12-9-2011By Taimur Rabbani
Crimes Against Humanity Program
Violence in Sudan has escalated in the months since the South seceded. The provinces along the southern border of Sudan, including the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, are increasingly under attack by Khartoum forces,and conflict has spilled into parts of South Sudan. Meanwhile, in Sudan’s west, the horrors in Darfur continue. A number of enabling countries have helped sustain the atrocities, with Khartoum reportedly perpetrating possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.
China and Chad have both recently strengthened their military and strategic relations with Khartoum – a move which will likely contribute to the destabilization, militarization, and commission of crimes against humanity in Darfur. The recent indiscriminate aerial bombings, the expulsion of humanitarian organizations, and the widespread and systematic murder of civilians and refugees in the region give reason to reassess the role third-party enablers play in the atrocities.
Earlier this year, a report issued by the U.N. Panel of Experts on the Sudan explained the ways in which Chinese ammunition flows with ease into Darfur, despite a U.N. arms embargo on the region. For example, when China supplies arms directly to Khartoum, it finalizes the sale with an end-user document stating that the arms won’t be resold or imported into Darfur. However, the Sudanese government is in charge of confirming that the arms aren’t brought into Darfur, and if pressed, can simply deny that the weapons were brought into the region.
The impact of this loophole is visible. According to the report, 12 out of 18 different ammunition samples found in Darfur bore Chinese manufacturer markings and were made and imported after an arms embargo was imposed in 2005. The new Chinese ammunition represented a “vast majority” of the ammunition found in the area.
The Sudan government also uses self-created “exemptions” to the arms embargo, claiming they are bringing in military equipment into Darfur for “security needs,” “strategic military balance,” “border surveillance,” and other reasons not permitted under the embargo. Under these auspices, Khartoum has also brought Belarusian jets and Russian helicopters into Darfur in violation of the embargo. These aerial vehicles have reportedly been used for aerial bombardments and to intimidate international peacekeepers.
A porous border between Chad and Sudan also allows arms to flow with no regulation or monitoring into Darfur. This unregulated flow continues to destabilize the region and deepens the crisis, with weapons belonging to Chadian forces ending up in Darfur. Consequently, because the porous Chad border has contributed to the arms embargo having “no discernible impact,” the Panel of Experts recommended in March that the U.N. Security Council impose an embargo on the sale or supply of all military material to both Chad and Sudan.
As Chad and China continue enabling atrocities by supporting an unregulated flow of weapons to the region, the United States and international partners should reassess their strategy in the region. The administration should actively pressure China and Chad to stop sustaining the atrocities, and should promote the imposition of an arms embargo on Chad until sufficient safeguards are in place to prevent the flow of arms from Chad to Darfur. Princeton Lyman, the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, should make these issues central to his agenda.
Follow Us on Twitter