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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 16 February 2005 - Secretary-General's statement to the Security Council on Sudan

Thank you Mr. President,

I am very pleased that the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, is with us today, to present the report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur.

I will leave it to her to give a full description of the report's findings and recommendations. But let me stress that this report is one of the most important documents in the recent history of the United Nations. It makes chilling reading. And it is a call to urgent action.

The Commission has established that many people in Darfur have been the victims of atrocities perpetrated on a very large scale for which the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed are responsible -- including war crimes, and very likely crimes against humanity.

The Commission has also found credible evidence that rebel forces are responsible for serious violations, which may amount to war crimes.

And the Commission strongly recommends that the Security Council immediately refer the situation of Darfur to the International Criminal Court, to ensure that those responsible for these heinous crimes are held to account. It is vital that these crimes not be left unpunished.

But the call to urgent action does not stop there.

Even as the Commission was conducting its inquiry, and since then, attacks on villages, killing of civilians, rape, pillaging and forced displacement have continued in Darfur.

As others have said before me, while the United Nations may not be able to take humanity to heaven, it must act to save humanity from hell. This report demonstrates, beyond all doubt, that the last two years have been little short of hell on earth for our fellow human beings in Darfur. And despite the attention the Council has paid to this crisis, that hell continues today.

The international community, led by this Council, must immediately find a way to halt the killing and protect the vulnerable. The full range of options should be on the table - including targeted sanctions, stronger peacekeeping efforts, new measures to protect civilians, and increased pressure on both sides for a lasting political solution.

I will do my part to help develop such a strategy. But the power, and the responsibility, to do something about this grave crisis are in your hands. Once again, I call on the Security Council to act urgently to stop further death and suffering in Darfur, and to do justice for those whom we are already too late to save.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Statements on 16 February 2005