In the absence of tough punitive measures in support of a new peace agreement and the deployment of a more robust international civilian protection force, the outlook for Darfur remains bleak. The last month has seen continued violence against civilians, mounting displacement in Darfur and neighboring Chad, and increased attacks against the African Union peacekeepers in the region.
The Khartoum government continues to renege on previous promises to accept the joint United Nations/African Union “hybrid” force supported by the international community. It did accept an interim step that would allow a few thousand UN troops to deploy in support of the AU mission, but this falls far short of what is needed in Darfur.
Following the first accusations by the International Criminal Court against a senior government official and allied militia leader for atrocities in Darfur, the Sudanese regime refused to cooperate with the Court and the Minister of Interior threatened to “slit the throat” of anyone attempting to arrest government officials.
While the situation festers, Khartoum continues to get a free pass from the international community — that is, until the Bush administration makes good on its "Plan B" threats, the European Union follows suit with long-threatened action, and the U.N. Security Council finally does the same.
Efforts to revive the political process have also been languishing. The various rebel factions have been trying to organize a meeting as part of a unification process—a prerequisite for successful peace talks—but the meeting has yet to take place and deepening divisions remain a major obstacle. The African Union and the United Nations, mandated to lead the new talks, have been slow to act, and risk losing momentum to a competing regional effort being pushed by Eritrea, Libya, and Chad—an idea supported by the Khartoum regime because it would exclude the broader international community.
The "3 Ps" of crisis response are needed now in Darfur:
The United States, the European Union, and the African Union should assemble a team of diplomats based in the region to work full-time on unifying the rebel groups. At the same time, the United Nations and the African Union must develop a framework and roadmap for renewed negotiations between the government and the rebels, and must put the proper personnel in place immediately to resume the peace process.
The United Nations must work in close coordination with the African Union to line up the forces necessary to reach the 20,300-troop level agreed upon in November by the African Union, the United Nations, the Arab League, and international donor countries, and then must place renewed pressure on Khartoum to accept this "hybrid force". The international community must also accelerate its contingency planning for military action if the situation worsens, including plans for a no-fly zone and intervention in the event of large-scale massacres of civilians.
The U.S. government must lead the international community in altering the calculations of Sudan's ruling NCP by working to impose multilateral punitive measures—such as targeted sanctions and economic pressures—against senior NCP officials and the companies they control. Such efforts must also target rebel leaders obstructing peace and perpetrating atrocities. Additional assistance also must be given to the ICC to help accelerate its preparation of indictments.
Crisis Group Analysts In The Field For ENOUGH
Andrew Adaidu and Musa Wahab arrived in Darfur in September 2006, two Nigerian soldiers taking part in the African Union peacekeeping mission, or AMIS, in troubled western Sudan. Six months later these two soldiers were shot dead in Greida, South Darfur — victims of the violence that continues to threaten the nearly 4 million Darfurians dependent on international assistance to survive.
This attack on AMIS was unfortunately not an isolated one. In April, five Senegalese AMIS soldiers were killed while protecting a water point on the volatile Chad/Sudan border, the single worst attack on AMIS forces since they began arriving in the spring of 2004. The helicopter carrying the AMIS Deputy Force Commander was also shot at that same weekend. One Ghanaian and one Rwandan peacekeeper were also killed in mid-April. 17 peacekeepers have now been killed in Darfur, creating a deterrent to the further deployment of African troops in the absence of better equipment and a stronger mandate.
Despite the Darfur Peace Agreement signed last May, and AMIS' efforts to keep the peace in the region, the conflict continues to intensify. The ceasefire has not been respected by either side, the government continues to support its allied Janjaweed militias, and all signs point to continuing war. An aid worker in West Darfur told ENOUGH, "Every day there is a killing, and an NGO [non-governmental organization] or U.N. vehicle is carjacked."
The most recent statistics available paint a grim picture. In February, 30,000 Darfurians were violently forced from their homes, largely because of attacks by Sudanese government forces and proxy militias on villages. Fighting between Arab tribes previously armed by the government resulted in hundreds of casualties and further displacement in South Darfur. Attacks and banditry by the rebel movements are also increasing. In total, 80,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the year and the United Nations is warning that the displaced camps are reaching capacity.
In addition to sponsoring continued atrocities, Sudan’s ruling NCP is pursuing four tactics aimed at squeezing the life out of Darfur.
1. Restricting humanitarian access:
Humanitarian workers are finding it harder and harder to access populations in need. Insecurity has forced some aid workers to move by helicopter, with certain areas considered "no-go" zones because of the violence. Bureaucratic obstacles put in place by the government over visas, travel permits, customs shipments, and hiring restrictions have severely slowed down work. "The government of Sudan has a plan to squeeze out international aid agencies," one aid worker told ENOUGH. "We are struggling to get back the kind of access we used to have earlier in the crisis," said another.
Although the government of Sudan signed a new deal with the United Nations at the end of March to increase humanitarian access, it has signed such deals in the past and has failed to adhere to their commitments. The situation could soon reach a tipping point, overwhelming current relief operations and leaving tens of thousands to die from disease epidemics and localized famine.
2. Preventing effective civilian protection:
The Sudanese government has also been blocking international efforts to strengthen AMIS. ENOUGH staff met with AMIS officials, who expressed the need for more assistance from the United Nations and the international community. In February, ENOUGH also spoke with the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, whose country is one of the largest troop contributors to AMIS. He told ENOUGH that the A.U. troops were suffering, with severe repercussions for the people of Darfur. "If we had more troops, the proper equipment, the right mandate, and a no-fly zone to paralyze the air force," he said, "we could protect the civilian population of Darfur". But none of these things are happening, and in mid-March, Kagame threatened to withdraw his troops — one of the most effective contingents in Darfur — unless more support is provided. "There is a sense of frustration that you cannot rule out the possibility of, at a certain time, withdrawing our forces. And I can see that we are moving in that direction," Kagame said.
A unified international community has pressed Khartoum to accept the UN/AU "hybrid force' for months, and its precursor, a "heavy support package" to bolster AMIS. This support from the United Nations would help the overwhelmed AMIS forces with transport, logistics and personnel. In March, Bashir sent a lengthy reply refusing substantial U.N. involvement. Bashir partially reversed his position in mid-April after diplomatic interventions by China, the Arab League and U.S. Deputy Secretary Negroponte by accepting the heavy support package. However, the regime still appears to be opposed to the deployment of the “hybrid force.” With U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently asking for more time to negotiate with the regime on the terms of U.N. involvement, this deadly back-and-forth is set to continue unless the Security Council—led by the United States—puts an end to this diplomatic fiasco and hits the Khartoum regime with the punitive measures its actions merit.
3. Spreading the crisis beyond Sudan's borders:
Sowing the seeds of violence and atrocities in neighboring countries has taken some of the focus off the regime’s crimes in Darfur, which continue to be the main drivers of instability in the region. Next door in eastern Chad, some 230,000 Darfurians are living in refugee camps, after escaping the violence of the Janjaweed and Sudanese soldiers. The border area is increasingly insecure, and in March, Sudanese Antonovs bombed areas around Bahai, right next to Oure Cassoni, one of the largest refugee camps. Several Chadian aid workers were injured; dozens of Chadians were killed; and thousands were displaced by recent attacks by Sudanese and Chadian militia in southeastern Chad. Tens of thousands of Chadians are in makeshift camps seeking protection from the militias who have begun operating on their side of the border as well. Meanwhile, plans for a U.N. peacekeeping mission in eastern Chad have stalled, as Chadian President Idriss Deby has reneged on agreements to allow the deployment of U.N. troops.
4. Undermining the push for renewed peace talks:
A lasting end to the crisis will require a new, inclusive peace agreement in Darfur, which the African Union and United Nations are mandated to lead. While the mediation team has started their regional consultations, they have yet to suggest a framework for the new talks. Eritrea, Chad and Libya are also pushing their own process, with the Sudanese government pressing hard for this regional initiative, as it would exclude broader international participation. Meanwhile, Khartoum has repeatedly undermined efforts by rebel factions to meet as part of a unification process—a prerequisite to negotiating any new peace deal—by bombing meeting locations and otherwise instigating divisions within and amongst rebel factions.
One of the conditions for new peace talks to succeed is unifying the rebel forces. The rebel movements have splintered into several groups, with no common leadership, and this has significantly undermined past efforts at peace talks. The United States, European Union and others have been encouraging a series of rebel conferences to establish a common leadership, which would also facilitate humanitarian operations in rebel areas. Rebel leaders tell ENOUGH that while they recognize the importance of unification efforts, internal divisions, attacks by the government of Sudan, and meddling by outside actors have caused repeated delays. There is also concern that the rebels are using this as a delaying tactic. "The rebels will take their time unless they are pressured," said one international diplomat. It is clear that much more effective diplomacy must be aimed at getting the rebel'’ collective act together to prepare for more effective peace talks. Despite all external meddling, it ultimately is the responsibility of the Darfurian rebels to find a common negotiating position and sideline the voices of division.
Policy Challenges And Opportunities
Listening to her crackly shortwave radio at a refugee camp in eastern Chad, Fatima tells ENOUGH staff that she gets excited when she hears U.S. pronouncements about Darfur. Driven from her village three years ago by the Sudanese army and the Janjaweed militia, she is still hopeful that the United States can help her return home. The Bush administration is considering tougher sanctions as part of its so-called "Plan B" to put pressure on the government, but unless this "Plan B" package is robust and multilateral enough to demonstrably punish the perpetrators of mass atrocities, Fatima's hopes that the United States will help end the crisis will be dashed.
International leverage has diminished over the last three years, thanks to a pattern of repeated empty threats made by the international community against the NCP over its behavior in Darfur. The NCP's policies remain the same, while the international community has failed to back up its threats, emboldening the government to do as it likes.
What can explain the inertia that is preventing the United States — and others — from taking the tough actions needed to make "Plan B" effective and build leverage?
Some segments of the U.S. government are allowing the counterterrorism cooperation between the Sudanese regime and the U.S. government to undermine any movement toward punitive measures on the regime for its atrocities in Darfur or for its non-implementation of key aspects of the NCP’s peace deal with the former southern Sudanese rebels.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some U.S. diplomats, several European governments, and the U.N. Secretary General still believe that incentives will work better than pressures in changing Khartoum's policies.
Refusal to spend the political capital:
With competing foreign policy priorities such as Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, the United States has not been willing to use its full diplomatic weight to push for coordinated multilateral pressure on the government of Sudan. As one U.S. official told ENOUGH, "That would take too long."
Despite these challenges, momentum for punitive action is building in Washington and elsewhere. President Bush has indicated to his top officials that he wants to see more action on Sudan. He rejected a package of unilateral sanctions for "Plan B," telling his staff to "come up with something stronger." U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is pushing for sanctions to be passed in the Security Council and has voiced his support for a no-fly zone, although he agreed in mid-April — at the request of Ki-Moon — to temporarily put the sanctions resolution on hold to see if a window of time will allow diplomatic efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table, If there isn't significant progress soon, however, the United Kingdom has asserted that it will move ahead with the draft resolution as before. Meanwhile, other European leaders such as France's President Jacques Chirac and Germany's Prime Minister Angela Merkel are all making statements in support of additional sanctions. Even China is coming under increasing pressure to step away from its position as Sudan's international protector. The time is ripe for concerted international pressure to build consensus around the multilateral implementation of sanctions that the United States already has in place as well as other financial measures that might bring about a change in Khartoum's policy.
ENOUGH Policy Recommendations
Peacemaking: The United States, the European Union and the African Union should assemble a team of diplomats based in the region to work full-time on unifying the rebel groups. At the same time, the United Nations and the African Union must develop a framework and roadmap for renewed negotiations between the government and the rebels, and must put the proper personnel in place immediately to resume the peace process.
The international community needs to help build the pillars for peace by devoting enough diplomats and resources behind efforts to unify the rebels. There also needs to be a roadmap for negotiations between the rebels and the government of Sudan. The A.U./U.N. mediation team should establish a clear division of labor, and along with the United States and others, must work with other regional and international actors to generate support for the new peace talks. The United States should play a major role in putting this strategy together and making sure the right personnel are in place to move the various elements forward with appropriate urgency.
A new agreement must provide:
- an effective mechanism to verify the government's dismantling of the Janjaweed;
- increased individual compensation for victims of the conflict;
- a process for safe and voluntary return of displaced people; and
- greater power sharing for the people of Darfur.
The negotiation process itself should be strengthened, reflecting the model that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005 by the government of Sudan and the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army. These talks had a small, well-run mediation team, with selective international involvement at critical junctures during the talks, including from a high-level U.S. envoy, the Secretary of State and President Bush himself. A similar strategy is needed now.
The new negotiations also must be more inclusive than past efforts. For a durable peace agreement, future talks should include representatives from key Darfurian constituencies left out of earlier rounds. This can be accomplished by putting in place a mechanism at the talks through which representatives of Darfur's Arab tribes, displaced persons, women, and civil society can have their voices heard by the negotiating parties.
Protection: The United Nations must work in close coordination with the African Union to line up the forces necessary to reach the 20,300-troop level agreed upon in November by the African Union, the United Nations, the Arab League, and international donor countries, and then must place renewed pressure on Khartoum to accept. The international community must also accelerate its contingency planning for military action if the situation worsens, including plans for a no-fly zone and intervention in the event of large-scale massacres of civilians.
Further pressure must be placed on Khartoum to accept the A.U./U.N. hybrid force. Until then, donor countries must continue to fund the A.U. mission at full capacity and NATO members should provide military planners in order to build the capacity of the African Union. The United Nations has also been pushing the deployment of peacekeepers to protect civilians and humanitarian operations in eastern Chad, but has met with resistance by Chadian President Deby. The United States and France should put pressure on Deby to accept these forces, in conjunction with genuine political dialogue between the government and internal opposition groups.
The international community must also accelerate its planning and increase its preparedness for military action, even in the absence of Khartoum’s consent. If the situation continues to deteriorate in Darfur, the Security Council should have plans in place to deploy ground forces to the region with a mandate to stop the killing. Although the international community's appetite for this type of military action is small, the Sudanese government must understand that all options remain on the table. A credible planning process will in itself be a point of leverage in pressing primary objectives forward.
Punishment: The U.S. government must lead the international community in altering the calculations of Sudan's ruling NCP by working to impose multilateral punitive measures—such as targeted sanctions and economic pressures — against senior NCP officials and the companies they control. Such efforts must also target rebel leaders obstructing peace and perpetrating atrocities. Additional assistance also must be given to the ICC to help accelerate its preparation of indictments.
The United States must make "Plan B" meaningful by demonstrating leadership in forging multilateral consensus on the following actions:
1. Targeted sanctions on individuals through the Security Council:
The Security Council already has a sanctions committee whose panel of experts has traveled to the region and compiled several lists of individuals who are responsible for atrocities and should face sanctions, including numerous senior government officials. However, the Security Council has implemented sanctions against only four low-ranking offenders thus far — one low-level government army officer, one Janjaweed leader, and two rebel commanders — but has left alone those most responsible for the horrors in Darfur.
2. Broader economic sanctions:
The United States has had strong unilateral economic sanctions in place since 1997. These include freezing the assets of the government of Sudan and blocking commercial transactions of government held companies. The United States should press the Security Council to mandate its sanctions committee to investigate the offshore banking accounts and private companies belonging to senior government officials responsible for orchestrating the atrocities in Darfur. The regime has stashed billions of stolen state funds in offshore accounts that allow the Sudanese regime to fund its militias in Darfur and elsewhere. These accounts should be frozen.
3. Cooperation with the ICC:
The United States and other concerned nations should provide information and declassified intelligence to the ICC to expedite arrest warrants for the principal architects of the Sudanese government's scorched-earth campaign against its own citizens. The indictments of a Sudanese minister of state in charge of the Darfur portfolio when the atrocities began and a Janjaweed militia commander were a start, but efforts must be made to rein in other key leaders of Khartoum’s scorched-earth policies.
ENOUGH Activist Agenda
In the Spotlight
Participate in Global Days for Darfur:
April 23rd to April 30th
Join activists and concerned citizens in cities across the United States and around the world from April 23rd to April 30th in the Global Days for Darfur, a week of rallies, marches, and vigils to call attention to the mounting violence in Darfur and the international community’s failure to muster an adequate response. If an event isn’t already planned where you live, create your own and post it on the Save Darfur Coalition's website. This is a great opportunity for you to link up with other activists, show your solidarity, and call for greater action.
Google Earth and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum document the destruction in Darfur
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Google Earth have launched a new initiative called "Crisis in Darfur" that allows the more than 200 million users of Google Earth to see the destruction wreaked by Janjaweed militia and Sudanese forces in Darfur: more than 1,600 damaged and destroyed villages in Darfur and the remains of more than 100,000 homes, schools, mosques and other community structures can be seen on the site. A compilation of photos, data, and eyewitness testimony provided by the USHMM are also available. For more information, please visit Crisis in Darfur.
- Our Strategy Paper: The Answer to Darfur: How to Resolve the World's Hottest War
- Event Summary: a panel discussion with Colin Thomas-Jensen, Gayle Smith and John Prendergast
Read recent opinion pieces and articles by Crisis Group staff:
- Gareth Evans and Andrew Stroehlein, "A Responsibility to Protect: The World's View," Open Democracy, April 5, 2007.
- Nadim Hasbani, "About the Arab Stance Vis-à-vis Darfur," Al-Hayat, March 21, 2007.
- Nick Grono and Donald Steinberg, "Future of the World Court in Balance," YaleGlobal Online, March 8, 2007.
- Nick Grono, "Darfur Needs More Than Words," European Voice, March 1, 2007
- Omer Ismail and Colin Thomas-Jensen, "Nations Must Enforce Darfur Peace Agreements," The Boston Globe, February 10, 2007.
- Colin Thomas-Jensen, "How Joe Q Citizen Can Affect Darfur," Fort Worth Star Telegram, January 9, 2007.
- John Prendergast and Colin Thomas-Jensen, "Blowing the Horn," Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007.
For more information, go to:
- Related articles from the Center for American Progress
- The International Crisis Group's Crisis in Darfur page
Learn more about Global Public Opinion and the Responsibility to Protect, from a meeting held at the Brookings Institution discussing international support for the Responsibility to Protect.
See how the Sudan Divestment Taskforce is spearheading a nationwide movement to divest money from a targeted list of companies underwriting mass atrocities in Darfur.
Learn whether your congressional representative has done enough to end the crisis in Darfur by reading his or her score card at www.DarfurScores.org.
Read about China's role in underwriting the ongoing genocide, and join the effort led by Professor Eric Reeves to stop the "Genocide Olympics" at www.sudanreeves.org.
Lead Your Leaders
As the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, the United States must work multilaterally to impose punitive measures—including targeted sanctions and economic pressures—against senior Sudanese National Congress Party officials and the companies they control. By contacting your elected representatives, you will be joining thousands of concerned activists from across the country in "leading their leaders." Urge them to send a message to the regime in Khartoum that there is a price to be paid for their actions.
For those of you with the passion and the means, set up a meeting with your members of Congress to show them that resolving the crisis in Darfur is a priority of yours, and should be one of theirs, too.
ENOUGH is partnering in this campaign with the Genocide Intervention Network, or GI-Net, which is operating a 1-800-GENOCIDE toll-free number that will connect you to your elected officials.
Call your Senators and member of Congress and tell them:
- to co-sponsor or support HR 180, the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007, which was introduced by Representative Barbara Lee of California in January;
- to co-sponsor or support Senator Richard Durbin's legislation on foreign corporations and divestment from Sudan: S.831—the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act of 2007;
- that strong U.S. leadership is needed to alter the calculations of Sudan's ruling NCP;
- that members of Congress should urge the Bush administration to work multilaterally to impose punitive measures—such as targeted sanctions and economic pressures—against senior NCP officials and the companies they control; and
- that Congress should fulfill its oversight responsibility by ensuring that all aspects of last year's Darfur Peace and Accountability Act are being implemented by the Bush administration.
Call the White House at 1-202-456-1414 or e-mail at [email protected], and tell President Bush to:
- work multilaterally to impose punitive measures—such as targeted sanctions and economic pressures—against senior NCP officials and the companies they control;
- introduce a resolution at the United Nations Security Council to make multilateral all existing U.S. unilateral sanctions, and to authorize an investigation into the assets of companies owned by senior NCP officials;
- work together with our allies to provide all relevant information on crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court; and
- support HR 180, the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007 and S.831—the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act of 2007.