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February 16, 2012

United Nations Votes to Extend Sudan Panel

by Larry Freund

The United Nations Security Council on Friday voted unanimously to extend the mandate of a panel of experts on Sudan sanctions for another year.

The 15-member council determined the situation in Sudan continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region.

The Sudanese government has been fighting rebels in the western Darfur region. The United Nations says more than 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The Security Council resolution demands that all parties to the conflict exercise restraint and cease military action of all kind, including aerial bombardments. The resolution also expresses concern over what it terms obstacles that inhibit work of panel experts, which include delays in the issuance of visas and travel permits, restrictions to freedom of movement of panel experts and The United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force that has been deployed in Darfur since 2008.

Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, reaffirmed what he called Sudan’s determination and intention to put an end to the conflict in Darfur. He called on the Security Council to pressure rebel groups that are refusing to negotiate.

Speaking via translator, he took exception to the resolution’s criticism of obstacles imposed on work by the panel of experts.

"This kind of wording copied from other resolutions undermines the council’s credibility and it undermines the action of the experts and the work of the commission," he said. "And I recall well that we did grant visas to experts in under 24 hours."

Regarding the council’s reference to aerial bombardments, Ali Osman described them as a thing of the past.

Last week, Amnesty International reported that weapons from Russia and China are being used by Sudan’s government to commit serious human rights violations against civilians.

According to the rights organization, China and Russia are selling arms to the Government of Sudan with full knowledge that many of them are likely to end up being used to commit human rights violations in Darfur.