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23 March 2005

U.S. Offers Three Resolutions To Speed End of Crisis in Darfur

Urges action on resolutions on peacekeeping, sanctions, rights abuses

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- In an effort to hasten the end of fighting in Darfur, the United States has split its draft resolution on Sudan into three parts in order to facilitate negotiations that have stalled on the comprehensive resolution now before the U.N. Security Council.

"The United States has run out of patience on Sudan and has circulated three draft resolutions: one on peacekeeping, one on sanctions, and one to provide measures to end impunity," U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson said March 22 before returning to closed-door talks on the resolutions.

"This has gone on for weeks and we are simply running out of time and it is critical to move ahead," she said.

Patterson explained that the U.S. delegation felt that splitting the issues into three separate resolutions would garner each resolution more support in the council.

"It is clear there is very broad support for the peacekeeping resolution, and that is very, very critical because it will strengthen the new government in Sudan and get more boots on the ground," the ambassador said.  "It also has recommendations for the secretary-general to provide support for the African Union [AU]."

The peacekeeping resolution would authorize 10,000 troops for a military force to monitor the peace agreement signed between Khartoum and Southern rebels in January that ended a 21-year civil war in the South.  Diplomats also hope that as it is implemented, the new peace agreement will have a positive effect on the situation in Darfur, where the government and its Jingaweit militias have been accused of gross human-rights violations against civilians.

The second resolution would impose a stiffer arms embargo and sanctions against those who violate cease-fire agreements in Darfur.  Some members of the council, including China and Russia, which have veto powers, object to the harsher measures.

The third resolution involves how to deal with those accused of human rights abuses.  A commission of inquiry has reported to the Security Council that gross violations of human rights have been committed in Darfur and that the Sudanese justice system "is unable and unwilling to address the situation in Darfur."

The commission has turned over the names of alleged perpetrators in a sealed file to the secretary-general with the recommendation that it be given to "a competent prosecutor" such as the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  A separate, voluminous sealed file that contains evidentiary material was handed over to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to be delivered to the prosecutor.

"The accountability resolution basically keeps all options open,” Patterson said.  “It does not prejudice anyone's positions and we hope it will have broad support, as well it should."

Because differences on how and where to prosecute violators persist, the draft resolution addresses the three proposals for handling the cases and would allow the Security Council to continue discussing the alternatives until agreement is reached on which one to authorize, the ambassador said.

“There are several options here,” Patterson explained.  “One is the Nigerian proposal, which is a combination of a court and a reconciliation commission; the second is an African Union hybrid court that would be based in Tanzania; and the third, of course, would be the ICC," Patterson said.

"The resolution makes no judgment about which would be preferable but simply enables discussions to continue until a decision is reached," the ambassador said.

"The United States was the delegation that promoted the Commission of Inquiry," Patterson added.  "We are very much behind accountability.  It is obviously a central part of our strategy in Sudan."

The United States, which is not a party to the ICC, proposed the "Sudan Tribunal," created and mandated by a U.N. Security Council resolution and administered by the United Nations in conjunction with the African Union.  Under the U.S. proposal, the tribunal would be based in Arusha, Tanzania, and would share the existing physical infrastructure of the Security Council-created International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda but would have its own judges, registrar, prosecutor, and other personnel appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in coordination with the AU.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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