Security Council ready to consider sanctions to get Sudan’s compliance on Darfur

UN Security Council in session

18 September 2004 – Concerned that the Government of Sudan had not fully met its obligations to protect civilians in Darfur, the United Nations Security Council on Saturday declared that it would consider taking additional measures, including sanctions, should the Sudan fail to comply fully with the Council's July resolution or to cooperate with the expansion and extension of the African Union monitoring presence in Darfur.

The Council adopted resolution 1564 by a vote of 11 in favour to none against, with four abstentions (Algeria, China, Pakistan and the Russian Federation). The text was co-sponsored by the United States, Germany, Romania and the United Kingdom.

Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Council said that to obtain full compliance or cooperation, “it shall consider taking additional measures as contemplated in Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations, such as actions to affect Sudan's petroleum sector and the Government of Sudan or individual members of the Government of Sudan.”

By its action, the Council also requested the Secretary-General to rapidly establish an international commission of inquiry, which would immediately investigate reports of human rights violations in Darfur, and determine whether acts of genocide had occurred there.

Last Thursday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was present at the meeting, had called for urgent action on Darfur, noting that it was the first time in the Council's history that it had been seized under article 8 of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Article 8 of that instrument allows parties to the treaty to "call upon the competent organs of the United Nations" to take action under the Charter to prevent and suppress acts of genocide.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United States said the Council acted today because the Sudanese Government had failed to fully comply with resolution 1556. The text reflected the wishes of delegations to recognize that the Government had met some of its obligations. But nobody should be under the illusion that the Government had done so voluntarily, he said. It had done so with great reluctance and long delays, under significant pressure from the international community.

Germany's representative stressed that the resolution sought to achieve the cooperation of the Sudanese Government with an expanded African Union monitoring presence, and to support the Union's role in resolving the crisis.

Several speakers commended the balanced nature of the text, with Spain's delegate saying that, while recognizing the positive steps taken by the country's authorities, it also highlighted that much remained to be done to fully comply with the Council's requirements.

Representatives of the countries that had abstained in the vote, however, expressed reservations about the text. The representative of the Russian Federation, for example, insisted that the threat of sanctions was far from the best method to ensure compliance, which should instead be sought through diplomatic means. Others added that the resolution did not sufficiently take into account the efforts of the Government to allow in humanitarian relief and to cooperate with the United Nations.

Describing the resolution adopted today as “a fatal blow,” Sudan's representative said his Government had shown that it had honoured its commitments. He wondered why some delegations insisted on punishing his Government despite its cooperation. The entire world was directing its gaze at the Security Council to see whether it would be used for political purposes. The hastiness and pressure linked with the resolution was aimed at pleasing only the American Congress, which believed it was the sole conscience of the world.

During the 90-minute meeting, the Council also heard statements by the representatives of Algeria, China, Pakistan, France, Benin, United Kingdom, Brazil, Chile, Romania and the Philippines.

By Council resolution 1556, the Sudanese Government had to show substantial, irreversible and verifiable progress towards ensuring security in Darfur, and immediately implement its commitments under the Joint Communiqué it had issued together with the United Nations on 3 July. The Government was also obligated to disarm the Janjaweed militia, as well as apprehend and bring to justice those who had carried out human rights violations and other atrocities.

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