WASHINGTON - December 5 - As the security situation in
Darfur, Sudan continues to deteriorate, there is a growing consensus
around the need for a more robust mandate for the African Union (AU)
mission and a larger international intervention force to support the AU
and provide protection to the people of Darfur. Africa Action today
declares that the United Nations (UN) is the appropriate vehicle for
such an intervention, and that this is a viable option that should
immediately be pursued by the international community.
Africa Action calls upon the U.S. to immediately introduce a resolution
at the UN to "re-hat" the AU mission as a UN operation, granting it a
strong civilian protection mandate from the international community, and
to authorize a UN force to be deployed as soon as possible to the
region. Based on African precedents, Africa Action asserts that such a
UN action in support of the AU can and will provide critical support to
the AU mission and provide security to the people of Darfur.
In this statement, Africa Action addresses the feasibility of such a UN
intervention in Darfur. The organization offers new analysis of
precedents where African regional bodies and the UN have cooperated
effectively in peace enforcement and peacekeeping missions, and it
applies lessons learned to recommend next steps on Darfur. Africa Action
highlights the need for U.S. leadership at the UN to prompt such
international action, and argues why this is the moment for such
leadership to protect the people of Darfur.
An International Intervention is Necessary Now
Recent reports from the UN, humanitarian agencies and the media confirm
a sharp deterioration in the security situation in Darfur. Already more
than 400,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million have been forced
out of their homes since the genocide began in 2003. As the violence
worsens, growing numbers of people are being attacked and displaced,
humanitarian organizations face increasing risks to their operations,
and there are new demands for a protection force to provide security to
the region. An international intervention is essential to serve four
main purposes: (1) Stop the killings, rapes and pillaging in Darfur; (2)
Provide security to facilitate humanitarian assistance programs for
internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees; (3) Enforce the African
Union cease-fire between the Khartoum government and the rebel groups in
Darfur to allow meaningful political negotiations to move forward in
Abuja, Nigeria, and (4) facilitate the voluntary return of IDPs to their
land and the reconstruction of their homes by providing a secure
As the 7th round of peace talks between the Government of Sudan and
rebel groups from Darfur continues in Abuja, Nigeria, an international
intervention is necessary to deter violence in Darfur and to help create
the climate for these talks to proceed productively and result in a
comprehensive agreement. Once a political agreement is reached in Abuja,
an international intervention force will be essential to facilitate the
implementation of such an agreement.
The African Union Needs UN Support
The African Union has demonstrated important leadership in Darfur -
brokering the April 2004 cease-fire, deploying 7,000 troops to Darfur to
observe the cease-fire, and hosting successive rounds of peace talks
between the Government of Sudan and the rebels. Now the AU needs
international support to ensure the success of its mission in Darfur,
both for the sake of its institutional credibility and for the sake of
millions of vulnerable people in Darfur. At present, the AU mission
lacks the mandate, the troop strength and the logistical capacity to
stop the genocide and provide protection to the people of Darfur.
Responding to genocide and other crimes against humanity is a
responsibility of the international community. The UN must act to
reinforce the AU’s efforts, as it has worked with African regional
bodies in the past, to ensure the success of peacekeeping operations
where the lives of millions of innocent civilians are at stake.
Precedents Prove Case for UN-African Peacekeeping Operation
Under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the Security Council may take such
action as necessary to maintain or restore international peace and
security. The members of the UN have previously shown their willingness
and capability to invoke Chapter 7 peace enforcement and peace-building
instruments in response to conflict in Africa. Now, the UN can and must
furnish the AU with a strong civilian protection mandate and with
international backing in the form of a UN peacekeeping mission to
support the AU in Darfur.
Precedents show that the UN is a viable source for effective and
appropriate international intervention to stop genocide and other crimes
against humanity. The following examples also show instances of
successful cooperation between African regional bodies, which intervened
as "first responders", and the UN, which acted to reinforce their
efforts with a larger international force.
(1) In Sierra Leone, after the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) intervened to enforce the peace in 1998, the UN Security
Council acted in 1999 to authorize an international force with a robust
mandate, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, to work alongside and
coordinate with the ECOWAS mission. In late 1999, ECOWAS troops in
Sierra Leone were "re-hatted" as UN peacekeepers, and transitioned into
a UN mission the next year. The transition in early 2000 was initially
rocky, but the Security Council rallied behind the mission and boosted
its strength, and the mission was able to deter conflict and restore a
secure environment to Sierra Leone.
(2) In Liberia, ECOWAS intervened to enforce the peace in 2003, and in
August of that year it was granted the authority and mandate by the UN
Security Council, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, to establish
security and facilitate humanitarian assistance in Liberia and to pave
the way for a UN intervention. The UN Security Council acted swiftly and
decisively to authorize and deploy (within 2 months) a larger
multinational intervention in Liberia. The ECOWAS troops acted as the
first contingent of the UN mission to Liberia, and authority was
successfully transferred to the UN operation in October 2003. This
international operation has been successful in promoting peace and
stability in Liberia.
(3) In Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Security Council granted authority to
ECOWAS and to France in 2003 to take the necessary steps to provide
security and protection in Côte d’Ivoire. In 2004, a UN operation was
authorized to take over from the ECOWAS force and work alongside the
French forces to facilitate the implementation of the peace agreement
and to provide protection in Côte d’Ivoire.
(4) In Burundi, the AU authorized and deployed its first peacekeeping
operation in 2003, when the institution was itself only one year old.
The AU operation in Burundi faced financial and logistical challenges,
but it was able to oversee the cease-fire and provide some stability. It
coordinated with the UN to ensure a relatively smooth transition to a UN
operation in Burundi after one year.
Also under a Chapter 7 mandate, the UN already has a precedent of
authorizing and deploying a peacekeeping operation in southern Sudan. In
March 2005, the UN passed a resolution establishing a UN mission in
Sudan (UNMIS) with up to 10,000 personnel and a mandate to support the
implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. At present, UNMIS
comprises some 4,000 troops from more than 50 countries, the majority of
which are outside the African continent.
These examples illustrate several important lessons, which must now be
applied to a UN intervention in support of the AU mission in Darfur.
First and foremost, these precedents reveal that a UN-authorized Chapter
7 intervention force in support of an African-led force can be effective
in providing security and protection. They show that the Security
Council can act with swiftness and decisiveness to grant a robust
mandate and troop strength to protect civilians, and they highlight that
such an intervention can act as a deterrent to violence and as a
catalyst to make a peace process successful.
Lessons Learned for Darfur
(1) "Re-hat" the African Union troops as UN troops:
The initial step of "re-hatting" African troops as UN troops carries
several important benefits, and this must immediately be pursued to
reinforce the AU mission in Darfur. Turning the AU troops into UN 'blue
helmets' will save time on deployment, since these troops are already in
the theater, pending the deployment of a larger UN force. It will help
to retain the AU’s valuable experience on the ground, where these troops
have already been carrying out important work. The act of granting a UN
mandate to African troops will also provide them with international
authority and backing, which can offer an important boost to the troops
themselves and can help increase the confidence of civilians in Darfur
in the AU operation because of the broader international support.
Certainly, the act of "re-hatting" the AU will also require careful
preparation, to ensure that the troops are ready to accept their new
mandate, and the rules of engagement and standards which accompany it,
but this has worked in the past and must be immediately pursued in Darfur.
(2) Deploy a UN intervention force:
The deployment of a UN intervention force to support the AU mission must
follow swiftly, and this force should comprise at least 20,000 troops
from the international community. This number is recommended by various
sources based either on the ratio of peacekeeping troops to population
or on the ratio of peacekeeping troops to hostile forces in Darfur. The
deployment of this UN force must be well planned and coordinated with
the African Union at every level and it must be well timed. Such
coordination will be imperative whether the UN operation deploys
alongside the AU or whether it ultimately assumes authority for the
mission in Darfur. Consideration may also be given to the use of forces
from UNMIS (in southern Sudan) for a UN mission in Darfur.
These examples illustrate that, while such a UN mission in Darfur is a
potentially complex undertaking, it is perfectly possible, and morally
and politically imperative, for an international intervention to be
successful in promoting peace and security in Darfur, as has been the
The U.S. Must Lead UN Action
In order for a UN mandate and intervention to be authorized by the
Security Council, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, there must be
leadership from within the Security Council from a powerful nation with
the political will and the resources to galvanize international support
for this mission. This leadership must come from the U.S. for several
The U.S. is the only government to have declared that genocide is taking
place in Darfur, and this provides it with a unique obligation to obtain
international action on this crisis. The U.S. earlier prompted the UN to
undertake an inquiry into the crisis in Darfur, and though the
politically-comprised conclusion of the Commission of Inquiry failed to
find genocidal intent on the part of the Sudanese government, the report
confirmed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, and named
civilian protection as an urgent priority. Other governments have failed
to take a public position on what is happening in Darfur, but there is
broad international recognition of ongoing war crimes and crimes against
humanity in western Sudan.
The U.S. has previously offered leadership on Darfur at the Security
Council, authoring earlier resolutions condemning the violence in
Darfur, threatening sanctions and calling on the Government of Sudan to
stop the violence. But the U.S. has yet to call for an urgent
international intervention to protect the people of Darfur. In the 15
months since the U.S. declared that genocide was taking place in Darfur,
the U.S. has offered financial support for humanitarian efforts in
Darfur, and U.S. officials have traveled back and forth to the region.
But these limited actions cannot substitute for assertive international
leadership to provide actual protection to the people of Darfur.
Possible Challenges in the Security Council
It is possible that the Security Council will not agree to intervene in
Darfur even with U.S. leadership, because of the economic and diplomatic
interests of some of the Permanent Members. China is the single largest
investor in Sudan’s oil sector, and Russia is Khartoum’s major arms
supplier. Neither one of these nations is in favor of the principle of
intervention in the "internal affairs" of another state on the ground of
human rights abuses. But a resolution on intervention could still pass
the Security Council, as happened in March 2005 when the Security
Council voted to refer war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur
to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and opposing nations
abstained but did not veto the resolution.
These possible blocks offer no excuse for U.S. hesitation or inaction.
The U.S. must discharge its own responsibility to act, first and
foremost. It must issue the challenge to these nations by introducing a
resolution calling for UN intervention in Darfur, and it must be willing
to expend the necessary diplomatic capital to overcome their objections
to a multinational force to stop the genocide. The U.S. has called the
crisis in Darfur "genocide", and must have the courage of its
convictions to bring this matter to the international community for
immediate action, with a priority on civilian protection in Darfur. To
fail to do so exposes a racial double standard, which this
Administration can ill afford to maintain.
Africa Action Demands
In February 2006, the U.S. will hold the presidency of the United
Nations Security Council for the period of one month. Between now and
then, the U.S. must work within the UN to pave the way for the adoption
of a new resolution on Darfur. In February, as President of the Security
Council, the U.S. will have a unique opportunity and obligation to
preside over the adoption of a resolution granting a robust civilian
protection mandate to the African Union mission in Darfur and
authorizing a broader UN intervention force to be deployed as soon as
possible to support the AU effort.
The introduction and adoption of such a UN resolution is critical to the
success of the AU in Darfur, and it is essential to save the lives of
hundreds and thousands of vulnerable people, who urgently need
protection from the international community. The Bush Administration
faces growing public pressure for action to stop the genocide in Darfur.
By acting now to introduce a resolution at the UN to re-hat the AU as a
UN operation and deploy a complementary international force, the U.S.
government would fulfill these calls for leadership in the face of genocide.