The Sudan Peace Act has been considered primarily in terms of the House version of the bill, which contains potent US capital market sanctions against foreign companies complicit in the oil-driven destruction of Sudan. But the bill, in both its House and Senate versions, would also speak powerfully to the present massive and deepening humanitarian crisis in southern Sudan. Both versions declare it “the sense of the Congress that  the President, acting through the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, should seek to  revise the terms of Operation Lifeline Sudan [OLS] to end the veto power of the Government of Sudan over the plans by OLS for air transport flights and, by doing so, to end the manipulation of the delivery of relief supplies to the advantage of the Government of Sudan on the battlefield.” The Senate leadership, by refusing to send the Sudan Peace Act to conference, allows this critically important language to languish in legislative limbo. Meanwhile, in Sudan, people are dying for lack of relief aid.
Eric Reeves [June 13, 2002]
Northampton, MA 01063
The ghastly human realities of southern Sudan continue to worsen, as humanitarian aid delivery is ever more completely compromised by Khartoum. The regime’s strategy is to exacerbate these realities as a terrible weapon of mass destruction. All humanitarian access to Western Upper Nile was ended in mid-May. The UN estimates that 1.7 million people in southern Sudan are being denied humanitarian aid by Khartoum.
International humanitarian organizations have objected strenuously, though futilely, to Khartoum’s accelerating efforts to destroy the working terms of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS). At the same time, US policy remains unclear: Jeffrey Millington, US charge d’affaires in Khartoum, signed off on an agreement made between Khartoum and the UN’s special envoy to Sudan, Tom Vraalsen; but Andrew Natsios, Administrator for the US Agency for International Development, has described the agreement as “not acceptable!”
But clarity over US policy will certainly be established if the Sudan Peace Act is allowed by the Senate leadership to proceed to conference (the House named its conferees last year, having passed the bill a year ago today). For both House and Senate versions of the bill have identical language concerning the terms of Operation Lifeline Sudan:
[from the Sudan Peace Act]
“SEC. 7. [House version] [SEC. 6 in Senate version] MULTILATERAL PRESSURE ON COMBATANTS.
It is the sense of the Congress that—
 the United Nations should be used as a tool to facilitate peace and recovery in Sudan ; and
 the President, acting through the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, should seek to—
[A] revise the terms of O[peration] L[ifeline] S[udan] to end the veto power of the Government of Sudan over the plans by OLS for air transport relief flights and, by doing so, to end the manipulation of the delivery of relief supplies to the advantage of the Government of Sudan on the battlefield.”
Trent Lott and Tom Daschle, the Senate minority and majority leaders, bear responsibility for not doing what is necessary to name conferees for the Sudan Peace Act. Senate Republicans have three times refused a request from the Democratic leadership to grant unanimous consent for a conferencing motion. But for his part, Senator Daschle refuses to commit to allowing Senate floor time to debate the conferencing motion, thereby insuring an ongoing stalemate.
Such a legislative stalemate in the US Congress is intolerable, given the many hundreds of thousands of civilians at acute risk in southern Sudan, particularly in the oil regions. As the Senate and the House move ever closer to the August recess, and to mid-term elections, the slim hope for the Sudan Peace Act diminishes steadily—and with it the chances for a forceful US policy on Operation Lifeline Sudan. Soon the last flicker of hope will be extinguished, and the bill will die with this session of Congress. The Senate will have acquiesced in the very realities that occasioned the introduction of the Sudan Peace Act—in the Senate—three years ago.
Those who feel that this is an intolerable legislative outcome (the Sudan Peace Act passed the House by a vote of 422 to 2 on June 13, 2001; it passed the Senate unanimously shortly thereafter) should make one last effort to bring the Senate leadership to its moral senses. Contact Senators Daschle and
Lott—by telephone, by email, by fax:
Senate Democratic (majority) leadership:
 Senator Tom Daschle, Senate Majority Leader
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3602
Email via website:
Senate Republican (minority) leadership:
 Senator Trent Lott, Senate Minority Leader
487 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2403