The Darfur Consortium

. . .

Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

December 19, 2022

Reuters: US Congress passes Sudan divestment bill. The U.S. Congress pressed for an end to the violence in the Darfur region by passing legislation on Tuesday to help investors who want to shed their holdings in companies doing business in Sudan. The House of Representatives voted 411-0 to back the measure that aims to shield state and local governments, mutual funds and private pension funds from investor lawsuits if they divest shares of companies active in Sudan's oil, mining, power and military equipment industries. It also denies federal contracts to companies involved in Sudan's oil, mining, power, and military equipment industries. The bill has already passed the Senate and now goes to President George W. Bush. But his administration has criticized the legislation for interfering with foreign policy-making and it was unclear whether he would sign it into law. Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, said the United States had a moral responsibility to use every tool to stop the genocide in Darfur. "It's time we put the United States, not just with rhetoric, but with action, on the right side of history," said Lee before the vote. The Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of more than 180 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations, has asked investors to divest their holdings in companies such as Malaysia's state-owned Petronas, India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd, and PetroChina Co Ltd, whose parent company, China National Petroleum Corp, is helping Sudan drill for oil. The coalition says the Sudanese government uses up to 70 percent of its oil revenues to give arms and supplies to Arab militias charged with putting down the revolt. U.S.-based Capital Research & Management Co, Lazard Asset Management Co Ltd, and Blackstone Asia Advisors Ltd, were among the top 10 largest institutional holders of Natural Gas Corp Ltd shares as of the end of September, according to Reuters Company Views. The same database showed Capital Research & Management Co, Barclays Global Investors NA and Vanguard Group Inc were among the top 10 investors in PetroChina, joined by units of California-based Franklin Templeton Investments and FMR Corp, better known as Fidelity Investments.

Associated Press: Congress Passes Sudan Divestment Bill. States, localities and private investors would be allowed to cut their investment ties with Sudan under legislation passed by Congress on Tuesday and sent to the president for his signature. The legislation adds to sanctions already in place against the Khartoum government meant to pressure Sudan into ending the murderous violence in the Darfur region of the country. "I don't believe President Bush can afford to veto this bill," said Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Senate sponsor of the legislation. "A veto would be an endorsement of genocide." The bill targets four economic sectors viewed as key sources of revenue for Sudan's government - oil, power production, mining and military equipment. Dodd's office cited estimates that direct foreign investment in the first three areas reached $2.4 billion in 2005, and that 70 percent of the government's share of oil profits is spent on military equipment. The bill would permit - but not compel - interested states and localities to adopt measures for divesting from companies involved in the four sectors. It would also allow mutual fund and private pension fund managers to cut ties with companies involved in those sectors and provide them a safe harbor from lawsuits. "No one should have to worry that their retirement or pension funds are supporting genocide," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., a chief sponsor.

NPR's Morning Edition: U.N. Resources Scant to Protect Darfur Refugees. Within two weeks, the United Nations is scheduled to begin deploying its biggest peacekeeping operation in the world to protect the millions displaced by war in Darfur, Sudan. But U.N. planners are still short of helicopters and some key units. Activists are growing frustrated with the shortcomings of the international response to what the U.S. has called genocide. African Union mediator Sam Ibok captured the mood best when he said recently that he is having a hard time thinking of any good news out of Sudan. "We don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe the light that we see is the light of an approaching train and that is very troubling for many of us," Ibok said. Ibok was part of the latest effort to revive Darfur peace talks, although most rebel groups didn't come and have since splintered even further. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies — Ibok said part of the problem is that they see the government in Khartoum failing to follow through on a 2005 agreement that ended a separate — and even deadlier — conflict with rebels in the south of Sudan. "The comprehensive peace agreement runs the risk of unraveling, and, if that happens, then you can even forget about peace in Darfur, and you can forget about peace in the Sudan," Ibok said. The government in Khartoum wants only African troops in Darfur and has rejected key units — such as Nordic engineers, a Thai police battalion and special forces from Nepal. Sudan has also imposed restrictions on night flights and water rights. Lute said it has been hard slogging and U.N. member states haven't even committed enough helicopters. At a recent rally in Washington, actress-activist Mia Farrow expressed frustration at the slow pace of the international response. "It is agonizing, and, if it is agonizing for us, the real agony is the people in the camps, the people who are terrified day and night — no safety for them for almost five years. It is past time that the international community steps forward," Farrow said. But Lute says Darfuris will mainly see different uniforms — not the strong mobile force the U.N. has been planning. "There will the raising of the U.N. flags, the force will be wearing blue berets, but largely it will be a re-hatted AMIS force initially," she said. To listen to the audio version of the story, please follow the link provided above. 

The following op-ed by Michael Gerson appeared in today's Washington Post.

The Choices in Darfur

On a recent trip to Rwanda, I visited a humble memorial -- the bullet-marked corner of a room with 10 candles arranged in an arc on the floor. It is the site where 10 U.N. peacekeepers from Belgium were executed early in the 1994 genocide. The architects of that genocide calculated that an early atrocity against foreign troops would cause all of them to run. And run they did.

Almost 14 years later, the international community faces a different kind of test. On Jan. 1, the United Nations, in cooperation with the African Union, will take control of peacekeeping operations in the Darfur region of Sudan, where more than 200,000 are dead in a genocide and about 2 million have been forced into refugee camps.

This international intervention must succeed, or all the post-Rwanda promises of "never again" will be revealed as pious lies.

Within the Bush administration, the seriousness and steadiness of the United Nations in Darfur are hotly debated. One diplomat told me that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pushed for rapid deployment, while other U.N. officials, such as Jean-Marie Guehenno, the undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations, have dragged their feet, fearful of failure.

Jane Holl Lute, the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, dismisses such speculation as "academic." The pace of deployment, she says, is being determined by the military contributions of U.N. member states and by the attitude of Sudan's government. She points to progress -- more Rwandan and Nigerian troops on the ground, the arrival of part of a Chinese engineering unit. She also outlines a number of obstacles.

"There is still the issue with the helicopters," says Lute. The U.N. force requires 24 -- six to eight of which are supposed to be gunships. The Europeans have plenty but no interest in lending them.

The United States is pushing for contributions from China, Ukraine, Poland and South Korea, with little result. "No one other than the U.S. is helping much here," says a frustrated Bush administration official.

And ultimately, according to Lute, "if we don't have the active support of the host country, we're not going to succeed." Which means that a small circle of leaders in Khartoum must actively cooperate in extinguishing a genocide they ignited.

For years, the Sudanese regime has made broad promises of strategic cooperation, then scattered tactical obstacles at every turn. Lute reports current problems "with visas, at the ports, getting land [for bases], moving equipment, night operations."

"Every day is a struggle," she told me, "requiring constant engagement and liaison" -- meaning constant appeals to overturn lower-level obstruction.

All of this leaves the United States with limited options:

The first is just to muddle through -- to "negotiate every single day," according to one Bush official, "to negotiate every 100 boots on the ground." These gradually accumulated forces could eventually create additional leverage on the regime. And this pressure would be paired with efforts to fashion a new peace agreement -- uniting fractious, unsophisticated rebel groups; sponsoring new talks with the government; and hoping for a meaningful settlement.

A second option is increased unilateral pressure on Sudan. The last round of American sanctions was surprisingly effective, and there are many more targets. In January or February, the administration could quietly make specific demands of the regime and, if these were refused, go after additional Sudanese bank accounts or encourage the collection of Sudan's international debt.

The most difficult and controversial option is regime change. This does not mean an American invasion of Sudan, which would probably be a sun-baked disaster. Instead, it might involve a no-fly zone and a blockade of Sudan's only port, through which its oil flows for export. The message to Sudan would be clear: Fundamentally alter your behavior or change your government.

Few nations would support America in this conflict. And the risks would be considerable. The balance between northern Arabs and southern Africans in Sudan is fragile; both sides seem to be preparing for the resumption of civil war. Any American action that upsets this balance could provoke mass violence.

All of these options have flaws. Intensified negotiations might give diplomats another series of press-release victories that result in little change on the ground -- the kind of barren "progress" we have seen for years. Unilateral pressure goes only so far. Regime change is the messiest foreign policy option, fraught with unintended consequences.
But the choices in Rwanda were also flawed. Once again, the credibility of the United Nations is questioned; its troops are too few in number. Yet their deployment is perhaps the last hope for the betrayed people of Darfur. And we cannot run again.


The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition.  To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].
African Voices
Join the Darfur Consortium


Action Professionals Association for the People

Aegis Trust Rwanda

African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies

African Center for Development

African Center for Justice and Peace Studies

Africa Internally Displaced Persons Voice (Africa IDP Voice)

African Security Dialogue and Research (ASDR)

African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)

The Ahueni Foundation

Alliances for Africa

Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies

Andalus Institute for Tolerance

Anti-Slavery International

Arab Coalition for Darfur

Arab Program for Human Rights Activists

Association Africaine de Defense des Droits de l'Homme (ASADHO)

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE)

Centre for Research Education and Development of Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights (CREDO)

Citizens for Global Solutions

Conscience International

Conseil National Pour les Libertés en Tunisie

Darfur Alert Coalition (DAC)

Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development

Darfur Leaders Network (DLN)

Darfur Reconciliation and Development Organization (DRDO)

Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre

East Africa Law Society

Egyptian Organization for Human Rights

Femmes Africa Solidarité

La Fédération Internationale des Droits de l'Homme (FIDH)

Forum of African Affairs (FOAA)

Human Rights First

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)

Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa

Institute for Security Studies

Inter-African Union for Human Rights (UIDH)


International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya)

International Refugee Rights Initiative

Justice Africa

Justice and Peace Commission

Lawyers for Human Rights

Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections

Legal Resources Consortium-Nigeria

Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l'Homme

Makumira University College, Tumaini University

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

Minority Rights Group

National Association of Seadogs

Never Again International

Open Society Justice Initiative

Pan-African Movement

Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme (RADDHO)

Sierra Leone STAND Chapter

Sisters' Arabic Forum for Human Rights (SAF)

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)

Sudan Organization Against Torture (SOAT)

Syrian Organization for Human Rights

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)

Universal Human Rights Network


Women Initiative Nigeria (WIN)

©2007 Darfur Consortium. Design by Deirdre Reznik