SUDAN WATCH: Annan's important 30-page report on Darfur

Monday, August 21, 2006

Annan's important 30-page report on Darfur

Excerpt from a post by Mark Leon Goldberg on UN Dispatch: Darfur's Last Chance?. [hat tip CFD] Excerpt:
"...In late July, Kofi Annan issued a little noticed but hugely important thirty page report on Darfur. This report (pdf), which was delivered to the Security Council on July 29th, could be the last chance to save Darfur.

Annan outlines a broad mandate for a United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to take over from the African Union, which currently fields only 7,000 troops that operate under a limited mandate. By contrast, UNMIS would include some 17,300 peacekeepers, and many thousands of civilians experts to secure, rehabilitate, rebuild and enforce a ceasefire in Darfur. However, Annan acknowledges the hurdles to assembling a peacekeeping force for Darfur. So, as something of a stop-gap measure, Annan proposes that the UN appropriate resources including communications, logistics, and command and control assets, as well as military equipment such as aircraft and armored personnel carriers, to the African Union.

This is a novel idea. And if the Security Council approves it would create what the informative Security Council Report calls "a hybrid force, never before tried by the UN, with UN assets and personnel placed under the command of another institution [the AU]." As envisioned by Annan, the hybridization would commence immediately and continue until the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is able to deploy a robust peacekeeping force in Darfur.

At least for the moment, Annan's proposal seems to have inspired some members of the Security Council to refocus on Darfur. In the Council's first meeting on Darfur in over six weeks, representatives from the United States and United Kingdom explicitly endorsed Annan's plan in a draft resolution they circulated. Further, the US-UK draft resolution would place eventual peacekeepers under Chapter VII, which seems to heed Annan's call that UNMIS be mandated to protect civilians and keep open lines of humanitarian access, even if this means dealing "proactively with spoilers, including in a pre-emptive manner."

Per Annan's recommendation the US-UK draft proposes 17,300 UNMIS troops for Darfur, with two additional battalions on the ready. And to be sure, the same obstacles that have prevented the deployment of blue helmets to Darfur since May exist to this day; the countries with the most influence over Khartoum continue to refuse to make Sudan's acquiescing to a peacekeeping force a priority in their bilateral relations.

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