New Body’s Credibility Is At Stake
Geneva, March 16, 2007 — UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer delivered the following statement today before the plenary of the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva:
The Darfur Mission asks the council to recognize what every ordinary citizen already knows: that Sudan bears responsibility for innocents being killed and driven from their homes, villages destroyed, and rape used as a weapon on a massive scale.
The report urges condemnation of Sudan for these war crimes, and a monitoring mechanism to ensure its implementation of international obligations. It pleads for humanitarian assistance, the safe return of refugees and victim compensation, and publishing a list of companies whose dealings enable the abuses to continue.
The world now looks to Geneva, to this assembly. The credibility of this Council is at stake. Will it do its duty and implement this report?
Several statements this morning were encouraging and showed compassion for Darfur’s victims, including those by Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Zambia, Canada, the EU, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.
However, we are deeply disappointed by the many statements challenging the legitimacy of the mission and treating its work as a “non-report,” expressed by Sudan, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, and others. UN Watch calls on these parties to recognize that this Mission and report are eminently credible, and urges them not to ignore the following basic facts:
- First, that the mandate of this Mission respected the principles of due process. It did not prejudge. It did not presume violations. The Mission was instructed “to assess the human rights situation in Darfur and the needs of the Sudan in this regard.” Unlike the three Council missions this year against Israel, this one did not begin backwards, by starting with the verdict and then seeking facts to support it. It proceeded forwards, facts first.
- Second, that the mandate respected the principles of objectivity and non-selectivity. Unlike the inquiries against Israel, this one was not limited to examining the violations of only one actor in the region of concern. Its scope covered the actions of all parties. Indeed, the team noted violations on all sides.
- Third, that Sudan participated in the mandate’s negotiation, together with the groups of which it is a member. This privilege was not afforded to Israel in the council’s previous special sessions. Instead Sudan was given fair treatment, even deference. The team was instructed to consult with the Khartoum government, and it repeatedly attempted to do so. Sudan promised cooperation, and was even praised for cooperation in the resolution. But it has not cooperated.
- Fourth, that Sudan and its allies participated in negotiating the team’s composition. As a result, unlike the Council missions on Israel, this one saw the appointment of ambassadors from governments who often voted with the country concerned, one of whom had defended and praised Sudan at the December session.
- Fifth, that Sudan and its allies joined consensus on the resolution creating the mission. Israel was never consulted or engaged on the special sessions condemning it and these texts were opposed by the major democracies.
The government of Sudan and its supporters have no claim against this mandate or this team. It has been judged by an eminently fair proceeding, and it must respect that judgment.