(Send in the Smurfs)One year ago, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1706, authorising up to 22,500 UN troops and police officers for a United Nations peacekeeping force with the power to use all necessary means to protect humanitarian aid workers and civilian populations, as well as to seize and dispose of illegal weapons.
The new resolution agreed in New York, hailed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as "historic and unprecedented," makes no reference to this earlier resolution or to the Sudanese Government's refusal to comply with its provisions. It omits any condemnation of Sudan for failing to ensure humanitarian aid reaches those in need, deletes reference to evidence of violations of the UNSC-mandated arms embargo, removes a threat of UN sanctions in the event of continued non-compliance, and drops a request that the Secretary General immediately report any breach of this or previous resolutions and agreements.
Neither does the UN appear to have learned any lessons from last year's failed attempt to deploy UN peacekeepers in Darfur. The new "UNAMID" mission excludes adequate monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, is referred to as an "operation" rather than a "force," and will only be able to protect civilians deemed to be under threat.
Just last week, in its first overall review of Sudan's record for more than a decade, the UN Human Rights Committee reported that "widespread and systematic serious human rights violations, including murder, rape, forced displacement and attacks against the civil population, have been and continue to be committed with total impunity throughout Sudan and particularly in Darfur." Without a political solution, UNAMID is destined to go the same way as Resolution 1706. As the new UN-AU mission head has commented, "I'm sure it will be one of the main tools for forwarding peace in Darfur, but it's only a peace operation you need to have peace to keep."
One thing I find perplexing in recent media coverage is the assertion that this has been a four-year conflict. No mention appears to be made any longer of the previous two decades' violence by the Sudanese regime against its own people as described by Baroness Cox in A Voice for the Voiceless. The present genocide and obstruction of humanitarian efforts in Darfur differs very little from the bloody civil war that tore the country apart from 1983 to 2005, which resulted in the death of 1,900,000 civilians in southern Sudan, and forced more than 4,000,000 others to flee their homes.