Bush Signs Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, Endorsing Strong Diplomatic Pressure to End Genocide
Genocide Intervention Network (Washington, DC)
The Genocide Intervention Network commends President George W. Bush for signing the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which will impose economic and political pressure on the government of Sudan for its pursuit of genocide in Darfur. The signing of the DPAA follows recent appropriation by Congress of $20 million in support to the African Union peacekeeping mission already in Sudan.
The legislation comes at a time of increased violence in Darfur - where state-sponsored militias have killed at least 450,000 civilians and displaced 2.5 million people - and continued refusal by the government of Sudan to allow UN peacekeepers into the region.
The Genocide Intervention Network calls on the president to enforce the important provisions of the DPAA, including freezing the assets of individuals complicit in genocide and denying port entry to any cargo ship or oil tanker engaged in business with Sudan.
"The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act has the potential to seriously curtail the genocidal activities of the government of Sudan, but only if its provisions are seriously enforced," says GI-Net Executive Director Mark Hanis.
"It is troubling, however, that Congress chose to strip a vital section of the bill before passage, protecting individual states choosing to divest from Sudan," Hanis says. "The removal of this provision by Sen. Richard Lugar was especially disturbing given the wide, bipartisan support it enjoys in both houses of Congress."
In September, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill divesting the state's largest public shareholders from companies funding genocide in Darfur. Similar legislation is pending in at least 15 other states.
The government of Sudan continues to block requests by the African Union to transfer peacekeeping operations to a larger United Nations force and has intensified its own campaign of violence and slaughter against the civilians of Darfur. With the passage of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, newly-appointed Special Envoy Andrew Natsios can bring the full weight of the United States' diplomatic efforts to bear on Sudan, GI-Net argues.
"Mr. Natsios should begin coordinating a diplomatic ceasefire process in Sudan that includes representatives from the government, rebel movements, tribal leaders, civil society and multinational organizations like the African Union," Hanis says. In 2005, a peace deal ending the 21-year civil war between the Sudanese government and Southern Sudan was successfully brokered by the United States.
"In addition to these diplomatic measures, the United States must publicly pledge logistical and communications support to the proposed UN peacekeeping force," Hanis says. "The US government should use all possible means to convince the government of Sudan to accept the UN peacekeepers, but in the interim must provide support to the African Union peacekeepers."
The Darfur peacekeeping budget for the African Union, at least $40 million per month, has been partially funded by appropriations from the United States such as the recent $20 million emergency funding introduced by Sens. Barack Obama and Harry Reid. More substantial funding, $307 million to date, has come from the European Union.