SUDAN WATCH: UN joins African Union to assess peacekeeping needs in Darfur, Sudan - Bracing for Bolton

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

UN joins African Union to assess peacekeeping needs in Darfur, Sudan - Bracing for Bolton

New York, 8 March - See UN news centre report and this excerpt from the Secretary-General's off the cuff remarks:

Reporter's question to Secretary-General Kofi Annan: On Sudan, you called the Security Council members. The UN is doing a lot of hand-wringing on the subject, but you called Security Council members into a meeting. Can you tell us why you did that, what you discussed, and what specifically are you advocating right now, whether it's the African Union, at one point you mentioned NATO? Get more specific maybe on what it is you think needs to be done.

Mr Annan's answer: I think, basically, what I discussed with the Council is something that everybody was aware of, that we are concerned that we are not moving fast enough in Darfur. We are concerned that the atrocities have not stopped. We are concerned that we are not gaining access to all those in need. We are concerned that the parties are not respecting the ceasefire. The question is what measures should be taken to create a secure environment. And we looked at various options. Of course, the African Union forces are on the ground. From all accounts, they are effective where they are, but there are very few of them. So we need to increase the numbers either by helping the African Union to strengthen the force and also give them logistical and financial support. They need communications. They have very few trucks, planes, cars. And we need to sort of help them to do the work if we expect them to do it. And if we come to the conclusion that they need additional help and they are not provide it themselves, what should be the responsibility of the international community? Should the UN send in troops to co-deploy with them, to cover Darfur? Should the UN eventually take over that operation? Should eventually a multinational force be considered? These are all options that were on the table. Of course, we know the pros and cons of each of the options. And of course, I also indicated that we are sending a mission which will be led by the African Union to Darfur to assess the situation on the ground. The European Union and US would also have members on the team. And after that mission, we'll do a serious reassessment of what needs to be done.

And I also indicated that we were all very happy when the Naivasha agreement was signed, but we do not have enough money to help the returning refugees. They are returning spontaneously. We have asked for $500 million and we got five percent of that amount. So we have managed to get a political agreement, but we are not doing enough on the ground to make sure the agreement holds. So we also did appeal for additional resources generally, and of course, we are going to deploy the 10,000 UN troops in the south.

And I was also concerned that if we did not take measures to strengthen the operations in Darfur, it's going to look very awkward that you have 10,000 troops in the south where it is safe, but you don't have enough troops in Darfur where the fighting is going on and protection and security of the people is urgent. So these are some of the issues that we discussed.
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Bracing for Bolton - Dismay as US sends hawk to UN

The shock appointment of hardline neo-conservative John Bolton as US ambassador to the UN stunned the diplomatic community yesterday and raised questions about George W. Bush's commitment to work constructively for reform of the world body in its 60th anniversary year. His appointment must be ratified by the US Senate, where there is sure to be some opposition.

"Why would (President Bush) choose someone who has expressed such disdain for working with our allies?," said Senator John Kerry, who lost last year's election to Mr Bush. Full Story - 9 March, 2005 - Herald Sun - by David Nason in New York.
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The U.S. cannot act effectively if it acts alone

During the 2004 election, President Bush's refusal to acknowledge having made any missteps during his first term was seen as shrewd politics.  The appointment of Bolton suggests that it is something more:  that Bush really does dismiss the concerns of critics around the world, that he believes the US. can and should go it alone.  The UN will be one casualty.  US interests will be another. Full Story 8 March - Center for American Progress - by Suzanne Nossel in New York.

Suzanne Nossel served as Deputy to the Ambassador for UN Management and Reform at the US Mission to the United Nations in 1999-2001. Nossel is currently an executive at a media company in New York City, and writes frequently on foreign policy issues.

Further reading: Who Is John Bolton? [Oh dear ... how disappointing ... and scary ... he sounds like a disaster]
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UPDATE: 9 March: FT in America Firster says today: Mr Bolton is hardly likely to re-invent himself as a born-again multilateralist. But if US policy were to be changed in that direction by the decision-makers in Washington, it would carry more weight with the UN's many critics on the Republican right if it came out of the mouth of Mr Bolton. The dispatch of one of Washington's staunchest unilateralists to the UN may yet turn out an inspired decision. But the onus will be on Mr Bolton and his masters in Washington to prove this so. [Let's hope it turns out an inspired decision]


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