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UN Rights Council Considering Weak Darfur Resolutions

UN Watch Analysis of the Two Pending Drafts

 

                        

Geneva, March 29, 2007  —  At its ongoing fourth session, the UN Human Rights Council's European Union and African Group members have tabled competing draft resolutions on the human rights situation in Darfur, Sudan.  The Council will take action on these drafts on Friday. 

 

Both drafts claim to be "follow-up" to the report presented to the Council on March 16 by an assessment team led by Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, but regrettably, neither actually implements the recommendations of that report.  Below, UN Watch analyzes the two drafts and compares them, recommendation by recommendation, to the Williams report.  

 

Drafts Ignore Williams Team's Recommendations:

Even the slightly stronger EU draft merely "takes note" of the Williams team's report, which found the government of Sudan responsible for orchestrating and participating in "large-scale international crimes in Darfur" and also cited other parties to the conflict for gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law.  Instead of calling for the immediate implementation of the report's numerous and specific recommendations, however, the EU text simply establishes a group of experts with the vague mandate to "work with the Government of Sudan . . . to ensure the effective follow-up and implementation of resolutions and recommendations on Darfur. . . , taking into account the needs of the Sudan in this regard, to safeguard the consistency of these recommendations and to contribute to monitoring the human rights situation on the ground."  

Among its many recommendations, the Williams report asked the Council to condemn the Sudanese government for ongoing violations and for its "manifest failure in its responsibility to protect civilians" and to call on Khartoum to admit the proposed UN/African Union peacekeeping force, to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, to comply with the international sanctions that have been imposed on war crimes suspects, and to remove obstacles to humanitarian aid.  The report also advocated measures to ensure accountability for perpetrators and compensation for victims and urged the UN to compile a list of foreign companies whose business in Sudan has an adverse impact on human rights in Darfur.      

Drafts Miminize Sudan's Role and Responsibility:
The EU draft would finally cite Khartoum and others for violations—something the Council has shamefully failed to do since its inauguration last June—but still only in a veiled way.  It "expresses deep concern regarding the seriousness of the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur, including attacks by rebel and government forces on civilian population and humanitarian workers, widespread destruction of villages, and continued and widespread violence, in particular gender-based violence against women and gifls, as well as the lack of accountability of perpetrators of such crimes."  (The similar paragraph in the African Group draft is even softer, omitting the words "by rebel and government forces," as well as deleting the references to the destruction of villages and violence against women and girls.)  By equating the Khartoum regime's violations with those of the rebels, who are even listed first, the EU's language minimizes the Williams team's attribution of the primary responsibility for the crimes in Darfur to the Government of Sudan.  The EU draft also defers to Sudan by saying that the Williams mission "could not visit Darfur," obscuring that it was the Khartoum government that denied them entry.
 
An earlier version of the EU draft had said "bombing," instead of "widespread destruction" of villages—which presumably was changed because it was too pointed a reference to the government of Sudan, the only party to the conflict that has planes. 
Drafts' Weaknesses Prove Council's Flaws:   
If, as some diplomats claim, the EU draft is the strongest possible text that could win a majority vote in the Council, that in itself is an indictment of the body, confirming its inability to credibly address the world's greatest ongoing human rights crimes. 

Chart Comparing Williams Report to European and African Drafts

 

 Williams Report  European Draft

 African Group Draft

The HRC should "regret the [Sudanese] government's manifest failure in its responsibility to protect civilians."

 

Not mentioned.  Instead, recalls that the Sudanese government has “expressed its readiness to improve the human rights situation in Darfur.”

 

Not mentioned.  Instead, "welcomes the readiness of Sudan to improve the human rights situation in Darfur."

 

The HRC should "condemn the continuing violations" by all parties.  The report found "large scale international crimes," committed primarily by the Government of Sudan and its affiliated Janjaweed militias, as well as by rebel groups, including:

  • widespread killing of civilians, including in large-scale attacks;
  • widespread and systematic rape and sexual violence;
  • torture;
  • arbitrary arrest and detention, 
    repression of political dissent and arbitrary restrictions on political freedoms; and
  • ineffective mechanisms of justice and accountability.

 

 

 

No condemnation.  Instead, merely "[e]xpresses its deep concern regarding the seriousness of the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur, including attacks by rebel and Government forces on civilian population and humanitarian workers, widespread destruction of villages, and continued and widespread violence, in particular gender-based violence against women and girls, as well as the lack of accountability of perpetrators of such crimes."

The previous draft said "bombing", not "widespread destruction," of villages, but that presumably was too pointedly directed at the government of Sudan, which is the only party to the conflict that has planes.

The previous draft also said "continued and widespread sexual violence," which was toned down to "gender-based violence against women and girls."  

No condemnation and no reference to any party to the conflict. Instead, merely "[e]xpresses its deep concern regarding the seriousness of the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur including attacks and widespread violence on civilian populations and humanitarian workers, and in particular stresses the crucial need to step up efforts towards ensuring greater accountability by perpetrators of such crimes."

 

 

 

The HRC should “call for effective protection for civilians, accountability for perpetrators (including through action by the [International Criminal Court]) and compensation and redress for victims.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

No references to accountability, compensation or redress.  Instead, simply "[c]alls upon all parties to the conflict in Darfur to put an end to all acts of violence against civilians, with a special focus on vulnerable groups including women, children and internally displaced persons, as well as humanitarian workers."

 

Also "[c]alls upon the signatories of the Darfur Peace Agreement to comply with their obligations under the agreement, acknowledges the measures already taken towards its implementation and calls upon non-signatory parties" to sign.  

 

No references to accountability, compensation or redress.  Instead, simply "[c]alls upon all parties to put an end to all acts of violence against civilians with special focus on vulnerable groups, including women, children, and internally displaced persons, as well as humanitarian workers."

Also welcomes the Darfur Peace Agreement and "the measures already taken towards its implementation" and "calls on all parties to respect their provisions and the parties who have not yet done so to sign. . . ."

 

 

The HRC should “establish a dedicated procedure or mechanism to monitor the situation of human rights in Dafur, to measure the degree of implementation of outstanding [UN] recommendations
. . .  and to report regularly to the Council.”  This mechanism “should work in close cooperation with the [HRC’s independent expert on Sudan] whose mandate should be extended as required.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decides to convene a group of seven of the independent UN human rights experts, presided over by the independent expert on Sudan, to:

  • work with the government of Sudan, the appropriate human rights mechanisms of the African Union, and to closely consult with the Chairman of the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Cooperation [a group envisioned by the Darfur Peace Agreement];"
  • ensure the effective follow-up and foster the implementation of [UN] resolutions and recommendations on Darfur. . . , taking into account the needs of Sudan in this regard, to safeguard the consistency of these recommendations and to contribute to monitoring the human rights situation on the ground;"  and
  • report to the HRC at its 5th (June 2007) session.

     

Decides to convene a "review panel" including the UN expert on Sudan,  the Chair of the Reporting Committee for the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Cooperation and other experts "designed by the [HRC] in consultation with the African Union Commission" to:

  • work with the Government of Sudan, the African Union and the [HRC];
  • "assess the needs of the Sudan and
     . . . consider ways and means of fostering the effective implementation of [UN] resolutions and recommendations relating to Darfur.  . . .,  as well as appropriate measures aimed at the restoration of peace and at achieving a peaceful settlement of the Darfur crisis;" and
  •  report to the HRC at its 5th session.

 

 

The HRC should “call for and actively support the establishment of a credible, independent national human rights commission for the Sudan.”

 Not mentioned.

 

 Not mentioned.

 

The Sudanese Government should cease all violations and fully comply with its international obligations, including:

  • “cooperat[ing] fully in the deployment of the proposed UN/AU peacekeeping/protection force without further delay”;
  • “remov[ing] all obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian assistance;”
  • “ensur[ing] the free and safe movement of human rights monitors;”
  • “afford[ing] full cooperation to the International Criminal Court;”
  • fully implementing “all UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council resolutions. . . . , including those relating to travel bans and the freezing of funds, assets, and economic resources of those who commit violations;”
  • “fully implement[ing] the many recommendations of United Nations human rights mechanisms and inquiries, still outstanding;”
  • “facilitat[ing] the safe return of refugees and [internally displaced persons]” and
  • ensuring that its domestic laws and policies comply with both its Interim National Constitution and international human rights standards.

 Not mentioned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Not mentioned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Security Council should “ensure the effective protection of the civilian population of Darfur, including through the deployment of the proposed UN/AU peacekeeping/protection force and full cooperation with and support for the International Criminal Court.”

 Not mentioned.

 

 

 Not mentioned.

 

 

The General Assembly should “request the compilation of a list of foreign companies that have an adverse impact on the situation of human rights in Darfur” and “call upon all UN institutions and offices to abstain from entering into business transactions with any of the identified companies.”

 Not mentioned.

 

 

 Not mentioned.

 

 

UN member states should “urgently provide adequate funding and support for the UN support package to the [African Union Mission in Sudan], for the deployment of the proposed UN/AU peacekeeping/protection force, for adequate numbers of international human rights monitors, for the continuing humanitarian needs of Darfur, for the establishment of a credible independent national human rights commission, and for programmes of compensation and redress for victims in Darfur.”

 Not mentioned.

 

 

 

 Not mentioned.

 

 

 

UN member states should “be prepared to prosecute individuals suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur through the exercise of universal jurisdiction in national courts outside of the Sudan.”

 Not mentioned.

 

 Not mentioned.

 

UN member states should “call for, support and facilitate the convening of a national conference on peace, human rights, and a common vision for the Sudan.”

 Not mentioned.

 

 Not mentioned.

 

UN member states should “organize a regional conference, under the auspices of the UN and the AU. . . on the safeguarding and promotion of peace and human rights in the region.”

 Not mentioned.

 

 Not mentioned.

 

 

    

 

 

     


UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information.