End the Death, Suffering and Destruction in Darfur
End the Death, Suffering and Destruction in Darfur
After Six Months of War, Sudan is Disintegrating
After Six Months of War, Sudan is Disintegrating
Open Letter / Africa 5 minutes

End the Death, Suffering and Destruction in Darfur

To the Secretary General, Foreign Ministers and Permanent Representatives of the Security Council member states, and Foreign Ministers of the member states of IGAD.

As the Security Council continues to debate Sudan, I am writing to urge you to act forcefully and without delay to prevent further death, suffering, and destruction in Darfur. Since the crisis began two years ago, the Security Council has passed three resolutions demanding an end to the conflict. Yet, over 200,000 people have died, on the best available evidence, and thousands more continue to die each month from violence, malnutrition and disease. The emerging risk of famine in parts of Darfur, especially in places beyond the reach of relief agencies, will further compound the humanitarian crisis.

It is time to acknowledge that the nuanced approach of the international community -- including the Security Council -- has failed. It will take a coordinated set of measures to curtail the violence and to send a clear message to both the Sudanese government and rebels that the international community will no longer tolerate empty promises and broken agreements. Failure to demonstrate urgently that the Security Council will hold the parties in Sudan accountable to their commitments will not only lead to more bloodshed in Darfur, but will also eventually undermine the recently signed North-South peace agreement.

The mandate of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was developed in the summer of 2004, when it was expected that the parties would abide by their commitments. AMIS's weak monitoring mandate is now obviously inadequate to the ongoing crisis, especially as parties to the Darfur conflict, and in particular the Government of Sudan, continue to obstruct aid to civilians. The Security Council must urge the African Union to expand its role in Darfur in the crucial areas of protection for civilians and humanitarian convoys. The United Nations and member states must be prepared to provide strong support to the AU as it performs that protective role, in the ways described below. And the Security Council must also act to ensure accountability for atrocity crimes through the best available mechanism, the International Criminal Court.

Protecting Civilians

Thus far, the Government of Sudan has blatantly refused to take action against its allied militias despite committing to do so on six separate occasions since April 2004 and as demanded repeatedly by the Security Council. The rebels have also violated the ceasefire, including by attacks on humanitarian convoys and civilians. The cost of non-compliance has been minimal for all parties, particularly the Government. Until it faces strong repercussions, the Government will not undertake the difficult process of disarming and neutralising the Janjaweed militia, which it continues to arm and supply, and of arresting those responsible for atrocity crimes.

Stopping the violence in Darfur and protecting civilians must be the primary goal of international action. The current African Union assessment mission to Darfur, conducted with broad international participation, will review AMIS and its capabilities. The Security Council must support stronger action in three key areas: tougher sanctions, including a country-wide arms embargo; a more robust AMIS to protect civilians and relief deliveries; and an effectively enforced no-fly zone over Darfur.


A package of targeted measures against those perpetrating the violence can lead to great improvement on the ground in Darfur. The draft resolution before the Security Council proposes a set of appropriate sanctions against culpable individuals. However, it does not extend the arms embargo across the entire country, thereby failing to acknowledge that the Government of Sudan has had a heavy hand in arming and unleashing the deadly Janjaweed militias. Only a country-wide, closely monitored arms embargo will further the goal of ending the repeated violations of the existing arms embargo established by UNSC Resolution 1556.

UN Support for an Expanded AMIS Role

To implement an enhanced mandate, AMIS must expand both its troop and police components. AMIS has been able to deploy less than two thirds of its authorised 3,320 troops to Darfur as African nations have been unconscionably slow in providing troops and the international community has equally failed to provide the AU with adequate logistical and related support. It is now clear that a much larger and better supported force is needed to stem the violence in Darfur. The Security Council should act on the recent call by Under Secretary General Jan Egeland and urge an increase of the AMIS deployment, to at least 10,000.

The terms of the resolution adopted should:

  • urge the AU force to explicitly protect civilians and relief deliveries;
  • under Chapter VII, authorise the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to provide support to such an expanded AMIS;
  • call on member states (African and non-African) to contribute troops, police, and other support, including through provision of greater command and control, operational and logistic capabilities, to a strengthened AU mission, and on NATO to begin planning to assist the mission; and
  • authorise the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to deploy an additional 100 Human Rights monitors in Darfur.

No-Fly Zone

In light of Khartoum's continued use of aerial bombardment against civilian targets in Darfur, in patent violation of its commitments under the 9 November Abuja Protocols, the current draft resolution rightly demands that the Government of Sudan "cease conducting offensive military flights in and over the Darfur region." While military options to enforce this demand may not presently be feasible, other options are. The Council should:

  • endorse an AU-monitored no-fly zone over Darfur;
  • request the AU to notify it immediately upon determination of a serious violation;
  • call on member states to provide such technical and other assistance as the AU may require to carry out effectively this monitoring and notification responsibility; and
  • identify specific targeted sanctions that the Council will apply immediately upon receipt from the AU of a report of serious non-compliance by a party to the conflict.

Accountability for Atrocity Crimes

As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour pointed out in her 16 February 2005 presentation to the Security Council, "there is no hope for sustainable peace in Darfur without immediate access to justice." Crisis Group strongly endorses the recommendation of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur that the Security Council refer the situation of Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Unquestionably, the ICC is the body best positioned to uphold justice most promptly and effectively. Suggested alternatives -- such as the ICTR or a similar body established under the auspices of the African Union -- would be more time-consuming, more costly, less effective in bringing to justice those responsible, and crucially, because any impact they might have would be much delayed, be less likely to persuade the parties to the conflict of the need to comply immediately with all UN resolutions and their commitments under the Abuja Protocols.

Immediate robust measures to protect civilians and establish a credible mechanism for justice and accountability are the essential components to stopping the violence in Darfur. If divisions within the Security Council and potential veto threats again water down the final text of the resolution, the situation in Darfur will only worsen. And the hard-won peace agreement for the rest of the country will be put in jeopardy as well.

I urge you to live up to the Security Council's responsibility and use your power to take the necessary strong action to protect those still acutely at risk in Darfur.

Yours sincerely,


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