ME and Ophelia

Thursday, August 12, 2004

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Here, for the record, is a BBC news online report "Sudan under pressure over Darfur". A non-blogging friend in England emailed it to me on the day it was published, and wrote me: "You might find it rewarding to make contact with the UN and to ask them about the official guidelines which clearly delay UN action until matters (like this one) have reached disgraceful proportions."

The report, dated June, 26, 2004, is copied here in full:

"The US and the EU have expressed "grave concern" about Sudan's conflict-torn Darfur region, saying the government in Khartoum must rein in Arab militias. "We strongly condemn the human rights violations... particularly by Jingaweit militias," the leaders said in a joint declaration at their summit in Ireland.

Human rights groups accuse Khartoum of backing Arab militia groups that have killed thousands of Africans in Darfur. The fighting in Darfur has driven more than a million people from their homes.

"We express grave concern at the continuing humanitarian crisis in Darfur, western Sudan, where the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, who live in desperate conditions and require immediate life-saving relief, are at great risk," the declaration said.

At the end of their summit at Dromoland Castle, in County Clare, US President George W Bush and EU leaders again urged the Sudanese government to disarm the militias and allow full access for humanitarian workers.

"We also reiterate that those responsible for the atrocities must be held accountable," the declaration said.

The document was issued as the international community has been gradually increasing pressure on Khartoum to stop with the violence in Darfur that erupted 16 months ago.

On Friday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he would meet US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Khartoum next week to deal with the conflict. [end of BBC report]
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Note to self - and readers: (1) Does the U.N. have official guidelines which delay U.N. action until situations like Darfur have reached disgraceful proportions? (2) Why is Sudan a member of U.N. Human Rights panel? What are the benefits and responsibilities of membership? What qualifies Sudan as a member?
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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948.

Sudan is a member of the U.N. Human Rights panel but is in breach of the Universal Declaration. Why has Sudan been getting away with murder for so many years? Why is it calling the shots (excuse the pun), and being treated, like it is in a negotiable position?

How come countries like China (interests in Sudan's oil) and Russia (just delivered 12 new MiGs to Sudan) get to block a draft UN resolution imposing sanctions on Sudan? And how much, if anything, have these countries contributed towards humanitarian assistance for Darfur -- if they have not contributed, why is this so?

Just thought I would ask the questions here, incase anyone can throw any light on the way these things work. Meantime, I'll keep on looking for answers - while keeping an eye on other countries that were (or still are) onside with Khartoum -- including Pakistan, India, Algeria, Brazil - those within the Arab League. I've mainly mentioned China because they have drilling rights - and so do France - in Darfur (but I haven't mentioned this clearly in a post yet because I am still checking my facts and sources). Germany has a huge contract to build a railway from Sudan to Kenya -- loads of development funding is poised for Sudan as soon as the Peace Accords are signed. Banks are opening -- New Sudan Pound is being minted - flags and vehicle licence plates are being sorted - oil pipelines on the drawing board...
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Clive Soley's recent post "Sudan and failing states", reminds me of another email I'd received from my non-blogging friend in England. The email, dated June 26, 2004, contained a link to a BBC report of the same date, "Screams of Sudan's starving refugees" - along with this message: "The pattern of human life, I'm afraid, and likely to be so for many thousands of years. All that 'technology' has done so far is to enable us to participate in these horrors. I repeat: humans in the mass are savages, preying on each other and desperate to survive. That will always be the case as long as there are too many of them competing for limited resources."

In his post (note also his responses here and here) Clive writes that he thinks the challenge of this century is to get better policies in the area of failing states; he thinks Sudan is just the latest in a long line of failed or failing states, and says he very much fears this is going to be the pattern for many years yet (my friend thinks the pattern will be for at least another 5,000+ years).

Clive's post, and my friend's email, made me think again about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I'd like to see it form the basis of all new U.N. policies, papers, debates etc. To my mind, it is a masterpiece - an historic document that serves as a great global message. Surely if we could all aim to adhere to it, the world would be a better place for everyone during their short stay on beautiful planet Earth.
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Further reading:

Aug 11: Jim Moore's post on the Genocide Bloc of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt clubbing together to help block sanctions, keep out African Union peacekeepers, spread disinformation (such as that Israel is behind the rebels in Sudan), while the genocide burns on.

Aug 11: Passion's post re blog campaign for Sudan reaches toward a new level of awareness ... "Many experts believe that dealing with Sudan, and now the Genocide Bloc, is as relevant as Iraq to overall world security concerns. We are witnessing in Sudan the coming together of a power bloc, anchored by China and operating across the middle east and Africa that does not share western values of democracy and human rights, that is economically powerful and controls a great deal of oil, and that can bring very great problems for the United States, not unlike those of the pre-war Iraq. Imagine, for example, a redrawing of the oil market that brings Saudi oil to China and ends the dependence of the Saudi royal family on interests in the United States. What little leverage we currently have with the Saudis could be gone in a Texas minute."

Aug 11: Interesting view (and unusual too - usually he only writes a few lines) from Patrick - who also points out Jim Moore has suggested that bloggers following this issue should turn their attention to the nations that are acting to enable Sudan's actions: China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Glad to see Patrick has added Russia to his list. I'm still not over Russia's recent rush delivery of MiGs to Sudan.

Aug 10: Passion's post re "China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan - these nations are charter members in the Genocide Bloc. You have heard of the "Soviet Bloc," the "Eastern Bloc," and so forth. Now there is a new bloc, the Genocide Bloc. The nations named above have come together in a dramatic and powerful fashion over the past few weeks, and blazed onto the world scene last weekend in defense of the government of Sudan. These nations share one thing in common in addition to uncritical support for the government of Sudan: they do not respect human rights in their own countries."

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 8/12/2004
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