Rights Group: Security Council Should Immediately Enforce Darfur Arms Embargo

New York, NY – In response to a new report from the United Nations Security Council’s Sudan Panel of Experts citing “flagrant violations” to the Darfur arms embargo by all parties to the conflict, Human Rights First called on the U.N. Security Council to take immediate and strong steps to enforce that embargo.

“Given the Security Council’s refusal to act on previous reports of blatant and widespread violations, no one should be surprised by the gross embargo violations described in this report,” stated Julia Fromholz, interim director of the Crimes Against Humanity Program at Human Rights First. “The failure of the Council to take robust action against violators of the embargo – the Government of Sudan, rebel groups, and their suppliers – aggravates the violations themselves by signaling to suppliers and belligerents that they may operate with impunity.”

Human Rights First is calling for more international attention to be paid to those countries supplying arms to all belligerents to the conflict in Darfur. The rights organization has reported that more than 30 countries have supplied the Government of Sudan with weapons or related material since the Security Council established the embargo. China and Russia – permanent members of the Security Council – are two of the largest arms suppliers to Khartoum. Governments that send weapons to Sudan with knowledge that Khartoum is violating the embargo are failing to comply with the embargo.

“The surest way to stem the flow of weapons into Darfur is to convince weapons suppliers to halt their sales,” Fromholz observed. “This aspect of the violence in Darfur – and in the region, including Chad and the Central African Republic – has received too little attention from the international community. That must change.”

The new U.N. report comes as peace negotiations in the region are stalled, while violence against civilians, humanitarian aid workers, and peacekeepers continues unabated. The unwillingness of belligerents to come to the table for serious negotiations cannot be separated from the continuing supply of weapons to them.

“It is difficult to imagine a sustainable peace in Darfur when other countries continue to supply the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups with weapons. Drying up the flow of weapons to Darfur will not ensure peace, but it would shift the political dynamics in the right direction,” Fromholz stated.

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Published on November 19, 2008

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