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a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Security Council votes 12-0-3 for UN troops in Darfur

Posted by Thomas Nephew on August 31st, 2006

Reuters reporter Evelyn Leopold, via the Washington Post:

The U.N. Security Council on Thursday voted to create a United Nations peacekeeping force in Sudan’s Darfur region, despite the Khartoum government’s strong opposition.

The vote was 12 in favor, with abstentions from Russia, China and Qatar, the only Arab council member.

Seems like the best result one might have reasonably hoped for. Getting actual troops will be a challenge — as will of course getting Sudan’s acquiescence:

Sudan’s U.N. envoys refused to attend the meeting. In Khartoum, Ali Tamin Fartak, a presidential adviser, told Reuters, “Our stand is very clear, that the Sudanese government has not been consulted and it is not appropriate to pass a resolution before they seek the permission of Sudan.”

Writing for Coalition for Darfur, Eugene Oregon excerpts the key parts of UNSCR 1706 (.PDF), including an “all necessary means” statement:

12. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, (a) decides that UNMIS is authorised to use all necessary means, in the areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities:

– to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, to ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers, assessment and evaluation commission personnel, to prevent disruption of the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement by armed groups, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of the Sudan, to protect civilians under threat of physical violence,

– in order to support early and effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, to prevent attacks and threats against civilians,

– to seize or collect, as appropriate, arms or related material whose presence in Darfur is in violation of the Agreements and the measures imposed by paragraphs 7 and 8 of Resolution 1556, and to dispose of such arms and related material as appropriate;

The Save Darfur coalition expressed “cautious optimism” in its press release reacting to the news, adding:

“While we applaud the hard work that has gone into passing this resolution, the United States and other Security Council member nations must now turn their attention to making sure that this newly authorized peacekeeping force is actually deployed, and deployed soon,” said David Rubenstein of the Save Darfur Coalition. […]

“Only the actual presence of these peacekeepers will provide the security the people of Darfur so desperately need,” continued Rubenstein. “We must turn words on paper into boots on the ground.”

If you want to do more than just cross your fingers about this, consider joining the rally for Darfur in New York City’s Central Park on September 17. Satellite rallies will be held elsewhere in the U.S. as well, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Des Moines, Fort Wayne, St. Louis, Nashville, Las Vegas, Portland and Seattle.

My only observation right now is that I think it will be crucial to avoid turning this into some kind of front in the so-called “clash of civilizations” — while also making sure that any UN force that eventually arrives in Darfur will actually do its job. But getting in is the main thing at this point, so make nice with Sudan now, and leave hanging tough with Janjaweed genocidaires for later.

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