Title: Britain backs UN sanctions after losing patience in Sudan cr
Author: أحمد أمين
Date: 03-08-2005, 04:50 AM
Britain backs UN sanctions after losing patience in Sudan crisis
Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Tuesday March 8, 2005
The British government is to back punitive measures against the Sudanese government after losing patience over the worsening humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
Until now the Foreign Office has argued that persuasion was more productive than sanctions and other measures. But a British government source said: "We have run out of patience. It would be incredible if the international community continued to just wave a finger."
The most important measure in a United Nations security council resolution this week will be to send those accused of crimes against humanity to the International criminal court, according to diplomatic sources. In a big concession to international opinion, the US will agree to allow Darfur cases to go to the ICC, the sources add. The US has strenuously opposed the court, but is now prepared to abstain in the security council.
Other measures include the setting up of a sanctions committee to target individuals in the Sudanese government, as well as some rebels. But the proposed sanctions have been watered down in horsetrading between Britain, the US, China and Russia.
Human rights organisations and aid agencies have expressed despair over the failure of the security council to take decisive action to deal with what the UN last year described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. An estimated 1.2 million people have been displaced, mainly fleeing attacks by the Sudanese military and government-backed militia, known as the Janjaweed.
The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, exasperated over continuing procrastination, called a closed-session yesterday of security council members. He said afterwards: "I am worried that we are not moving fast enough to deal with the appalling situation in Darfur. We keep getting reports which show that the killing and raping and burning are still going on."
The US, backed by Britain, circulated a draft resolution to extend an arms embargo, freeze assets of individuals accused of major crimes and impose travel bans on the same individuals. China and Russia, which have economic ties to the Sudanese government, have agreed to the setting up of a UN sanctions committee to identify those who should be targeted. But, in return, plans for the extended arms ban and freeze on assets have been dropped, with only the travel ban remaining.
The British government source said the Sudanese government has not fulfilled its promises. It told Tony Blair during a visit to Khartoum in the autumn that it would stop bombing civilians, but that had continued. Three weeks ago, almost six months after the bombers were supposed to have been withdrawn, the Sudanese government said it was pulling its Russian-built bombers from the region.
The US is opposed to the ICC because it says it cannot allow any court to have jurisdiction over US forces, fearing that other countries could raise actions against US troops. It favoured referral of those alleged to be responsible for the Darfur crisis to an international court but proposed that a tribunal be set up. Other security council members did not support the plan