CIHRS welcomes the Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution on the human rights situation in Darfur, adopted by unanimous consent, on March 30, 2007. CIHRS regrets that this resolution does not directly recognize the responsibility of the Sudanese government and rebel groups for human rights violations in Darfur, and fails to condemn such violations. However, the resolution also represents a positive step by the HRC to continue to acknowledge and take action concerning the human rights situation in Darfur.
Some states at the HRC, most notably member states of the Arab League and Organization for the Islamic Conference, following on the arguments of the government of Sudan, called for the report submitted by the High-level Mission on the human rights situation in Darfur, to be discarded and not recognized due to procedural technicalities. To do so would have threatened the ability of the HRC to recognize and/or pass a resolution concerning the Darfur situation. In particular, Sudan and its allies suggested the report be dismissed because of the inability of the mission to enter Sudan. Yet, this “inability” was caused by the refusal of the government of Sudan to give the members of this mission visas to enter the country. In effect, these states were arguing, nonsensically, that Sudan’s unwillingness to cooperate with the mission constituted sufficient grounds to ignore the findings and recommendations of this mission.
As pointed out by other member states, past reports submitted to the Human Rights Committee criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, the former Apartheid regime in South Africa and other situations, were deemed acceptable by the Human Rights Commitee despite the non-cooperation of the states involved. The High-level Darfur Mission, like other missions in the past, when confronted with state non-cooperation, carried out research outside of Sudan with many respected experts, eye-witnesses to events in Darfur, and among the Darfurian refugee camps located in eastern Chad, in a transparent and highly professional manner.
The arguments and actions of Sudan and Arab/Islamic states at the HRC concerning the High-level Mission’s report constituted an attempt to silence any criticism of the widespread and grave human rights abuses occurring in Darfur which the government of Sudan bears primary responsibility for, and, thus, ignore the suffering of the people of this region. This type of occurrence is not unprecedented at the United Nations. For example, the United States uses various arguments within the UN Security Council, to silence any criticism or sanctions against Israel for violating the human rights of Palestinians. As argued by CIHRS in its oral and written interventions at the HRC, attempts to provide impunity to governments responsible for grave and widespread human rights abuses, whether it be the government of Israel or Sudan, is a highly dangerous practice that undermines human rights protection efforts everywhere, by making a mockery of these international standards and the suffering of those whose human rights are being violated. Arab and Islamic states have consistently attempted to undermine efforts to hold the government of Sudan responsible for human rights violations in Darfur, or have simply refused to acknowledge that such violations are occurring. By making human rights standards conditional on political expediency, Arab and Islamic states inadvertently undermine international efforts to protect the rights of Palestinians.
In response to these political games, many African states made impassioned calls for the HRC to take action on the issue of Darfur and the High-level mission report. Zambia noted that “the only interpretation that the people of Darfur will give to our prolonged discussion of technicalities and not of substance is that we do not care about them,” while Ghana insisted that the HRC must not ignore the Darfur report. Nigeria, Mauritius, Senegal, and Cameroon also urged the council to consider the report and act on its findings. International and regional NGOs made several oral interventions strongly urging the Council to preserve its legitimacy and take action on the Darfur issue. In particular, CIHRS organized a joint intervention signed by NGOs from every region in the world demanding that the HRC adopt a strong resolution on the Darfur human rights situation (this and the other CIHRS HRC interventions mentioned above are available in Arabic and English at www.cihrs.org.
The resolution on Darfur (S-4/101) (A/HRC/L.7/Rev.2) adopted at the 4th Session of the HRC, introduced by Germany, on behalf of the EU, and Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, notes the High-level mission’s report on the situation of human rights in Darfur presented at the 4th Session of the HRC; expresses concern over the ongoing violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the Darfur region, especially violence against women and children; and convenes a group of United Nations representatives and rapporteurs, headed by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan, to monitor the situation in Darfur, foster implementation of UN recommendations, and report to the Fifth Session of the Council. It also calls on the Government of the Sudan to cooperate with this monitoring and assistance Group; as well as for the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups to respect and give their full commitment to the Darfur Peace Agreement.
The HRC Darfur resolution establishes the basis for further action by the HRC concerning the situation in Darfur. The Group established by the resolution to monitor the human rights situation in Darfur, is to report back to the HRC at its 5th Session from 11-18 June, 2007. CIHRS strongly urges the HRC to continue to make the human rights situation in Darfur a top priority, and to begin to hold the government of Sudan accountable for the widespread violations of human rights and humanitarian law that it has been both directly and indirectly responsible for within the Darfur region. Any delay in this process will only allow the suffering of the Darfur people to intensify. CIHRS also urges all member states of the HRC, to refrain from undermining efforts of this body to investigate and take action on any situation where grave and widespread human rights abuses are occurring.
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