Following the recent NGO appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the appalling situation in Darfur, the NGOs have written to the representatives of the 27 States of the African Union about the proposal that the 2006 chairmanship of the African Union should be given to Sudan.
To: The Representative of the African Union to the United Nations Office in Geneva
Ambassadors of African Union Members States to the United Nations Office in Geneva
10 December 2005 – Human Rights Day – Darfur / Sudan
On the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we wish to raise with you the important issue of the forthcoming chairmanship of the African Union by Sudan.
As announced, it is proposed that the Government of Sudan would chair the African Union for the year 2006, following the Summit scheduled for January in Khartoum.
Originally, this chairmanship would have been a mark of recognition of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, bringing an end to the long and destructive civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. However, the tragic conflict in Darfur automatically calls this decision into serious question. Whatever the analysis made of the causes for the Darfur conflict, it is necessary to recognize that the Government of Sudan is unable to protect its citizens in Darfur; unable to feed them without massive external aid; unable to provide minimum standards of health care, education and agricultural infrastructure; and unable to control its own military air-force, which continues its devastating bombing raids on defenceless villages in the Darfur regions.
We believe that the African Union chairmanship should not go to a State whose policies and practices flout universally recognized human rights standards. We would hope that the Sudanese Government would recognize that the continued conflict in Darfur prevents it from such a chairmanship and will step aside. At a time when the International Criminal Court is investigating specific Sudanese individuals for crimes of war and crimes against humanity, and when there is a real possibility that a State Party to the 1948 Genocide Convention might request – under its article VIII – some form of UN action, the Government of Sudan is in no position to provide the necessary administrative and moral leadership of the African Union.
Among the objectives of the AU, two are worth citing in regard to this particular Darfur case:
– To encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
– To promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.
Since time is short before the Summit, it is important to negotiate rapidly an alternative chairmanship.
Therefore, we request you to transmit to the AU authorities this message, the attached related texts (a letter to HCHR Ms. Louise Arbour of 2 December, signed by 22 NGOs, and our Press Release of 7 December); and this link to our FPM online (weekend) article: Ignoring the Genocide in Darfur: http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=20502
René Wadlow (main representative)
David G. Littman (representative)
Association for World Education, UN Geneva.