Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two major reports on Darfur, one by a UN panel of experts and the other by the African Union high-level panel

The Panel of Experts on Sudan established by the UN Security Council released in October 2009 its report on the situation in Darfur. You can access the report in PDF format here. Although it is highly critical of the Sudanese Armed Forces, it states that all parties to the conflict continue to fail to meet their affirmative obligations under international and human rights law. Among the armed groups opposing the government in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement is the most active violator of the arms embargo. The expert report singles out the government of Sudan for failing to account for its efforts to disarm and control its various auxiliary and formerly affiliated forces. The report also details the origin of military equipment equipment in the conflict, highlighting the role of China. The lengthy report makes no mention that genocide is occurring in Darfur, a charge that the U.S. government continues to allege without citing recent evidence to support the charge. The government of Sudan reacted harshly to the report in spite of the fact that it spreads blame widely. Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdel-Mahmoud Abdel-Haleem said Khartoum "will demand that the Security Council terminate the panel's mandate" and added that the UN experts are just "representatives of Western intelligence agencies." For an account of the Sudanese reaction see a November 9, 2009 report in the Sudan Tribune. The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council constituted the AU High-Level Panel on Darfur (AUPD) to examine peace, justice, accountability, impunity and reconciliation in Darfur. Chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, this 29 October 2009 report takes a different approach than the one done by the UN panel of experts. Its scope is broader and it emphasizes the background causes of the conflict, especially competition for land and access to its resources. It discusses the polarizing impact of the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant for President Omar Al-Bashir in 2009. It gives considerable attention to the need to strengthen Sudan's national legal system, to deal appropriately with the perpetrators of the violations and to make reparations to the victims inside Sudan. Much of the report is devoted to recommendations. You can access it in PDF format here.

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