On the afternoon of Tuesday 11th December, in a joint statement with four other NGOs, IHEU made a plea to the plenary session of the Human Rights Council for action on Darfur. We appealed to the High Commissioner, to the 47 member States of the Council and to all delegations and NGOs, to do everything in their power to halt the continuing genocide in Darfur and warned of the dire consequences for the Council’s credibility of failure to take meaningful action.
Under discussion was the renewal of mandates for the Special Rapporteurs on the Sudan and Darfur, and the Expert Group on Darfur. The Egyptian delegate, on behalf of the African Union objected to the proliferation of missions to Darfur that had achieved very little, “A heavy burden on the government”. The unstated implication was that the failure to achieve effective action was to be laid at the door of the investigators, not the Sudanese government. In the end, a “compromise” was reached under which the Expert Group was deemed to have completed its work (regardless of the fact that the government of Sudan had steadfastly refused to cooperate with it and none of its recommendations had been acted upon), and the mandates of the two Special rapporteurs were extended for a further year. In a craven act of submission to the majority the Europeans accepted wording in the resolution:
“Acknowledges the cooperation of the Government of the Sudan and welcomes the open and constructive dialogue between the Government and the group of experts.”
This cringing falsehood was the price the EU had to pay to get the Arab states to agree to the limited extensions of the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs.
Joint Statement on Darfur
11 December 2007
UN Human Rights Council, Sixth Session, December 10 – 14 2007.
Joint statement by Association for World Education, Association of World Citizens, International Humanist and Ethical Union, World Union of Progressive Judaism, B’nai B’rith International.
We wish to thank and congratulate Ms. Sima Samar [Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan] for her very lucid statement and the remarkably comprehensive report by her team.
On 7 April 2004, here at the Palais, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan solemnly declared: “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.” Nearly 4 years later, “never” is again “ever”.
Madam High Commissioner, in your lecture last month at Trinity College Dublin you stressed that: “rooted in human rights and international humanitarian law” there is now a “norm” “an emerging doctrine known as responsibility to protect”. You then expressed a desire “to focus on the content of this norm” – indeed, this was the central theme of the 2006 High-level Mission to Darfur authorised by the Council. The brutal, ongoing genocide in Darfur is an important test of this “norm”.
Today, we wish again to express our deep anxiety for the future of the Human Rights Council. We have expressed this concern on numerous occasions – especially in the 23 May 2006 letter to you on Darfur, signed by 43 NGOs, which concluded with a prediction, now widely recognised by the international community: “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 again appeal to you Madam High Commissioner, to the 47 member States of the Council and to all delegations and NGOs, to do everything in your power to halt the continuing genocide in Darfur. A week ago, Arte TV devoted 2 hours to this ghastly tragedy, with two moving documentary films and a debate. Only yesterday, Sudan expert Prof. Eric Reeves published a powerful warning in the International Herald Tribune, entitled, “Hobbling the UN in Darfur”, concluding: “UNAMID must succeed. If it does not, how long it will be before Darfur slides into cataclysmic destruction, with no means of halting the slide. This is the stark choice before the inter-national community: Is it prepared to see the mission fail? Or will it rally the resources and exert the pressure on Khartoum, both of which are critical to the mission’s success.”
Madam, Mr. President, We must never forget Darfur!