Ex UNSG Kofi Annan quits Syrian envoy effort, sprinkling blame liberally all around

Five months ago, former UN Secretary-General Annan [who is retired, after two terms in office and living in Geneva] accepted the job of joint UN and Arab League envoy to end to bloodshed in Syria.

Today, Annan told journalists at a news conference in the Palais des Nations in Geneva that he was giving up — but he’s apparently not walking out and leaving right away, he said….

He’ll be leaving at the end of the month, on 31 August.

Coincidentally, France — which is the most gung-ho in wanting intervention in Syria — has assumed the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for the month, and will preside over all deliberations durin the entire of August.

Does that suggest that Annan might be persuaded, if circumstances change, to change his mind?

It seems not. Here is what he replied when asked by a journalist, “Is this a resignation?”: “Yes, I am not going to continue”, Annan said.

But, there’s something about this that gives the impression that Annan didn’t jump on his own, and that he was pushed.

Just look at the expressions on these two faces — both of these men, including spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi on the left, show unease, if not chagrin — not regret or firm determination. They look perturbed.

UN Photo by Yann Castanier
This photo is posted by the UN here.

Ian Black wrote in The Guardian here that Annan made “a sometimes bitter and frustrated statement” in the Geneva press conference. Black also wrote that “Sluggish and ineffective diplomacy has been outpaced by a fast-moving and increasingly dangerous situation” on the ground in Syria, particularly in Aleppo.

It may be that Annan was perturbed by a reference, reportedly since eliminated, that he should better focus his efforts — a reference contained in a Saudi-backed draft text on Syria due to be presented to the UN General Assembly on Friday.

But, it is interesting that UNSG BAN Ki-Moon so readily accepted Annan’s resignation [ok, BAN did say “with deep regret”, but that’s the least he could do]. And, instead of diplomatic reflection, or saying that the entire business is under re-evaluation, there was an immediate flurry of speculation about who might be Annan’s successor…

Continue reading Ex UNSG Kofi Annan quits Syrian envoy effort, sprinkling blame liberally all around

Kofi Annan to propose a 250-observer force with helicopters for Syria

Former UNSG Kofi Annan, who is now the joint envoy of the UN and the Arab League with a mandate to end the violence in Syria, is readying a recommendation that will be delivered to the UN Security Council in New York later today to establish a 250-observer force that will also have its own helicopter support.

The Syrian Government was involved in Annan’s planning discussions, and apparently agrees with this proposal. It has already been presented to the Arab League, before it goes to the UNSC today.

Reuters is reporting that “A six-day-old truce has held in some parts of Syria since President Bashar al-Assad pledged to enforce it last week. But in strong opposition areas such as Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deraa the army continues to attack and battle rebels, using heavy weapons in violation of the pledge by Damascus to pull back. After negotiations led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan acting as envoy of the United Nations and Arab League, Assad’s government has agreed to allow a small U.N. force to monitor the ceasefire. But the planned 250-strong mission is a fraction of the size of U.N. peacekeeping forces sent to other conflicts, raising doubt among Assad’s opponents about whether it can be effective or will serve as a figleaf substitute for more robust action”. This is reported here .

Meanwhile, Syrians are still singing and dancing in the streets in a display of popular mobilization that appears to be extraordinarily energizing. A video shot this week in Douma has been posted here:

    UPDATE: Later, the number went up from 250 to 300 observers, Reuters reported on Thursday 19 April: “In a letter to the Security Council on Wednesday, [UNSG] Ban said Syria had not fully complied with Annan’s six-point peace plan but still outlined plans to deploy up to 300 observers for three months to supervise a fragile truce between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters seeking to oust him. Ban said the observers would be deployed incrementally over a period of weeks, in approximately ten locations throughout Syria. He said an earlier UN proposal for 250 observers was insufficient. Ban also said that the freedom of access of the advance monitoring team was imperfect. It was allowed to visit Deraa but not the battle-scarred town of Homs”.

Continue reading Kofi Annan to propose a 250-observer force with helicopters for Syria

UN Security Council passes unanimous resolution to send 30 unarmed military observers as advance team of monitors to Syria

The UN Security Council met with relative efficiency on Saturday afternoon at UNHQ/NY and voted unanimously [15-0] to send an advance team of some 30 unarmed military observers to Syria, as an advance team of monitors to observe compliance with a six-point plan by “Joint Envoy” Kofi Annan to stop the violence that has killed nearly 10,000 Syrians over the last year [as the current President of the UNSC, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice noted], and made at least 45,000 flee their country.

Some 5 or 6 of the observers were to arrive within hours — Russia’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that one Russian would be coming from the Golan Heights [Syrian-claimed territory occupied by Israel since June 1967].

Another 20 military observers were supposed to be in Damascus within 24 hours.

Kofi Annan, former UNSG who now represents both the current UNSG BAN Ki-Moon and the Arab League, is due to present a more detailed plan by 18 April for a more substantial UN “supervising” mission in Syria.

Russia and China, who vetoed a previous proposed UNSC resolution on Syria, said that they could go along with this one because it respected Syrian government sovereignty…

Russia’s representative, Vitaly Churkin, complained at length however about hearing other representatives on the Security Council misrepresent the terms of the resolution — the

Syria’s representative Jaafari said that the resolution was not balanced, but added that his government would live with it because of the need to reestablish order in the country. Jaafari bitterly blamed outsiders — he named Saudi Arabia as one — for interfering, due to a long-standing rivalry between “Pan-Arabism and Political Islam”. And Jaafari blamed money coming from “Salafist and Wahhabi” sources for the acts of terror that he said have been committed by gangs operating throughout the country…

Kofi Annan's think tank in Geneva declared bankrupt

“An international humanitarian think-tank presided by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is closing down after it plunged deep into debt, Swiss authorities said Wednesday.  The Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, which was partly financed by the Swiss government, was launched in 2007 in Geneva under Swiss impetus to bring together the humanitarian community, governments and private companies.  The Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the non-profit foundation was ‘over-indebted and must halt its activities’.  The Swiss government agreed to pay 1.75 million Swiss francs (1.2 million euros, 1.6 million dollars) to foot half of the debt and the cost of redundancy for about a dozen staff”… Thanks to a tip, this news was located here.

UN reports: human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory remains grave

“The human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory remains grave”, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour informed the members of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.

Three new reports on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory were discussed at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

Arbour told the Council that there must be urgent implementation of her earlier recommendations, made in a previous report last March, for ending human rights violations caused by Israeli military attacks and incursions — including “the establishment of accountability mechanisms”, and the ending of the closure of Gaza.

Three months ago, Arbour had reported that “the protection of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians requires immediate action by all parties and by the international community”.

The aim, she said, is to “bring about a change in approach to the use of force”.

Arbour’s recommendations in her earlier report called on Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the “de facto” Hamas government in Gaza, to establish urgently and without delay “accountability mechanisms” to carry out independent, law-based, transparent and accessible investigations – according to international standards – of any alleged breaches of their respective obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.

The specific violations she mentioned formed a “balanced” list in which the blame was divided between Israel and the Palestinians: “indiscriminate attacks and incursions, indiscriminate firing of rockets or mortars, suicide bombings, targeted killings, and torture”.

Arbour said that personal accountability should also be investigated and prosecuted, where “negligence, recklessness or intent is established”.

And called for an end to the closure in Gaza, and to the suffering due to deprivation of human rights. Living conditions for 1.4 million people in Gaza, she wrote in March, were “abhorrent”. And, she said, Israel must cease all actions violating international human rights and humanitarian law obligations – in particular the prohibition of collective punishment.

At the same time, Arbour said, the “de facto government in Gaza under the effective control of Hamas should take all measures in its power to eliminate the negative effects of the siege” – and must stop all human rights violations against both Palestinian and Israeli civilians, “notably the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel”. And, Arbour added, the Palestinian Authority should “take all measures in its power to alleviate the situation”.

Arbour urged the international community, at that time, to “actively promote the implementation of the decisions, resolutions and recommendations” of the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations human rights mechanisms, and the International Court of Justice.

Just prior to making those recommendations, Arbour, a Canadian lawyer and judge who served as chief prosecutor for the United Nations international tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, handed in her resignation notice in early March, after being buffeted by strong criticism and diplomatic obstruction from multiple sources – not the least of it involving the Middle East.

At the time she announced that she would not be seeking renewal of her first four-year term appointment as High Commissioner, Arbour did not give any explanation. She will be leaving office at the end of June.

Her successor – who will be appointed by UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon – has not yet been announced.

During her time in office, Arbour criticized human rights violations committed by the Bush administration in its “war on terror”, and the disproportionality of the Israel’s Second War on Lebanon.

Though she had very little to do with it, the conversion of the UN’s Human Rights Commission into a Human Rights Council during her tenure has been less than a success.

The change was billed as an attempt to deal with what was in fact a highly-political denunciation of the “politicization” of human rights. Then, once the Council was in place, it was denounced for focusing too much time on Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. Even the UN Secretary-General joined in (both the previous one, Kofi Annan, and the current one, BAN Ki-Moon).

The United States – which was not elected as a member of the Human Rights Council when it was set up, decided not to run for election this year, and has recently announced its effective withdrawal from the Council except when its “vital national interests” are involved.

The bulk of the criticism was aimed at the Council’s “obsession” – purely political, it was charged – with Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, at the expense of dealing with the many other instances of human rights violations around the world.

However, if the aim was to bully the Council into diverting its attention from the grievous situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, the reports issued on Monday indicate that it is not going to happen just quite yet. But, there are also signs of reaching out for accomodation.

In her latest – and last — report, Arbour laid out arguments describing the specific commitments and obligations of each the parties:

1. Israel’s obligations, the report noted, were described in the International Court of Justice’s July 2004 Advisory Opinion, The Consequences of the Construction of A Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Accordingly, Israel is bound by the provisions of the Hague Regulations, which have become part of customary international law, even though Israel is not a party to The Hague Convention of 18 October 1907. In addition, the Fourth Geneva Convention (of 1949) is applicable, the report said, “in the Palestinian territories which before the 1967 conflict lay to the east of the Green Line and which, during that conflict, were occupied by Israel”. A footnote adds that “This fact has not been altered by Israel’s 2005 unilateral withdrawal of its forces from the strip, as confirmed repeatedly since then by the General Assembly (most recently in its resolution 62/107 of 17 December 2007”.

Arbour wrote that United Nations human rights treaty bodies have been guided by the opinion of the ICJ (1) that Israel, as a State party to international human rights instruments, “continues to bear responsibility for implementing its human rights conventional obligations in the OPT, to the extent that it continues to exercise jurisdiction in those territories”, and (2) that Israel’s obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights include “an obligation not to raise any obstacle to the exercise of such rights in those fields where competence has been transferred to Palestinian authorities”.

2. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the report said, “made a unilateral undertaking, by a declaration on 7 June 1982, to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Protocol Additional thereto relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1). Switzerland, as depositary State, considered that unilateral undertaking valid”.

(1 + 2.) In addition, the Arbour report pointed out, in the 1994 (Oslo Accords) agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, both Israel and the PLO made a commitment and signed an agreement (in article XIV) to respect human rights

3. Hamas “is bound by international humanitarian law obligations concerning, inter alia, the conduct of hostilities and the rights of civilians and other protected persons”. In addition, the report says, Hamas has confirmed its commitment to respect “international law and international humanitarian law insofar as they conform with our character, customs and original traditions” – according to the text of the National Unity Government programme delivered by then Prime Minister Ismail Haniya before the Palestinian Legislative Council, 17 March 2007. The report adds: “it is worth recalling that non-State actors that exercise government like functions and control over a territory are obliged to respect human rights norms when their conduct affects the human rights of the individuals under their control”.

In discussion in the Council on Monday, Israel’s Ambassador Itzhak Levanon – usually a combative critic – said “it was gratifying to see in her latest report” that the High Commissioner “chose not to focus solely on Israel … but also to detail both the obligations and the violations of the Palestinians”. This, he said, “set a new precedent for the Human Rights Council: the possibility of a balanced consideration of what neutral observers can acknowledge is a complex situation”.

However, the Israeli Ambassador otherwise totally ignored the catalog of reported violations “caused by Israeli military attacks and incursions in the occupied Palestinian territory” – the subject of one of the three reports presented Monday – as well as the recommendations to deal with them.

He focused, instead, on refuting criticism made in another report about infringement of religious freedom caused by “obstacles to freedom of movement, such as the closures/permit regimes, and the Wall”, which, Arbour told the Council, “severely impeded the population’s access to religious sites as well as hindered cultural exchanges”.

That report concluded that “the measures adopted by the Government of Israel to restrict freedom of movement of both people and goods in the Occupied Palestinian Territory severely impeded the population’s access to religious sites, notably in Jerusalem, cultural exchanges and events. While the security of the population is undoubtedly an important consideration, the relevant measures should be proportionate to that aim and non-discriminatory in their application. A considerable part of the restrictions were introduced to ensure and ease freedom of movement for the inhabitants of Israeli settlements, which have been established in breach of international law, creating intolerable hardship for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians attempting to exercise their right to freedom of movement inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory … As the Occupying Power, Israel bears responsibility for the preservation of the cultural and religious heritage in the Occupied Palestinian Territory under international law”.

But, the Israeli Ambassador countered, Israel has always guaranteed the protection and freedom of access to holy sites for all religious”.

He did add that “Israel has never asked to be exempt from critique of its human rights record …we simply ask to be judged by the same standards and on equal footing with every other country”.

However, while the Israeli Ambassador was going easy on the out-going High Commissioner, UN Watch, a non-governmental organization that watches out for Israel in the UN, was going after Professor Richard Falk, the new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, who made his first presentation to the Human Rights Council on Monday.

In an effort to discredit Falk, a Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University (and an American Jew), who has been highly critical of Israel’s occupation and who last year made remarks comparing Israeli practices in the Palestinian territories with those of the Nazis in World War II, which he recently explained were intended to “shock” — UN Watch asked him about more recently reported remarks he made about the 9/11 attack on the twin World Trade Towers and the Pentagon on 2001.

The specific question, by a representative of UN Watch – and widely circulated by UN Watch to its email list — asked Falk “what credibility you expect your reports to have, when leading newspapers such as The Times of London are commenting on your support for the 9/11 conspiracy theories of David Ray Griffin, who argues, and I quote from the Times article of April 15th, ‘ that no plane hit the Pentaton’ and that ‘the World Trade Center was brought down by a controlled demolition’?”

An Egyptian move to strike the question from the record in the Human Rights Council was smilingly brushed aside by the Council’s chairman.

What Falk apparently in fact did, however, was slightly different than what the UN Watch questioner said he did – Falk wrote a chapter in a book edited by Griffin – without giving any explicit endorsement of Griffin’s specific remarks.

Falk has also been a long-time anti-nuclear-weapons activist.

Because of his remarks making the comparison with the Nazis, it has been predicted that Falk will be barred from entry into Israel – though it has not actually happened — as was done recently to another American Professor, Norman Finkelstein. Finkelstein, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, has severely criticized what he calls the “Holocaust industry” in which he argued that political and financial concessions are extorted from the West, while the actual survivors are left to fend for themselves.

Falk is replacing as Special Rapporteur the South African law professor and anti-Apartheid activist John Dugard (who has made analogies between Israel’s occupation policies and the Apartheid regime). Falk and Dugard worked together, previously, with a third personality (Indian or Pakistani, I can’t remember who) to prepare a report for the UN Human Rights Commission at the height of Israel’s re-invasion of Palestinian Authority areas in the spring of 2002, during the Second Intifada. Falk made the most striking statements both at the time. The report of their work for that 2002 Committee is virtually un-findable.

Israel has consistently not replied to visa requests to most UN Special Rapporteurs, or special investigation missions, whose mandates it does not like. So, most of them do not come to the region. Dugard, by contrast, refused to abide by UN niceties and protocols, and traveled instead on his national passport, to make a number of visits, without ever being barred – though he did not have official Israeli cooperation, meaning mainly that he was not given appointments to meet Israeli government officials.

Falk’s approach to this dilemma remains, of course, to be seen.

On Monday, Falk told the Human Rights Council that “My acceptance of this assignment is based on many years of study and contact with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people, including periodic visits to the area. I am dedicated to the possibility that the conflict can be presented in ways that are fair and just to both sides, but I believe that this can only happen if the guidelines of international law [which Falk subsequently said are ‘a mutually beneficial alternative to war and violence’] are allowed to shape the peace process designed to achieve a solution”.

Falk also said that “It is not possible to approach the mandate without expressing a grave concern for the present circumstances confronting the Palestinians subject to the occupation, especially 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza … It seems desirable even in advance of my own effort to prepare a report on the conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to alert the Council to a dire situation in Gaza that daily threatens the health and well-being of the entire population. The focus on Gaza is justified by the extremity of the occupation policies being pursued by Israel, but the issues associated with the West Bank and Jerusalem are also serious, especially to the extent that any future possibility of the successful establishment of a Palestinian State is being daily undermined by the ongoing unlawful extension of Israeli settlements”.

Falk, who has been on the job for only six weeks, presented Dugard’s final report – dated 28 January, but issued only a few days ago. (The date, it was explained from Geneva “has to do with UN translation and internal archiving systems, it has nothing to do with a
release date”).

In that report, the UN Special Rapporteur (Dugard) stated starkly that “regular military incursions, the closure of crossings, the reduction of fuel and the threat to the banking system have produced a humanitarian crisis in Gaza”.

All three reports presented by the UN on Monday relied on data from UN agencies and bodies operating in the occupied Palestinian territory, and on some human rights NGOs.

A humanitarian crisis in Gaza is exactly what the Israeli military, which administers the sanctions regime in Gaza, pledged to the Israeli Supreme Court in January that it would avoid — at least, as the IDF said, to the extent that this would be under their control.

The Israeli Prime Minister has also said several times that a humanitarian crisis in Gaza would be avoided – although he also indicated at the same time that the situation would be allowed to go right up to the brink.

In a discussion with journalists on Monday near the Nahal Oz fuel transfer point into Gaza, IDF Colonel Nir Press said that while the Israeli military “is not inside” and does not have its own information on the humanitarian conditions inside Gaza, it does rely on the international organizations who are there, and on lists provided daily by Palestinian officials from Ramallah.

The problem is that the international organizations, at least, have all said clearly that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza – while the Israeli military and government continue to make their denials.

Also on Monday, Falk asked the members of the Human Rights Council to amend his mandate, so that he could also investigate Palestinian violations of human rights and international law – although, he said, only “internationally”, and not within the Palestinian territory.

This, Falk said somewhat obtusely, would maintain the focus of attention on core concerns of the Human Rights Council with the suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people as a result of the prolonged Israeli occupation.

Interestingly, this proposal — that the Special Rapporteur’s mandate be extended to include Palestinian as well as Israeli violations — emerged from criticisms originally emanating from Israel.

But many if not most Palestinians would also most likely be in favor of having Palestinian human rights violations exposed and corrected, as well.

In any case, in his closing remarks, following a lengthy debate with statements made by many countries, Falk told the Human Rights Council that “I think it’s extremely important to realize that we are dealing with the suffering of the Palestinian people, and secondarily of the victimizing of those Israelis that are affected by the violence that has been associated with Palestinian rocket attacks. My view, as Special Rapporteur, is that the primarily responsibility is to see to it that international humanitarian law is respected and implemented and taken seriously. And that requires looking at the behavior of all relevant parties, it seems to me. But that should not confuse the issue of the primary responsibility of Israel to protect the lives and well-being of the occupied population. And, indeed, as I’ve tried to suggest, by making the mandate credible, it will be possible to more effectively focus on the substantive issues that are most troubling to those who have been concerned with the situation”.

Kofi Annan meets Israeli PM Olmert today

The Israeli Government Press Office has just sent out an UPDATE to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s schedule today — announcing a meeting early this evening with former UN SG Kofi Annan as head of a delegation of the “UN Foundation” [I think they mean “Annan’s” Global Humanitarian Forum, which was just officially launched on 17 October in Geneva to tackle “humanitarian challenges”. The UN Foundation was set up to spend Ted Turner’s multi-million-dollar donation to the UN to help make up for a shortfall caused by the U.S. Government’s withholding of funds.]

UPDATE: Col. Miri Eisin, the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser for the Foreign Press, has responded to my query by confirming, on the one hand, that Kofi Annan is in Jerusalem for the Global Humanitarian Forum, and on the other hand that Ted Turner will also be in the meeting with Prime Minister Olmert this evening.

UPDATE TWO: the Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that the cut-off of fuel supplies to Gaza was not discussed with the former UNSG or his delegation: “The issue – according to officials in the Prime Minister’s Office – was not raised during a meeting Olmert held Sunday evening with a delegation from the Board of Directors of the United Nations Foundation that included former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. The delegation also included Ted Turner, the founder of CNN and chairman of Turner Enterprises, and former Atlanta Mayor and US ambassador to the UN Andrew Young“. [n.b., Andrew Young, who was U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s Ambassador to the UN, was forced to resign when it was revealed, probably by an over-eager Zuhdi Terzi, may his soul rest in peace, that he had received Terzi, the PLO Ambassador to the UN at the time. Andrew Young was serving as the rotating President of the UN Security Council when the meeting took place, and apparently thought that this would provide enough cover for the meeting, even during a time when it was strict U.S. policy not to have any contacts with the P.L.O., which was not yet recognized by Israel, and was deemed as a “terrorist” organization due to what were regarded as ambiguities in the P.L.O. Charter about Israel’s “right to exist”.]

The JPost added that “The prime minister told the delegation that Israel would be more than willing to converse with Hamas if it accepted the principles that Annan himself had laid down: recognizing Israel, rejecting terrorism and accepting previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements.” The JPost UPDATE on Olmert’s meeting with Kofi Annan and his friends is here.

UPDATE THREE: The JPost reported in another story on Monday that Kofi Annan has just become a member of the board of Ted Turner’s UN Foundation. The Annan – Turner delegation apparently also met with Israel’s President Shimon Peres: “Asked by The Jerusalem Post whether he had come to invite Peres to join the board of the UN Foundation, which was established in 1998 with his billion-dollar gift, Turner said the foundation was not a membership organization, ‘but we’d love to have him if he’d like to join us’. The board’s members include Queen Rania of Jordan. Among the Israelis at the luncheon [which Peres hosted for the delegation] were former chief of General Staff and ex-government minister Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and Ron Pundak, director-general of the Peres Center for Peace and one of the architects of the Oslo Accords”. The JPost story about Annan and Turner meeting with Shimon Peres is here.

The Global Humanitarian Forum has been set up in Geneva by the Swiss Government, in order to make good use of the presence of the retired UNSG. Apparently, it’s not as if Kofi Annan was burning with his own ideas and projects. A Swiss news report earlier this year indicated that Annan was basically going to let the Swiss Foreign Ministry and one other Swiss agency [the Swiss Development Corporation, an official government body run by Swiss Ambassador Walter Fust] to determine what this UN Foundation should do — and then Annan would just do it.

In his inaugural speech, Annan told assembled dignitaries that “The Global Humanitarian Forum will put the prevention of individual suffering at the centre of our concern”. He indicated it would wish to better “serve the individual who is most vulnerable and in need”. This Global Humanitarian Forum will hold an annual high-level meeting in Geneva (which just loves to host high-level international conferences) — and the first one will be next June.

Annan also said in the speech: “Let us cut down the barriers that separate one of us from another, that stand between us and more effective prevention of human suffering”.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry, of course, is still interested in promoting the Geneva Initiative that has been strongly backed by Swiss Foreign Ministere Michelene Calmy-Rey, who is also the Swiss Federal President this year. And the Swiss Foreign Ministry has also been interested in being helpful in promoting peace talks between Israel and Syria. [The Swiss authorities are also almost certainly strongly against any military action against Iran].

The humanitarian situation in Gaza must also be on the agenda …

In any case, after the Sunday evening meeting, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office issued the following statement: “The Prime Minister briefed the delegation on the talks being held with the Palestinians in order to reach a two-state solution in which the State of Israel and a Palestinian state live side by side in peace and security, and on his talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The delegates expressed their appreciation for the Government’s efforts to advance relations with the Palestinians…”

On Monday morning, Kofi Annan and the delegation with whom he is travelling are to receive a briefing on the situation on the ground by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (probably when he was SG, Kofi Annan would not have had time for such things). The former SG and the other members of the delegation are expected to stay in Israel (and the Palestinian territory) for about a week.

I wonder what other meetings and activities will be on the former UNSG’s schedule during his visit here? I wonder, for example, if he will visit The Wall …?

On a visit to the Golan Heights last week arranged by the privatized Israeli Media Central organization that aims to inform journalists of Israeli reality and points of view, we were shown the cleverly-named “Coffee Anan” coffee shop on a prominent Israeli outlook point high up on the Golan.

It’s a play on words, our Israeli accompaniers explained – “Anan” means clouds in Hebrew, so this is a coffee shop in the clouds…

UN is looking for a few good Israelis

The first I heard of the Israeli push for its “fair share” of UN posts was in September 2000, just after the failed Camp David peace talks hosted by U.S. President Bill Clinton, and just before violent repression of demonstrations against Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque complex ignited the Second Intifiada.

The Israeli campaign has been waged discretely, but without let-up, in the intervening years.

Now, the UN is responding, big time.

Is this the UN’s contribution to preparations for November’s “peace meeting” (if it is not going to be called a peace conference)?

The Jerusalem Post is reporting today that “The UN is looking for professionals to help in its humanitarian work, and ‘it’s clear that Israelis have the skills’, Stephane Dujarric, a representative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, told The Jerusalem Post ahead of a recruiting drive at Tel Aviv University on Thursday. ‘In fields such as agricultural development, growing things in very difficult arid terrain, Israelis have the skills and the UN has the jobs’, he said.”

Why didn’t he mention security, or IT — two areas in which Israel excells? Perhaps Dujarric just doesn’t know about Israel’s prowess in those domaines … or maybe Dujarric just thought that might just be too controversial.
Continue reading UN is looking for a few good Israelis

Carla del Ponte to stay as Prosecutor for Former Yugoslavia until end of year

The UN Spokesperson told journalists at UNHQ/NY on Friday that “The Security Council extended the terms of the current prosecutors for the two international tribunals in back-to-back formal meetings today. By a unanimous vote, the Council extended Hassan Jallow’s term as Prosecutor for the Rwanda Tribunal by four years. Carla Del Ponte, the Prosecutor of the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, was extended for a final period ending this 31 December. Her extension was approved with 14 votes in favour and Russia abstaining”.
This UN Daily Briefing transcript is here.

Carla Del Ponte, a former Swiss prosecutor from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland who had a reputation for toughness in going after Mafia-linked crime in Switzerland, has been rather less successful in her role as Prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia. Yes, Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of the fomer Yugoslavia, was eventually captured and put on trial — but died before any verdict was in, so the trial was discontinued, and his victims feel deprived of full justice.
Continue reading Carla del Ponte to stay as Prosecutor for Former Yugoslavia until end of year

Four years after U.S. invasion of Iraq, one look back

An interesting read can be found at the Nation magazine’s 2 April 2007 issue, in an article entitled “Made in USA“, which at least starts off as a rather scathing review of two of what the author, Perry Anderson, calls “fawning” biographies of Kofi Annan:

“The facts of Annan’s career are clear enough, and in practice neither writer casts much of a veil over them. The academically ungifted son of a manager for Unilever in colonial Ghana, he was spotted as likely material by a scout for the Ford Foundation and dispatched to Minnesota to study economics at a local college. There, Traub explains, he learned something of more lasting value: ‘Annan himself had become persuaded of the merits of capitalism, and of the American way generally’. Perhaps with this in mind, the Carnegie Foundation got him to the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, where he failed to take any degree, leaving instead for a low-level job in the World Health Organization. For the next twenty years, he gradually moved up the bureaucratic ladder in the UN system, with a stint at MIT to acquire management lore, finally landing a post in the services department of the Secretariat in New York in the early ’80s. From there, shortly before the Clinton Administration came to office, he edged his way toward the number-two position in the department for ‘special political affairs’, with subordinate responsibility for the Middle East and Africa. When Washington pressed for UN troops to be sent into Somalia, his superior opposed the mission. Annan took the American line. His chief was duly ousted, and Annan was put in charge of all peacekeeping operations, as they were now called, in February 1993.

A year later, in January 1994, he received an urgent cable from Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian lieutenant general in charge of the UN force in Rwanda, warning him of impending slaughter of the Tutsi population in the country and explaining he planned to intervene by raiding Hutu arms caches. Not only did Annan refuse to allow any measures to be taken to stop the unleashing of genocide; he insured that the fax informing him of what was in store did not reach the Security Council. Approximately 800,000 Tutsis died in the ensuing massacre. Measured by consequences, the culpability of Kurt Waldheim, exposed for concealing his service as a Nazi intelligence officer in the Balkans, was puny by comparison. Annan remained quite unmoved until it became too impolitic to deny any remorse. The extent of his contrition is summed up by all he would say to Traub, after a long pause, about his part in the fate of Rwanda: ‘In retrospect, and this is also the culture of the house, we should have used the media more aggressively, and exposed the situation for them to see. Of course, at that time this organization was media-shy’. Read: Don’t blame me, I’m the one who became media-friendly. As banalizations go, Arendt might have had some words for it.

Far from being an impediment, however, Annan’s performance regarding Rwanda was in a way a condition of his further ascent. The Clinton Administration, gearing up for intervention in the Balkans, was determined not to allow any distractions over killings in Africa to deflect public attention from Bosnia–where the scale of death, though high, was neither proportionately nor absolutely near that in Rwanda. But strategic interest, not to speak of skin color, made the region altogether another matter. As a Pentagon memorandum about Rwanda put it at the time: ‘Be Careful. Legal [department] at State [department] was worried about this yesterday–Genocide finding could commit USG [the US government] to actually ‘do something’.’ Clinton and Albright, naturally, did nothing. When, on the other hand, they pressed the button for action in Bosnia in the summer of 1995, Annan sprang to life and, at Albright’s request–without consulting Boutros-Ghali as Secretary General–he authorized NATO to start heavy bombing of Serb positions. This was the alacrity that made him. Boutros-Ghali, although a former foreign minister of Mubarak’s regime in Egypt, one of America’s most loyal client states, had riled Washington with an increasing lack of deference, dragging his feet over Bosnia and talking too much about Africa. By the time his mandate came up for renewal the following year, the Clinton Administration was determined to oust him and parachute Annan into his place. The most valuable sections of Traub’s book, as of Meisler’s, describe how this was done.

Within a few months of Annan’s green light in Bosnia, a team of top officials in Washington, headed by Albright, was working on a secret plan, Operation Orient Express, for a coup at the UN. As America’s designated candidate, Annan was, of course, party to the scheme. In the Security Council itself, Boutros-Ghali was supported by every member state, with the exception of the United States, which vetoed him. Seven ballots later and following tireless pressure by Albright, every state except France had realized, as Traub remarks, that ‘there was no percentage in blocking the will of such a powerful figure’. Decisive was Washington’s ability to call Russia to heel, bypassing its foreign minister for direct instructions to Yeltsin, on whom it could rely for submission. Once the Russian vote had been pocketed, France caved in, and Annan was home and dry.

Satisfaction in Washington was unconcealed. For Albright’s assistant James Rubin, the UN now had a Secretary General able ‘to understand the importance of cooperation with the world’s first power’. More pointedly still, another of the architects of Orient Express, National Security Council officer Robert Orr, explained: ‘Very few secretaries-general had worked with the U.S. military. Here we were in an era where the U.S. military was going to be a big part of the equation. You needed a secretary-general who understands that the U.S. military is not the enemy’. Or more tersely: ‘Kofi could do it’. Annan duly did it. When NATO launched its aerial attack on Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999 over Kosovo, in patent violation of the UN Charter, the Secretary General, far from condemning the action of the United States and its allies, informed the world that it was legitimate. For services like these–he ‘courted the wrath of the developing world by rejecting anticolonialism in favor of moral principles cherished in the West’–he was much feted and, not surprisingly, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The invasion of Iraq, however, would pose a severer test. Annan had presided over the sanctions regime without a qualm and not demurred at Operation Desert Fox, the four-day bombing campaign Clinton oversaw in 1998. When the Bush Administration began its push for war with Resolution 1441, which declared Iraq in material breach of all past resolutions on its disarmament, Annan swung into action to pressure all members of the Security Council to vote for it, personally phoning Syria’s President Bashar Assad to insure that there would not be a single abstention. Unanimity was secured, but a hitch arose at the next stage. The French told the White House that while they could not accept a second Security Council resolution explicitly authorizing an attack on Iraq, which would implicate them, they had no objection to a US invasion based on an American interpretation of 1441–the course that Cheney was urging within the Administration. But Blair, who wanted to join in the attack, insisted that a second resolution was necessary to protect him from criticisms at home, and got Powell’s support for a futile attempt to circumvent a French veto in the Security Council. Such mutual hypocrisies put Annan in an awkward spot. Blessing the Balkan War was one thing: In 1999, the West was united in the attack on Yugoslavia. But now the West, to all appearances, was divided. What should he do? If only the French had come round, we learn, all might have been well. ‘He would have accepted, and perhaps even embraced’, Traub tells us, ‘a resolution authorizing war so long as the council was firmly united behind it’. But unity was not forthcoming, and an embrace remained out of reach. Operation Iraqi Freedom rolled ahead. In March 2003, ‘shock and awe’ hit Baghdad.

Annan, aware that his inspectors had failed to come up with any evidence of WMDs in Iraq, the pretext for war, and that his own position would be weakened by an attack that opened up a line of division between the United States and leading Western allies, indicated his unhappiness at this unfortunate turn of events, but he refrained from condemning the invasion–which, having endorsed an identical bypassing of the Security Council over Kosovo, he was anyway scarcely in a position to do. Once Iraq was conquered, however, he hastened to the assistance of the occupation, for which Bush and Blair wanted backdated cover from the UN. In May, at Annan’s urging, the Security Council ratified the Anglo-American seizure of Iraq, voting unanimously for Resolution 1483, which endorsed Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority, and pledged that the UN would play a ‘vital role’, as requested by the White House and Downing Street, in helping it out. Rice and Powell had already chosen the functionary in the Secretariat they wanted for the job, Sergio Vieira de Mello, its human rights commissioner. Vieira de Mello was reluctant to go, but an audience was arranged with Bush, and Annan dispatched him. On arrival in Baghdad, Vieira de Mello’s task was to help Bremer arrange a puppet advisory body to give the Anglo-American armies a local facade. ‘Over the course of six weeks, he persuaded reluctant leadership figures to identify themselves with the American regime’ and got Bremer ‘to change the name of the body to the more dignified Governing Council (even though it remained powerless)’. Traub goes on: ‘This was just what Annan had had in mind when he argued for a serious role for the UN’.

Inevitably, the bid to create a network of collaborators for the occupation made Vieira de Mello a target for retribution by the Iraqi insurgents. In August, in politically the single most effective strike of the war, he and his staff were obliterated by a truck bomb. Annan, who had sent them to their death, did not flinch. [Sorry, but this is not true — Annan was personally devastated by the deaths] To the incredulity even of intimates and the fury of subordinates, so determined was he to do his duty by Bush and Blair that he refused to withdraw the UN mission from Baghdad. It took another bombing, a month later, for him to change his mind and pull UN personnel out of the country. But his commitment to providing cover for the occupation had not altered. Within a few months Lakhdar Brahimi–Algeria’s foreign minister at the height of the voided elections and military repression of 1991-92–was dispatched to Iraq as Annan’s special representative, in the hope that he could repeat his performance of stitching together a client regime for the United States in Afghanistan. Brahimi got out alive, but his mission was no more successful than Vieira de Mello’s, ending in the humiliation of having to announce that the CIA’s Iyad Allawi, picked by the United States, would lead the new Iraqi democracy. Allawi lasted less than a year in his position.

Back in the West, cornered by a reporter from the BBC, Annan was in the end forced to admit, under repeated questioning, that the invasion of Iraq was illegal–‘if you wish,’ he grudgingly added. [His admission to Owen Bennett-Jones may have been grudging, which is should have been, given how leading the interviewer’s questions were, but Annan’s position regretting that the Iraq war was not approved by the UN Security Council, and suggesting some doubts about its legitimacy on that ground, was long-standing.]

How little he wished it could be seen from a poignant lapsus in the same interview. Asked if he was ‘bothered that the United States is becoming an unrestrainable, unilateral superpower’, Annan replied: ‘I think in the end everybody is concluding that it is best to work together with our allies’. Our allies. Identification with the United States could not be more innocently complete.

Annan ended his tenure lowered by scandal, when it was revealed that his son Kojo had received a rake-off of some $450,000 for helping to fix up the Swiss-based company Cotecna with an inspection contract under the Oil for Food program attached to the sanctions regime against Iraq. Annan, denying any knowledge of the contract, hired Clinton’s defense counsel in the Jones-Lewinsky affair to ward off charges of corruption. The Volcker Commission, set up by Annan to investigate profiteering from the Oil for Food program, was obliged to look into the matter. Despite the incontestable fact that Annan had met with Cotecna executives, one of whom testified they had indeed discussed the UN contract with him and that documents had been rapidly shredded by one of Annan’s confidants, Volcker–whose sense of establishment solidarity was not matched by an ear for literary meaning–concluded that the evidence that Annan knew of the contract his son had so coincidentally set up was ‘not reasonably sufficient’: a formula in which the redundancy of the adverb destroys the denial of the adjective. For what would ‘unreasonably’ sufficient be? Even sympathetic reporters like Traub and Meisler can hardly conceal their view of this verdict. Still, anyone who thinks Clinton told the truth about Paula Jones is entitled to believe Annan did so about Cotecna. It would, in any case, be unfair to judge a political record by such episodes. Annan was not personally greedy, and the venality at issue was trivial by comparison with the moral enormity of the sanctions themselves.

What is one to make of the career as a whole? Annan was never a strong figure, or an independent agent. As a UN bureaucrat, he obviously had his share of vanity and ambition, but it was probably no more, and in some cases less, than that of others. There is no reason to suppose his Americanism was purely calculating, a mere means of self-advancement. It belonged to his formation. He achieved high office as a creature of the Clinton Administration, with ties that swaddled him to the end. Although personally fond of Bush and Blair, he never had a comparable rapport with the Republican Administration, which lacked the same confidence in him. When he came under attack over the Oil for Food scandal, the Democratic coterie that had elevated him rallied round. The campaign was led by Richard Holbrooke, imposing the changes in Annan’s entourage that were deemed necessary to save him. In fact, what is really striking about Annan’s tenure as Secretary General is less his personal characteristics than the nature of his inner circle. From the start, it was overwhelmingly Anglo-American, with a sprinkling of figures from the Anglophone zones of the First and Third World–Canada, Pakistan, India, Gambia–trained, like Annan himself, in the United States. A token Frenchman. Not a Russian, a Chinese, a Japanese, even a German or Italian, in sight. The provenance of figures like Robert Orr, head of ‘strategic planning’, lifted straight from the National Security Council in Washington, Louise Fréchette, Deputy Secretary General, dispatched from the Defense Ministry in Ottawa, or, lower down the scale, theorists of humanitarian intervention from Harvard and Princeton like John Ruggie and Michael Doyle, speaks for itself.

But since the real work of the UN is the manufacture not of actions but of legitimations, the two key figures were the set’s ventriloquists, who wrote the speeches and articles furbishing the Secretary General with his rhetorical image–much needed, since Annan’s own powers of expression were wooden in the extreme. This pair, Edward Mortimer and Nader Mousavizadeh, came from the Financial Times and The New Republic, respectively. Not surprisingly, Annan’s various pronouncements, applauded for their eloquence by like-minded colleagues across the West, were little more than lofty versions of editorials in these publications, whose political profile needs little specification. Mortimer, from a high clerical background in England, was a founder of the International Committee for a Free Iraq along with Ahmad Chalabi. Relations between them remained sufficiently close, Meisler tells us, for Chalabi to tip him off in advance of the Oil for Food affair. Mousavizadeh, editor of The Black Book of Bosnia, though technically a Dane, ‘was essentially America’–so says Traub–‘and, like Ruggie, could not view international law as the summum bonum’. Later, Mousavizadeh was elected a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos, where Ruggie once conducted Annan as ‘the first Secretary-General to speak to the annual conclave of capital’. Mousavizadeh now adorns Goldman Sachs, presumably pending higher things.

Few episodes are more revealing of the part played by this Anglo-American duo than the way in which the world came to learn that NATO’s blitz on Yugoslavia in 1999 was legitimate. Annan, unsure how to react, had to be manned up by his mentors to issue the absolving words. Rejecting a first draft submitted to Annan that expressed regret at the outbreak of war, Mortimer and Mousavizadeh handed him their own document, lauding the attack, to sign. According to Traub, ‘Mortimer says that when he delivered the new version, Annan gazed at it fixedly and finally said, ‘This is the most difficult statement I have had to make as secretary-general.’ And then he agreed to issue the statement’.

In his second mandate, floundering in the Oil for Food crisis, Annan was summoned by Richard Holbrooke to his residence on the Upper West Side for a secret meeting, attended by Orr, Ruggie and Mousavizadeh, and three other Democratic insiders. There Annan was enjoined to fire unwanted colleagues and accept a more competent minder in the shape of Mark Malloch Brown, a former journalist for The Economist–whose main claim to fame was to have been campaign manager for Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, a Bolivian ruler so hated by the population for his neoliberal zeal and subservience to Washington that he had recently had to flee the Presidential Palace by helicopter, and make for Miami. Without a murmur, Annan accepted him as the power in front of the throne. Holbrooke was pained that news of the arrangement had leaked out. ‘The intention was to keep it confidential. No one wanted to give the impression of a group of outsiders, all of them Americans, dictating what to do to a secretary general’. Impressions, apparently, are everything.”

This article concludes with the observation that, after the end of the Cold War, American domination of the UN is unchallenged: “By early 1991 the Gulf War could be launched with Soviet assent and Arab participation, under cover of a deliberately vague Security Council resolution, passed with just one abstention. Victory in the cold war, knocking the USSR out of the ring, and the concomitant eclipse of nationalism by neoliberalism in the Third World, henceforward gave the United States more thoroughgoing real power over the UN than it had enjoyed even at the height of its postwar ascendancy, since it could now rely on the compliance, tacit or express, of Russia and China with its imperatives. Annan’s Secretariat was one product of this change. The multiplication of UN peacekeeping missions in the ’90s, offloading policing tasks of lesser strategic importance for the American imperium was another. Paramountcy does not mean omnipotence. The United States cannot count on always securing UN legitimation of its actions ex ante. But where this is wanting, retrospective validation is readily available, as the occupation of Iraq has shown. What is categorically excluded is active opposition of the UN to any significant US initiative. A Security Council resolution, let alone a Secretary General, condemning an American action is unthinkable. Ban Ki-moon, whose appointment required Chinese assent, may keep a lower profile than Annan, but his role is unlikely to be very different.”


Jan Pronk reveals what was previously suspected – he got burned by UN bureaucrats

The Juba Post, a Sudanese newspaper, reports that former UN Envoy Jan Pronk, a liberal Dutch politician who was declared persona non grata by Sudan due to his blogging comments, has hit back at the UN for its inaction:

“Jan Pronk, former Special representative of the Secretary General of the UN, has condemned the Sudan harassment of the UN Mission in Sudan, and the inaction of his manager in New York, revealing that they never responded to the letter expelling him.  Pronk reports that the UN, by persistently failing to react to breaches of arrangements, and by its attempts to negotiate with Khartoum, has undermined its own position: ‘The Security Council has failed to address violations of earlier agreements concerning peace in Darfur’.  Pronk also says the UN was too divided and bureaucratic to make a response to his expulsion, which was in breach of international conventions on UN personnel.  A clearly angry Pronk writes, ‘The letter sent by the Minister of Foreign affairs to the Secretary General, in which the Sudanese authorities informed the UN of their decision, has ever never been answered. It turned out that there was dispute between UN officials in New York about the tone of such an answer’.”

This summary of the Juba Post article, apparently entitled “Pronk: UN New York coward, harassment in Sudan”, was contained in a daily media monitoring report compiled by the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) http://www.unmis.org/english/2007Docs/mmr-jan18.pdf

Jan Pronk’s full remarks, dated 14 January, can be found on his own blog, which is still operational:

Weblog nr 40
January 14, 2007
“31 December was my last day as Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) of the United Nations in Sudan. Since 24 October, when the Government of Sudan had declared me persona non grata, I have not been able to contribute much to policy making. I could of course no longer lead the UN Mission in Sudan itself. Moreover, the UN leadership in New York had concluded that I should also not participate in policy meetings outside Sudan. They were afraid to provoke the Government. In my view that was not a wise approach. The Government had unilaterally taken the decision to expel the highest official of the United Nations in Sudan. It thereby had violated agreements with the UN and challenged both the UN Secretary General and the Security Council. The Government had done so because I had, on behalf of the UN, criticized the Government for violations of international agreements and human rights. It seemed that the Government could do this without receiving any reaction from New York. The Security Council, always rather quick in issuing statements or press releases when Members do not yet want to adopt a Resolution, did not officially protest against the Sudanese decision. Yet the Sudanese decision had been clearly aimed at undermining the mandate given by the Security Council to the UN Mission in Sudan. The letter sent by Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Secretary General, in which the Sudanese authorities informed the UN of their decision, has even never been answered. It turned out that there was dispute between UN officials in New York about the tone of such an answer. Several drafts were considered, but finally some officials came to the conclusion that it had become too late to send an answer. They did not inform their superiors and the latter did not ask questions.”  

[This, of course, is a profoundly liberal view of the world, based on a touchingly naive belief that those at the top are reasonable and good people who, when they act badly, only do so because they are misled by very flawed officials who fawn around in the court of the “king”.  Sadly, it turns out, of course, that any leader who maintains that kind of court cannot be very much good, either.

Pronk takes this same attitude to Sudan’s President Bashir, in his last previous blog, in December:  “A high official in the South once told me: ‘Bashir wants peace. He has bullet wounds in his body’. He does not want to return to war. However, he is very careful not to antagonize the hardliners. Bashir’s advisors often do not tell him the whole truth. Much information does not reach him, or only in a biased form. However, Bashir clearly does not make an effort to get to know the whole truth. He is a skilled survivor, who very well knows where his power rests. He also knows the limits of his power and how to keep the balance. Such political skills require accepting a certain degree of disobedience, turning a blind eye to atrocities, inducing para-military forces or outlaws to defend the interests of the elite and rewarding them, taking sides in a conflict between such forces and their adversaries, or instructing some of them to attack and kill potential enemies. Contacts are laid indirectly, never in the open, always in the dark, in order to avoid eschew accountability. Some leaders, even if are of good intentions in general, deliberately do not want to know everything…”

Pronk continues on his most recent blog posting on 14 January: “It was a bureaucratic, apolitical approach. The Government could only come to the conclusion that they can get away with anything. The Security Council does only talk. It does not act. The UN bureaucracy is afraid to risk friendly relations with a member state. This is exemplary for the relation between the Security Council and Sudan from the very beginning. During 2003 and the first half of 2004 the cleansing in Darfur had resulted in mass killings and in the chasing away from their homes of more than a million people. However, the Security Council had refused to put this catastrophe on its agenda, despite early requests from many witnesses not to stay silent but to act. The Council only started to discuss this in July 2004, when it was already too late to revert the situation. The US began to refer to the mass murder as ‘genocide’, only after the raping and killing had reached their height. Thereafter the Government of Sudan has put aside all demands by the Security Council that the Janjaweed would be stopped and disarmed. Indeed, the Government had any reason to believe that they could continue to allow or support the cleansing and killing without being hindered by the international community.
In my view one of the mistakes of the Security Council has been that the Members in fact are only considering one specific instrument: whether or not to send a peacekeeping mission…Everything has already been reported; enough facts have been brought to the attention of the Security Council. The fact that the demands of the Council have not been implemented is no secret, but public knowledge. In such a situation the Council should react with clear measures: diplomatic, political, legal, financial or economic sanctions against those who do not comply. There are many possibilities, but the Council has always shied away from applying any sanction. Instead of creative and vigorous multilateral diplomacy the Council has continued to discuss the modalities of a peacekeeping mission. However, because it was clear from the beginning that the Permanent Members of the Security Council – US, UK, Russia, China and France – would not be able to reach consensus about imposing a Chapter 7 peacekeeping mission, such a mission could only be sent to Sudan under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, that is with the agreement of the Sudanese themselves. As is well known, the Government of Sudan has consistently refused to accept or ‘invite’ (terminology of Security Council Resolution 1706) such a mission. So, there was no response to the violations, neither in the form of sanctions nor a mission.  So, the Security Council by its inaction is eroding its own authority…There are many conflicts in the world in which the Council has not been able or willing to enforce respect. Sudan is only one of those. On more than one occasion high political officials in Sudan have told me that they had weighed the risk of non-compliance with Security Council resolutions against the risk of compliance. Non-compliance might bring them in conflict with the Council and its members: sanctions and threats against the regime. Compliance would entail a different risk: domestic opposition and efforts to change the regime from within. They had compared and weighed those risks meticulously, they told me, and they had come to a rational conclusion: the risk of compliance would be much greater than the risk of non-compliance…

“So, in the last two months of the year in many respects the position of Khartoum has become stronger than before. The situation in Darfur has further deteriorated. Never before the number of UN staff and aid workers that had to be evacuated or relocated due to an untenable insecurity situation was as high as during these months. Despite this Khartoum is spreading the message: “there is peace in Darfur, except in some pockets, but that is due to the UN …” Time and again Khartoum has been able to get away with such a message.  Harassment of the UN Mission in Sudan has intensified during the last two months. Sudanese authorities can easily resort to such harassment, because they have not been challenged by UN Headquarters in New York, nor by the Security Council or by Governments of Member States. Some weeks ago one of our officials went to see the authorities in Darfur in order to raise a number of violations of human rights. The answer was exemplary for the self-confidence of those who have chosen to disregard any form of criticism: “You better shut up. We can always expel you, as we have proven”.