For Immediate Release: October 27, 2010
Washington, DC – Today an exclusive news story released by Reuters disclosed that a new confidential UN Panel of Experts report to the UN Sudan Sanctions Committee on violations of the arms embargo on Darfur has concluded that “Khartoum has committed multiple breaches of an arms embargo over Sudan’s conflict-torn Darfur region and China has done little to ensure its weaponry is not used there.” Human Rights First notes that these findings bolster conclusions known for years – that the Darfur embargo is honored in the breach, that the Sudanese government is the worst violator and the Chinese government enables its actions, and that the UN Security Council has largely failed in its responsibility to enforce a tool meant to protect civilians in Darfur.
“The consternation caused by this year’s report and the information leaked to Reuters should only strengthen the fortitude of the U.S. and other governments seeking to make the Darfur embargo finally mean something,” said Human Rights First’s Julia Fromholz. “It should also remind those governments of the need to counter the consistent efforts to undermine the U.N. sanctions monitoring mechanism, one that has helped the international community in its efforts to thwart those responsible for conflicts in Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, the DRC, Somalia, and Sudan.”
According to Human Rights First, in light of the Reuters news story and the details it discloses, the UN Sanctions Committee should immediately conclude its review and forward the Panel of Experts report to the UN Security Council. That step will ensure that the document and its findings will be made public. From that point, it will be up to the Security Council to take action. Next month, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Britain’s Ambassador to the United Nations, will take over the presidency of the Security Council, and in December, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice will assume that spot. Human Rights First is urging these two leaders to stand firm in protecting the integrity of U.N. sanctions and the expert teams charged with monitoring these crucial tools of international diplomacy in urgent contexts like Sudan.
In addition, Human Rights First is calling on the U.S. and others involved in the diplomatic negotiations in South Sudan to take into account the evidence of the Panel of Experts on the violations of the Darfur embargo. It notes that illegal activities pursued in one unstable area of the country could well be repeated in South Sudan, a region that is at risk of great instability around the secession referenda of January 9, 2010.
Politically motivated opposition to the work of panels monitoring the enforcement of sanctions in Darfur has been evident for years. Of the six reports presented by successive expert panels to the Sudan Sanctions Committee since early 2006, four were subject to criticism and delayed release: the final reports of January, April, and October 2006, as well as the report of October 2007, ended up being referred by the Chairman of the Sanction Committee to the Security Council without the Committee having reached unanimous consent for their referral. Moves by the Chinese delegation to block the latest report extend this trend and challenge the commitment of other states to stand behind the panel and act against violations of international sanctions.
Past reports have detailed, among other transgressions, the transfer of Chinese fighter jets and Russian attack helicopters from Khartoum to Darfur, in clear violation of the UN embargo, which prohibits the transfer of arms, ammunition, and other military materiel to Darfur without prior authorization by the UN. Sudanese government officials have stated several times over that they will not seek such authorization. Even so, the Security Council’s only public action to punish violators of the embargo was the 2006 subjection of four people to asset freezes and travel bans. Past reports leave no doubt that China is the leading supplier of arms to the Sudanese government.
Fromholz concluded, “While selling arms and ammunition to Khartoum technically may not violate the embargo, doing so in the face of abundant evidence that the Khartoum government ships arms and ammunition to its forces and proxies in Darfur does in fact put China – and others like it – at risk of violating international law. It’s time for the Darfur embargo to finally mean something. It’s time for the Security Council to act.”