NEW YORK - August 4 - The United Nations Security Council Resolution (1828) extending the mandate of the UN's peacekeeping force for Darfur (UNAMID) is welcome news, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said Friday. PHR urges all member states to seize on the extension by at last fully deploying UNAMID after a year of delays -- delays that have been paid for with Darfurian lives. However, while the resolution is a much needed step forward, PHR is troubled by the inclusion of language in the Resolution regarding certain states' concerns about the recent charges of genocide and crimes against humanity levied by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudan's President.
"The resolution should be solely about the continuing need to protect Darfurians from their own government. Political disagreements about the ICC's case against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir have no place in this resolution," said Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive Officer of PHR. "The evidence that genocide has been committed by al-Bashir's government is credible, unequivocal, and overwhelming. The UN Security Council should now be squarely focused on quickly providing long-overdue protection for the people of Darfur."
Though the United States is a non-signatory to the Rome Statute, it abstained from the July 31st resolution citing concerns that the language about the ICC's case "would undermine efforts to bring [Bashir] and others to justice."
"This is a strong vote of confidence by the United States for the case against al-Bashir laid out by the ICC's Chief Prosecutor," said Donaghue. "And while we applaud the motives, we hope that the abstention will not cause the US to sit in the sidelines as the deployment of the force languishes for another year. On the contrary, we ask the US to use the opportunity of the renewal of the force to champion its swift, complete deployment."
UNAMID, which was authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 in July of 2007, called for approximately 20,000 peacekeepers and 3,800 police to patrol Sudan's troubled Darfur region. Yet, one year into the force's mandate, fewer than 10,000 troops have been deployed, and none of the eighteen helicopters needed have been provided.
"The complete deployment of UNAMID continues to be an unkept promise. The UN Security Council authorized the force a year ago but have failed to translate that vote into the either the full number of boots on the ground or appropriate equipment for those already there," said Donaghue. "It is both easy and inaccurate to lay the blame for UNAMID's deadly delays solely at the feet of the Sudanese government. The most critical supply that UNAMID is missing at present is neither helicopters nor helmets -- it is the political will of the UN Security Council."
The conflict in Darfur, which began in 2003, has claimed the lives of an estimated 400,000 people, resulted in systematic rape, and has left 2.8 million displaced. The Government of Sudan continues to bomb villages, kill and displace civilians with impunity in villages and camps for the internally displaced inside Darfur. On July 14, 2008, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC presented evidence against President Omar al-Bashir charging him with ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.