Monday, December 26, 2005

Sudan 9 Dec 2005


Lord Avebury: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, whose views always command enormous respect for the length and breadth of her experience in Sudan, has expressed grave concerns about the implementation of the north-south Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The right reverend Prelate spoke about the lack of trust which exists. The noble Lord, Lord St John, spoke with deep pessimism about the prospects of the agreement being fully implemented. But there are some good signs: the adoption of the interim national constitution; the installation of the Government in the south; and the partial deployment of UN peacekeepers. The process survived the tragic death of John Garang, and I hope that there is enough momentum to carry it forward. Khartoum has reduced its military presence in the south by some 17 per cent. As we have heard, SPLA troops have entered the city of Juba peacefully. Some 4,000 UNMIS troops and observers are in the mission area, compared with the target of 10,000 that was set by UNSCR 1590 last March. We understand that there have been some logistical difficulties. It would be useful if the Minister could say whether a timetable exists for the deployment to be completed.

We would be grateful too for a first reaction to the request from Jan Pronk of SRSG to the international community for $1.7 billion for Sudan, which is a third of the total of the UN's humanitarian appeal for next year. Donors would be keener to produce this enormous sum if it were not for the continuing violence in Darfur, as well as the grievances of the Beja people in the east, about which the noble Baroness spoke, as she has many times in the past. The talks between Khartoum and the Eastern Front, which were supposed to begin in November, were postponed for a month. I understand that they have now been put off again until January.

Has the UK made any offer to contribute to the $1.7 billion? Is it conditional on progress at the Abuja talks, which seem to have run into trouble, with both rebel groups rejecting the AU formula for power sharing? Will the Minister give us an update on the negotiations and his assessment on whether there is any realistic hope of concluding an agreement by the end of the year as was being suggested until a few days ago?

I know that the south is beginning from ground zero, but part of the money for de-mining and infrastructure developments should come out of the south's 50 per cent share of the oil revenues, plus the additional 2 per cent for the states where the oil is produced. What arrangements are being made to ensure that the revenue from the oil output, which is estimated to reach 750,000 barrels a day by the end of 2006, are properly recorded and audited? Sudan is not

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a member of the EITI and should be asked to sign up to that agreement. Taxpayers in donor countries will not be keen on writing large cheques to a country that is not fully transparent.

We should also help the south to resuscitate its agriculture and its trade with neighbouring Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and DRC so as to reduce the need for foreign aid.

The situation in Darfur has been described as the greatest humanitarian disaster in the world, with further attacks continuing, as we have heard, by the Janjaweed and the Sudanese military on the civilian population in spite of the repeated warnings that have been given by the international community. On Tuesday, militias attacked a town in west Darfur and destroyed wells constructed for the local people by humanitarian agencies. This seems to be part of a more general campaign to destroy farmland, crops and water supplies.

It has been reported separately that there has been a huge increase in the number of attacks and robberies on humanitarian workers. An attack took place on three villages about 40 kilometres north of Nyala by Sudanese armed forces and militia last Saturday, displacing 7,000 people and causing an unknown number of casualties. People of 20 villages in southern Darfur have sought refuge in Gereida, where the internally displaced have increased to 60,000 in the past few weeks.

This brings me to the question of whether the size and mandate of the AU force is adequate for the task it is undertaking, or should be asked to undertake. A month ago, the force had reached 5,500 military and civilian personnel plus 1,000 police, which is not far short of the authorised number of 7,700, although it took them a long time to get there. The Minister said in a recent answer that there would be an assessment in the near future of AMIS's effectiveness, and of whether any further expansion was required. The international military advice in March was that the mandate was adequate, but that more troops were needed to deliver it effectively.

Clearly, the international responsibility to protect the civilian population against overwhelming humanitarian disaster, which was first invoked in the case of Kosovo but is now perhaps a customary principle of international law, has not been observed in Darfur. AMIS has not been asked to prevent the attacks on civilians and the few assets that allow them to stay alive in a harsh environment. It has been obstructed by Khartoum's failure to co-operate, exemplified by the refusal to allow unrestricted use of Sudan's airspace and the obstacles that were placed in the way of the delivery of essential equipment, such as the Canadian armoured vehicles that, I am glad to see, have now at last been allowed through.

Nor have the Government of Sudan co-operated in the arrest and prosecution of those who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. Since not a single one of the militia criminals who have perpetrated innumerable war crimes has been arrested, an

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expanded AMIS should be given the task, and should be reinforced with teams of experts who could take witness statements and collect forensic evidence, using methods that comply with the rules of evidence of the International Criminal Court.

The Prosecutor of the ICC has opened an investigation into a number of cases that were referred to him by the Security Council, based on the report of the International Commissioner of Inquiry on Darfur established by the Secretary-General. He says that his investigation, which has only just begun, needs the sustained co-operation of national and international authorities, including the African Union, as required by the Security Council. Clearly he will get nothing from Khartoum. If witnesses are to be persuaded to make statements, they will need protection. Although there was a great deal of self-congratulation about the precedent of getting a reference to the ICC through the Security Council, war criminals have nothing to fear unless there is a determined and systematic campaign to collect and store the evidence.

After Srebrenica and Rwanda there was a lot of hand-wringing. There were inquiries into the failure of the international community to respond in time, or with effective force, to the threat of genocide and mass murder. The cardinal lesson of Srebrenica, according to the Secretary-General, was:

"that a deliberate and systematic attempt to terrorise, expel or murder an entire people must be met decisively with all necessary means, and with the political will to carry the policy through to its logical conclusion".

In his comment on the official report on Rwanda, he said:

"All of us must bitterly regret that we did not do more to prevent it. There was a United Nations force in the country at the time, but it was neither mandated nor equipped for the kind of forceful action that would have been needed to prevent or halt the genocide. On behalf of the United Nations, I acknowledge this failure and express my deep remorse".

Yesterday, Mr Annan said he was gravely concerned about the worsening situation in Darfur and urged the Security Council and the donor community to do everything possible to assist AMIS. But that has all been said before. The very least we should and can do now is to call an emergency meeting of the Security Council and invite the AU and its commander in Darfur to attend, bringing proposals for protecting civilians from further attack, disarming the Janjaweed and bringing to justice those who are still perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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