Impressive language, but little evidence of real political commitment
January 21, 2006
The radical inadequacy of African Union forces in Darfur has become undeniable, even to the most disingenuous members of the international community. There is no longer a serious debate about whether the present AU mission, even if augmented with all conceivably available AU resources, can undertake the various tasks of civilian and humanitarian protection: providing security for the more than 2 million displaced persons in some 300 camps and concentrations of affected populations; providing security for humanitarian operations and transport corridors; disarming or neutralizing the Janjaweed militia (the key requirement in providing long-term human security for Darfur); protecting vulnerable rural populations that continue to suffer deadly attacks; and providing the security that will enable displaced and bereft persons to return to their villages and lands.
These tasks are and have always been clearly far beyond AU capabilities, even when AU deployment was cynically celebrated by US, European, and UN officials. There is some evidence that at least the language about AU capabilities may be starting to change; but there is even more evidence that self-serving political realities and a lack of real commitment will prevail, and that apparent commitment to an international Darfur intervention is merely verbal.
Despite strong words last week from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and seemingly supportive words from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the movement toward an international force that will succeed the AU force in Darfur has yet to gain any meaningful traction. The AU may have signaled that it is willing in principle to surrender the mission to the UN (chiefly because it is no longer being supported by dismayed donors in Brussels), but there are huge obstacles in Khartoum and within the UN, especially at the Security Council, but also within the UN bureaucracies.
QUESTIONS OF MANDATE
Moreover, the AU continues to prove itself politically impotent in all ways on Darfur. The AU leadership has been unwilling to move its strategic summit from Khartoum, thereby handing the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime an enormous diplomatic victory and political legitimacy; the AU has also been unwilling to demand of Khartoum an appropriate mandate for its forces in Darfur, one that clearly allows for proactive civilian protection. This latter issue will haunt discussion of a UN deployment going forward, and provide a way for obstructionists (in all camps) to render such discussion meaningless.
In an otherwise useful report and historical overview (January 20, 2006), Human Rights Watch foolishly argues that the problem with the Darfur mission lies not in the AU “mandate,” but in the ambiguous military “rules of engagement” guiding AU troops (“The Imperatives for Immediate Change: The AU Mission in Sudan,” http://hrw.org/reports/2006/sudan0106/). But the explicit mandate language guiding the AU has been rightly criticized as extremely restrictive by numerous human rights and policy organizations, and at length in two recent substantial analyses of the AU mission (by Refugees International and the Brookings Institution/Bern University; see my assessment of these reports, “Ghosts of Rwanda: The AU Failure in Darfur,” November 13 & 20, 2005,
The language relevant here, from the October 20, 2004 AU Peace and Security Council communiqu, declares that AU forces are empowered only to:
“Protect civilians whom it encounters under imminent threat and in the immediate vicinity, within resources and capability, it being understood that the protection of the civilian population is the responsibility of the Government of Sudan.”
It is difficult to imagine more restrictive language for military forces operating within an arena in which civilian destruction is exceedingly widespread, but where only infrequently are civilians under “imminent threat” in “the immediate vicinity” of AU troops. Moreover, in a great many cases—even when aware of impending and proximate massive human slaughter, such as occurred at Khor Abeche in April 2005—the AU has been without the manpower (“within resources and capability”) to protect civilians. Finally, the threateningly implied restrictions of the last clause (“it being understood that the protection of the civilians population is the responsibility of the Government of Sudan”) severely embarrasses the claim by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the AU mandate is not a core failing in the mission.
Misconstruing the issue by means of an untenable distinction between “mandate” and “rules of engagement,” HRW obscures the fundamental problem: the NIF regime in Khartoum has insisted on a cripplingly weak mandate for the AU as the condition of deployment. As the Brookings Institution/Bern University report notes all too accurately: “Sudanese officials have adamantly insisted that any increase in troops numbers be allowed only if the mandate does not change” (“The Protecting of Two Million Internally Displaced: The Successes and Shortcomings of the AU in Darfur”; November 2005, page 17).
But the issue of mandate is truly relevant only for a successor force to the AU mission. Current severe limitations in force size, equipment, transport, logistics, communications, intelligence, as well as administrative capacity in Addis Ababa, ensure that the security situation in Darfur under the AU will continue its deadly spiral downwards; and no amount of creative tinkering with “rules of engagement” will change this fundamental incapacity.
The appropriate peacemaking mandate—one defined by Chapter VII of the UN Charter—was implicit in Kofi Annan’s comments of last week, describing the kind of force that has long been required in Darfur:
“Any new force would have to be a mobile one with tactical air support, helicopters and ‘the ability to respond very quickly.’ Asked if this would include rich countries, like the US and European nations, Annan said, ‘Those are the countries with the kind of capabilities we will need, so when the time comes, we will be turning to them.’ ‘We will need very sophisticated equipment, logistical support. I will be turning to governments with capacity to join in that peacekeeping operation if we were to be given the mandate.'” (Reuters, January 13, 2006)
Such a force is required if the international community is serious about ending the vast humanitarian crisis that UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres recently described in appropriately urgent terms: “Darfur represents ‘the most pressing political and humanitarian problem we have in Africa today,’ according to Guterres” (Reuters, January 12, 2006). Guterres several days later said again, “In my opinion, Darfur is the most dangerous crisis point in Africa and in the world in general'” (Reuters, January 17, 2006). He further declared that the “deteriorating situation in [Darfur] threatens [African] regional stability”—an assessment echoed by AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare:
“Konare said here Monday that an ‘urgent’ solution must be found to the crisis in Sudan’s western region of Darfur region, to prevent a spill-over effect. ‘The problem in Darfur is so worrying that we must settle it very rapidly. This is a conflict that could destabilise the entire region—Sudan, Chad, West and Central Africa—through the Democratic Republic of Congo and even the Great Lakes region,’ Konare said on Congo Brazzaville State Radio, after an audience with President Denis Sassou Nguesso.” (Angola Press [dateline: Brazzaville, Congo], January 10, 2006)
IS THERE REALLY INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION?
But how willing are the UN, the US, and the European Union to take over from the AU in addressing the Darfur crisis? The Europeans seem especially likely to be unhelpful, judging by very recent comments from Jean-Christophe Belliard, a senior advisor to the EU:
“Belliard says given the difficulty of the situation and the newness of the AU, officially inaugurated just over three years ago, it has done as well as can be expected. Belliard also casts doubt on the idea that the international community is ready to take on the Darfur operation. ‘They are doing it because we don’t want to do it. We, western countries, we are not ready to send troops there despite the fact that what is going on there is very serious,’ he said. ‘But all this taken into account they are doing well, they are doing their best. The situation has stabilized. It has allowed peace negotiations to go on.'” (Voice of America, January 18, 2006)
Belliard implies that because the AU is doing “as well as can be expected,” it should be given more time to learn on the job, even while many hundreds of thousands of Darfuri lives are acutely threatened. Certainly Belliard is right to say that to date members of the international community, western nations most significantly, have been content with the AU. But the issue in the wake of Kofi Annan’s statement of last week is whether this has changed—an issue Belliard disingenuously skirts. Most disingenuously, Belliard suggests that the situation in Darfur has “stabilized” and that a mere continuance of the peace talks in Abuja is a sufficient good in itself. Neither claim is true, as Belliard well knows.
All reports from the ground in Darfur speak of a seriously deteriorating security situation. Large sections of West Darfur have now been raised to the highest UN level of insecurity (Level 4), and all non-essential personnel have been evacuated, as have personnel from some non-UN humanitarian organizations. The International Committee of the Red Cross, in its most recent update (Bulletin No 36, January 9, 2006), offers an extremely grim assessment of security for its operations in West Darfur, including a significant reduction of activities on the part of the al-Geneina sub-delegation. Security in South Darfur is also deteriorating rapidly.
And the peace process in Abuja has been all too aptly described by senior AU officials. Speaking as talks broke off in the second week of January 2006 for the Eid el-Kabir celebration, senior AU diplomat Sam Ibok declared, “‘We have been here [in Abuja] for more than a month now, but I can’t even report any progress” (UN IRIN [dateline: Abuja], January 9, 2006). AU special envoy for Darfur Salim Ahmed Salim “described the talks to end the conflict as ‘disturbingly and agonizingly slow'” (Reuters [dateline: Abuja], January 19, 2006).
Of course the most disturbing threat to the AU-sponsored peace process is a likely ascension of Khartoum’s NIF to the chairmanship of the African Union during the AU summit. The preponderance of evidence is that despite the strenuous objections of some fifty African human rights and humanitarian organizations, as well as Western human rights groups, President Omar al-Bashir will become chair of the AU on Monday (January 23, 2006). The NIF has declared that it has “secured the unanimous backing of 12 east African nations for president Omar Hassan al-Bashir” (Reuters, January 19, 2006), although there is privately resistance on the part of southern and western African nations (Reuters, January 21, 2006). Darfur’s rebel movements have credibly threatened to withdraw from the peace talks if the Khartoum regime, the perpetrator of genocide in Darfur, is given AU responsibility for negotiating an end to the genocide (Reuters, January 19, 2006).
All this is known to Mr. Belliard, but he no doubt speaks for many in the EU when he suggests the mere fact of present peace talks is sufficient for the people of Darfur.
US POLICY AND THE “DARFUR PROBLEM”
How much better has the US been in responding to Kofi Annan’s call for a force that is “highly mobile,” “with tactical air support and helicopters,” “very sophisticated equipment and logistical support,” as well as “the ability to respond very quickly”? When Annan says that “[European and North American countries] are the countries with the kind of capabilities we will need, so when the time comes, we will be turning to them,” we must wonder whether the US will respond.
In an initial statement, following Annan’s remarks of last week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Monrovia, Liberia on Monday:
“‘I think [the AU] is doing a good job, but it is pretty close to the limits of what it can do in its size and configuration. There are issues in how to sustain it,’ said Rice. ‘We favour a UN mission which has the qualities of sustainability that comes from the whole UN peacekeeping system.'” (Reuters, January 16, 2006)
“Sustainability,” while of course very important, does not speak to other key issues that will define success or failure for a UN mission in Darfur, nor does it address what is even more important than “sustainability,” and that is urgency (any UN mission would take many months to deploy). Nor does Rice address the critical issue of mandate for a UN mission: will it be guided by the robust terms of Chapter VII deployment—a well-armed force with true peacemaking capabilities? Any mission lacking such a mandate will be at a severe disadvantage in responding to the acute threats against civilians and humanitarians.
But the real question is whether the US will use its diplomatic and political leverage within the UN Security Council to support an authorizing resolution, and to address the clear threat of a Russian or Chinese veto.
Annan, of course, very significantly hedged his comments about the need for a robust UN force, speaking only in conditional terms (“if we [the UN] were to be given the mandate”)—and specifically declared that Khartoum, the AU, and the UN Security Council would all have to agree to the deployment of such a force. Annan well understands the enormous political difficulty, if not impossibility, that lies behind this “if”; and he may in fact have knowingly set the bar untenably high—this in the course of protecting himself from historical judgment: “Yes, genocide in Africa again occurred on my watch as Secretary-General, as when I headed UN peacekeeping operations during the 1994 Rwandan genocide; but this time I asked publicly for an intervening force and the international community did not respond.” Of course we are three years into the genocide, and only now is Annan speaking (and so far only speaking) in appropriately urgent terms.
With this as political context, Rice’s bland words in Monrovia are hardly encouraging:
“‘I think the Khartoum government should be cooperative,’ said Rice. ‘They have a problem in Darfur. The international community expects them to contribute to solving it and also expects them to allow the international community to contribute to solving.'”
But of course Khartoum has engineered the “problem” in Darfur—they don’t simply “have” a problem. And the “problem” has been given a terribly specific name—by the Bush administration, by the Parliament of the European Union (in a 566 to 6 vote, September 2004), by senior officials of the British and German governments, as well as by numerous human rights groups, including Physicians for Human Rights, and international law scholars—the name of “genocide.”
To date, the Bush administration, despite its own genocide determination, has been content to praise an AU force that has for many months clearly been unable to halt the ethnically targeted human destruction of African tribal populations in Darfur. Thus in an egregious moment of mendacity, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer declared in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “The African Union effort in Darfur has demonstrated why deployment of African troops is a viable option” (November 17, 2005). This was not simply transparent dishonesty: it was dishonesty in expedient service of a desire to forestall meaningful discussion of what is truly required for human security in Darfur.
Devising the political means of walking away from such dishonest assessment is one way of conceiving the difficulties facing Secretary Rice in Monrovia. This would account for her saying misleadingly of Darfur, “‘the circumstances are beginning to change in a way that suggests that the AU mission may not be sufficient'” (AP, January 16, 2006). For of course “circumstances” have made abundantly clear the inadequacy of the AU for over a year.
But the more likely explanation for a tepid US response, despite political “cover” provided by the strong statement from Annan, is that Bush administration policy entails a deliberate accommodation of Khartoum’s ambitions in Darfur. This would comport with a series of other actions and non-actions revealing Washington’s continuing willingness to trade out Darfur, and to ignore the growing threats to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between Khartoum and the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.
And just what does the Bush administration secure from Khartoum by acquiescing before genocide in Darfur and a withering of the CPA? The answer is all too clearly a claimed, though unverified, “cooperation” from the NIF in the US-led “war on terrorism.” Here we should look carefully at a recent Associated Press report on UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005), which targets individuals who “defy peace efforts, violate international and human rights law, or are responsible for military overflights in Darfur”:
“The four-member [UN-appointed panel] said it was sending a confidential list of names to the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Sudan to consider imposing a travel ban and asset freeze [against the named individuals].” (AP [United Nations], January 11, 2006)
But while the news focus of the AP dispatch was on efforts by Qatar and China to block immediate transmission of the panel’s report and list of individuals to the Security Council (according to confidental reporting from a UN diplomat), behind the scenes the US has been working to revise the list of those to be targeted for sanctions. The most significant effort has been to remove the names of senior government ministers and military officials responsible for ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, including Major General Saleh Abdalla Gosh, head of the National Security and Intelligence Service (the Mukhabarat).
This is particularly significant in light of the decision by the US Central Intelligence Agency to fly Gosh to Washington, DC last April on an executive jet—at Gosh’s insistence (this trip was cleared at very senior levels within the Bush administration White House). Gosh was Osama bin Laden’s “minder” during his time in Sudan (1991-96), the period during which al-Qaeda came to fruition; and the CIA seems convinced that securing terrorist intelligence demands that a key architect of genocide in Darfur be given extraordinary accommodation, not simply in being flown to Washington, but in being spared UN sanctioning for his role in ongoing genocidal destruction in Darfur.
The breathtaking cynicism of these efforts undermines any possible faith in Bush administration efforts to confront Khartoum seriously, and in particular US willingness to exert maximum diplomatic effort to secure deployment of the urgently required peacemaking operation. US officials are authoritatively reported to have been sought deletion of other senior members of the NIF from the sanctions list, including Abdul Rahmin Mohamed Hussein, currently minister for defense and former minister of the interior. Hussein, like Gosh, is certainly among the 51 names referred to the International Criminal Court for its investigation of “crimes against humanity” in Darfur. His role in orchestrating ethnic destruction in Darfur has been authoritatively established by Human Rights Watch (“Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur,” December 2005).
The effect of these US efforts, certainly understood by Khartoum as part of a ghastly quid pro quo, is inevitably to convince the NIF genocidaires that they have nothing to fear from the international community so long as they give the appearance of “cooperating” with the US on terrorism issues (the value of Khartoum’s terrorist intelligence has been seriously questioned by many close and informed observers of the regime).
Such US efforts are consistent with a pattern of behavior that has powerfully encouraged Khartoum to continue its genocidal counter-insurgency in Darfur (see my October 27, 2005 article on changing US policy, The New Republic [on-line], http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w051024&s=reeves102705). Tellingly, for example, the Bush administration State Department granted an exemption from US sanctions this past summer to a US firm, C/R International (headed by former State Department official Robert Cabelly), so that it might engage in public relations work for a regime formally designated by the US as guilty of genocide.
Even more disturbing than this exemption was the decision, made by the State Department last summer, to upgrade Sudan’s status on the issue of slavery and human trafficking–from Tier 3 (the least favorable rating, assigned to governments that fail to meet international standards in responding to human trafficking) to Tier 2 (a category comprising countries, including Switzerland, that have demonstrated a commitment to addressing their problems). As recently as June 2005, John Miller, the senior adviser on human trafficking in the State Department, highlighted Sudan’s well-deserved standing as a Tier 3 country. Shamefully, slaves from the country’s south continue to be held in the north, and Darfur continues to see rampant abductions of women and children.
Nonetheless, President Bush certified in September 2005 (Presidential Determination No. 2005-37) that “on the basis of positive actions undertaken by the Government of Sudan since the end of the 2005 reporting period, the Secretary of State has determined that the Government of Sudan does not yet fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance.”
This incomprehensible determination was justified on the basis of Sudan’s “making significant efforts”; but the State Department also declared that “Sudan will remain on Tier 2 only as long as it continues to act on these commitments.”
What are these commitments? And to what extent have they been honored? Certainly Khartoum has failed to address fully the issue of slavery and the thousands of southern Sudanese who remain enslaved in northern Sudan. “Combating trafficking” seems not to include eliminating the consequences of what was for many years a terrible weapon of war against the people of the south. And in Darfur thousands of women and children, overwhelmingly from the African tribal populations, have and continue to be abducted by the government-supported Janjaweed militia, without any significant action by Khartoum against its key military ally.
The State Department and President Bush also credited a well-coached Khartoum with “the release of an extensive plan of action for eliminating violence against women” (the US itself devised the plan), even as they declared that “we will now look at Government to quickly and effectively implement these measures, and to act to prosecute the perpetrators of sexual violence. We will be monitoring the situation closely, and will reassess the government’s performance for the February 2006 report to the Congress.”
Four months later, and a month before the State Department has promised to report to Congress, there is no evidence on the ground that those actions promised by Khartoum have been undertaken. On the contrary, all evidence, including from highly authoritative sources, suggests that sexual violence remains completely unchecked by Khartoum, and that the “climate of impunity” repeatedly remarked by human rights officials continues. There have been no meaningful prosecutions of those responsible for tens of thousands of rapes and other violent crimes against women in Darfur. The “close monitoring” promised by the State Department has certainly revealed as much. And yet there has been no public criticism of Khartoum’s failures—nor is there any evidence that the State Department is prepared to act on what it knows to be Khartoum’s bad faith.
Collectively, the actions by the Bush administration State Department and the CIA amount to virtually complete acquiescence before what it has described as “genocide” in Darfur. Coupled with the overwhelming diplomatic victory represented by a likely NIF ascension to the chairmanship of the African Union—and the hosting in Khartoum not only of the AU summit, but the Arab League summit in March—US actions signal to Khartoum that it needn’t negotiate in Abuja, needn’t fear robust international humanitarian intervention, needn’t fear sanctions (targeted or otherwise), and needn’t halt what has become genocide by attrition in Darfur.
Assured on these counts, Khartoum will also feel emboldened to undermine further the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with southern Sudan, and to pursue military victory in eastern Sudan. Notably, the UN has determined that Khartoum’s recent military actions in the Hamesh Koreb area of eastern Sudan constitute the first major violation of the CPA cease-fire (Reuters, January 18, 2006). And the NIF proceeds with its successful consolidation of all national power and wealth within what is nominally a “Government of National Unity.” All this occurs as the NIF continues to hold the Darfur investigation by the International Criminal Court in open contempt, refusing publicly to cooperate in any meaningful way, even as those who rule from Khartoum are the most conspicuous targets of investigation.
A ghastlier or more comprehensive triumph is exceedingly difficult to imagine.
CONTINUING GENOCIDE IN DARFUR
International cynicism, expediency, and mendacity make a mockery of Annan’s proposed UN intervening force—and surely he knew or anticipated much of what is now evident, and was likely emboldened in what he knew amounted to mere posturing about robust UN intervention in Darfur. Indeed, even within the UN organization in New York there is strenuous resistance to planning for any UN mission in Darfur. Highly authoritative sources report that within the UN political bureaucracy, and among those responsible for the logistics of any UN operation, obstructionism is the rule of the day—including, unsurprisingly, on the part of US officials working at the UN. The military planning necessary for an operation such as Annan proposed is simply not occurring. While it is unclear whether Annan himself knows the degree of obstructionism, the Office of the Secretariat certainly must.
Even so, despite such international cynicism and callousness, Darfur deserves and requires at least a best effort in chronicling its ongoing genocidal destruction. Khartoum’s Darfur “problem” (in Secretary Rice’s language) must continue to be forced upon international awareness by all means possible, if only for the sake of historical clarity and future genocide prevention. It must not be possible in ten years for those presently in the Bush administration, or the UN, or the EU, or the AU to say they were unaware of the consequences of their actions and their inaction. There must be no means of self-exculpation in the wake of genocide that has been fully evident to all while it was occurring unchecked.
As he has been on many occasions, the UN Secretary-General was obliged by evidence to declare in his December 2005 report to the Security Council that Khartoum has “abjectly failed to fulfill its commitments to identify, neutralize and disarm militia groups outside the formal state security forces under its influence, as demanded by the UN Security Council.” These Arab “militia groups”—the Janjaweed, as Annan formerly called them—continue to attack villages and civilians throughout Darfur, slaughtering and uprooting innocent civilians, and destroying the possibility of agricultural production. Though Annan describes these Janjaweed attacks as a “shocking indication” of Khartoum’s unwillingness to disarm its key military allies, there is nothing any longer shocking or even surprising about such assaults. Indeed, there is a terrible familiarity to Annan’s declaring last month, and in previous months, that,
“reports from the ground confirm the marked deterioration in the situation since September. [ ] Large-scale attacks against civilians continue, women and girls are being raped by armed groups, yet more villages are being burned, and thousands more are being driven from their homes.” (Report to the Security Council, December 23, 2005)
Nor should we be surprised at Annan’s reporting that he continues to receive “numerous reports of the deliberate destruction and burning of vast areas of cultivated land by militia and nomadic groups” (paragraph 23). There is nothing new in Khartoum’s deciding to “seal off the Jebel Moon area in West Darfur from the humanitarian community [ ] in violation of existing agreement concerning humanitarian access” (paragraph 26).
Precisely fifty-five years after the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide took effect, the genocidal actions of the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum are everywhere in evidence, with a terrible familiarity, and nearly complete impunity.
THE LAST WORD
Those fifty African human rights and humanitarian organizations that have publicly expressed their outrage at the decision by the AU to hold its summit in Khartoum, and to confer AU chairmanship on the NIF, deserve to have their voices heard, to be distinguished from the cynicism and thuggishness that will be on display in Khartoum next week:
“‘We wish to express our deep concern with respect to the ongoing plans by the African heads of state and government to confer the AU Presidency for the year 2006-2007 on Sudan, and in particular to President Omar al-Bashir,’ the groups said. ‘We seriously believe that such an action will deeply undermine and erode the credibility of the AU and at the same time compromise the authority of its institutions,’ they said after a weekend meeting in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.” (Reuters, January 16, 2006)
This same sentiment is echoed by the courageous and distinguished Sudanese academic Suliman Baldo of the International Crisis Group:
“‘In its own right, this is an issue. If Khartoum chairs the African Union, this would lead to a total loss of credibility of the AU in the sense that the African Union is involved in political mediation to resolve the conflict in Darfur [,] and Khartoum cannot be chairing the AU because it will be a party to that conflict and also a judge of it,’ said Baldo.” (Voice of America, January 18, 2006)
As Baldo’s fellow Crisis Group analyst and Southern Africa Project Director Peter Kagwanja declared, “The result [of Khartoum’s chairing the AU] would be a terrible setback for the [AU]. Sudan has nothing to export to the continent except chaos” (The Guardian, January 16, 2006).
Indeed, far from the least of the vast human costs of Darfur’s catastrophe is a terribly compromised future for AU peacekeeping in Africa, an obscene squandering of credibility and moral stature that will be destructively in evidence for many years.