Letter to United Nations Security Council urging response to Darfur, Sudan crisis

As president of the United Nations Security Council this month, you have the opportunity to build a unified international response to the continued violence in Darfur. We urge you to promote Council action to hold the government of Sudan accountable for ongoing attacks against civilians, violations of international commitments and continued obstruction of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID). In addition, we urge you to use your leadership of the Council to help ensure that UNAMID is fully equipped and that troop-contributing countries receive the support they require.

Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad
Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations

Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,

As president of the United Nations Security Council this month, you have the opportunity to build a unified international response to the continued violence in Darfur. We urge you to promote Council action to hold the government of Sudan accountable for ongoing attacks against civilians, violations of international commitments and continued obstruction of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID). In addition, we urge you to use your leadership of the Council to help ensure that UNAMID is fully equipped and that troop-contributing countries receive the support they require.

Within 2008 alone, violence has displaced more than 100,000 civilians in Darfur. Janjaweed attacks and bombings by Sudanese armed forces demonstrate that the campaign against Darfur's civilians is far from over. Relations between Sudan and Chad are deteriorating and cross-border clashes threaten the entire region. The recent flare up of violence in the contested Abyei region reveals Khartoum's unwillingness to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, fanning fears of a possible return to all out war between North and South Sudan.

The response of the international community has been fragmented and inconsistent—to the severe detriment of the millions affected by ongoing atrocities and insecurity. Because of insufficient multilateral resolve, the government of Sudan continues to disregard U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on Khartoum to end the attacks, disarm the Janjaweed, obtain U.N. clearance to move military equipment into Darfur and cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

We urge you to push for a resolution imposing targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, as well as those undermining the peace process and impeding UNAMID's deployment. The perpetrators of atrocities and those fomenting instability in the region cannot be allowed to act with impunity.

A U.N. panel of experts has reported repeated violations of the arms embargo imposed by U.N. Security Council resolutions 1556 and 1591. Recent events, including the February coup attempt on N'Djamena and the rebel attack on Omdurman in May, demonstrate the porous nature of the Sudan-Chad border and the prevalence of arms in the area. In light of the continued flow of arms to the region, we urge you to lead the Council in pushing for enforcement and expansion of the current arms embargo to the whole of Sudan with an appropriate carve-out for South Sudan.

As regards UNAMID, Sudanese government obstruction continues and Khartoum must be held accountable. But a lack of troop and equipment contributions also jeopardizes the mission's deployment. We ask that you take effective international leadership to organize a meeting with all stakeholders—Security Council members, the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the "Friends of UNAMID" working group and troop-contributing countries—to ensure that all necessary contributions are in place and troop contributors are able to effectively deploy. This is a matter of urgency as UNAMID is already behind schedule to meet the goal of 80 percent deployment by the end of 2008.

Almost four years have passed since the Security Council first took action on Darfur. Yet the violence, displacement and destruction continue. We ask that you utilize all diplomatic resources at your disposal to build a unified international response to end the crisis. This includes active support of new Security Council resolutions for further targeted sanctions and for enforcement and expansion of the arms embargo, as well as taking leadership to ensure UNAMID's rapid and effective deployment. Concerted substantive action must be taken to achieve this end. For the sake of those whose lives are at stake, you can do no less.

Sincerely,

Africa Action
Air Serv International
American Islamic Congress
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish World Service
Amnesty International USA
Better World Campaign
B'nai B'rith International
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Citizens for Global Solutions
ENOUGH: The project to end genocide and crimes against humanity
Genocide Intervention Network
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ
Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America
Human Rights First
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Jewish Women International
Jewish World Watch
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
The National Council of Jewish Women
Physicians for Human Rights
Rabbinical Assembly
Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
Save Darfur Coalition
STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Women of Reform Judaism

cc: Secretary Condoleezza Rice