30 July 2004 The Security Council today adopted a resolution paving the way for action against Sudan in 30 days if it does not make progress on pledges to disarm the militias accused of indiscriminate murders, rapes and other attacks against civilians in the Darfur region – a move that was welcomed immediately by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
With China and Pakistan abstaining, and the other 13 members approving the text, the Council agreed to impose an arms embargo against the Janjaweed militias and all other non-governmental forces in Darfur, which has been described as the site of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The resolution says the Council might take measures against Sudan if it does not show progress on achieving the commitments – most notably the pledges to disarm the Janjaweed and restore security to Darfur – it outlined in a joint communiqué with the UN on 3 July.
Those measures include steps allowed under the UN Charter, such as issuing economic penalties, restricting transport and communications, and severing diplomatic relations.
The resolution also calls for the resumption of political dialogue between the government and Darfur’s two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
Mr. Annan, who visited Darfur earlier this month and was present at the signing of the communiqué, “looks forward to the swift and sustained implementation” by Sudan of its commitments, and hopes the resolution will ensure that a humanitarian catastrophe is avoided in Darfur, according to a statement read out by UN spokesperson Marie Okabe.
The Secretary-General also welcomed the Council’s backing of the efforts of the African Union (AU), which is trying to mediate a political solution to the crisis and has deployed human rights monitors as part of a mission in Darfur, a region roughly equal to the size of France.
In Accra, Ghana, African leaders said they discussed plans to significantly expand the number of troops in the AU’s observer mission given the deteriorating security situation in Darfur. They also called on the international community to give financial and logistic support to that mission.
Ambassador John Danforth of the United States, one of the sponsors of today’s resolution, said the Council had been forced to act because Government forces and the Janjaweed, which are allied to Khartoum, had killed 30,000 people since February last year.
“The last thing we wanted to do was lay the groundwork for sanctions, but the Government of Sudan has left us no choice,” he told the Council after it voted, calling the resolution essential to global efforts to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Humanitarian agencies estimate that 1.2 million people have become internally displaced within Darfur and another 200,000 live as refugees in neighbouring Chad because of the Janjaweed attacks and the fighting between Sudanese forces and the SLM/A and the JEM.
Sudan’s Ambassador Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa told the Council his Government was in a “race with time” to implement the commitments laid out in the 3 July communiqué, adding it was extremely difficult to disarm the Janjaweed because Darfur is a region where almost everyone carries arms.
Mr. Erwa said Khartoum had already made much progress, citing the deployment of more than 4,800 police to bolster security, the arrest and trial of 200 Janjaweed members, and the dispatch of rape investigation teams headed by female judges.
Accusing the United States of pre-determining the facts, he said that when the joint communiqué with the UN was signed, it never occurred to Sudan that it would be used “as a springboard” to punish Khartoum.
Ambassador Wang Guangya of China, announcing his country’s abstention before the role, said the adoption of mandatory measures if commitments are not met is “not helpful in resolving the situation in Darfur and may further complicate the situation.”
Mr. Wang stressed the importance of listening to and supporting the AU as it attempted to resolve the Darfur dispute.
Video of Council meeting [1hr 27mins]