Eric Reeves, 31 July 2014
Appendix One: Report from Human Rights Watch (25 June 2014)
UN urged to probe alleged cover-ups and manipulations by its mission in Darfur; Strengthen Peacekeeping Mission’s Rights Reporting, Civilian Protection (New York, 25 June 2014)
The United Nations secretary-general should investigate alleged cover-ups and manipulation of human rights reporting by the African Union/UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Human Rights Watch said today. On June 17, 2014, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in her report to the UN Security Council, called for a “thorough, independent and public inquiry” into the alleged reporting problems.
In April, Foreign Policy published allegations based on internal reports leaked by the peacekeeping operation’s former spokeswoman, Aicha al Basri, that the mission’s leadership – reluctant to cast blame on the Sudanese government – had failed to accurately report on crimes committed by government forces. These included indiscriminate aerial bombing that killed civilians, and attacks on peacekeepers, such as the attack at Muhajeriya in South Darfur in April 2013 that killed a peacekeeper and injured two others. “Civilians in Darfur are being killed, and the allegations that peacekeepers looked the other way are devastating,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The peacekeepers are under a lot of pressure and in a dangerous situation in Darfur, but the Security Council should conduct an independent inquiry into whether rights reports about Darfur have been suppressed or manipulated, and take appropriate action.”
The Security Council, when it renews the operation’s mandate for a seventh year in August 2014, should require the peacekeeping mission to regularly and publicly release its human rights reports, Human Rights Watch said. The Darfur conflict, now in its 11th year, has intensified over the last year-and-a-half for various reasons, including widening conflict between government and rebel groups across the country, and economic drivers. There have been repeated government attacks on villages resulting in civilian deaths and injuries, large-scale destruction of civilian property, looting of livestock, and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. The government has been bombing populated areas, as recently as June 9 based on media reports, and has deployed the so-called Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a pro-government paramilitary force, to attack dozens of villages since February this year. Government authorities have also failed to stop large-scale inter-communal conflict in which government forces clearly participated to support one side.
Among the allegations by al Basri are that the peacekeeping unit failed to report a government bombing campaign in North Darfur in March 2013 to the UN security council, or make clear the government’s role in inter-communal conflicts, including the 2012-2013 conflict at a gold mine at Jebel Amer in which hundreds were killed and more than one hundred thousand people were forced to flee their home. Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the ICC, which in 2005 opened an investigation into crimes committed in Darfur, supported an independent investigation into the former spokeswomen’s allegations. Several Security Council members have endorsed the call.
These allegations followed an African Union and UN review of the peacekeeping operation that noted the need to increase the mission’s effectiveness in the context of the ongoing conflict in Darfur. The review established new priorities for the mission focusing on mediation between the government and rebels, protection of civilians and delivery of humanitarian aid, and resolving inter-communal disputes. The review did not, however, call for any improvements in human rights reporting, or make recommendations to improve accountability for attacks on civilians and peacekeepers, Human Rights Watch said.
The peacekeeping force has long been criticized for failing to protect civilians or report publicly on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Darfur by parties to the conflict, including the government of Sudan. Human Rights Watch and others have documented numerous instances in which peacekeepers did not reach locations where attacks occurred, either because of government restrictions or failing to press hard enough, undermining not just the mission’s ability to protect civilians, but also to report accurately on abuses.
The Sudanese government’s restrictions and chronic security threats to the peacekeepers have hampered the mission’s effectiveness. Attacks on UNAMID forces have killed 58 peacekeepers since 2008, one of the highest fatality rates in UN history, while government restrictions on travel have blocked many planned missions. Despite these restrictions, the peacekeepers have unparalleled access to current, accurate information on developments in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said.
However, public reporting about human rights abuses against civilians, a central aspect of UN work in Darfur since 2004, has all but ceased. The last public human rights division report on Darfur, by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was issued in January 2009. The periodic reports by the peacekeeping force to the UN secretary-general provide an overview of the situation. However, they usually contain only a few paragraphs on human rights cases, even though the peacekeepers have more than 50 human rights officers on the ground.
“The UN secretary-general has pledged to place ‘Rights up Front,’ and the Darfur mission is now a test case for that approach,” Bekele said. “The conflict and abuses are intensifying in Darfur, making accurate, timely public reporting on human rights abuses more important than ever.
Appendix Two: A Bibliography of UNAMID Failure
These are what I believe to be the most telling of reports I have authored from 2007 to the present about UNAMID’s failure; many more may be found at www.sudanreeves.org, searching for “UNAMID”; also noted are a recent investigative report on UNAMID by Foreign Policy and a Radio France Internationale interview with former UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri
• RESPONDING TO THE FAILURE OF UNAMID, THE “UN/AFRICAN UNION MISSION IN DARFUR” | www.SudanReeves.org | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1nj | The United Nations, the African Union, and the international community as a whole have acquiesced in this failure, at the cost of unfathomable suffering and destruction among the people of Darfur. Photographs and a forthcoming analysis are part of a reckoning.
• “They Just Stood Watching”: After the Darfur genocide, the United Nations sent in 20,000 peacekeepers with a single mission — to protect the region’s civilians. A Foreign Policy investigation details why they failed, and what the UN knew about it. Column Lynch, Foreign Policy, April 7, 2014 | http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/04/07/special_report_darfur_united_nations_peacekeeping_investigation
• Darfur: An inside look at massive, deliberate UN misrepresentation of human suffering and destruction, January 24, 2014: A Radio France Internationale interview with former UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri at | https://soundcloud.com/radiofranceinternationale/whistleblower-says-un-under
• “Radio Dabanga: The Voice of Truth Amidst a Sea of UN Mendacity,” Sudan Tribune, 14 December 2013 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49178
• “‘They Bombed Everything that Moved’: Aerial military attacks on civilians and humanitarians in Sudan and South Sudan, 1999 – 2012,” June 5, 2012, with substantial updates: Sudan Tribune | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article42909 and www.sudanbombing.org
• “Pretending Darfur Isn’t: the world continues to avert its eyes from accelerating human suffering and destruction,” Sudan Tribune, 2 June 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51213
• “Darfur: A Bibliography of Violence and International Indifference,” Sudan Tribune, 13 April 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50631
• “Khartoum: A criminal regime in its death throes lashes out with more violence,” Sudan Tribune, 14 March 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50293
• “Janjaweed in Darfur Reconstituted as the ‘Rapid Response Force,’” Sudan Tribune, 1 March 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50134
• “Radio Dabanga: The Voice of Truth Amidst a Sea of UN Mendacity,” Sudan Tribune, 15 December 2013 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?iframe&page=imprimable&id_article=49178
• “Events in Darfur rapidly spiraling out of control,” Sudan Tribune, 29 August 2013 http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47836
• “The Killing of Seven UNAMID Peacekeeping Personnel in Darfur: a terrible tragedy, a clear warning,” 15 July 2013 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-14u
• “Civilians in Sudan’s Darfur region face wholesale destruction,” The Washington Post, July 28, 2013 (Sunday) | http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/civilians-in-sudans-darfur-region-face-wholesale-destruction/2013/07/26/04953b82-ed63-11e2-9008-61e94a7ea20d_story.html
• “Killing UN Peacekeepers: A Ruthless Proclivity of Khartoum’s SAF, Militia Proxies,” Sudan Tribune, 9 May 2013 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46513
• “Growing Violence in Darfur Deserves Honesty Reporting, Not More Flatulent UN Nonsense,” 12 December 2012 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-Wv
• “Darfur: Peacekeeping and Atrocity Crimes Don’t Mix,” The Enough Project Blog, 21 November 2012 | http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/darfur-peacekeeping-and-atrocity-crimes-dont-mix
• “Violence in Hashaba, North Darfur: A brutal portent, another UN disgrace,” Sudan Tribune, 30 October 2012 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article44379
• “UN failure and mendacity culminate in an avalanche of violence in Darfur,” Sudan Tribune, 12 August 2012 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article43567
• “Human security in Darfur enters free-fall,” Sudan Tribune, 20 March 2012 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45896
• “UNAMID Chief Attends Celebration Hosted by Top Janjaweed Leader,” The Enough Project Blog, 1 February 2012 | http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/un-chief-darfur-attends-celebration-hosted-top-janjaweed-leader
• “The avalanche of violence continues to accelerate in Darfur,” Sudan Tribune, 11 October 2012| http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article44181
• “What We Learn of UNAMID from the September 2010 Tabarat Massacre,” September 18, 2011 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-Gi
• “UNAMID’s Man in Darfur: The Expedient Mendacity of Ibrahim Gambari,” 9 September 2011 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-Gp
• “Darkness Visible: The UN Looks at Darfur But Refuses to See,” Dissent Magazine, 26 October 2010 | http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/darkness-visible-the-un-looks-at-darfur-but-refuses-to-see
• “Accommodating Genocide: International Response to Khartoum’s ‘New Strategy for Darfur,’” Dissent Magazine, 8 October 2010 | http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/accommodating-genocide-the-international-response-to-khartoums-new-strategy-for-darfur
• “UN Collaboration in the Silencing of Darfur,” Dissent Magazine, Dissent Magazine, 5September 2010 | http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/un-collaboration-in-the-silencing-of-darfur
• “Who Speaks for the UN on Darfur: The Role of Nigeria’s Ibrahim Gambari,” Dissent Magazine, 25 August 2010 | http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/who-speaks-for-the-un-on-darfur-the-role-of-nigerias-ibrahim-gambari
• QUANTIFYING GENOCIDE: Darfur Mortality Update, August 6, 2010,” Sudan Tribune, 6 August 2010 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article35911
• “Shake Hands with the Devil: UNAMID Head Attends al-Bashir Inauguration,” The Enough Project Blog, 27 May 2010 | http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/shake-hands-devil-un-attends-al-bashir-inauguration
• “Civilians at Risk: Human Security and Humanitarian Aid in Darfur,” Sudan Tribune, 17 January 2010 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article33821
• “Redefining Darfur’s agony: A shameless betrayal,” Sudan Tribune, 26 September 2009 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article32602
• “The Qatar ‘Peace Process’: Less Than Meets the Eye,” Sudan Tribune, 9 February 2009 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article30134
• “Darfur Enters the Abyss: Khartoum Renews Massive Assaults on Civilians,” Sudan Tribune,December 2, 2008 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article25943
• “‘Chaos by Design’: Khartoum’s Patterns of Violence in Darfur, 2008,” 13 September 2008 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-zS
• “Attack on UNAMID Forces in Darfur: The Khartoum Regime is Responsible,” 12 July 2008 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-zN
• “Genocide by Attrition in Sudan,“ The Washington Post (Sunday), April 6, 2008| http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/04/AR2008040403087.html
• “Khartoum’s Military Forces Deliberately Attack a UNAMID Convoy,” Sudan Tribune, 14 January 2008 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article25579
• “What Alternative to UNAMID Will Provide Security for Darfur?” (in two parts) 22 December 2007 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-zs
Appendix Three: The precedent for failure in the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS)
In assessing the ability of AMIS and subsequently UNAMID to provide adequate protection for millions of threatened civilians, it is worth recalling the shameful bluster that came from a number of African leaders. Jean-Baptiste Natama, a senior AU political official, declared:
“If the situation is getting worse, we are not going to pack our luggage and leave Darfur…. We are going to have a robust mandate to make sure we are not here for nothing. We should be able to bring peace, or impose peace.” (New York Times, November 29, 2004; cited in the Brookings/Bern University report noted below, page 16)
“We are going to have a robust mandate”; “we should be able to bring peace, or impose peace.” The utter failure of the AU to secure a “robust mandate” from Khartoum was the most consequential feature of what remained a “monitoring” rather than protection mission. Tragically, the manifest inability either to “bring” or “impose” peace in Darfur was a reality that the AU was perversely unwilling to acknowledge—a prideful reticence that betrayed the people of Darfur in deepest consequence. The Refugees International report, also cited below, notes that “as South Africa’s President Thabo Mkeki explained, ‘We have not asked for anybody outside of the African continent to deploy troops in Darfur. It’s an African responsibility, and we can do it’” (page 1). Such mindless arrogance has cost countless lives and untold suffering. Mbeki would go on to fail just as mindlessly in his diplomatic efforts to halt violence in Darfur.
• Refugees International, “No Power to Protect: The African Union Mission in Sudan” (November 2005 | http://www.refugeesinternational.org/content/publication). This report makes what has always been the most essential point on its opening page: “Darfur civilians have only the African Union Mission in Sudan to protect them right now; this is a choice that has been made by the entire international community” (page i).
• Report from the Brookings Institution/Bern University, “The Protecting of Two Million Internally Displaced: The Successes and Shortcomings of the African Union in Darfur,” November 2005 | http://www.brookings.edu/fp/projects/idp/200511_au_darfur.pdf
• International Crisis Group, “The AU’s Mission in Darfur: Bridging the Gaps” (6 July 2005)
• Eric Reeves, “Ghosts of Rwanda: The Failure of the African Union in Darfur: An international abandonment of the “Responsibility to Protect” (Part 1 of 2), Sudan Tribune, 13 November 2005 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article12560 (Part 2, Sudan Tribune, November 20, 2005 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article12663)