U.N. Disgraces Itself


UN to Sudan: Continue Killingeditorial, The New York Sun, May 10

No one can say they didn’t know. [The government of Sudan is] committing repeated war crimes and crimes against humanity.Bertran Ramcharan, acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressing U.N. Security Council, The New York Times, May 8

If we turn away simply because the victims are African tribespeople who have the misfortune to speak no English, have no phones and live in one of the remotest parts of the globe, then shame on us.Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, March 24

[That means shame on each of us, not just the media.]

On Friday, May 7, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertran Ramcharan, after a two-week trip to the Darfur province in Sudan by a U.N. delegation, told the U.N. Security Council that, as The Washington Post would report the next day, the government of Sudan “armed and supported Arab militias that allegedly expelled more than a million villagers in Sudan’s Darfur province and killed thousands.” The corpses are those of black Africans. Both the Arab Janjaweed militias and the victims are Muslims.

Also on May 7, Human Rights Watch, which, reporting from the killing grounds, has done an extraordinarily detailed, continuing account of these horrors, issued a 77-page report, documenting “how Sudanese government forces have overseen and directly participated in massacres, summary executions of civilians, burning of towns and villages, and the forcible depopulation of wide swathes of land long-inhabited by the [black] Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.”

The Washington Post story by Colum Lynch on the crucial challenge to the U.N. Security Council to stop this genocide—as it criminally failed to do in Rwanda—added this from the U.N. report: “Some senior Sudanese officials privately admitted for the first time that Sudan had ‘recruited, uniformed, armed, supported and sponsored the militias that have carried out the worst excesses in Darfur.’ ”

Here in New York, the 15 nations responsible for securing international peace will never be able to say they didn’t know these atrocities were actually going on, as they heard the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner urgently asking them to send human rights monitors to blood-soaked Darfur. He also proposed they, the Security Council, set up an international commission of inquiry that could result in prosecution for war crimes.

After all, on April 7, Kofi Annan, the Nobel laureate, said that “the international community cannot stand idle” and proposed an “action plan to prevent genocide, involving the whole United Nations system” so that there would not be another Rwanda.

Annan’s plan called for “both the U.N. Secretariat and the Security Council to keep the mandates and resources of all our peacekeeping forces under constant review, particularly with the threat of genocide in mind, and be ready to reinforce them promptly when the need arises.”

On that fateful day for black Africans in Darfur, May 7, the U.N. Security Council refused the call to rescue the survivors from further murders, gang rapes, and the loss of the rest of their homes and fields.

The Washington Post tolled the funeral bells:

“The UN Security Council remained silent on the crisis, resisting pressure from human rights groups to criticize Sudan. Council diplomats said the council’s African governments— Angola, Algeria and Benin—opposed action, arguing that it would constitute interference in a member state’s internal affairs.”

The African states—very much including South Africa—have also resisted meaningful involvement in rescuing the black citizens of Zimbabwe from the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe. Even Nelson Mandela has been silent.

As for other members of the Security Council, complicit in further atrocities in Darfur, they say they do not want to sidetrack the peace talks between the slavemaster Sudanese government and the black Christians and animists in the south, who have suffered so long from genocide there. This so-called peace treaty does not have one word about redeeming the many black slaves still in the north of Sudan. As for Darfur, the Security Council will “discuss” the killings again in June.

My information is that George W. Bush, who said he “condemned these atrocities in Darfur,” is silent now because he wants the alleged imminent peace treaty between the north and the south to add to the luster of his diplomatic achievements.

The Washington Post story on the utterly repellent way the U.N. has disgraced itself ends, “After the [Security Council] meeting, the U.S. representative, Stuart W. Holliday, declined to endorse the United Nations report by the Human Rights Commissioner that Sudan participated in the attacks on civilians.”

He thereby contradicted other American officials on the Sudanese government’s clear involvement. Kofi Annan didn’t say a mumbling word.

On May 4, American ambassador Sichan Siv, walking out of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in disgust after it had re-elected Sudan to membership, said to The New York Sun, “The least we should be able to do is not elect a country to the only global body charged specifically with protecting human rights, at the precise time when tens of thousands of its citizens are being murdered or being left to die of starvation.” It’s “Never Again” again.