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U.S. Must Increase Diplomatic Pressure to Deploy UN-led Peacekeepers in Darfur on UN Day - U.S. Needed to Address Participation in Upcoming Peace Talks
Thursday, 25 October 2007 13:02

Atlantic Free Press (Washington, DC): Today, Africa Action marks United Nations (UN) Day with a call for the U.S. to redouble its diplomatic efforts to secure the immediate deployment of a UN-led peacekeeping force to protect the people of Darfur. Peace talks between rebel leaders and the government of Sudan scheduled to begin this Saturday in Libya are an important step toward the political reconciliation that must accompany an effective peacekeeping operation. However, the boycott by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and six other rebel groups threatens to scuttle the negotiations. Without sustained pressure on all parties by the U.S. and the international community, negotiations will not achieve the honest participation of the government and inclusion of multiple groups necessary to make progress.

Africa Action noted that it is unlikely that the international community can bring all parties together in the next three days. “The government of Sudan’s insistence on continuing demonstrates Khartoum’s presence in the negotiation is only a public relations move,” Marie Clarke Brill, Interim Executive Director of Africa Action, said today. “The international community must learn the lesson from the May 2006 political agreement – you can’t rush peace. The U.S. must spearhead the global response by working to bring together all parties while taking leadership to ensure the rapid deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation. Far from being mutually exclusive priorities, peacekeeping and a political peace process must go hand-in-hand.”

Violence has escalated in recent weeks, with heavy casualties among civilians and humanitarian workers following assaults on towns and internally displaced person (IDP) camps in western and southern Darfur. In light of the reality that it will take time for political negotiations to achieve progress, Africa Action stressed the urgency of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1769, which calls for the deployment of a UN-led peacekeeping operation, in spite of efforts by the government of Sudan to delay this process or weaken the force’s operational capacity and dilute its mandate to protect.

“The UN must act quickly and decisively to resolve the command and control ambiguities regarding the UN/AU hybrid peacekeeping force,” said Marie Clarke Brill. “The UN has the technical and logistical capabilities necessary to integrate multinational UN and AU units into an effective force. UN control of the mission will be crucial to gain the trust of Darfurians. The U.S. must press all stakeholders to overcome Khartoum’s duplicitous stall tactics and exert leadership in the international community to get a UN-led force on the ground.”

Africa Action commented that many civilians in Darfur have grown increasingly suspicious of current African Union peacekeepers as a result of recent events, including the destruction of the southern Darfur town of Haskanita by government forces. For peacekeepers to be able to do their job effectively, the people of Darfur must feel protected by these international forces and cooperate with them. 

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