37 NGOs Urge UN Secretary-General Ban to Intervene on Darfur
Geneva, June 14, 2007 — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's stance on Darfur has "dissipated pressure rather than building it," according to an appeal published today by UN Watch and 36 other non-governmental organizations. Based in Geneva, UN Watch represented the largest NGO coalition at the UN Human Rights Council's December 2006 special session on Darfur, and organized the Council's March 2007 international NGO summit.
The letter calls on Mr. Ban to immediately intensify pressure on all sides to stop the conflict, criticizing the UN for "getting Sudan to repeat previous commitments" which it then portrays as victory. The appeal, coinciding with Ban's completion of six months in office, comes as the UN Human Rights Council—which has failed to take action on Darfur—struggles to conclude its first year without being judged a failure.
"Khartoum has used the 'time for diplomacy' line for the last four years, and the UN has taken the bait," said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. "The Secretary-General must push for immediate action to show that the UN is no longer falling for Sudan's crying wolf."
According to Neuer, the current Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva underscores the insufficiency of the UN's approach. Yesterday, the Council discussed yet another UN report on Darfur that called for more reports, "all of which has done absolutely nothing to abate the killings, mass rape and ethnic cleansing by the Sudanese army and the state-sponsored Janjaweed militias."
Neuer urged the UN Secretary-General "to tell the Sudanese government, the victims in Darfur, and the international community that this time, if Khartoum backs out of its promise to allow UN peacekeepers, there will be serious consequences. The lives and futures of the suffering Darfuri people will depend on it."
The full text of the joint NGO letter follows below.
His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon
The United Nations
New York, NY 10017
June 14, 2007
On the six-month anniversary of your swearing in as Secretary-General, we write to express our concerns about the deteriorating crisis in Darfur. As you are aware, attacks on civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law by all sides to the conflict are on the rise. At the same time, the access of aid agencies to populations at risk is steadily decreasing, leaving an increasing number of people without regular vital assistance.
As a diverse group of organisations from around the world, it is our view that the only way to bring an end to the ongoing atrocities is for the international community to apply sustained and growing pressure until all sides - the Government of Sudan, who bears primary responsibility for the violence, as well as the rebel movements - abide by the international community's demand that the rights and security of all Darfurians be respected.
We believe that, as the new Secretary-General, you have a critical role to play in bringing an end to this crisis. We have been encouraged by your prioritisation of Darfur since you came into office and thank you for the energy you have already put into this issue. We also welcome the recent announcement (June 12) that the Government of Sudan will accept the deployment of the hybrid force. However, based on previous experience, we believe that the Sudanese government will not deliver on this commitment unless sustained pressure is applied.
We are therefore concerned by some of your recent public statements that risk easing pressure on the Government of Sudan instead of increasing it. In particular, your call to the Security Council to allow more time for diplomacy before considering whether to impose further targeted sanctions on Sudan over the situation in Darfur served to dissipate pressure rather than build it. Whether or not that was your aim, it was certainly the impact of your repeated calls. As organisations who have worked on this crisis throughout the last four years, the idea that what is needed is more time for diplomacy alone is unconvincing.
According to news reports, you talked about a "moment of truth" at which you would know that Sudan "will not be faithful in implementing [its] commitments." Last month's extensive bombing by the Government of Sudan in Darfur should be evidence enough that this moment of truth has come. This breach is only the most recent in a long list of broken commitments, including the failure to disarm the Janjaweed militia. The United Nations actually has had to resort to portraying as victory getting Sudan to repeat previous commitments.
The Sudanese government has not once in the last four years been held accountable for its repeated failures to comply with international demands and protect its citizens from violence. It has practiced different techniques to avoid coming under real pressure. It signs up to agreements but does not implement them; it accepts things in principle but quibbles over the details and it plays off different countries and different negotiators in order to divide them. Yet, it is apparent in the current Darfur crisis, as it was on earlier occasions, that the Sudanese government only changes its policies when pressured.
We encourage you to change the calculations of the Sudanese government. We welcome your recent statement urging the Government of Sudan to comply fully with the Darfur Peace Agreement, Security Council resolutions and international humanitarian law and calling on both the Government and all movements to immediately stop their attacks on civilians. However, more is needed if we are to avoid yet more failed diplomatic initiatives in Darfur.
We urge you to work now to actively strengthen diplomatic resolve and ensure that renewed and intensified pressure from the Security Council is brought to bear on all sides to the conflict until an effective peacekeeping force is deployed, there is an end to attacks on civilians and a peace process based on human rights and justice is sustainably on course to success.
Magdalena Nagórska, Author and Coordinator
Action Poland for Darfur
John Petrie, Executive Director
Juliet Sharpe, Director
Zainab Al-Suwaij, Executive Director
American Islamic Congress
Ruth Messinger, President
American Jewish World Service
Nasser Burdestani, International Campaigns Coordinator
Bahrain Society for Public Freedom and Democracy Support
Norman L. Epstein M.D. CCFP (EM) Co-chair
Canadians Against Slavery and Torture in Sudan
Yobo Rutin, Executive Director
Centre for Minority Rights Development
Diagne Chanel, Présidente
Ahmed Musa Ali
Darfur-Hilfe Verein e.V
Ismail Adam, President
Darfur Association of Canada
Ahmed M. Mohamedain
Ishag Mekki, Vice chairman
Darfur Union UK and NI
Darfur Gruppe Berlin
Olga Israel, Chairperson
European Union of Jewish Students
Eric Cohen, Chairperson
Fidelity out of Sudan
Betsy Apple, Director
Human Rights First
Mauro Annarumma, Online Campaigning Coordinator
Italians for Darfur
Simone Rodan, President
Medbridge Strategy Centre
Dr. Frank Chalk, Director
Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
National Union of Students (NUS) UK
Laura Lodenius, Executive Director
Peace Union of Finland
Trevor Pears, Chair
Tilman Zülch, President
Society for threatened Peoples International
Martina W. Knee, Member, Executive Committee
San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition
Tara Tavender, Executive Director
Save Darfur Canada
Lawrence G. Rossin, Senior International Coordinator
Save Darfur Coalition
Pierre Levene, Secrétaire General
Secours Catholique / Caritas France
Hashim Ahmed, Acting Director
Sudan Organisation Against Torture
Ben Fine, Executive Director
Students Taking Action Now: Darfur Canada
Hamish Falconer, Executive Director
Sudan Divestment UK
Hillel C. Neuer, Executive Director
Jacky Mamou, President
Christa Bennett, Director