. 

    This proposal, however, has received little support. Neither has a Nigerian proposal made on Wednesday for an African-run tribunal to prosecute human rights violators from Darfur and promote reconciliation.

    "I don't think it's going to happen," Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said, noting questions about the extent of African Union support for the Nigerian proposal and lots of scepticism whether or not this is a practical and realistic alternative.

    France's de la Sabliere said the International Criminal Court is the right place for prosecutions, though a reconciliation committee could be created as an addition.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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