Below are two essays in which I attempt to assess the significance of UN Security Council Resolution 1769, authorizing a large “hybrid” African Union/UN force to Darfur:
 “Too little, too late for Darfur: Belated and hedged, the UN’s latest resolution will make little difference to Khartoum’s genocidal ambitions,”
from The Guardian (on-line), August 3, 2007
Tuesday’s unanimous passage of UN security council resolution 1769 has received mixed, if generally positive, reviews. This was inevitable, given the nature of the resolution, which authorises (under chapter seven of the UN charter) some 26,000 civilian police and troops, with a general mandate to protect civilians and humanitarian operations.
Given the dramatic failings of the current African Union (AU) force in Darfur (which will be folded into the new “hybrid” AU/UN force), and the self-serving and expedient posturing of so many international actors, it’s hard to quarrel with what appears to give promise of a significant improvement in human security.
But the shortcomings of the significantly weakened resolution have also been noted: it has no mandate to seize weapons in Darfur that have been introduced in violation of previous security council resolutions; it has no mandate to halt aerial attacks on civilians by Khartoum’s savage military machine; and it was stripped of language that condemned Khartoum for its relentless war of attrition against humanitarian efforts over the past four years, efforts that have undoubtedly cost tens of thousands of lives. Nor is meaningful action contemplated to staunch the flow of ethnic violence into eastern Chad or north-eastern Central African Republic. Moreover, the “hybrid” command-and-control structure seems a formula for confusion and disagreement.
But the biggest criticism of the force, quite rightly, has been the dilatory nature of the time frame for its deployment, and the inevitable delays that can be expected in securing and transporting personnel for the hybrid force.
The so-called “heavy support package” negotiated with Khartoum by the UN and the AU is essentially a means of providing the logistics and communications and technical resources for the large follow-on force. The “heavy support package” is far from being ready, or having committed support.
And then there is the key question of who will actually provide the personnel for the hybrid force, especially given Khartoum’s demand that it be essentially African in makeup. The AU is struggling to find 8,000 troops for Somalia, and has fallen behind at every stage of deployment of its evolving mission in Darfur. To be sure, there are already some volunteers, from Africa and elsewhere; but the numbers behind the offers suggest how hard it will be to reach anything like 26,000 troops and civilian police.
Nigeria may send another 700 troops, Senegal another 400 troops and police, Malawi a battalion; but beyond this, there have been only unspecific, and not especially promising, offers from Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Cameroon. Other offers are expected, but the requisite numbers are not in evidence, especially in the key area of civilian police, where the AU has been weakest on the ground in Darfur.
Non-African countries have also made commitments, though the number of countries declaring they will not send troops (the US, the UK, Canada, Germany) should give pause. France, the Netherlands, and Denmark will contribute, though numbers have not been announced and are likely to be in the low hundreds; Sweden and Norway are considering sending a joint force (Norway has indicated it could deploy 200 engineers and military logistics personnel by the end of the year); Indonesia has said it will contribute between 100 and 150 civilian police.
A total of 26,000 troops and police seems a very long way off, particularly if the essentially “African character” of the mission is to be preserved. And this is what Khartoum counts on. For the regime quite understands these difficulties, as well as the massive logistical challenges to deployment in Darfur.
And it has learned over the past three years just how easy it is to undermine the effectiveness of AU forces: denying (or commandeering) aviation fuel, imposing arbitrary curfews, demanding pilot and aircraft recertification in ways designed to diminish the number of aerial patrols, and impeding investigations of atrocity crimes.
With such clear ambitions on Khartoum’s part, the most likely scenario for the AU/UN hybrid is a painfully slow deployment of force elements, along with insufficiently timely provision of logistics, aviation and transport resources, and communications capacity.
And this is so without Khartoum playing its trump card: its insistence that it be part of a tripartite committee (along with the AU and UN) that determines the appropriateness of given deployments. This card is unlikely to be played early on, but will certainly become significant if the hybrid force threatens to become the dominant source of authority in Darfur.
Presently, chaos reigns supreme in Darfur, and this debilitating insecurity chiefly threatens the acutely vulnerable African tribal populations (though Arab groups are increasingly victims of violence), as well as humanitarian relief workers and their operations, on which some 4.7 million people in Darfur and eastern Chad now depend.
Between the regime’s own military attacks – including indiscriminate aerial assaults on civilians – the ongoing predations of the brutal Janjaweed militia, the internecine violence that has emerged from splits within the rebel ranks, and opportunistic banditry, Khartoum’s earlier and more conspicuously genocidal violence has led to a grim “genocide by attrition.”
For more than four years, Khartoum has been guilty of “deliberately inflicting [on the African tribal groups in Darfur] conditions of life calculated to bring about [their] physical destruction in whole or in part” – a key term of reference in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This is how genocide in Darfur is now sustained.
We also have explicit documentation of efforts to “change the demography of Darfur and empty it of African tribes.” This particular directive was sent to no fewer than three of Khartoum’s ruthlessly efficient “intelligence services.” And we should be aware that Khartoum’s effort to “change the demography” of Darfur continues, despite the passage of resolution 1679.
A recent internal UN report, leaked to The Independent, finds that Arabs from Chad and Niger are entering Darfur in “unprecedented” numbers. As many as 30,000 ethnic Arabs have entered in the last two months, bringing their flocks and belongings, and have been greeted with Sudanese identity cards, even citizenship. They are, predictably, settling on the lands of those African tribal groups that have been displaced (total displacement is now in the range of 2.5 million, more than a third the prewar population of Darfur). Such resettlement could spark extremely dangerous violence as people seek to return to their former lands and villages.
All of this Khartoum is orchestrating, as it will orchestrate conditions ensuring that violence threatens any deploying hybrid force: not by its regular forces, but by its various military proxies. Even as the rebel groups now are most responsible for attacks on AU forces (more than 15 AU soldiers have been killed), this will shift with a significant UN presence in the new force. Khartoum will attempt in various ways to put these new forces on the defensive and keep them hunkered down in their barracks.
The view from Khartoum, then, is that while resolution 1769 is thoroughly unwelcome, it is so belated, so hedged and weakened – particularly in having no chapter seven authority to seize illegal arms – and so unlikely to find the resources, human or material, that it will make little difference to the regime’s genocidal ambitions. Indeed, a year from now, Khartoum may welcome the force as a means of consolidating demographic changes and the fundamental shifts in economic ownership throughout Darfur.
What remains of the rebel groups will be happily left to confront the hybrid force. Darfur and its troublesome African populations will no longer pose a threat to the regime’s virtual monopoly on national wealth and power. Indeed, the greatest concern Khartoum now perceives is the expanding violence against and among Arab groups, and the move by some Janjaweed forces to switch sides, having been used and abandoned by the regime.
This is no argument against urgent deployment of 1769 as far as is practicable. Indeed, there should be an emphasis on early deployment of civilian police elements contemplated in the resolution – with adequate military protection – particularly to the most unstable camps, such as the enormous Gereida camp in south Darfur or the camps in the Tawilla and Kutum areas of north Darfur, or outside el-Geneina in western Darfur. Key civilian interlocutors among camps leaders and village sheiks should be identified on both sides of the ethnic divide. The command structure should be clarified as much as possible, and the specific tasks to be undertaken under the chapter seven mandate should be decisively identified for all troops.
But even such an effort will not disturb Khartoum’s conviction that it can prevail – not without much greater international will and commitment than is presently in evidence. Belated passage of resolution 1769 is a start, but only just.
[Eric Reeves is author of “A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide”]
 “Unresolved: China’s Feigned Support for Darfur,” from The New Republic (on-line), August 2, 2007
News reports have been busy celebrating Monday’s passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1769, authorizing the deployment of a “hybrid” U.N./African Union force to the Darfur region of western Sudan. Particular note has been made of the Chapter 7 mandate for parts of the mission, an essential provision that gives this hybrid force the authority to intervene militarily, rather than just sit back and observe. On these points, the resolution appears to echo Resolution 1706, which the Security Council passed last August. That resolution similarly authorized a large and robust–if “unhybridized”–U.N. peacekeeping operation for Darfur under Chapter 7 authority.
So what has changed? Last year, China abstained from voting on the resolution, signaling to the Islamist regime in Khartoum that it could resist its implementation without fear of isolation. As a result, within weeks of the resolution’s passage, the U.N. Secretariat and its special representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, capitulated, arguing instead for more assistance to the hopelessly inadequate African Union force. This year, by contrast, the vote for Resolution 1769 was unanimous. In the end, even China came on board.
But this should not be counted as a decisive or unqualified victory for Darfur advocates. Winning China’s support came at a significant price. Khartoum’s staunchest ally voted for the resolution only after it had helped to secure the elimination of key provisions.
First, the hybrid force will have no authority to seize weapons from belligerents. This will make it impossible to control the brutal Janjaweed militia or other armed elements. Second, the resolution does not condemn Khartoum for its well-documented obstruction, harassment, and abuse of humanitarian workers and operations over the past four years. And third, there is no provision for sanctioning the Khartoum regime in the highly likely event of non-compliance, making the entire document something of an empty threat.
But China isn’t the only one to blame for the watered-down resolution. Last month, the African Union demanded changes in the terms of reference for the hybrid force. And since the AU will be critical in securing the manpower for the mission–which Khartoum still insists must be essentially African in character–the U.N. chose to accept the changes, including ambiguous language for command-and-control. As a result there will constantly be the potential for tension between the African commander on ground and the “control structures” of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York.
And then, some weaknesses in the current resolution are simply inexplicable. No mention is made, for example, of the destabilizing ethnic violence that has spread from Darfur into eastern Chad and northeastern Central African Republic. Resolution 1706 specified an active monitoring of Darfur’s borders with these two poor and weak countries; 1769 merely exhorts the governments of Chad and Sudan to abide by an absurd agreement cobbled together in Tripoli in early 2006 that merely urges respect for an unmonitored “cease-fire.” But this is short-sighted in the extreme. Perhaps a mooted EU force will indeed be mustered for eastern Chad, but both sides of this volatile border need effective monitoring.
Resolution 1769 also contains no provisions for halting aerial assaults by Khartoum’s helicopter gunships and Antonov bombers. While an Iraq-style “no fly zone” is certainly militarily impracticable, a force on the ground should have the authority to disable those aircraft implicated in attacks on civilians or found to be in violation of any cease-fire agreement. Monitoring and enforcing a ban on offensive military flights from the ground in Darfur would be militarily straightforward and would not risk instigating reprisals by Khartoum, as an aerial enforcement of a no fly zone certainly would.
Most frustrating, however, is the fact that what little good may result from Resolution 1769 won’t come quickly. The resolution’s time frame speaks of an “initial operational capability for the headquarters” by October 2007. But this will do nothing to protect people. The resolution then sets a December 31, 2007 deadline for the transfer of authority from the African Union to the AU/UN hybrid. But such transfer of authority will likely be merely symbolic, with little significant new deployment of security personnel.
Of even greater concern is the inability of the African Union to solicit enough trained troops and civilian police for the hybrid force, or the technical personnel for the antecedent stage of deployment known as “the heavy support package.”
This package is supposed to include the critical contingent of logisticians, communications and engineering personnel, and other technical experts required to make possible deployment of the large follow-on hybrid force. Given the heavy footprint of such a large force in an extremely arid land, without infrastructure, and far from any navigable body of water, this preparation is essential. But it hasn’t deployed. Indeed it hasn’t been fully assembled or committed to. And if Khartoum cleaves to its insistence that both the heavy support package and the hybrid force be “predominantly African in character,” progress toward meaningful deployment will be even slower, stretching well into 2008.
Given the urgency of the security crisis on the ground, the UN should reconsider its timetable and deployment strategy, and move as rapidly as possible to send additional civilian police–with all necessary military protection–to the most insecure areas of Darfur: the vast camp at Gereida in South Darfur, where 130,000 people are presently served only by the International Committee of the Red Cross because of insecurity; the highly endangered camps near Tawilla and Kutum in North Darfur; the most unstable of the vast camps around the three Darfur state capitals. Of course trained civilian police are in short supply within the AU, which augurs poorly for a “predominantly African character” to the 3,772 civilian police authorized by Resolution 1769–as well as the 19 “formed police units” (another 2,800 personnel). Non-African civilian police must be sought on an urgent basis, and African candidates trained on an emergency basis.
Protection for Darfuris simply can’t wait for the dilatory time-frame of Resolution 1769. If those who voted for this resolution are serious, Khartoum should be tested early and often on its willingness to accept authorized personnel. This will entail continual pressure on China, which surely hopes that it won’t be required to do more that might offend Khartoum’s gnocidaires or risk its immense stake in Sudan’s large petroleum sector. But unless advocacy pressure remains high, and international actors of consequence stay resolutely engaged with Beijing, we may be sure that Khartoum will construe the current U.N. resolution as no more than yet another small hurdle to the success of a grim genocide by attrition. It is not enough for China’s strongmen to have voted for this resolution out of political expediency: They must be held responsible for its urgent implementation. The people of Darfur can’t afford more delays.
[Eric Reeves is a professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and has written extensively on Sudan.]