(Feb. 23, 2007) — A position statement and suggested strategies for nongovernmental (NGO) action on Darfur, Sudan, was issued Feb. 8 by the United Nation’s “Sub-Committee for Elimination of Racism, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance of the NGO Committee on Human Rights.” Church of the Brethren member Doris Abdullah serves on the subcommittee, representing On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren.
The subcommittee hosted a meeting on Darfur for more than 60 nongovernmental organizations at the UN Church Center in New York on Jan. 10. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a briefing on the status of the crisis in Darfur and to develop strategies for assisting in bringing it to an end. The position statement and suggested strategies were issued as a “following narrative” to the discussion generated at the meeting, and have been offered to nongovernmental organizations for their consideration.
The position statement said in part, “The situation in Darfur, Sudan, remains dangerous, fluid, and volatile. News reports inform us that advocacy efforts to date are having a positive impact. This tells us that it is important to maintain the forward momentum of our efforts. At this time the dying continues, the rapes continue, the starvation and severe health risks continue, the displacement and sense of hopelessness continues, and these conditions are spreading across borders. We assert that this is a human rights tragedy that is caused by racism, discrimination, and targeted intolerance…
“We recognize that the UN NGO community has an obligation to seek, find, and use every opportunity to expand global awareness of the Darfur crisis, and to hold those who choose culpable silence and egregious indifference publicly accountable for the persistence of the crisis. The genocide in Dafur must be condemned without reservation. To withhold condemnation is to support by complicity and to condone the injustice being perpetrated…
“Therefore, we pledge ourselves to exert tireless efforts to discover and utilize every feasible strategy to be a positive influence to end the Darfur crisis, to involve, influence, and hold publicly accountable those in positions of power,” the statement continued. “We implore the general public to compassionately and conscientiously end the agony in Darfur.”
Suggested strategies for action included sending letters to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon applauding his efforts to end the genocide and requesting that he ask China to pledge 10 percent of the total UN peacekeeping troops needed to protect the people of Darfur, and that he ask North African countries and NATO to send peacekeeping troops as well. The subcommittee also suggested sending letters to the UN’s Human Rights Council, the UN Security Council, other international and national bodies, individual political leaders, and political organizations.
With regard to faith-based activities, the subcommittee suggested forming a broadly representative interfaith delegation to Khartoum, Sudan. The subcommittee also suggested putting pressure on companies and corporations investing in Sudan, to call attention to the negative consequences of their investments.
Abdullah reported that in addition, the subcommittee has called on US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to continue the US role in this matter. “Our letter to Dr. Rice addressed our primary concern at the time, which was to stop the appointment of Sudan’s President to head the African Union,” Abdullah said, adding that he did not get the appointment.
In other work, the subcommittee is continuing to prepare a presentation for an event titled “200th Anniversary of the End of Trans-Atlantic Slavery Commemorations,” Abdullah reported. The commemorative session of the UN General Assembly will begin March 26 with keynote speaker professor Rex Nettleford, chair of the UNESCO Slave Routes Project. The subcommittee’s presentation will be made March 29.
“I am glad for the work of Doris and the UN subcommittee,” said Brethren Witness/Washington Office director Phil Jones, who also noted that the subcommittee’s statement at points conflicts with Church of the Brethren positions of nonviolence.
“This may be a good time to refer Brethren to a very helpful Annual Conference paper of 1996, ‘Nonviolence and Humanitarian Intervention,’” Jones said (go to www.brethren.org/ac/ac_statements/96Nonviolence.htm). “Darfur continues to be one of the most difficult issues I face in my work. If we say genocide is occurring, which I am convinced it is, and yet armed intervention, in whatever form, is not the answer–then it remains an imperative challenge that we come up with an alternative nonviolent solution.”
For the full text of the subcommittee’s position statement and suggested strategies regarding the crisis in Darfur, contact Abdullah at firstname.lastname@example.org.