State Department officials’ leadership needed to guide Obama administration’s stalled policy on Sudan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following this month’s flawed national elections in Sudan, a group of anti-genocide and human rights organizations is calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to increase their oversight of the faltering U.S. policy on Sudan. The organizations are making the call as part of the Sudan Now campaign, which is running a series of print ads beginning today in the Washington Post and Washington Express, and in Politico on Wednesday. Sudan Now is concerned that the current implementation of the six-month-old U.S. policy on Sudan has not addressed a number of troubling developments, including clear indications that the national election held earlier this month was neither free nor fair, ongoing government attacks in recent months have killed hundreds and displaced thousands, and ongoing obstruction by the Government of Sudan in access for aid workers and UN investigators to Darfur. Meanwhile, the country faces a vote for southern independence in January 2011—a possible trigger to a return to civil war.
“Sudan is entering into a critical period, with the aftermath of the elections still upon us and a referendum on southern Sudan’s independence immediately ahead. Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice need to get personally engaged if the United States wants to avoid a return to widespread bloodshed in Sudan,” said Randy Newcomb, president and CEO of Humanity United. “Only high-level engagement can ensure that the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement is fully implemented and the international community acts together to ensure peace in Africa’s largest nation. The administration laid out a promising policy last year—it is time for President Obama and his top advisers to fully implement it.”
The Obama administration’s Sudan policy, announced in October 2009, clearly stated that tough benchmarks would be applied to Sudan, and that a committee of deputies from various cabinet agencies would assess progress “based on verifiable changes in conditions on the ground.” However, neither the administration nor the deputies’ review process have addressed the many disturbing developments on the ground:
* National elections that were neither free nor fair.
* A continuing offensive in Jebel Marra in Darfur that has killed hundreds and displaced thousands, and continued inability for relief organizations to access this area.
* Ongoing violence and clashes in South Sudan that have claimed more than 2,000 lives in the last year and driven a quarter-million people from their homes.
* Ongoing violations of a U.N. arms embargo on Darfur by both the Government of Sudan and rebel groups.
* The resistance of the Government of Sudan to cooperate in any form with the International Criminal Court investigating war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Sudan.
“Any fair reading of the situation on the ground in Sudan should make clear that the benchmarks established for Sudan by the Obama Administration simply have not been met,” said John Norris, executive director of the Enough Project. “If the administration turns a blind eye to such backsliding, the likelihood of greater conflict will only grow.”
“Looking to the future, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice must push hard for a peace process that not only includes the government of Sudan and rebel leaders, but also the voices of Sudanese civil society. Concrete and lasting peace that addresses the root cause of the conflict can only be achieved by including all those who have a stake in the outcome—not just armed parties,” said Mark Lotwis, acting president of the Save Darfur Coalition. “One step the United States must insist on immediately is for the new government in Khartoum to open its doors to independent human rights monitoring and to stop harassing domestic human rights activists.”
Organizations participating in this week’s campaign include Humanity United, the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, Save Darfur Coalition, Genocide Intervention Network, Stop Genocide Now, and Investors Against Genocide.
Sudan Now is a campaign led by a group of prominent anti-genocide and human rights advocacy organizations committed to bringing meaningful and lasting peace to Sudan and encouraging strong American leadership and action to achieve this goal. The campaign challenges President Barack Obama and top U.S. administration officials to live up to their promises to take strong and immediate action to help end the international crisis in Sudan and bring a lasting peace to the people of that country.