Do not let down the victims of Darfur

Testimony at the UN

Speech before UN Human Rights Council resumed 6th Session
14 December 2007

Delivered by Toby Frankestein, UN Watch Fellow

Thank you, Mr. President,

We meet today to consider a question that many citizens around the world would find difficult to comprehend: whether to keep — or eliminate — the independent expert who reports on human rights abuses in Sudan. From Delhi to Dublin, people will wonder: why are so many members states of the UN’s highest human rights body trying to do away with scrutiny of Sudan’s atrocities in Darfur?

This is especially difficult to understand given that this Council has for the past week heard reports from the UN group of experts on Darfur, and from the Special Rapporteur on Sudan, Ms. Sima Sumar, confirming that Sudan continues to commit gross abuses in Darfur.

The group of experts noted that Sudan’s claims to have made positive progress on the ground is contradicted by all of the information coming from UN and other relevant sources.

They found that Sudan is failing to implement basic recommendations. They called on Sudan to end all acts of violence against civilians, women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and internally displaced persons, as well as human rights defenders and humanitarian workers.

Ms. Sumar found similar conclusions, and reported on how Sudan has promoted a climate of impunity.

Faced with this testimony of the crimes in Darfur, why did Egypt on behalf of the African Group say that there is an “improving situation in Darfur,” and call for eliminating some or all of the experts?

Why did Algeria call on the Council to “bring the work of the group of experts to an end”?

Mr. President, all of this comes in the context of a total assault on the need for any country monitors.

“My delegation is against country mandates,” said Libya on June 12.

“All country rapporteurs should be dropped,” said the Palestinian representative on Mar. 12.

“Shed the institution of country-specific procedures,” said Russia on Oct. 3, 2006.

“Terminate all country mandates,” said South Africa, on June 12.

“Country mandates…should not be part of the agenda,” said Venezuela, on June 12.

“Remove them,” said Iran, on Oct. 3, 2006.

Mr. President,

The reform of this Council as proposed by Kofi Annan in March 2005 was supposed to strengthen human rights scrutiny. And yet members of the Council are now seeking to eliminate the country monitors who report on Sudan and other situations. They eliminated the experts on Cuba and Belarus, failing the human rights victims of those countries.

UN Watch urges the Council not to also let down the victims of Darfur. Thank you.


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