Thursday, June 22, 2006

Human Rights Watch incorrectly says Khartoum is backtracking

In an interview June 22, 2006, Human Rights Watch (HRW) Deputy Director for Africa, Georgette Gagnon tells Voice of America English to Africa reporter Howard Lesser:
"There seems to be some disconnect. Obviously, we must remember that when the Darfur peace agreement was being negotiated, the Khartoum government said that it would accept UN troops to come in and monitor a peace agreement. Now, it's backtracking."
This is not true. From what I have gathered here at Sudan Watch (see a small sample of reports listed here below - many more in Sudan Watch archives) Khartoum never once said that it would accept UN troops in Darfur. Khartoum is not backtracking. It said it would consider and discuss when the UN-AU assessment team completed its findings and, clearly, the final decision rested with Sudan's President al-Bashir. I challenge Human Rights Watch to point out when and where the Sudanese Government agreed to accept UN troops in Darfur and monitor a peace agreement. [VOA report via POTP, with thanks]

Further reading

Apr 15 2006 Sudanese president meets with UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations - Sudanese President al-Bashir reiterated refusal on Saturday of deploying international forces in Darfur to take over the peacekeeping mission of the African Union. "Sudan is persistent in its position refusing the handover of the AU mission in Darfur to the United Nations," the president told the UN official, according to the sources. Meanwhile, the sources said that al-Bashir and Annabi reached an agreement during the meeting that a technical team would be sent by the UN to Khartoum to conduct consultations with the government on a possible "smooth and natural transfer of the African mission" after the mandate of the AU peacekeeping forces expires on Sept. 30.

Apr 26 2006 Sudan: Government opposes UN force in Darfur at this time, UN Security Council is told

May 7 2006 Protests greet UN's Egeland in Darfur, before Gereida visit - a spokesman for the Sudanese government suggested that Sudan would welcome U.N. peacekeepers, but a foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters on Sunday that the government had not yet decided whether to allow the so-called "blue helmets" into the region.

May 7 2006: Sudan says undecided about UN peacekeepers in Darfur - Jamal Muhammad Ibrahim told Reuters media reports saying Sudan would welcome  UN peacekeepers were untrue. "This is not accurate. I don't know who made this  statement. ... It has to come after an assessment by the Sudan government.

Apr 29 2006 TEXT- Draft of Darfur Peace Agreement

May 16 2006 UN Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1679 (2006) paving way for UN force in Darfur - a resolution calling for the deployment on the ground of a joint UN/AU Technical Assessment Team to Darfur ... in continuous consultation with the Government of National Unity of Sudan

May 19 2006 Annan dispatches Brahimi and Annabi to Khartoum to press Sudan's government to allow UN military planners into Darfur

May 22 2006 Fears Janjaweed will turn on Sudanese government if they try to take their arms by force - There is a very real fear that the Janjaweed, whose tribes were equally marginalised by Khartoum in the past, will turn on the government if they try to take their arms by force

May 23 2006 UN chief talks with Sudan's president on UN peacekeeping operation - Troops, by themselves, cannot be the full answer - Asked whether States were prepared to contribute personnel to a UN mission in Darfur, the peacekeeping chief said a number "have expressed a measure of interest" but noted that none would make a commitment in the absence of a Security Council mandate and clear information about the situation on the ground. "No country is going to start spending money preparing its troops for a possible deployment until it knows that this deployment is going to happen for real," he said

May 24 2006 Khartoum talks fail to meet UN Security Council deadline: Sudan is now in violation of international law - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's veteran troubleshooter Lakhdar Brahimi and UN peacekeeping chief Hedi Annabi began talks in Khartoum on Tuesday to break the deadlock but, as the UN Security Council deadline expired on Wednesday, no agreement was reached, Reuters reported today:"The assessment mission is still not decided upon by the government of Sudan," said presidential advisor Majzoub al-Khalifa after his meeting with Brahimi and Annabi. The UN resolution was passed under chapter seven meaning Sudan was now in violation of international law

May 25 2006 Sudan agrees on UN/AU Darfur assessment mission - Mr Brahimi said a joint UN and AU team would arrive in the next few days. Sudan still does not accept that a UN force in Darfur is inevitable. At a press briefing in Khartoum, FM Lam Akol said that further political discussion was needed, and that only after those meetings could technical preparations be made

May 25 2006 Sudan rejects UN military role in Darfur - Sudanese FM Lam Akol said on Wednesday that his country would not allow the UN to play a military role in Darfur. Lam Akol made the remarks during a meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi. "The foreign minister explained Sudan's view on the recent UN Security Council resolution, affirming that the Darfur peace agreement does not provide in its security arrangements any role for the UN or any other party except the African Union," the spokesman told reporters. Presidential advisor Majzoub al-Khalifa told reporters following his meeting with the UN envoy that the Sudanese government did not accept the deployment of international forces in Darfur under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, which authorizes the use of force if the Security Council resolution is not complied with

Jun 6 2006 UN Security Council delegation in Khartoum meets Sudanese President al-Bashir - The delegation will also seek the support of the Sudanese government to allow a UN force to take over the peacekeeping mission from 7,000 underfunded African Union (AU) troops

Jun 6 2006 Sudan will consult with respective political parties to discuss findings of UN military assessment mission next week

Jun 9 2006 Joint UN-AU team of 40 arrive in Khartoum today to begin planning for strengthening AU Mission in Darfur - The team of 40 people from the UN and the African Union is being led by Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guehenno and will visit Darfur and hold talks with senior government officials over a period of 18 days, said Jim Landale, a spokesman for the UN mission. "The goal of the mission is to look at what can be done to strengthen the African Union force mission now and plan for a possible takeover by a United Nations peacekeeping mission," Landale said today in an interview in Khartoum

Jun 10 2006 What Sudan really fears is UN troops may be used to arrest officials and militia likely to be indicted by the ICC investigating war crimes in Darfur - Akol said military and other technical experts from the team would be leaving for Darfur on Tuesday. Asked if the Sudanese government's position had changed, he said: "Any decisions of any sort will be taken after that," referring to the team's trip to Darfur. The joint mission will return to Khartoum for further talks after visiting Darfur. The mission, which arrived on Friday, is expected to last around 18 days. Akol said the joint team could not tell Khartoum what the mandate and aim of a possible U.N. mission in Darfur would be until after they had visited the region and assessed what was required

Jun 15 2006 International Criminal Court Prosecutor briefs UN Security Council on Darfur, says will not draw conclusions on genocide until investigation complete - June 14, 2006 UN report: International Criminal Court Prosecutor briefs Security Council on Darfur, says will not draw conclusions on genocide until investigation complete - Luis Moreno-Ocampo tells Council, given scale, complexity of crimes, anticipates prosecuting 'sequence of cases, rather than a single case'

Jun 20 2006 Sudanese President Bashir rejects international military intervention in Darfur - "I swear that there will not be any international military intervention in Darfur as long as I am in power," Mr Bashir was quoted as telling a meeting of his ruling National Congress late on Monday

Jun 21 2006 Sudan opposes UN in Darfur because it fears too many of its allies will end up in an international criminal court - Turabi

Jun 22 2006 VOA ICC probe finds evidence of atrocities committed by both the Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed militia and rebel forces


K.M. said...

An AP article on May 5th reported:

Government spokesman Abdulrahman Zuma was buoyant Friday.


The Sudanese government initially rejected calls for U.N. peacekeepers to replace the thousands of African Union peacekeepers in Darfur now, but indicated it would yield if a peace treaty was signed. Zoellick said there was strong backing for a U.N. force among the mediators in Nigeria.

"The government has no reservation whatsoever about any U.N. involvement or participation after the signing of the peace agreement," Zuma said Friday. "The United Nations is the only party that could help us, really, in implementing this peace agreement."

And an article from the following day reported:

A Sudanese government spokesman has said that United Nations peacekeepers now would be welcome in Darfur after a peace agreement between Khartoum and one of the rebel groups.

Bakri Mulah, secretary-general for external affairs in the Information Ministry, issued the invitation on behalf of the Khartoum government after the agreement was reached Friday in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Sudanese government initially rejected calls for U.N. peacekeepers to replace the thousands of African Union peacekeepers now in Darfur.

"We heard the appeal of the U.N. secretary general (for U.N. peacekeepers to joint those of the African Union)... . Now there is no problem," he said.

Ingrid - Sudan Watch said...

Hello Eugene, thanks for that and the links to American agencies CBS and USA Today. If you can point out any other articles, I would appreciate it if you (or any other readers here) could please list them in the comment box here or write a blog entry and I'll point to it. If it's easier, please email me. I'll spend the next few weeks trawling through Sudan Watch archives and list what I find. There are reports that clarify exatly what Khartoum actually said when it came to making clear it would consider discussing UN troops in Darfur. There are other articles, similar to the ones you point out, but as far as I am concerned they are, how shall I put it: misinterpretation, quotes out of context by wishful thinking by activists/lazy journalists/pundits/pundits/analysts? a verabl quote from an underling in Khartoum under pressure in a press interview or from Khartoum's Information Ministry/PR?

The articles you point to remind me of the quality of news reports in run up to Iraq invasion - media reports quoting Iraq's Minister for Information (remember Comical Ali?) that most people knew to take with a pinch of salt. On Sudan, miles of media reports have been published since 2004 on the voices in Sudan that are shouting loud and clear against military intervention in Darfur, rebuttals from Khartoum, threats on the lives of UN personnel (including that of SRSG Jan Pronk), photos of tens of thousands marching and demonstrating (dating back to 2004), effigies burning, arguments over mandates for peacekeepers. Khartoum has been crystal clear in its rejection of military intervention and occupation and what it will do if troops invade and clearly refuses UN troops with Chapter 7 mandate in Darfur, there are thousands of news reports to back this up. I will do my best to list what I can find so one can see at a glance that what Human Rights Watch said: that Khartoum agreed to UN troops in Darfur is incorrect - and, in my opinion, dangerously misleading and irresponsible.

ingrid - Sudan Watch said...

Eugene, sorry my comment published before I had a chance to read it over, correct typos and ask you (and any other reader here) if you think Khartoum would/could/should agree to UN troops (or any peacekeepers with Chapter 7 mandate) when every few months news pops up to remind us all, including Khartoum, Janjaweed and rebels about the International Criminal Court/UN list of 51 names of Sudanese government officals, militias and rebels suspected of Darfur war crimes.

It doesn't make sense to me that Khartoum could ever agree to peacekeepers with powers of arrest etc., unless given the right incentives, ie immunity from questioning/arrest/prosecution. My guess is this could be given if the ICC approve of the way Khartoum is carrying out justice even using traditional tribal ways. US President GW Bush found it near to impossible to sign up to the idea of an international court outside the U.S putting US citizens on trial and meting out justice. It stands to reason Khartoum feels the same way.

I wish all of those people pushing for UN troops (a waste of precious time I think) were better informed by activists. Maybe they feel if they innanly shout loud enough and don't give up, eventually they will succeed (at what I ask myself - starting a war?) If they had put their energy and effort into backing the African Union (and African solutions to African problems) I believe a greater inroad to peace in Darfur may have been possible by now. As things stand now, the rebels continue to feel emboldened and bolstered by support they are receiving from an army (many of which are Sudanese rebel supporters) of people living in America who are working hard at getting UN troops and weapons onside while demonising and marginalising Khartoum regime. I have yet to get any real clues as to how the rebels are affording such an expensive war for years on end not to mention planes, swanky hotels, shiney new suits and uniforms, satellite phones, computers, guns, ammunition, trucks, petrol...

To my mind, most Americans appear to be living on a different planet from the rest of the world. Many haven't got a clue what makes people from ancient cultures, so far removed from their own, tick. Somewhere I've read only 10% of Americans are passport holders. Which is why, after all the American commentary I've read on Darfur, I am ultra careful when reading anything that's written from an American perspective or by people with a business/religious/political agenda. Please understand, I am not anti American, I am simply interested in facts and the truth of matters, taking different sides and perspectives into account.

K.M. said...

Here are two more articles that suggest Sudan was open to a UN force:

Of course, here are three others from around the same time that quote other government leaders saying they were not:,,2-11-1447_1929528,00.html

Ingrid - Sudan Watch said...

Great Eugene, thanks. I am writing this before reading the links you have kindly provided. I'll try to work on this in coming weeks and hope, if you find any more reports (no matter how inconsequential) or have thoughts you don't mind sharing here, I hope you will return to this thread or email me. No doubt you are aware it's incredibly time consuming searching backposts within a BlogSpot. I'll have to manually scan through two years of archives, not sure how long it will take, but if it takes longer than a few weeks, and you forget about this thread, I'll contact you to share what I've found. Bye for now.

PS I've just quickly glanced through your links - both reports I'd read at the time of publication and was so surprised, I spent a few hours searching for other reports to back up Faul's claims. After that, for me, Associated Press lost credibility, making me cross check any of their reports:

(1) Washington Post reprint of report by Michelle Faul AP May 7 2006 entitled "Sudan Open To Deployment of UN Troops" states the following without referencing the source: ABUJA, Nigeria, May 6 -- Sudan's government said Saturday that a peace accord with a main insurgent group enabled it to welcome U.N. peacekeepers to the troubled region of Darfur, as mediators worked to persuade the rest of the fractured rebel movement to join the process.

(2) CBC News Canada reprint of a report by Michelle Faul May 6, 2006 (for Canadian Press?) opens by

ABUJA, Niger (CP) - Sudan's government said Saturday that its peace accord with Darfur's main insurgent group could pave the way for it to welcome UN peacekeepers, as mediators worked to persuade the rest of the fractured rebel movement to join the process.

Note, the report goes on to say:
The Sudan government will be open for any assistance," said Bakri Mulah, secretary general for external affairs in Sudan's Information Ministry, told The Associated Press in Khartoum, Sudan. "It will not reject or oppose any effort either from the EU or from the United States or from the United Nations in realizing peace in Darfur on the grounds of this agreement."

Further on it says:
The Sudanese government initially rejected calls for UN peacekeepers to replace the thousands of African Union peacekeepers in Darfur now, but government spokesman Abdulrahman Zuma indicated Friday it would yield once the peace treaty was signed.

So, far the links you have provided point to the same two speculations/opinions by Sudanese government spokesman Abdulrahman Zuma and Bakri Mulah, secretary-general for external affairs in the Information Ministry.

Human Rights Watch stated that Khartoum agreed to UN troops in Darfur. My question remains: when and where did Khartoum agree to UN troops in Darfur?