Oral Statement by United Nations Watch
Delivered by Executive Director Hillel C. Neuer
April 11, 2005
Commission on Human Rights
61st Session, March 14 – April 22, 2005
Item 13: Rights of the Child
THE UNITED NATIONS MUST ACT NOW TO
PROTECT CHILD VICTIMS IN SUDAN
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In Darfur, the latest figures according to the New York Times show that Arab militias, aided by the Sudanese government, have killed as many as 300,000 black Africans over the past two years. An estimated 2.4 million have been displaced from their homes.
Children are the most vulnerable victims. Severe violations of human rights against children include killing, attacks, sexual violence including rape, killing of family members, abduction of children and recruitment into armed groups, burning of houses and crops, poisoning of wells, looting of property and animals, humiliation of relatives, and harassment and intimidation.
One of the most odious of these crimes is rape. Thousands of girls—children—have been victimized.
Rape of civilians is a war crime. Perpetrators bear individual criminal responsibility. Rape is also a crime against humanity, constituting a serious attack on human dignity. These crimes are occurring in Darfur as part of a systematic practice of atrocities committed against the civilian population.
We welcome the prosecution of Sudanese war criminals by the International Criminal Court. But to save today’s victims, prosecution is not enough. We need prevention.
Some question whether this Commission can help prevent Sudan’s unspeakable crimes against the children of Darfur. After all, this body has no troops. It cannot impose economic sanctions.
But the Commission on Human Rights can do something for the child victims of Darfur. This Commission can apply the moral weight of world opinion—it can express the world’s outrage—by enacting a sharp and unequivocal condemnation of Sudan’s crimes. The fact that Sudan, acting within the African Group, is vigorously resisting such a condemnation, testifies to its significance. Khartoum is watching us.
Last year, this Commission signaled indifference. Khartoum took note, and continued its crimes. On April 23rd 2004, the resolution that was to condemn Sudan’s atrocities was withdrawn, following negotiations between the European Union and the African group. Instead, a mere “decision” was passed. All the language that mattered was removed, such as the original condemnation of “widespread recourse to rape and other forms of sexual violence, including against children, as a means of warfare.”
Moments ago, I am pleased to announce, a resolution by the E.U. and other states was submitted under Item 9. This is a good text that holds Sudan accountable. I fear, however, that certain states may oppose it, or that the sponsors will back down.
What will we signal to Khartoum this year? Will the world’s foremost human rights body prove itself, once again, unable to condemn the world’s foremost human rights crime?