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Sudan Sanctions Stalled, U.S. Envoy Bolton Says

27 February 2006

Deadlock could jeopardize U.N. Security Council's credibility

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The United States and other Western members of the Security Council have been unable to obtain a vote on a resolution sanctioning individual Sudanese who are blocking the peace process or are responsible for human-rights violations.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, president of the Security Council for February, said February 27 that he has tried to get a resolution passed quickly putting the individuals on a U.N. sanctions list, but some countries were blocking the move.  He warned that inaction could undermine the council's credibility.

"The U.S. had circulated a text of elements of a draft resolution at the experts level," the ambassador said.  "And I think it's fair to say that the United States stood alone in being prepared to move ahead on a resolution before … the African Union [AU] Peace and Security Meeting, which was scheduled for March 3."

Bolton did not name the countries opposed to the resolution, but diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that China, Russia and Qatar are opposed to imposing sanctions.  The United States, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom wanted the resolution, they said.

"Different countries oppose moving ahead for their own reasons, but as a practical matter, unless a number of countries changed their minds, I don't see that we'll have a resolution before the AU meeting," Bolton told journalists after a closed Security Council meeting to hear a briefing by the chairman of the council's Sudan sanctions committee, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece, and the panel of experts.

"We think that's unfortunate, but it's not because we didn't try to get a resolution, that's for sure," Bolton said.

The purpose of the targeted sanctions mechanism set up in Security Council resolution 1591, adopted almost a year ago, is to apply pressure "to people who are violating the arms embargo, not contributing to our effort to establish an effective peace process in Darfur, and to restore the deteriorating security situation," Bolton explained.

"This is a political question.  It's a question of applying political influence and leverage," he said.   "The council's message in [resolution] 1591 has to be taken seriously."

For the United States, the ambassador said, "this is a case of 'say what you mean and mean what you say,' and if the council doesn't mean what it says and isn't willing to take steps to persuade people to follow what it says, its credibility will decline."

"People need to consider that consequence," he said.

The so-called panel of experts, reporting to the council in December 2005, included a confidential annex naming 17 people it said should be sanctioned for human-rights abuses and five others that should be considered for possible future designation as sanctions targets.

In mid-February, the names were published on the Web site of The American Prospect magazine, and soon after news agencies and newspapers began publishing the names, which included several top Sudanese officials and two top commanders of the Sudan Liberation Army.

Bolton said that council members complained about the press leaks of the confidential annex.

"The leakage can impair the work of the council and the committee.  Until there's a decision by the Security Council, obviously there's no such thing as a U.N. list," he added.

For additional information, see United States and U.N. Reform and Darfur Humanitarian Emergency.

(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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