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UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution on Darfur

30 March 2007

The U.N. Human Rights Council has unanimously adopted a resolution Friday expressing concern over the situation in Darfur, but it fails to condemn Sudan for its actions. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from U.N. European headquarters in Geneva.

This is the first time that the U.N. Human Rights Council has passed a resolution on the situation in Darfur since the body was created in June. Western diplomats consider this progress, although most of them agree that the resolution is weak. It stops short of blaming the Sudanese government for the well-documented atrocities committed in the province.

The compromise resolution, the product of days of negotiations, expresses deep concern at what it calls, "the seriousness of ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur."

It talks about armed attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers, widespread destruction of villages and widespread violence, especially against women and girls. But the resolution fails to attribute blame for these atrocities.

Nevertheless, German Ambassador, Michael Steiner who introduced the resolution on behalf of the European Union, says its adoption is important for the credibility of the Council. He says it is even more important for the protection of the human rights of the people in the crisis region of Darfur.

"Given the gravity of the human rights violations in Darfur, the most essential task is now to focus on concrete, tangible improvements on the ground," he said.

"However, this does not change the fact that the primary responsibility for human rights situations stays with governments. Therefore … and let me stress in the name of the whole Council, the government of Sudan [must] fully cooperate with the group in the implementation of these recommendations," he added.

Steiner calls the resolution action oriented and says the Council will actively follow-up on its implementation.

More than 200,000 people are believed to have been killed since war in Darfur between the Sudanese-backed Arab militia, called the Janjaweed, and rebels broke out in 2003. An estimated 2.5 million people have been internally displaced. Hundreds of thousands have become refugees.

The resolution also expresses regret that a high-level fact-finding mission, led by Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, could not visit Darfur. But it does not criticize Khartoum for refusing to grant visas to the six-member group.

Sudanese Ambassador Ibrahim Mohamed Kheir says Sudan will cooperate with the Council

"The Sudan government will prove itself as a country which is genuinely committed to cooperation, openness and engagement in a constructive dialogue," he said.

The resolution calls on Sudan to allow a new group of experts to investigate the human rights situation in the region and report back in June.

Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and U.N. Watch, express disappointment at the Council's failure to condemn Sudan for its actions in Darfur.

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