U.N. council OKs Sudan resolution

Sanctions are threatened

genocide probe is set up

September 19, 2004|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution on Sudan yesterday threatening sanctions against the country's leaders and oil industry if the government fails to curb ethnic violence. The measure also sets up an inquiry into whether the violence constitutes genocide.

The vote on the 15-member panel was 11-0, with Algeria, China, Pakistan and Russia abstaining.

The measure calls on Secretary-General Kofi Annan to create an international commission to determine whether the campaign by marauding Arab militias against the villagers of Darfur, in western Sudan, has reached the level of genocide.

The militias, known as Janjaweed and equipped by the government, are accused of killing up to 50,000 residents of Darfur, raping women and girls, destroying crops, polluting water supplies, and forcing 1.2 million people from their land.

In an unaccustomed intervention into a Security Council debate, Annan said Thursday that he had already thought of people to recommend for service on the genocide commission.

The United States officially labeled the violence in Darfur genocide recently, and the resolution approved yesterday represents the first time that the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide has been formally invoked.

The resolution also reinforces the role of the 53-member African Union in taking the lead in calming the situation in Darfur, and it calls on other nations and the government of Sudan to help the union expand its presence there. Jan Pronk, the U.N. representative in Sudan, has said he believes a force of 5,000 monitors and troops is necessary.

In four revisions over the past 10 days, the American drafters of the resolution addressed objections from countries by making the sanction threat more conditional and adding language acknowledging steps the Sudanese government had taken to ease restrictions on relief workers and broaden cooperation with U.N. aid workers.

As approved, the resolution says the Security Council "shall consider" action rather than immediately take action on sanctions.

John C. Danforth, the U.S. ambassador, told the council that the United States had adjusted the language to reflect the feelings of some delegations that Sudan had met some of its commitments but that the country had not abandoned its belief that strong measures were imperative.

"No one should be under the slightest illusion as to why the government of Sudan has met even this commitment," he said. "It did so because of the intense pressure from the international community, and it did so with great reluctance and with long delays that thwarted an early effective humanitarian response."

Speaking after the vote, the ambassadors of the four abstaining countries said they had withheld support from the resolution because they feared that imposing sanctions could provoke the Sudanese government to withdraw the cooperation it had offered thus far.

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