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Sudan Tribune

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Europe seeks Africa support for UN resolution condemning Sudan

By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS

GENEVA, Apr 20, 2005 (AP) — European and U.S. delegations to the U.N. Human Rights Commission were seeking last-minute African support Wednesday for a resolution condemning the Sudanese government for indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the Darfur region, diplomats said.

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Fourth-year anthropology student Bridget Smith informs passersby about the UCLA Darfur Action Committee’s efforts to end the crisis in Sudan. (DB).

The 53-nation commission, the world’s top human-rights watchdog, was supposed to vote on the resolution last week, but action was deferred because of behind-the-scenes negotiations to secure a majority to pass it, diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

The Europeans, with strong support from the United States, want African support for their sharp wording, which “condemns” the abuses in Darfur and says they “may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

A rival African-sponsored draft doesn’t single out the Sudanese government and only “expresses serious concern” about “the continued violations by all parties.”

The vote was rescheduled for Wednesday, but supporters said it might be put off again. With the end of the six-week session looming Friday, it was unclear whether sponsors would press for a vote if they weren’t sure of victory.

Human rights groups said that, with 14 African countries in the 53-nation commission, there were doubts the European proposal could pass without the African support. Should it fail, the groups said, it would be worse than doing nothing about the abuses in Darfur.

“The European Union is under the false impression that the Africans and Sudan will accept a condemnation in the text … and maybe a mention of war crimes,” said Loubnah Freih of Human Rights Watch. “We think it’s unlikely.”

Last year, the commission stopped short of formal condemnation of Sudan.

There is a high possibility that such a scenario could repeat itself, Freih said, adding that even within the EU some governments were now advocating the safer approach of avoiding a formal censure of Sudan and instead offering Khartoum technical cooperation.

“If they go ahead with the text, there’s a possibility they will lose it,” Freih said. “It’s going to be difficult to get the votes.”

Western nations have been urging Khartoum to halt attacks by government-aligned Arab militias, which launched a counterinsurgency in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled over what they called discrimination by the Arab-dominated government.

Known as the Janjaweed, the militias have committed wide-scale abuses against tribes they say are allied with the rebels.

The two-year conflict in Darfur has left some 180,000 people dead, many through disease and hunger, and has displaced more than 2 million people, according to U.N. estimates.