Sudan sanctions: “UN Security Council has failed”

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There have been “major and frequent” violations of the U.N. Security Council arms embargo imposed against Sudan in 2005, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice condemned the council’s inaction in the face of continued gender-based violence and military offensives. Rice called on the council to find a consensus to better enforce the sanctions to promote peace and stability in Sudan.

“We know that weapons continue to flow into Darfur, acts of sexual and gender-based violence continue unabated and with impunity, military overflights and offensive actions continue,” Rice told reporters at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York on March 4.

Despite the signing of a framework agreement and cease-fire between the Sudanese government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), “we continue to receive reports of offensive military actions by the government of Sudan in Darfur,” Rice said.

Such behavior “does not suggest a new willingness on the part of Sudan to fully engage in the peace process,” Rice said, adding that all of the Sudanese rebel groups must also “cease military activity and be part of the framework agreement if it is to be effective.”

The ambassador said that in the face of “blatant disregard” of Resolution 1591, which imposed an arms embargo on the Darfur region beginning in 2005, the Security Council has failed to reach any consensus on how to improve enforcement, despite “very concrete” recommendations presented to it by the U.N.’s Sudan Panel of Experts in fall 2009.

“If … greater will existed to implement existing measures, that would be, in itself, progress. And that is, in fact, what we are decrying here today,” Rice said.

“When the council imposes measures, whether on Iran, or North Korea, or Sudan … those measures need to be fully and faithfully enforced. And in this instance, and frankly in contrast to some others, the level of commitment and energy behind enforcement is inadequate, and we’re working to change that,” she said.

The United States expects the Security Council’s committee that monitors the implementation of the resolution to “find points of consensus” to improve implementation and to “shine a spotlight on sanctions violations.”

“There are many steps that the committee could take, including looking at the role of the private sector, including rigorous follow-up, to ensure that this [sanctions] regime has more credibility than it currently has,” she said.

The Obama administration will intensify its own efforts to provide information that may support implementation efforts. “We particularly are concerned about the importance of holding accountable violators who employ sexual violence against innocent civilians in Darfur,” Rice said.

At the State Department, Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration welcomed the framework agreement and cease-fire signed between the Sudanese government and JEM, which he said “offers us an important opportunity to significantly reduce violence in Darfur,” but he also stressed the need to include the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), which represents most of the other rebel groups.

“The United States supports a peace process that is inclusive, that is comprehensive,” he said March 4. Along with the LJM, Darfuri civil society, internally displaced persons and refugees “must also have a voice in this process,” he said. That will be important “as we start talking about things like land reform and compensation and wealth sharing.”

The goal of making the peace process more inclusive is currently being hampered by JEM’s insistence on exercising exclusive leadership over the other rebel groups, and the non-JEM rebels are having difficulties in choosing a leader and organizing themselves, he said.

Gration said the peace process and reduced violence would likely result in a decrease of people entering refugee camps, but “really won’t change the conditions that the people are currently living under.”

“We need a multipronged approach, one that brings a cease-fire, that brings stability and brings peace at that top level, but we also have to make the changes that will result in a more secure environment,” to benefit those living in camps and villages who still face banditry and lawlessness.

“Gender-based violence still continues. That must stop. People’s possessions are taken. They don’t have their rights, human rights, in many cases. This has to be changed,” he said. The Obama administration is working with the international community to establish order and the rule of law in the region, as well as increase the capacities of U.N. and African Union peacekeeping forces.

With national elections scheduled for April, Gration said Sudan and the Darfur region have entered a “crucial time,” and the international community needs to take the opportunity to promote political transformation throughout the country to improve security and create a lasting peace.

“We will not rest until we’ve done everything we can to secure a brighter future for the next generation of Sudanese. Failure in this case is not an option, and we’ll strive for success,” he said.

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