PRESS RELEASE

Geneva, December 13, 2006  — UN Watch today expressed its disappointment at the weak resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council at the close of its special session on Darfur, Sudan.  The resolution merely expresses “concern regarding the seriousness of the human rights and humanitarian situation in Darfur,” urges all parties to sign and implement the Darfur Peace Agreement, and “welcomes” the Sudanese government’s “cooperation.”

 

In a statement delivered on behalf of 31 NGOs at the session, UN Watch had urged the Council to adopt a strong resolution holding the government of Sudan to its obligation to protect the people of Darfur and insisting that it accept the UN peacekeeping force mandated by the Security Council last August, which Khartoum has repeatedly refused. [Read full text of statement below.]

 

“Today’s resolution not only does not condemn the government of Sudan, or any other party to the Darfur conflict, for the ongoing, egregious human rights violations there, it does not even include the word ‘violation,’ ” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.  “This soft approach confirms the double standard in the Council’s work: Israel is repeatedly and harshly condemned, while other countries are treated with kid gloves.”  Israel is the only country that the Council has censured for human rights violations in its six months of existence. To date, the Council has passed eight condemnatory resolutions and held three special sessions against the Jewish state.

 

The immediate result of today’s resolution will be the dispatch of an assessment mission to Darfur but, according to Neuer, “any concrete Council action to try to improve the situation there is still a long way off.”  The mission was deemed necessary because Sudan and its allies in the Council have insisted that widespread reports of the dire crisis in Darfur—by UN officials, humanitarian and human rights organizations, and the media—are “exaggerated” and based on “misinformation.” [Read more on Sudan’s lies to the Council.]

 

The mission will consist of “five highly qualified persons to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council following consultation with the members of the Council,” as well as the Council’s independent expert (“special rapporteur”) on Sudan.   “Although it remains to be seen who will be chosen, this compromise seems better than the African Group’s initial proposal that the mission should be carried out by Human Rights Council members themselves,” commented Neuer.

 

The joint NGO statement also expresed its hope that today’s special session “is just the beginning of the Council’s active engagement, not only on Darfur, but on all major human rights crises worldwide.”  The Council’s obsessive focus on Israel, at the expense of the world’s worst human rights crises, has been widely criticized, not only by human rights groups, but also by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.  At the Council’s last session, UN Watch urged the body to turn its attention to   19 of the world’s most egregious situations, including those of Burma, Cuba, North Korea, and Zimbabwe.

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Full Text of Today’s Statement:

HRC 4th Special Session
The Human Rights Situation in Darfur
December 13, 2006
Delivered  by Leon Saltiel of UN Watch

Thank you, Mr. President.

This is a joint statement on behalf of UN Watch, Freedom House, the Transnational Radical Party, and 28 other NGOs from around the world.

We welcome this special session and its support by so many Council members.  The human rights and humanitarian situation in Darfur is dire, and it merits this body’s serious and sustained attention.

We urge the Council to adopt a strong resolution.  This Council cannot send peacekeepers, but it can, and should, encourage the Sudanese Government to cooperate with the force the Security Council has authorized.  This Council also should remind the Government of Sudan that, although not the only party to the conflict, it has the primary responsibility to protect its population.

Since 2003, Darfur has been rife with death, destruction, and suffering.  Hundreds of thousands of victims have been raped, tortured, murdered.  Villages and livelihoods have been destroyed.  Millions are displaced.  Despite the signing of an agreement in May, these atrocities have not only continued, but escalated.

These facts have been amply documented by the Special Rapporteur on Sudan, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and many others.  Nevertheless, Sudan and several other delegations have told this Council that these reports are based on misinformation.

In light of these claims, the draft resolutions rightly emphasize the Council’s need for “clear, accurate, and substantiated information” on the situation in Darfur.  We therefore support the immediate dispatch of an assessment mission by the Special Rapporteur, and we urge the Government of Sudan to cooperate fully with that mission.

We thank Secretary-General Annan for his leadership in urging the Council to convene this special session and to begin to address gross violations around the globe.  We hope that this session is just the beginning of the Council’s active engagement, not only on Darfur, but on all major human rights crises worldwide.

Thank you.

Signatories:

UN Watch
Freedom House
The Transnational Radical Party
International Multiracial Shared Cultural Organization
France Libertés
Hope for Africa International
B’nai B’rith International
Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations (C.B.J.O.)
International Federation of Social Workers
Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas
European Union of Jewish Students
Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme
Women Environmental Program (WEP)
Coordination Française pour le Lobby Européen des Femmes (C.L.E.F.)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
International Association for Religious Freedom
3 HO Foundation (Happy, Healthy, Holy Foundation)
Liberal International
Women’s Federation for World Peace International
Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisemitisme (LICRA)
International Alliance of Women
World Jewish Congress
Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic
International Federation of University Women
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
International Volunteerism Organization for Women Education and Development
Women’s International Zionist Organization
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
International Council of Jewish Women
American Psychological Association
International Council of Psychologists

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