"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Briefings

19 December 2006

Outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan named Jan Eliasson as his new representative in Sudan and pushed for a greater commitment to a force for Darfur. Annan also acknowledged failure of the UN and international community to protect the people of Darfur, saying “To judge by what is happening in Darfur, our performance has not improved much since the disasters of Bosnia and Rwanda…..Sixty years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, and 30 years after the Cambodian killing fields, the promise of ‘never again’ is ringing hollow.” The UN’s new ‘human rights watchdog’ – the Human Rights Council – announced its intention to send an investigation team to Darfur in its first major test.

Tony Blair followed on previous strong language by suggesting that the establishment of a no-fly zone over Darfur was a real possibility if the janjaweed were not disarmed. A joint report by Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group demanded sanctions not words over Darfur in advance of the EU Summit on 14-15 December. In a further important step, the International Criminal Court announced that it would have indictements ready for war criminals implicated in mass killings in Darfur by February 2007.

The AU expressed fears that an attack was being planned on them in North Darfur by combined elements of the rebel forces. Two AU peacekeepers were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Darfur. Some 30 people were killed in a convoy carrying medicine to Darfur. Some were burned alive. Attackers were identified as gunmen on horseback, the standard description of janjaweed forces. Worsening security forced several aid organizations to pull out 650 staff from Darfur and Chad in mid-December, disrupting aid supplies to hundreds of thousands of people.

Sudanese representatives walked out of a meeting of the Joint Ceasefire Commission on Darfur after their request for a delay was denied. The meeting pointed out violations of the ceasefire by rebel and janjaweed groups but noted, in politically expedient language, the congruence between newly supplied and strengthened janjaweed militias and their violence carried out with impunity in areas overseen by the Government of Sudan.

In a development highlighting the complexity of ethnicity and political allegiance in Darfur, a new Arab rebel group, the Popular Forces Troops (PFT), announced that they had repelled a government attack in South Darfur on December 5. The group says it is fighting Khartoum to prevent the marginalization of Darfur in national politics.