IHEU renews call for action in Darfur

  • Date / 12 July 2007

IHEU with other NGOs represented at the United Nations has again called for action to resolve the breakdown of the rule of law in Sudan. In a statement to the Human Rights Committee, the group of experts in Geneva reporting to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the NGOs said that the massive violations of human rights in Darfur endangered the implementation of civil and political rights in the country as a whole. The Committee has no powers of investigation but it takes evidence and makes recommendations.

Case Postale 205 – 1196 Gland – Switzerland

UN Representatives (Geneva): René WADLOW * (text) / David G. LITTMAN (speaker)
Human Rights Committee / 90th session / Monday 9 July – Friday 27 July 2007
Meeting with NGOs…. Palais Wilson: GF Conference Room, 9 July 2007, 11:00-1300

Thank you, Mr Chairman,

We welcome this opportunity to address members and present information to the Committee for its examination of the Third Periodic Report of the Government of Sudan on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee aims to assist the State in fulfilling all its obligations under the Covenant. Our emphasis is upon the conditions in the three provinces of Darfur as we believe that the breakdown of the rule of law in Darfur and the continuing violence there affects all of Sudanese society and the region.

Massive violations in one part of the country endangers the implementation of civil and political rights in the country as a whole, and especially they undermine the provisions of the agreements that brought the long and destructive north-south civil war to an end (1982-2005). The conflict in Darfur with its massive flow of refugees is spreading violence and instability to neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic. A major principle of the rule of law is that a government has a duty to avoid provoking conditions which endanger the stability and legal order of its neighbours. The conflict prevents cooperation among neighbouring States – cooperation necessary to meet the crucial ecological and demographic challenges which cross State frontiers.

Our emphasis on Darfur in the oral and written statements texts we are presenting as an annexe does not mean that we are unconcerned with the implementation of the Covenant in the rest of the country. Thus we welcome the contributions of our fellow international NGOs such as Amnesty International, Article 19, and the FIDH all of which have presented detailed information highlighting concerns in many parts of the country. In particular, we welcome the contribution of Sudanese NGOs and their comprehensive report. They often work in very difficult conditions, and their presentation is an example of the vitality of Sudanese civil society which we have often stressed is a key factor in bringing peace and justice to a troubled land. In our AWE documentation, we include appeals from international NGOs with whom we work regarding Darfur – a reflection of the wide interest which exists concerning Sudan. On this occasion, the Association of World Citizens (AWE), the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) wish to be associated with this Statement.

Much of the information we presented on Darfur was confirmed by the report of the High Level Mission on Darfur established by the Human Rights Council. The UN Security Council Resolution 1706 calling for the rapid deployment of a force of peacekeeping troops and civilian police is also an indication that concern with Darfur is shared by the UN system as a whole – even though the current situation is more and more grim. Thus, we are sure that the efforts of the Committee will be widely noted and encouraged.

In conclusion, we note that we have tried through intermediaries to insist with insurgents in Darfur that they also have a duty to respect the provisions of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. However, it is the Government which has the first duty to implement the Covenant. We are confident that the Committee’s assistance to the Government of Sudan will help create the conditions necessary to establish peace with justice, however long the time may take.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
* Mr. Wadlow is currently the chief representative to the UN-Geneva of the Association for World Education and the Association of World Citizens. He was formerly professor and Director of Research of the Graduate Institute of Development Studies and an editor of the journal of Modern Africa Genève-Afrique (1964-1992).


UN Human Rights Council: Representative David G. LITTMAN. Thursday (10:30) 15 March 2007
Fourth session (12 March–30 March 2007) President: Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba (Mexico)
High Commissioner for Human Rights Louis Arbour’s Annual Report and interactive dialogue

Madame High Commissioner,

In our written statement to the 2005 Commission on Human Rights: E/CN.4/2005/NGO/106:
( http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G05/110/36/PDF/G0511036.pdf?OpenElement )
we reproduced the Appeal we sent to Secretary-General Kofi Annan three years ago (13 May 2004): DARFUR, SUDAN: NON-IMPUNITY and PROSECUTIONS FOR GENOCIDE

We there quoted his words of contrition, delivered on 7 April 2004 to the 59th Commission:
We must never forget our collective failure to protect at least 800,000 defenceless men, women and children who perished in Rwanda ten years ago…we must all acknowledge our responsibility for not having done more to prevent or stop genocide.”
A month later, the High Commissioner’s Report on Darfur was released:E/CN.4/2005/3, and the then Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Dr. Bertrand Ramcharan firmly stressed the situation in its harshest light: “First, there is a reign of terror in this area; second, there is a scorched-earth policy; third, there is repeated war crimes and crimes against humanity; and fourth, this is taking place under our eyes.” [Associated Press, 8 May 2004].

In our written statement last year to the final session of the Commission: E/CN.4/2006/3:
URGENT APPEAL TO STOP CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY BY INVOKING THE GENOCIDE CONVENTION, we reproduce the letter sent to you, Madam, on 2 December 2005 by 22 NGOs on the General Assembly ‘No Action’ Darfur vote (23 November 2005.). Our 23 May 2006 Appeal to you, signed by 43 NGOs, concluded with these words:
We believe that the role of the new Human Rights Council will be, in part, tested by the way the Darfur conflict is faced.”

This prognostication was repeated several times, as late as 29 November at the Council, when we quoted your dire warning on Darfur: “Action must be taken now to stop the killings and displacement.” You also insisted that “the ongoing atrocities must stop.” And the message to the Council that same morning by the then Secretary-General stressed that the situation in Darfur “would merit scrutiny at a special session.” And, finally, the 4th special Darfur session took place and a High Level Mission was appointed, which issued a 35 page Report on Darfur two days ago, confirming: “The situation is characterized by gross and systematic violations of human rights and grave breaches of international humanitarian law. War crimes and crimes against humanity continue across the region.”

Another recent Report by a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Regional Office for Central and Eastern Africa (Humanitarian Newsmaker, vol.1: issue 1, March 2007) refers to: “The humanitarian crisis in the Darfur-Chad-Central African Republic triangle has deteriorated to unprecedented levels in recent months, with increasing spill-over from the conflict in Darfur to Chad and CAR.”

The overwhelming majority of NGOs and delegates here present are, surely, firmly convinced that the Council should endorse the recommendations made by the High Level Mission, despite the fact that one of its members, an ambassador (Indonesia), has since left the Mission. It is crucial for its own survival that the Council be, literally – “seized” by the ongoing genocidal tragedy of Darfur without further delay. Madame, if there were a procedural Gordian knot on the Darfur Report, would you like to comment on how it could be cut, so that the Council will not – as is feared – out-commission the Commission.
Thank you, Madam.

Case Postale 205 – 1196 Gland – Switzerland

Questions put by Representative David G. LITTMAN. Monday 18 September (5:40pm)
United Nations Human Rights Council (2nd session: 18 September–6 October 2006)

For Special Rapporteur Mr Doudou Diène (Re: Presentation of his Reports on Racism)

AWE’s theme: Human Rights Council will be, in part, tested by the way the Darfur conflict is faced..
[In replies to questions put to the SR, he did not reply to AWE and made no reference to Darfur.]

Thank you, Mr President,

Mr Diène, on behalf of the Association for World Education I would like to ask you 3 questions related to the increasing violence in Darfur, Sudan, to which you did not refer in your presentation. In a 23 May Appeal to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and again during the 1st session of this Council on 26 June, we stated: “We believe that the role of the new Human Rights Council will be, in part, tested by the way the Darfur conflict is faced.” [quoted in AFP dispatch, 23 May].

Two years ago your colleague Ms Asma Jahangir – then Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings – wrote in her 2004 final report on a visit to Darfur: “A large number of people whom I met had a strong perception that the Government was pursuing a policy of ‘Arabization’ of the Sudan and in particular the Darfur region; allegedly, those of Arab descent seek to portray themselves as ‘pure’ Muslims, as opposed to Muslims of African ethnicity.”

Unfortunately, there has been no public Council action on Darfur, and we can only hope that there are now serious behind-the-scene activities to prevent a new and even bloodier chapter in a conflict which has killed hundreds of thousands and forced two million from their homes.

Our 1st question relates to your views on the possible role of this HR Council at this late date.
Leadership within the UN system has shifted to the Security Council. Is there still a role for the Council, especially concerning human rights and racism in Darfur, often described as ‘genocide’?

Our 2nd question relates to the function of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Appeal we initiated to High Commissioner Louise Arbour on 23 May was signed by 43 NGOs. In it we stressed the need to appoint a large team of human rights monitors & advisors to Darfur. Do you see a possibility for such teams to enter into action? We are making available this Darfur Appeal, together with our substantive oral statement to the Sub-Commission of 14 August, as well as our written Commission statement E/CN.4/2006/NGO/3: URGENT APPEAL TO STOP CRIMES IN DARFUR BY USING THE GENOCIDE CONVENTION.)

Our 3rd question concerns the articulation of action between the Council and the International Criminal Court to whom names of violators have been presented, but no action has yet been made public. How do you envisage cooperation between these two important bodies to protect human rights and prevent genocide when practised by such systematic actions – to quote Article II of the 1948 Prvention of Genocide Convention: “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”?

Thank you, Sir.
1. See: “Documenting Atrocities in Darfur, surveying Darfuri refugees along the Chad/Darfur border,” by the Coalition for International Justice (CIJ), Sept. 2004; and recently “Mortality Survey among Internally Displaced Persons and other affected populations in Greater Darfur, Sudan,” by the UN World Health Organization –overseen study released in Khartoum, Sudan, Sept. 2006. Also, “Death in Darfur,” by John Hagan and Alberto Palloni, Science, 15 Sept. 2006 and the reaction in Scientific American, 15 Sept. 2006 SCIENCE NEWS (“Darfur Dead Much Higher than Commonly Reported”). See Eric Reeves (Sept. 15)

Mme Louise Arbour
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson, Geneva
23 May 2006

We, the undersigned NGOs, know that you share our concern with the violent situation in Darfur, Sudan and with the constant pattern of human rights violations well documented by the dedicated staff of the United Nations system.

It is now evident to all that the situation in Darfur is at a crucial turning point which should open the door to increased UN action. There is, on the one hand, a danger that the conflicts will spread to Chad where there have already been armed attacks. On the other hand, cease-fire negotiations carried out with the help of the African Union in Nigeria have led to an agreement between the largest of the three Darfur insurgencies and the Government of Sudan.

We believe that the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights has an important role to play in appointing a sufficiently large team of human rights monitors and advisors to help ensure that the cease-fire becomes really effective, that refugees and the displaced can return in safely, and that efforts for the promotion of human development in the region can be undertaken.

As you know, NGOs have been active in drawing attention to the conflicts in Darfur, in suggesting avenues for the peaceful settlement of disputes and in relief efforts. Last December the president of CONGO, Renate Bloem, conveyed to you a letter signed by 22 NGOs with regard to the General Assembly’s ‘No Action’ on Darfur vote of 23 Nov. 2005.

We believe that the role of the new Human Rights Council will be, in part, tested by the way the Darfur conflict is faced.
We will be pleased to continue working with you on this tragic situation.
1. 3HO Foundation
2. Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization
3. Agence des cites pour la cooperation Nord Sud
4. American Humanist Association
5. Art of Living Foundation
6. Associated Country Women of the World
7. Association for World Education
8. Association of World Citizens
9. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
10. Defence for Children International-Canada
11. Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants
12. Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas
13. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
14. Interfaith International
15. International Alliance of Women
16. International Association for Human Values
17. International Association for Religious Freedom
18. International Association of Applied Psychology
19. International Council of Jewish Women
20. International Federation of Social Workers
21. International Federation of University Women
22. International Humanist and Ethical Union
23. International Inner Wheel
24. Lutheran World Federation
25. MRAP
26. Pax Christi International
27. Pax Romana
28. Peace Worldwide
29. Peter-Hesse-Foundation SOLIDARITY IN PARTNERSHIP for ONE world in diversity
30. Socialist International Women
31. UN Watch
32. Union for Reform Judaism
33. Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
34. Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office
35. United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
36. Women of Reform Judaism
37. Women’s World Summit Foundation
38. World Federation for Mental Health
39. World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women
40. World Federation of United Nations Associations
41. World Union for Progressive Judaism
42. World Vision International
43. Worldwide Organization for Women

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