The Darfur Consortium

An African and International
Civil Society Action for Darfur


Members' Publications


Letter to African Heads of State

All African Heads of State and Government,
C/o The President of the Commission,
African Union,
Addis Ababa

Dakar, 22nd November 2004


We the representatives of 260 African and international human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) present at the NGO Forum on the occasion of the 36 th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights held in Dakar (Senegal) during the period 20 th – 22 nd November 2004 present our compliments to your high office. We wish to refer to the catastrophic human rights and humanitarian situation which currently engulfs the Darfur region of western Sudan and the decision of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government to hold their 5 th Assembly in Khartoum.

We highly appreciate the collective involvement of your government through the African Union in solving the crisis in the region as manifested by Decision AU/Dec.54(III) adopted by the 3 rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa (6 th – 8 th July 2004) as well as Communiqué PSC/PR/Comm.(XIII) and Communiqué PSC/PR/Comm.(XVII) adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council at their 13 th Meeting on 17 th July and their 17 th Meeting on 20 th October 2004, in addition to the resolution of 4 th June 2004 adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 35 th Session.

After carefully examining the situation in the Darfur region we fully concur with the conclusion of the report of the UN Secretary General on Sudan to the Security Council (S/2004/881 dated 2 nd November 2004) that “[p] rogress on improving security in Darfur is also blocked by the failure of the Government to act convincingly to end impunity” and that “[t]he increases in the numbers of internally displaced persons reflect the severity of the protection and security situation in Darfur.”

While it is the responsiblity of the government of Sudan to protect all its citizens without discrimination as required by the AU Constitutive Act, and the aforementioned Decision and Communiqués, it is clear that the government of Sudan is unwilling or unable to do so. Government inaction as manifested by the ongoing killings, influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) into camps and the forced relocation of these unfortunate victims represents an intolerable disregard for the lives and wellbeing of the African people of Darfur. It is high time for more decisive action from the African continent to protect the victims of the crisis in the Darfur region.


The AU is expected to hold its 5 th Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Khartoum in July 2005. Sudan is also expected to assume the Presidency of the AU and consequently of the whole of Africa throughout the period July 2005 – July 2006. Convening the 5 th Assembly in Khartoum while the situation in Darfur remains unresolved sends a negative signal to the people of Darfur, Sudan, Africa and the whole world about our resolve and determination to end this crisis. The gathering of African leaders in Khartoum and the honour that such a significant presence confers on the government of Sudan undermines the principles and ideals embodied in the AU Constitutive Act, in particular when massive war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in Darfur. In the eyes of the people of Darfur, and indeed the African human rights community, holding the 5 th AU Assembly in Khartoum amounts to adding insult to injury. Unless the government of Sudan immediately and fully complies with the resolutions of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council on the situation in Darfur, we respectfully urge the AU Assembly to review the decision to hold the July 2005 Assembly in Khartoum when it convenes its next ordinary session in Abuja in January 2005.

While looking forward to your positive response to our request, please rest assured, Excellency, of our highest respect and consideration.

Adopted by the NGO Forum, Dakar, 22nd November 2004.


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