Sudan's President indicted – UN in panic about 25,000 staff on ground – interesting blog report from UN about triumphalist press conferences

The President of Sudan has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity — but not on charges of genocide.

The Arab League will meet at ministerial level to discuss the implications etc.

The UN is in a panic, worried about its 25,000 staff on the ground that it may have to evacuate.

Medecins Sans Frontiers announced on Wednesday that it was pulling its staff out. Later, the Sudanese government gave orders to a number of other human rights and humanitarian aid organizations to leave immediately.
Continue reading Sudan's President indicted – UN in panic about 25,000 staff on ground – interesting blog report from UN about triumphalist press conferences

Rosset takes on the Messengers for Peace program, not George Clooney

Claudia Rosset comments: “As Hollywood buffs and UN money-raisers already know, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has just named actor George Clooney as the UN’s newest Messenger of Peace, with a ‘special focus on UN peacekeeping’. Clooney, currently visiting Sudan, is expected to ‘receive his designation’ Jan. 31st at UN headquarters in New York … The UN ‘Messengers of Peace’ program was set up by Kofi Annan, whose talents deserve to be remembered in the context of Oil-for-Food, genocide in Rwanda, massacre at Srebenica, and endless ways of finagling more money for the murky UN system … not peace for the planet. The UN web page for ‘Messengers of Peac’” tells us (highlighting is mine) the messengers ‘volunteer their time, talent and passion to raise awareness of United Nations’ efforts to improve the lives of billions of people everywhere’. Is that really what the UN does? Improve the lives of billions? … Or does it use billions to improve the lives of select UN special interests…” Rosset blogs here here.

Musical chairs at UN – top officials rotate posts

The UN spokesperson told journalists Tuesday that “The Secretary-General has [announced his intention] to appoint Mr. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi of Pakistan as his Special Representative for Sudan. He succeeds Mr. Jan Pronk of the Netherlands, who left the post last year”. She indicated that Qazi has ended his time in Iraq, and will begin work in Sudan, where he will be based in Khartoum, on 4 November.

On Wednesday, the UN spokesperson announced that “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Stefan de Mistura, who is Swedish and Italian, as his Special Representative for Iraq, in succession to Ashraf Qazi … Mr. de Mistura has already served in Iraq under Mr. Qazi as Deputy Special Representative in 2005 and 2006. Before that he was then Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon for four years”.

The UN News Centre [the UN uses British-English spelling] reports that “the Spokeswoman added, in response to a question, that no decision had been made yet on who would replace Michael Williams as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process”.

UNSG BAN has a PLAN – for Darfur

At a news conference at UNHQ/NY on Tuesday, UNSG BAN Ki-Moon announced that he will travel week to Sudan, Chad and Libya.

He said he wants to see at first hand the suffering that the proposed 26,000-person strong UN peacekeeping operation approved last month by the UN Security Council will try to alleviate, as well as the difficult conditions in which the UN Mission will have to operate.

He also vowed to look for water under the desert in Sudan.

Here is an excerpt from the transcript provided by the UN:

“I have a three-point action plan moving forward.
Continue reading UNSG BAN has a PLAN – for Darfur

Mia Farrow will be happy – UN planning to station troops just outside Darfur

The AP’s tireless Edith Lederer reports today that “The Security Council gave the European Union and the UN the green light Monday to prepare for a military and police deployment to help protect civilians in Chad and the Central African Republic caught in the spillover of the Darfur conflict. A council statement expressed readiness to authorize an international operation for a year to protect refugees, internally displaced people and civilians at risk in eastern Chad and the northeastern Central African Republic, and to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. The EU would send troops and the United Nations would contribute police, though France and the U.S. have said the year-long deployment will likely be followed by a UN peacekeeping operation. An EU Council of Ministers meeting on Sept. 17 will make a final decision on deploying European Union troops. The council’s statement sends an important ‘message of concern for the seriousness of the humanitarian situation in Chad and the Central African Republic,’ said France’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Darfur’s spillover into the northeast Central African Republic and eastern Chad “has had very serious humanitarian consequences — more refugees, more displaced persons, and more insecurity for these refugees and displaced persons,” he said … Since the Security Council visited Darfur and Chad in June 2006, the UN has been discussing deploying international police and troops to the two impoverished countries. Chadian President Idriss Deby opposed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s original proposal for the deployment of a UN military force, but agreed to an EU force after meeting with France’s foreign minister in June…Lacroix said the council statement sends a ‘political signal’ of support, especially to the EU, to go ahead with planning for the deployment.”

This is how the UN works – it sends “political signals of support”…
Read the full AP report here.

U.S.: Sudan cooperates on counterterrorism issues, so that's good. What it's doing in Darfur is something different.

The U.S. State Department spokesman today explained the nuances in the reasoning of the U.S. position on counterterrorism cooperation vs. genocide:

“MR. CASEY: … In terms of the nature of listing issues, well, again, as you well know, being designated a state sponsor of terror is something that takes a very thorough and lengthy legal review. And getting off that list, as we saw in the case with Libya and as we’ve talked about in the context of the commitment to beginlooking at a review process for North Korea, is also something that takes a great deal of time. I think our report reflects our understanding of the status of current cooperation between the Sudanese Government and counterterrorism officials more broadly here in the United States. But saying that in the calendar year that that report covers — that Sudan maintain positive cooperation on counterterrorism issues, certainly doesn’t mean that there are no remaining questions about their record, or that any kind of legal finding has been determined, that they are no longer — or that they should be removed from that list … As part of discussions as part of the North South agreement, I know they certainly raised their concerns about remaining on the list to us. As I recall, there is certainly no formal commitment to start or begin a review of that. But it was an issue that was discussed. And as I recall, there was something along the lines of saying, as things progressed, we might be in a position to begin such a review after the agreement was signed and implemented.

QUESTION: Even as the genocide was persistent in Darfur?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, George, I think this was an issue that was discussed in the lengthy negotiations over many years, related to the North South agreement … Countries can in fact actually do positive things in one area, even while they’re doing extremely negative things in another. But the point of the matter is there has never been a decision taken to begin a review of Sudan’s status as a state sponsor of terror and I’m not aware of any plans to begin such a review now”.

DPB # 80 – released on May 4, 2007

Prosecuting genocide

Why is genocide so difficult to prosecute? Or, why is it so seldom prosecuted — despite intense media coverage of how various conflicts have descended into what many people clearly perceive as genocide?

The Christian Science Monitor carried an interesting piece yesterday written by Robert Marquand on the difficulties — and the reluctance — to prosecute or convict on grounds of genocide, despite decades of work toward creating international tribunals, and the International Criminal Court, to do precisely that.

Marquand writes that “For years, the term genocide was used to describe the ultimate crime. But that crime was rarely – if ever – charged, since international courts were too weak. Now, the mechanics of international justice are modestly rising to confront man’s inhumanity to man: take, for example, the International Criminal Court and the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals here at The Hague. Yet at the same time, the political sensitivity surrounding a genocide charge, which requires nations to intervene under international law, is creating friction. …The word genocide raises deep legal and moral conundrums in a globalizing world, experts say: The term has gained popular usage in a media age to describe mass atrocities, as in Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia. Yet prosecutors and world courts are ever more cautious about leveling the charge, even when it may apply – since it raises a requirement to intervene. ‘Genocide is an explicit call to action under the 1948 treaty, a call to prevent and punish’, says Diane Orentlicher at American University in Washington. Recent court rulings show that ‘if you wait until there is a legal certainty to prove genocide, you have waited too long’, she adds…”

Mia Farrow at a demonstration for Darfur on Sunday in Washington DC - AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta

Continue reading Prosecuting genocide

Jan Pronk’s final advice to UN staff in Sudan last December

This was posted recently on Jan Pronk’s blog:

“Weblog nr 41
February 25, 2007
Before my final departure from Sudan in December last year I addressed the UN staff in Khartoum and Juba. In my address I presented fifteen guidelines for peacekeepers. Several colleagues asked me to put these on paper. Here they are:

First: United Nations peacekeepers in a country are visitors. Their presence is temporary. Their function is catalytic, no more. Peace ought to be home grown.

Second: There is no peacekeeping without peace. Peace, to be made by the parties to a conflict themselves, should precede efforts to keep the peace.

Third: The sovereignty of a state has to be respected, but brought into balance with the protection of the people within that state. Keep that balance!

Fourth: Respect national traditions and domestic cultures

Fifth: International staff members should respect national staff members, their views and their positions. They are vulnerable: they have no ticket to leave the country. They know their country better than you.
National staff members should have patience with international staff members.
They could have chosen for comfort back home. They are idealists, or anyway, once they have been idealists.

Sixth: All UN staff members have the duty to follow a unified approach, in whichever agency they work, as peacekeepers or as humanitarian and development workers. That implies a commitment to the same goals and a duty to respect the same boundary conditions, for instance those set by the Security Council representing the international community. A unified approach of all UN agencies also implies the duty to consult each other about each other’s work, the duty to cooperate and to use a common infrastructure and common services. Finally this unified approach requires the acceptance of a unified command.

Seventh: Delegate, decentralize, trust your staff and show this to them.

Eight: Work as a team.

Nine: The field is more important than headquarters. People in headquarters should understand this. But those who are working in the field, when critical about headquarters, should be aware that they are not “the” field, but that, farther away, other colleagues may consider them too as a headquarter

Ten: Never be satisfied. There is no room for complacency, despite many achievements.

Eleven: Insecurity, risk, uncertainty and political pressure are not a hindrance, but a challenge. They are no exceptions to a normal and stable pattern. They are not exogenous factors, but inherent to peacekeeping.

Twelve: Fight bureaucracy. Fight also the bureaucrat in yourself. Stay a movement; keep the spirit of a pioneer.

Thirteen: Care for people. People first.

Fourteen: Peacekeeping is a calling, not a job

Fifteen: Please, stay”

Goodwill Glitterati pile it on for Darfur — Angelina Jolie is in Chad, bordering Sudan in the Sudan, and writes a piece for the Washington Post

Do you believe Angelina Jolie wrote this? It’s simply not credible. One can only imagine how many UN people have drafted this, vetted it, passed it up and down the line, suggesting changes, urging greater caution. Anyway, Angeline Jolie is in Chad, on the border of Sudan; Mia Farrow was in Central African Republic in December, and at UNHQ/NY yesterday, all for Darfur. Angelinais acting here as a cheerleader for the International Criminal Court, and her piece is entitled: “Justice for Darfur”: “BAHAI, Chad — ‘Here, at this refugee camp on the border of Sudan, nothing separates us from Darfur but a small stretch of desert and a line on a map. All the same, it’s a line I can’t cross. As a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, I have traveled into Darfur before, and I had hoped to return. But the UNHCR has told me that this camp, Oure Cassoni, is as close as I can get. Sticking to this side of the Sudanese border is supposed to keep me safe. By every measure — killings, rapes, the burning and looting of villages — the violence in Darfur has increased since my last visit, in 2004. The death toll has passed 200,000; in four years of fighting, Janjaweed militia members have driven 2.5 million people from their homes, including the 26,000 refugees crowded into Oure Cassoni. Attacks on aid workers are rising, another reason I was told to stay out of Darfur. By drawing attention to their heroic work — their efforts to keep refugees alive, to keep camps like this one from being consumed by chaos and fear — I would put them at greater risk. I’ve seen how aid workers and nongovernmental organizations make a difference to people struggling for survival. I can see on workers’ faces the toll their efforts have taken. Sitting among them, I’m amazed by their bravery and resilience. But humanitarian relief alone will never be enough. Until the killers and their sponsors are prosecuted and punished, violence will continue on a massive scale. Ending it may well require military action. But accountability can also come from international tribunals, measuring the perpetrators against international standards of justice. Accountability is a powerful force. It has the potential to change behavior — to check aggression by those who are used to acting with impunity. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has said that genocide is not a crime of passion; it is a calculated offense. He’s right. When crimes against humanity are punished consistently and severely, the killers’ calculus will change. On Monday I asked a group of refugees about their needs. Better tents, said one; better access to medical facilities, said another. Then a teenage boy raised his hand and said, with powerful simplicity, “Nous voulons une épreuve.” We want a trial. He is why I am encouraged by the ICC’s announcement yesterday that it will prosecute a former Sudanese minister of state and a Janjaweed leader on charges of crimes against humanity. Some critics of the ICC have said indictments could make the situation worse. The threat of prosecution gives the accused a reason to keep fighting, they argue. Sudanese officials have echoed this argument, saying that the ICC’s involvement, and the implication of their own eventual prosecution, is why they have refused to allow U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur.
It is not clear, though, why we should take Khartoum at its word. And the notion that the threat of ICC indictments has somehow exacerbated the problem doesn’t make sense, given the history of the conflict. Khartoum’s claims aside, would we in America ever accept the logic that we shouldn’t prosecute murderers because the threat of prosecution might provoke them to continue killing?
When I was in Chad in June 2004, refugees told me about systematic attacks on their villages. It was estimated then that more than 1,000 people were dying each week. In October 2004 I visited West Darfur, where I heard horrific stories, including accounts of gang-rapes of mothers and their children. By that time, the UNHCR estimated, 1.6 million people had been displaced in the three provinces of Darfur and 200,000 others had fled to Chad. It wasn’t until June 2005 that the ICC began to investigate. By then the campaign of violence was well underway. As the prosecutions unfold, I hope the international community will intervene, right away, to protect the people of Darfur and prevent further violence. The refugees don’t need more resolutions or statements of concern. They need follow-through on past promises of action. There has been a groundswell of public support for action. People may disagree on how to intervene — airstrikes, sending troops, sanctions, divestment — but we all should agree that the slaughter must be stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice.
In my five years with UNHCR, I have visited more than 20 refugee camps in Sierra Leone, Congo, Kosovo and elsewhere. I have met families uprooted by conflict and lobbied governments to help them. Years later, I have found myself at the same camps, hearing the same stories and seeing the same lack of clean water, medicine, security and hope. It has become clear to me that there will be no enduring peace without justice. History shows that there will be another Darfur, another exodus, in a vicious cycle of bloodshed and retribution. But an international court finally exists. It will be as strong as the support we give it. This might be the moment we stop the cycle of violence and end our tolerance for crimes against humanity. What the worst people in the world fear most is justice. That’s what we should deliver.’ The writer is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.”

Mia Farrow did NOT address the UN Security Council — she spoke to journalists instead…

Well, at least someone realized that having Mia Farrow address the UN Security Council
on Darfur, via Chad and Central African Republic, would not have been very serious.

Farrow or her PR person told reporters, when she was in the Central African Republic,
that she would be addressing the UN SC on 27 February.

No actors or actresses have ever addressed the UN SC, as far as can be recalled…

A UN spokesperson told journalists, however, that: “The Security Council is holding consultations this morning on Chad and the Central African Republic, as well as other matters. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi is briefing Council members on the Secretary-General’s recent report on those two countries, which we flagged to you last Friday.”

A UN Press Release on Farrow’s press conference states that: “Having just returned from a two-week trip to Chad and the Central African Republic, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow described the population there as ‘extremely traumatized’, ‘utterly neglected’ and in dire need of humanitarian assistance, during a press conference at Headquarters this afternoon. She recounted how, during a several day trip to Paoua, a village in the north-western part of the Central African Republic where UNICEF was setting up an office, she saw ‘burnt village after burnt village after burnt village’. She described how the convoy stopped and, after 15 minutes, people started emerging until some ‘300 souls came out of the bush like spectres, just caked in dust, emaciated, remnants of clothes or no clothing at all’. She said they described how they had no blankets, their children were dying, and they were too terrified to return to rebuild their villages. She said that, at that moment, a car passed by, the only one she would see during the entire trip to Paoua. ‘You could hear pounding of feet on the hard clay ground as 300 people vanished, vanished into the bush in sheer terror’, she said. By contrast, eastern Chad was ‘ominously quiet’, she continued, especially compared to her trip there in November when she went on her own after UNICEF had deemed the conditions too dangerous. At that time, some 60 villages had been burned, and there were tremendous numbers of wounded or displaced persons. The tiny medical centre was overflowing with wounded, including three men lying side-by-side, their eyes gouged out by the Janjaweed. On her latest trip, she said people were living makeshift camps, where water and food were in short supply. Furthermore, the rainy season was coming on and people were unable to plant crops. Aid workers were struggling to meet the needs of a ‘fragile and increasingly abandoned population’, she said. With scaled-down staff and with access diminished because of security reasons, people were in a ‘deplorable situation’. Asked why non-governmental organizations had been absent from the region for more than a year, she called that situation ‘incomprehensible’, given the enormity of the humanitarian situation and the fact that it had scarcely been addressed. ‘It’s been called the ‘forgotten crisis’, but that implies that it was once remembered,’ she said. ‘I don’t know that it has been in the consciousness of the international community’ … She called for an international peacekeeping force along the Central African Republic’s borders with both Chad and the Sudan. Otherwise, she said, ‘you’re going to see two collapsed States, two failed States, which will serve no one …This is a seminal moment for all of us as human beings’, she said, noting that Darfur had been called “ Rwanda in slow motion’. She added: ‘It’s very sad when we have to ask the Government of the Sudan, perpetrators of these atrocities, ‘May we come in and stop you please?’ And then we do an immense international hand-wringing for years to say ‘well, it’s just regrettable and we just can’t find any of the right sticks and carrots’.”