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Darfur and the UN

Prepared by: Esther Pan
January 27, 2006


The United Nations prepares to send an international peacekeeping force to Darfur to deal with the ongoing crisis there (Guardian) after admitting that an African Union mission to stop the violence failed. Although seven thousand AU troops are currently stationed in Darfur—a region the size of Texas in northwest Sudan—tens of thousands of Darfurians are still threatened by violence (CS Monitor). A recent AU report (PDF) says the organization has had to work with “about half the logistical capacity” necessary. Human Rights Watch examines the flaws of the AU mission to Sudan in this report, and this CFR Background Q&A examines the history of UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. The roots of the Darfur crisis are examined in this CFR Background Q&A.  

Armed Arab militias known as janjaweed— linked to the Khartoum government—have carried out a campaign of violence and intimidation against black African residents. More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million people displaced in Darfur over the past three years. The ongoing conflict in Darfur cost Sudan its bid to chair the recent AU summit; the post went to Congo-Brazzaville instead. CFR Fellow Max Boot says a large and capable international military force is the only thing that will stop the killing. Scott Straus writes in Foreign Affairs that labeling an event a genocide is meaningless if no action is taken to stop it. CFR President Richard Haass writes that state sovereignty does not give governments the right to kill their own citizens. John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group and Samantha Power speak to the Council about the conflict.

Dealing with Darfur is complicated by the lasting effects of Sudan’s civil war. In January 2005, the Muslim government signed a shaky peace deal with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, a rebel organization from Sudan’s largely Christian south. The agreement ended a war that had raged for more than two decades, claimed 2 million lives, and left some 4.5 million southern Sudanese homeless.

CFR Task Force on Africa | CFR Special Report on Darfur | UN Report on Darfur

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