New York - The U.N. Security Council's Sudan Sanctions Committee met today with representatives from Human Rights First, a leading advocacy group, to discuss violations of the Darfur arms embargo.
In a rare NGO briefing, Julia Fromholz, Interim Director of Human Rights First's Crimes Against Humanity program, outlined concrete steps the Security Council must take to enforce the arms embargo and halt the transfer of arms that fuel the violence in Darfur.
Read the full written submission here.
The arms embargo has been frequently violated by all parties to the conflict in Darfur, including the Government of Sudan, since it was established in 2004. The Security Council has failed to impose consequences on the parties for embargo violations. Human Rights First's research shows that two of the Council's permanent members, China and Russia, are the largest - but certainly not the only -suppliers of arms to the Government of Sudan, while the Government of Chad reportedly arms the Darfur rebels.
"By failing to take decisive action to enforce and strengthen the Darfur arms embargo, the Security Council is weakening its authority and sending a dangerous signal to embargo violators - both in Sudan and in other areas where embargoes are in effect - that they are above the law," Fromholz said.
Specifically, Fromholz called on the Security Council to place travel bans and asset freezes on individuals known to have violated the arms embargo; to blacklist aviation companies that transport arms to Darfur; and to widen the arms embargo beyond Darfur's borders to cover all of Sudan, Chad and northern parts of the Central African Republic.
Addressing the Committee, Fromholz called on all countries supplying military aircraft, spare parts, or related technical assistance to Sudan to immediately cease doing so. Military aircraft manufactured in China and Russia have been used in Darfur by the Sudanese Armed Forces in violation of the embargo.
Fromholz, who recently returned from a field mission to Chad to investigate the regional dynamics of the conflict, also noted that stopping the supply of arms could help break the deadlock in Darfur's peace process.
"After being stalled for months the political negotiations in Darfur are once again gaining momentum," Fromholz said, "Arms-supplying countries should help ensure that these negotiations move forward by placing a moratorium on all arms transfers to the region."
Today's recommendations are based on Human Rights First's October 2008 report, Arms Sales to Sudan, 2004-2006, which found that over 30 countries either exported arms directly to Sudan or manufactured arms that entered Sudan since the U.N. arms embargo took effect. Additional recommendations are drawn from research in eastern Chad in October as well as Human Rights First's recent Three-Step Guide to Strengthening the Darfur Arms Embargo.