Global Policy Forum

UN Urges Sanctions Patience


By Gerard Aziakou

Agence France Presse
May 30, 2007

United Nations (UN) chief Ban Ki-moon has pleaded for more time to secure the deployment of a robust peacekeeping force in Darfur as the United States pressed for a new Security Council resolution to toughen sanctions on Sudan. Ban, who recently asked Washington to hold off on the planned sanctions while he tries to coax Khartoum into allowing the dispatch of a joint African Union (AU)-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, told reporters: "I need some more time." He spoke shortly after US President George W. Bush said he had directed his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to seek a new UN resolution broadening economic sanctions on Sudan's leaders, expand an arms embargo on Sudan, and bar Sudanese military flights over Darfur.

Bush also announced tougher national sanctions that will bar another 31 Sudanese companies, including oil exporters, from US trade and financial dealings, and take aim at two top Sudanese government officials. The US leader accused Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir of using military forces and government-aligned militias to attack rebels and civilians in the violence-wracked region and blocking peace-making efforts. Commenting on Bush's moves, Ban said: "This is a decision of the US government...I hope the international community can work in a mutually reinforcing way to bring resolution on this matter as soon as possible."

On Saturday, Sudan said the UN secretary general agreed to travel to Khartoum to discuss plans for the joint AU-UN peacekeeping force for Darfur. The announcement followed Friday's endorsement by the UN Security Council of plans for a hybrid UN-AU force of up to 23,000 peacekeepers, subject to the approval of Khartoum, which has so far consistently rejected the proposals.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said he was consulting with allies in the Security Council on the content and timing of a resolution that would broaden economic and military sanctions against Sudan. Khalilzad however re-affirmed US support for the United Nations' three-legged approach, which is to seek progress on broadening last year's peace deal between Khartoum and Darfur rebels, on deployment of a robust, joint African Union-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur and on improved humanitarian access. The US envoy demanded that Khartoum stop attacks against rebels and civilians in Darfur, dismantle its Janjaweed proxy Arab militias which are blamed for deadly attacks on Darfur civilians and allow humanitarian access to displaced civilians. He also pressed the Sudanese government to consent to the deployment of the planned 23,000-strong joint AU-UN force to replace ill-equipped AU peacekeepers in the war-torn region.

France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said that his government was ready to support new sanctions. British Prime Minister Tony Blair also welcomed the new US sanctions, his spokesman said Tuesday, saying pressure must be increased on Khartoum and calling the situation in Darfur "not acceptable." But Sudan's UN envoy Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohammad called Bush's moves "very regrettable" coming just when Khartoum is cooperating with the UN on joint peacekeeping with the AU in Darfur. "The US is not a responsible superpower," he told AFP, saying Washington's "hostile" attitude explained Khartoum's "Look East policy" of close ties with China.

The Sudanese government said the new sanctions "highlights (Washington's) hostile intentions and points to the fact that the United States does not want peace in Darfur." At least 200,000 people are believed to have died in four years of conflict in Darfur and more than two million people forced from their homes, according to the United Nations. Sudan disputes those estimates, saying 9,000 people have died.

More Information on the Security Council
More Information on Sudan
More Information on UN Sanctions


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