HRF Condemns Sudan Government’s Latest Actions: Urges U.N. to Appoint a Special Envoy
Human Rights First condemns the Sudanese government’s expulsion of Jan Pronk, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in Sudan. Mr. Pronk was given 72 hours to leave Sudan after commenting in his blog about setbacks suffered by the Sudanese military during its current campaign in Darfur.
Violence in Darfur has increased dramatically in the last few weeks, and the Sudanese government’s latest action is an apparent attempt to divert attention from the escalating violence there and to silence an important witness. While the Sudanese government’s latest snub to the international community is unacceptable, it also presents an opportunity for the U.N. to take a strong and public stand against Khartoum’s intransigence. Human Rights First urges Secretary-General Annan to use this moment to appoint a prominent, high-level U.N. envoy to Darfur. Such an appointment would reflect the U.N.’s resolve to end the crisis now, instead of relying on a patchwork of half-measures unlikely to achieve peace.
While we commend the work of Mr. Pronk and hope that he will soon be admitted back into Sudan to continue his valuable work throughout the country, Human Rights First believes that a prominent diplomatic figure is urgently needed to focus on coordinating the international response to the Darfur crisis. An appointment of a person of international stature to this position will send a clear message of international resolve to the Sudanese government, which has repeatedly obstructed African Union and United Nations efforts to end the crisis. The high-level envoy will work with national political figures in key countries, such as Andrew Natsios, the recently appointed U.S. Presidential Envoy for Darfur. He or she also would coordinate the U.N.’s response to the Darfur crisis.
The numbers of dead and displaced are staggering. It is imperative that the United Nations focus a significant percentage of its energy on Darfur even while other world crises demand attention as well. The mass murder in Darfur—a region that is “on the brink of a catastrophic situation” according to Secretary-General Annan in an October report—deserves a place at the table with those other urgent issues. The Secretary-General must devote a significant portion of every remaining day of his term to fixing Darfur.
The people of Darfur cannot afford to delay peacemaking while waiting for the Sudanese government to agree to the transition from A.U. to U.N. forces. Lasting peace can only be built upon a political process of grassroots dialogue and reconciliation that includes all stakeholders. Human Rights First therefore believes that progress towards the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation should be a high priority for the international community, even as it works to increase security in the region. Reinvigorating the political process requires a U.N. Special Envoy who could ensure that all necessary parties are engaged.
A determined and focused effort by the U.N., led by a Special Envoy with the strong support of the Secretary-General, is the best—and perhaps only—chance for a lasting peace in Darfur.