Urgent NGO Appeal for UN Action on Darfur Report

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Non-governmental organizations, urge the UN Human Rights Council to fully endorse the recommendations of the report of the High-Level Mission on the situation of human rights in Darfur, and to implement them immediately. The Council must delay no longer in acting on this ongoing human rights and humanitarian catastrophe.

Contrary to what was alleged by Sudan and its allies at the Council debate this past Friday, the report was prepared by a credible team with a fair mandate. Its findings confirmed what has long been widely known: that the government of Sudan is responsible for “large-scale international crimes in Darfur ” and that other parties to the conflict also have committed gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The report urges the Council to:

condemn the continuing violations by all sides
· address the Sudanese government’s “manifest failure in its responsibility to protect civilians”
and to call for such protection
· take action regarding compensation for victims and accountability for perpetrators
· establish a dedicated mechanism to continue to monitor the situation in Darfur and to measure
compliance with international recommendations
· actively support the establishment of a credible, independent national human rights
commission for the Sudan

The Council should do all of these things without further delay. It also should strongly urge the other actors to whom the report also made recommendations to implement them immediately. Particularly important are that the government of Sudan cooperate fully in the deployment of the proposed African Union/United Nations peacekeeping force and with the International Criminal Court; that all UN member states provide adequate funding and support for the proposed peacekeeping mission; and that the UN General Assembly compile a list of foreign companies that have an adverse impact on human rights in Darfur and ask UN entities to stop doing business with them.

As team leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams told the Council on Friday, the time for reports is over. The Council, and the international community as a whole, must now take urgent action to protect and aid the long-suffering civilians in Darfur.

We object to the insulting and even ad hominem attacks made by Sudan and its allies against the Darfur team’s legitimacy, and against Jody Williams in particular. These contradict the Council’s founding principles of dialogue and cooperation.

We fully support Jody Williams’ response to the Council: “About credibility—it’s not about ours, it’s about yours. If the council chooses not to consider our report ... it will have impact on the credibility of the Council but not on this mission.” We also support Ms. Williams’ reminder to the Council that “Responsibility to protect is meant to protect civilians, not abusive governments.”

The Council must fully endorse the report and its recommendations, as it has done with another report being addressed at this session, and the High Commissioner should be mandated to ensure follow-up.

In 2005, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the Commission on Human Rights’ “credibility deficit.” If the Council fails to perform its minimum duty and adopt the Darfur report’s recommendations in full, it will face a credibility crisis. And this will cast a shadow upon the reputation of the Council, and upon the reputation of the United Nations as a whole. For the millions of victims suffering in Darfur, we urge the Council to act now.