The main opposition party in South Africa is calling on the government to influence the UN Security Council to take stronger action in Darfur.
Douglas Gibson is foreign affairs spokesperson for the Democratic Alliance Party. He says South Africa should use its non-permanent seat on the Security Council to persuade the United Nations to act decisively.
From Johannesburg, Gibson spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why South Africa should play a bigger role in the Darfur crisis.
“Darfur has been what has been described as the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world at present. Something over 300,000 people have been killed and between two and a half and three million people have been dislocated and chased away from where they live. And unfortunately, the world sits by with folded hands. The United Nations has very calmly accepted a veto by the Khartoum Government, which says it wouldn’t accept any troops, peacekeeping troops, from the United Nations. The result of this is that a totally inadequate Africa Union force of 7,000 soldiers in a province of Sudan, Darfur, which is as large as France. The United Nations managed to wind itself into action within 30 days in the Middle East. And here, three years have gone by and the United Nations has done very little,” he says.
Asked how South African could influence the Security Council, which has passed a resolution calling for a peacekeeping force, Gibson says, “I think South Africa, when it becomes a (non-permanent) member of the Security Council, does speak with increased authority and influence. And I think South Africa must pressure the new Secretary-General. I understand Mr. Ban Ki-Moon is likely to be formally voted in next Tuesday. I think we’ve got to try to pressure him…to try to do the impossible. And that is to help to bring about peace. It’s all very well for the United Nations to pass a resolution and then to do nothing much. I don’t think resolutions are sufficient.”