June 1, 2006 (WASHINGTON) — Dozens of Nobel laureates urged U.S. President George W. Bush and other leaders on Thursday to push hard for a tough U.N. mandate for peacekeepers to go to Sudan’s Darfur region.
Washington should urge the deployment of a U.N. force under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which would provide a mandate to dismantle militia and protect civilians in Darfur, more than 60 Nobel Prize winners said in a letter.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the 3-year-old conflict in Darfur, which the United States has called genocide.
“Darfur will not stabilize unless the peacekeeping force has the tools to do the job,” said the letter signed by Nobel Peace Prize winners as well as laureates in chemistry, physics, medicine and economics.
A Chapter 7 resolution makes U.N. Council actions legally binding when there is a threat to international peace and security.
Peacekeepers should be given close-air support and ground-based radar to monitor movements as well as the capacity to enforce a no-fly zone, said the letter to Bush.
“In Darfur, humankind’s center of suffering today, men, women and children are uprooted, starved, tortured, mutilated, humiliated, and massacred,” said Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize and was one of the signatories.
“Not to offer our help, not to urge our governments to intervene would place us on the wrong side. That thought is intolerable to us all.”
Letters were also sent to the leaders of the African Union, which has about 7,000 troops struggling to keep the peace in Darfur, a region about the size of France.
The Nobel laureates also wrote to the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Conference and U.N. Security Council ambassadors of China, France, Russia and Britain.
The letters said while NATO was expected to assist in a new force, the bulk of peacekeepers should come from African and Muslim countries.
Sudan signed a peace deal with Darfur’s main rebel group in in Nigeria this month but the government has not yet said whether it will allow U.N. troops into Darfur. Two smaller rebel groups have still not signed the agreement.
The 15-nation U.N. Security Council will travel to Sudan next week to try to convince Khartoum that U.N. peacekeepers are needed urgently to supplement African Union forces.
The Nobel laureates urged Bush to appoint a special envoy for Darfur and for the United States, which has accused Sudan of genocide, to pursue accountability for perpetrators via the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court.
In addition, the special envoy should encourage donors from Europe and the Gulf states to provide funding for humanitarian, resettlement and development assistance.
And steps should be taken to prevent the conflict spreading to Chad, which already hosts 200,000 refugees, said the letter to Bush.
Darfur’s rebels took up arms in early 2003 in ethnically mixed Darfur over what they saw as neglect by the Arab-dominated central government.
Khartoum used militias to crush the rebellion, killing tens of thousands of people in the fighting. A campaign of arson, looting and rape has driven more than 2 million from their homes into refugee camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad.
The letters are available on http://www.savedarfur.org/news/pressreleases/2006june01 .