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Letter to the UN Security Council Members Concerning Darfur, Sudan

July 2006

On June 29, the day the United Nations Security Council (SC) was to decide whether or not to deploy a UN peacekeeping force to Darfur, Sudan, a coalition of ten human rights, humanitarian and advocacy organizations sent the following letter to the 15 members of the Security Council. The letter urged them to deploy such a force as soon as possible. The letter also asked the SC members to immediately strengthen and reinforce the African Union force currently serving in Darfur, and to increase funding for cash-strapped humanitarian programs.

June 29, 2006

Dear UN Security Council Member _______:

As you meet today to decide the future of a UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur, Sudan, we, members of international human rights and humanitarian organizations, exhort you to deploy a robust, multi-national force at the earliest possible moment.

We address you today with a sense of great urgency. The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), signed May 5, 2006 by the Government of Sudan and one of the three rebel groups, did not end that bloody conflict. Violent attacks on civilians continue, and both parties have violated the DPA. The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), while performing admirably under difficult circumstances, has had a limited impact on the security situation and is ill-equipped to oversee the multitude of tasks assigned to it under the DPA. Further, there are few signs that AMIS will achieve adequate operational capacity to protect civilians and hold the parties to their obligations under the Agreement.

A United Nations peacekeeping operation, deployed under a Chapter VII mandate and comprising at least 20,000 troops, represents the only hope for ending the violence in Darfur and creating conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their villages. To this end, we urge your government to take the following steps:

  1. Support and contribute to the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation of 20,000 troops under Chapter VII no later than October 2006. This force, which should be composed of a substantial contingent of soldiers from Muslim and African nations, will be tasked with protecting civilians and overseeing the security arrangements in the DPA, notably the disarmament of the Janjaweed militias.
    • Countries on the Security Council must use all diplomatic means – including consideration of targeted sanctions – to convince the Sudanese Government to drop its opposition to such a force.
    • The Security Council must return to the original timetable for deployment of UN forces in Darfur by the end of September 2006. Every month is critical; the people of Darfur cannot wait until 2007.
    • Governments must provide operational and technical support to the UN force, including attack helicopters, ground-based radar, strategic and tactical lift and trained personnel to staff the force at headquarters level.
  2. Encourage your home government to immediately reinforce and strengthen the African Union mission until a UN force can be deployed. We urge you to provide additional resources and logistical support to the under-resourced mission, so that it can more effectively protect civilians, and to support the difficult task of disarming the Janjaweed according to DPA timelines.
  3. Significantly increase your funding of humanitarian assistance programs in Darfur, and quickly follow through with provisioning on the ground. Aid agencies are struggling to meet even the most basic needs of the war-affected populations because of funding shortfalls.
  4. Signal to the Government of Sudan that obstruction of humanitarian relief is unacceptable. All obstructions, refusals of visas for aid workers and other delaying tactics will be considered violations of the DPA and will trigger consideration of targeted sanctions.
  5. Hold all parties accountable for their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, including those reflected in the DPA. Targeted sanctions against violators should be considered if parties fail to protect civilians and disarm the Janjaweed.

We believe that the UN's appointment of a high-level Envoy for Peace in Sudan would facilitate the above actions, while keeping the situation in Darfur in the public eye. This senior envoy could coordinate closely with donors on humanitarian and development assistance, and exert sustained diplomatic pressure on all parties to abide by their commitments. An envoy also could monitor negotiations between the Government of Sudan and rebels in the east and exert pressure on the parties to adhere to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 2005.

We urge you, members of the Security Council, to respond with the requisite urgency.

Sincerely,

Ann-Louise Colgan, Acting Co-Executive Director
Africa Action

Ruth Messinger, Executive Director/President
American Jewish World Service

Gerald LeMelle, Deputy Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Mark Hanis, Executive Director
Genocide Intervention Network

Peter Takirambudde, Africa Director
Human Rights Watch

Hafiz Mohamed, Sudan Program Director
Justice Africa

Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs
National Association of Evangelicals

Leonard S. Rubenstein, Executive Director
Physicians for Human Rights

Kenneth H. Bacon, President
Refugees International

Ricken Patel, Co-Director
Res Publica

David Rubenstein, Coordinator
Save Darfur Coalition

Erin Mazursky, Executive Director
The National STAND Coalition (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur)

Dr. Jacky Mamou, President
Urgence Darfour (France)

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