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Sending forces to Darfur, too little too later

For years now, the world has sat by and watched while the Sudanese Government sponsored militia, the Janjaweed raped, killed and butchered adult men, and equally despicably, did the same to women and children. There has been a lot of talk, a lot of discussion and some pressure on Sudan, but not any action. China is partly to blame, since it has oil and economic interests in Sudan, and did not want these interests to get affected by any action against Sudan.
Well, it seems like there has been a better agreement between the parties at the United Nations, including China, since the United Nations has got off its ass and approved using force to protect civilians. The resolution authorizes a total of 26,000 troops (19,555 army and 6432 police force) in a combined UN – African Union force to protect the people of Darfur. Even in this resolution, the UN force cannot seize illegal weapons, they can only use force in self-defense, or to protect supplies and civilians. However, the resolution does not mention as to what the United Nations will do if Sudan refuses to let the UN peacekeepers in. Earlier sanctions were to be planned for such an eventuality, but China got that part watered down.

The resolution, number 1769, invokes Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, under which the UN can authorise force. The measure allows the use of force for self-defence, to ensure the free movement of humanitarian workers and to protect civilians under attack, but acknowledges Sudan’s sovereignty. The resolution, which has been watered down several times, no longer allows the new force to seize and dispose of illegal arms, saying it can only monitor such weapons.
Rape, looting, murder and government bombardment drove millions from their homes in Darfur, where mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003. The rebels have now split into a dozen groups, many fighting one another. Sudan, after months of hesitation, has agreed to the troop numbers, but UN officials expect it will take a year to get the entire force in place. Khartoum also has to agree to allow units from individual countries into Sudan. The new headquarters should be running by October 31, and UN members were urged to cover costs as soon as possible for the AU troops. The combined force is to be in charge of all operations by December 31.

It will take a certain amount of time to set this up, and in some respects, this force might still be toothless and not able to protect the people it is supposed to. There is a very clear chance that Sudan agreed to this force for the time being, but will start to put obstructions in terms of the places it can go to, and what all the force is allowed to do. That aspect needs to be carefully monitored.

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