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If the UN Won't Act to Save Hundreds of Thousands in Darfur, Who Will?

06-10-2004, 00:52 AM

Deng
<aDeng
تاريخ التسجيل: 11-28-2002
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If the UN Won't Act to Save Hundreds of Thousands in Darfur, Who Will?

    If the UN Won't Act to Save Hundreds of Thousands in Darfur, Who Will?
    Humanitarian Intervention Remains All That Can Avert Utter Catastrophe

    Eric Reeves
    June 9, 2004

    A rapidly growing body of evidence suggests that the UN will not
    respond with appropriate urgency or forceful resolve to end the massive
    human destruction in Darfur. Indeed, there is at present no indication
    that the UN---either the office of the Secretary-general or the Security
    Council---will act in a timely and robust fashion. Rather, the issue of
    humanitarian intervention in Darfur is daily becoming more politicized
    at the UN, making meaningful action extremely unlikely.

    This leaves the international community with a stark choice: begin
    urgent planning for a multilateral, non-UN humanitarian intervention in
    Darfur---or acquiesce in the genocidal destruction of hundreds of
    thousands of innocent human beings. Though the war in Iraq has made the
    political challenges of such non-UN intervention extremely difficult,
    there is no alternative. Presently unacceptable mortality rates
    (running to over 600 per day according to data from the US Agency for
    International Development and humanitarian organizations doing
    malnutrition sampling), and the rapid onset of catastrophic mortality
    rates reaching to the thousands per day, make humanitarian intervention
    imperative. Delay at this point is countenancing continuing genocidal
    destruction that may reach to 1 million human beings.

    Those who have called for action through the UN---including the
    International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch---are to be commended
    for their forthright statements and their powerful accounts justifying
    UN military intervention for humanitarian purposes in Darfur. But these
    organizations must take the next step and declare a near-term deadline
    for UN Security Council action, and---critically---what action they will
    call for when it becomes fully clear that there will be no enabling
    resolution from the UN.

    The same is true of the Bush administration and the John Kerry
    Democratic presidential campaign: both must answer now, while their
    voices can still shape events, with clarity and decisiveness, the
    following question:

    "Are you prepared to support, vigorously and publicly, multilateral
    humanitarian intervention in Darfur without UN authorization?"

    Obviously a failure to answer this question, now overwhelmingly
    exigent, is a refusal to support humanitarian intervention. It is
    acquiescence in genocidal destruction whose death toll may surpass that
    in Rwanda precisely ten years ago.

    The State Department has taken strong exception to a Washington Post
    editorial (Monday, June 7, 2004) rightly criticizing the Bush
    administration for muting its comments about Darfur while trying to
    conclude north/south peace negotiations in Naivasha (Kenya). And to be
    sure, the US has begun to find its voice on Darfur, as Adam Ereli, State
    Department spokesman, made clear the same day (see account by Voice of
    America, June 7, 2004 at
    http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=EC5504E9-C1...960-9333D51EDB7C8B72.
    But there was no comment from Ereli on the obligations of the US as a
    "contracting party" to the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and
    Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Such obligations to "prevent
    genocide" do not require an actual finding of genocide---only sufficient
    evidence that genocide is impending. There is no intellectually
    respectable basis for denying such a threat of genocide, especially
    given the numerous findings---by the US, the UN, Human Rights Watch, the
    International Crisis Group, and many others---of "ethnic cleansing" in
    Darfur.

    In fact, despite the semantic and institutional diffidence too
    frequently in evidence, "genocide" is clearly the appropriate term for
    what is underway in Darfur---the deliberate, systematic destruction of
    the African peoples of the region, "as such." We now have overwhelming
    evidence that the Khartoum regime and its Arab militia allies are
    "deliberately inflicting on the [African] group[s] [of Darfur]
    conditions of life calculated to bring about [their] physical
    destruction in whole or in part" (1948 UN Convention on the Prevention
    and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2, clause [c]).

    But the clarity of genocidal destruction also obliges that the Kerry
    campaign be forthright and honest, both in assessing the extreme
    improbability of adequate UN action and it declaring what action Senator
    Kerry will call for in the all too likely context of UN moral failure.
    On Monday Senator Kerry said in a campaign press release:

    "I believe that the United States and the international community must
    act immediately to apply effective pressure on the Government of Sudan
    to rein in its militia proxies and to immediately provide unrestricted
    access for humanitarian aid and aid workers. We must also act swiftly to
    initiate negotiations aimed at securing a political settlement to the
    conflict. And because there is no guarantee that the Sudanese government
    will relent, we must also start planning now for the possibility that
    the international community, acting through the United Nations, will be
    forced to intervene urgently to save the lives of the innocent." (Kerry
    Campaign press release, June 7, 2004)

    But what if the UN will not authorize "the international community [ ]
    to intervene urgently to save the lives of the innocent"? This is a
    difficult question, but one Senator Kerry cannot skirt---not having in
    the same press release invoked the genocidal slaughter in Rwanda:

    "The world did not act in Rwanda, to our eternal shame. Now we are at
    another crisis point this time in Sudan. The Sudan's western Darfur
    region demands the world's immediate attention and action."
    (Kerry Campaign press release, June 7, 2004)

    Both the Bush administration and the Kerry campaign are obliged---if
    they are honest, if they genuinely care about the hundreds of thousands
    of lives at risk in Darfur---to answer the critical question:

    "If there is no UN authorization for humanitarian intervention in
    Darfur, are you prepared to support---publicly,
    vigorously---multilateral intervention without UN auspices?"

    **********************

    What is the evidence that the UN Security Council will not act? Part
    of the answer lies in the woefully inadequate leadership of UN
    Secretary-general Kofi Annan. Despite his powerful words concerning the
    Darfur crisis on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan
    genocide (April 7, 2004), Annan has subsequently said nothing that
    represents either appropriate urgency or resolve. This strongly
    suggests that his words, entirely appropriate to the crisis in Darfur,
    met with stiff UN political resistance---from Khartoum, from the Arab
    League, from the Organization of Islamic Countries, from UN Security
    Council permanent member China, and from others.

    Indeed, recent comments from the UK and Germany also suggest that Annan
    has failed to speak out following his appropriately urgent April 7
    statement because of a lack of political support from influential
    European countries. But this does nothing to justify the shameful
    silence that has followed his earlier exhortation:

    "It is vital that international humanitarian workers and human rights
    experts be given full access to [Darfur], and to the victims, without
    further delay. If that is denied, the international community must be

    prepared to take swift and appropriate action. By 'action' in such
    situations I mean a continuum of steps, which may include military
    action.

    "Let us, Mr. Chairman, be serious about preventing genocide."
    (UN Press Release of statement by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan,
    April 7, 2004)

    But Mr. Annan is not being "serious about preventing genocide." On the
    contrary, knowing full well that two months after his solemn statement
    Khartoum is still seriously impeding humanitarian access, he is bending
    to political pressures rather than demonstrating the necessary
    leadership. To be sure, these political pressures and difficulties are
    intense and various. But without Mr. Annan regaining his original moral
    clarity on Darfur, the Security Council will not act, indeed is unlikely
    to do so in any event.

    A fundamental problem is that permanent UN Security Council member
    China, with veto power over any Security Council resolution, regards
    Sudan almost exclusively as its premier source of offshore oil. (China
    has been a net importer of oil for the last decade, and economic growth
    in China is fueled by an annual 10% increase in petroleum consumption.)
    Genocide in Darfur is a political inconvenience, not a moral issue. We
    can glean the essence of China's response to any meaningful Security
    Council resolution on Darfur from a wire report of June 8, 2004:

    "China welcomes the positive efforts made by the Sudanese government to
    solve the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, western Sudan, said Chinese
    Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao here Tuesday. Liu made the
    remarks when asked to comment on China's position on the humanitarian
    crisis in Sudan's Darfur.

    "He said China welcomes the positive efforts made by the Sudanese
    government on this issue. China hopes relevant parties continue to make
    joint efforts to settle the crisis through negotiation, so as to realize
    peace, stability and development in this region." (Xinhuanet [Beijing]
    June 8 (Xinhuanet)

    Such blandly disingenuous commentary publicly positions China to reject
    any UN effort to authorize humanitarian intervention, despite massive
    evidence that supposedly "positive efforts made by the Sudanese
    government" amount to continuing the violence in Darfur by various means
    and substantially impeding humanitarian access (see below).

    But opposition comes from European countries as well. Two senior
    British officials have recently publicly and emphatically rejected the
    option of humanitarian intervention, making the political task of
    securing UN authorization that much more difficult. Alan Goulty, the
    UK's special Sudan envoy, callously dismissed the notion of
    humanitarian intervention:

    "[Humanitarian intervention in Darfur] would be very expensive, fraught
    with difficulties and hard to set up in a hurry." (The Telegraph [UK],
    May 31, 2004)

    And Hilary Benn, UK international development secretary, yesterday also
    ruled out humanitarian intervention, despite characterizing Darfur as
    "the world's worst humanitarian emergency":

    "The British government ruled out international military intervention
    yesterday in the face of the impending humanitarian catastrophe in Sudan
    and is instead placing its faith in a small African Union contingent
    sent in to monitor the shaky ceasefire. [ ] 'I do not think it is a
    helpful suggestion. I think we should let the monitors do their work. I
    think they will make a difference.'" (The Guardian [UK], June 9, 2004)

    The "monitors" Benn refers to are the 10 unprotected African Union
    cease-fire monitors to have been deployed to Darfur, a region the size
    of France, today (June 9, 2004). With rampant violence continuing to be
    reported by numerous humanitarian and UN officials on the ground, the
    usefulness of the "work" of these monitors is quite impossible to see.
    Khartoum can restrict their travel at will, always able to cite
    "security concerns." This will not change with the addition of a few
    score additional unprotected African Union monitors.

    This team can do nothing to prevent violence of the sort reported in
    the current (June 4, 2004) US Agency for International Development
    "Darfur: Humanitarian Emergency" fact sheet:

    "Several humanitarian agencies reported a [Government of Sudan] air
    attack on the village of Thabit, 25 kilometers southwest of El Fasher on
    May 28 [2004]" [Thabit was the site of another air attack by Khartoum on
    June 4, 2000 according to Agency France-Presse, citing Chadian diplomats
    (June 4, 2004)];

    "Field reports also indicate the population movement near Kutum is
    extremely fluid, and large concentrations of [Internally Displaced
    Persons] are now living in rural areas [and thus beyond humanitarian
    access.] Civilians, especially women, report continued attacks and
    harassment in localities near Kutum";

    "According to the US AID/DART, Jingaweit militias are active in the
    areas surrounding Nyala [ ]. [Internally Displaced Persons] told relief
    workers that they could not venture outside their camps or villages for
    fear of being assaulted, raped or murdered by Jingaweit";

    "According to the US AID/DART, large numbers of [Internally Displaced
    Persons] have recently fled violence east of Geneina, West Darfur [ ]
    and civilians in Selaya, north of Geneina, are virtual prisoners in the
    homes, fearful of attacks by Jangaweit if they travel outside the
    town";

    "Sexual violence remains an enormous problem in all states of Darfur."
    (US Agency for International Development "Darfur: Humanitarian
    Emergency" fact sheet, June 4, 2004)

    And this is but a glimpse, a very partial snapshot of current violence
    in the vast region of Darfur. A more global perspective on the
    unconstrained violence in Darfur was offered yesterday by Amnesty
    International:

    "The failure of the justice system [in Darfur] cannot be ignored.
    Injustice is not just a consequence of the conflict, it is one of its
    causes. These abuses, like the fighting, will worsen if immediate
    preventative measures aren't taken. One reason the abuses have been so
    horrific and widespread in Darfur is that all members of the Janjawid
    militias who have killed, raped, looted and forcibly displaced people
    since April 2003 have benefited from complete impunity." (Amnesty
    International release, AFR 54/064/2004, June 8, 2004)

    Khartoum still refuses to control or disarm the Janjaweed. The
    regime's primary weapon in the war on African civilians populations in
    Darfur remains fully deployed, creating insecurity that has brought the
    entire agricultural economy of Darfur to a standstill. (Food prices are
    reportedly skyrocketing in the markets that have any remaining
    commodities, a sure sign of impending famine.)

    The cease-fire committed to by the Khartoum regime on April 8, 2004 is
    clearly meaningless, and a small, militarily unprotected African Union
    team of monitors can have virtually no impact. Khartoum will merely
    direct its violence with slightly more care or deny access to places
    where evidence of atrocities and genocide is too conspicuous. For
    Hilary Benn and the UK to put so much stock in this force, with the
    human stakes so exceedingly great, is incomprehensible except as
    political expediency.

    Nor is there any evidence that humanitarian access is improving,
    especially for the vast majority of the "war-affected" populations in
    Darfur, people who simply can't be reached by the limited humanitarian
    personnel and resources available. For while easing the most obvious
    travel restrictions imposed in the "systematic" impeding of humanitarian
    access, Khartoum has simply changed its obstructionist tactics, as the
    UN Integrated Regional Information Networks reported last week:

    "The advocacy group Refugees International (RI) said last week that
    'Khartoum was continuing to place obstacles' in the way of agencies
    seeking to respond to the Darfur crisis by requiring relief supplies to
    be transported on Sudanese trucks and distributed by Sudanese agencies.

    [The capacity of these trucks and these agencies is by all accounts
    completely inadequate to the Darfur crisis---ER.]

    "A further problem was Khartoum's insistence that all medical supplies
    being shipped into Sudan needed to be tested before they were used,
    Refugees International added." (UN Integrated Regional Information
    Networks, June 1, 2004)

    The US Agency for International Development reports in its most recent
    fact sheet:

    "[Humanitarian organizations] continue to be frustrated by cumbersome
    [Government of Sudan] field travel notification requirements and
    clearance procedures for importing equipment into Sudan. [ ]
    Bureaucratic delays persist, and the humanitarian community remains
    skeptical until new measures are fully adopted in Khartoum and
    translated into reality in the field." (US Agency for International
    Development "Darfur: Humanitarian Emergency" fact sheet, June 4, 2004)

    Khartoum is clearly determined to finish the genocidal task, and
    obstructing humanitarian access at this moment is profoundly destructive
    of the targeted populations, primarily the Fur, Massaleit, and Zaghawa
    African tribal groups---as the regime well knows.

    ********************

    The spring planting season has now been missed---there will be no
    harvest in Darfur this fall. Given the extreme levels of fear, trauma,
    and terror on the part of the displaced African populations, there must
    now be concern there will be no fall/winter plantings for spring 2005
    harvesting.

    This is the context in which to understand the humanitarian imperative.
    The UN is presently using a figure of 2 million "war-affected"; the US
    Agency for International Development is using a figure of 2.2 million.
    This number continues to grow, and explains why Doctors Without
    Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is warning that there are in
    Darfur "already high levels of excess deaths and malnutrition, [and] the
    whole population is teetering on the verge of mass starvation." ("On the
    Brink of Mass Starvation in Darfur," Doctors Without Borders/Medecins
    Sans Frontieres [New York], May 20, 2004)

    The figure of 2.2 million (one third of Darfur's total population) is
    the baseline number used by the US Agency for International Development
    "Projected Mortality Rates in Darfur, Sudan 2004-2005" (see data at
    http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf.
    This is what US AID refers to as the "vulnerable group," the population
    that will see a "cumulative death rate of approximately 30%" between now
    and next spring (2005), or approximately 650,000 deaths. This number of
    "war-affected" is still clearly growing at a substantial rate, however,
    which is the basis for the terribly grim forecasts from US AID and
    Amnesty International:

    "'We estimate right now if we get relief in, we'll lose a third of a
    million people, and if we don't the death rates could be dramatically
    higher, approaching a million people,' said US Agency for International
    Development (USAID) chief Andrew Natsios after a high-level UN aid
    meeting [in Geneva]." (Agence France-Presse, June 3, 2004)

    Annette Weber, an Amnesty International Sudan researcher just back from
    the Chad/Darfur border, who also attended the Geneva donors meeting,
    echoed Natsios assessment:

    "'There are 350,000 people who are most likely to die in this period
    [the rainy season].'" (The Guardian, June 4, 2004)

    In sum, without humanitarian intervention of a sort clearly not
    envisioned by the UN Security Council, the world will be acquiescing in
    a mortality rate that, on gruesome statistical average, will soon reach
    to 3,000 human beings a day.

    3,000 people---every day---for the foreseeable future.

    Ideally, humanitarian intervention would have UN authorization. But
    however unlikely such authorization may be, the obligations of
    "contracting parties" to the 1948 UN Genocide Convention are
    pellucidly clear, even as there is no sign that they are being taken
    seriously. In the words of Lavinia Limon, executive director of the
    distinguished US Committee for Refugees---words that must inevitably
    pertain to Presidential candidate Kerry until he clarifies his position
    on humanitarian intervention---

    "The failure of President Bush and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to
    lead the world to stop the genocide is shameful and indefensible. It is
    not too late for the President to act to save hundreds of thousands of
    lives, but time is running out." (Press Release, US Committee for
    Refugees, June 7, 2004)

    For hundreds of thousands of human beings in Darfur, time has already
    run out. Will UN moral failure ensure that the genocide continues?

    Eric Reeves
    Smith College
    Northampton, MA 01063
    [email protected]
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06-10-2004, 05:34 PM

Kostawi
<aKostawi
تاريخ التسجيل: 02-04-2002
مجموع المشاركات: 35233

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