- The Washington Times - Monday, September 13, 2004

Secretary of State Colin Powell catapulted the focus on Sudan last week, by stating that genocide has been committed by the government and its proxy militia groups. Despite Mr. Powell’s move, much of the international community still lacks the will to step up the pressure on Khartoum through sanctions or military measures.

In February 2003, rebels in Darfur rose up against their government in protest of the government’s discrimination against their farming communities and favoring of nomadic tribes that have cultural and ethnic ties to Arabs in the Middle East. Khartoum unleashed marauding Janjaweed militia groups to put down the rebellion.

Mr. Powell based his genocide designation on the findings of U.S. investigators, who recently interviewed more than 1,000 Darfur refugees living in Chad. The violence in Darfur represents “a coordinated effort, not just random violence… . We believe the evidence corroborates the specific intent of the perpetrators to destroy ‘a group in whole or in part’ ” — wording contained in the 1951 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

That convention says parties may call on the United Nations to take action to prevent genocide. As a member of the international genocide convention, Sudan is required to do this.

What Darfur needs immediately to prevent future genocide and atrocities is a robust deployment of about 3,000 African Union peacekeepers to enforce a cease fire and protect civilians. So far, Khartoum has allowed only the presence of 125 A.U. monitors and 300 peacekeepers to protect the monitors. Given the scale and duration of the crisis in Darfur, the U.N. Security Council is left with just one moral option: threaten Khartoum with sanctions, should it continue to resist a substantive A.U. deployment.

Mr. Powell has done his part to ratchet up the pressure. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has said the U.S. is prepared to help move an A.U. deployment. But the U.N. Security Council— specifically Russia, China and Pakistan — has resisted a U.S.-drafted resolution which would threaten sanctions if Khartoum continues to allow the crisis to escalate. Also, the council has failed to back an A.U. peacekeeping mission and allot U.N. funds to support it.

About 50,000 people have already died as a result of the Darfur crisis, and more than 1 million have been displaced. If Mr. Powell’s recent statement doesn’t serve as a global call to conscience, it is difficult to imagine just what will rouse the Security Council to action.

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