On Monday, President Obama’s Administration announced its new and long-delayed policy on Sudan. On paper, the policy covers many useful bases. But it will be nothing more than empty words unless the Administration puts some serious pressure on the Sudanese government. Fortunately for the Administration, a ready-made pressure point is available immediately: an opportunity to ensure discussion and action at the United Nations on new evidence of violations of the arms embargo on Sudan.
One of the goals of the new Sudan policy is achieving “a definitive end to conflict, gross human rights abuses, and genocide in Darfur,” in part by encouraging and strengthening initiatives for ending violent conflict.
The four-year-old U.N. arms embargo has never been enforced. Arms and ammunition continue to flow into Darfur, fueling violence against civilians. This makes the parties to the conflict less inclined to negotiate a peace settlement and undermines the authority of the U.N. Security Council. Special Envoy Gration needs to face this reality head-on-he should take the arms embargo seriously and use it as an effective tool to bring pressure to bear on Khartoum and its allies.
A new report by the U.N. Panel of Experts on Sudan-the group monitoring the arms embargo-is due out soon. Like past reports, it will likely detail numerous violations to the embargo. It must prompt action to hold accountable those who refuse to respect this international law.
Human Rights First has been drawing attention to the arms issue for well over a year, including by briefing the U.N. Sanctions Committee at the end of last year. But more progress must be made. Help us send a clear message to the Administration as it implements its new strategy – the U.N. arms embargo on Sudan must be enforced!
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, and U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, should ensure that discussions of the Panel of Experts report at the Sanctions Committee are thorough and detailed, and that there are consequences for those who have violated the embargo. Write them today to let them know that you’re paying attention!