The Darfur Consortium

. . .

Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

November 13, 2022

Associated Press: UN chief worried about continued delay in deployment of Darfur peacekeeping force. The U.N. chief appealed to the Sudanese government and other U.N. member states to help speed the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Darfur, expressing concern at repeated delays. Ban said deteriorating security and increased violence on both sides in recent months, including an attack on an African peacekeeping base in late September that left 10 people dead, "suggests the need to deploy a robust and credible force to Darfur is urgent." He appealed to the Sudanese government to approve a list of potential troop-contributing countries to the 26,000-strong joint U.N.-AU force, which is meant to assume responsibility for Darfur on Dec. 31. At Sudan's insistence, the U.N. Security Council agreed that the force be predominantly African. But Ban said that a list provided to Sudan on Oct. 2 still hasn't been approved. "I call on the government to agree to the troop composition of UNAMID," Ban said. "This force composition is predominantly African ... and provides for a force that would meet United Nations standards and would be capable of deploying in a timely manner." Ban also called on member states to provide necessary military equipment, particularly helicopters, for the hybrid force. The U.N. has not yet received any pledges for military helicopters, which are necessary for the mission's success, he said.

Associated Press: Irish foreign minister heading to Sudan, Chad to sound out prospects for Darfur peace. Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern announced plans Tuesday to visit Sudan and Chad to inspect border refugee camps in advance of deployment of two United Nations-mandated peacekeeping forces in the region. Ireland is contributing more than 300 troops to a European Union force, which is tasked with protecting Darfur refugees driven from their native Sudan into the border regions of Chad and the Central African Republic. But the timetable for deployment of the EU force, which is under Irish command and composed largely of French troops, appeared to be slipping. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that the first troops would arrive in December but most would be deployed in January — weeks later than originally hoped. It added that the EU force was expected to reach 4,300 members, more than the EU's original plans for 3,000. Ahern said he would travel overnight to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and meet a government delegation Wednesday led by Foreign Minister Ali Karti, Second Vice President Ali Osman and presidential assistant Nafie el Nafie, Sudan's chief negotiator on Darfur.

Associated Press: Doctor Warns of Darfur Camp Expulsions. A prominent doctor who treats displaced people in Darfur says the Sudanese government is risking the deaths of hundreds of thousands by forcing people out of the camps where they receive humanitarian aid. Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah, who runs a human rights group in south Darfur's capital, Nyala, said he has seen evidence backing a recent U.N. claim that the government was chasing people out of nearby camps. The government has denied the charge. Ahmed is in Washington to receive an award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights for his work in treating victims of torture and sexual violence in Sudan. Ahmed said he believes more than a dozen people have been killed in camps in and around Nyala in recent weeks. He said the government also has been hindering aid groups trying to operate in the camps. Ahmed says that those who left are unlikely to have survived outside the camps because they have no homes to return to. "If people are expelled from the camps, all of them are going to die, either by starvation or malnutrition," he said at a news conference Monday. "And the other thing is that the janjaweed will be waiting."

Reuters: Darfur rebels may unite but talks still tough. Negotiations to hammer out a unified stance among Darfur's rebel groups are going well but obstacles to peace remain even if they do rejoin talks with the government, insurgent sources and analysts said on Monday. Unity talks in the south Sudanese capital Juba are progressing, with all but one rebel faction present, insurgents said, and they expected to develop a unified stance for any fresh talks with Khartoum."The talks are going well," Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) commander Jar el-Neby said. Another. United Nations and African Union mediators are now hoping to persuade the rebels to restart peace talks in early December. But even if the rebels all show up in December, observers see few signs the talks will succeed, given lack of preparation by mediators and rebel demands for a change of venue. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi upset the insurgents by comparing the Darfur conflict to a fight over a camel. "Gaddafi's 'dispute over a camel' comment and general comportment at the Sirte conference clouded the environment for these talks," said Lawrence Rossin, a former U.S. ambassador and board member of the activist Save Darfur Coalition. Another problem is the choice of the reluctant deputy head of Sudan's U.N. mission, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, to be the government's chief negotiator. Some in the U.N. mission also question whether he has the leadership skills to head such complicated negotiations. 

The following Editorial appeared in Monday’s Harvard Crimson

Shame on UBS

Students should think twice about working for a company that underwrites genocide.

Last week, a company that funnels millions of dollars to the genocidal government of Sudan became the world’s first company worth more than $1 trillion. PetroChina is now the largest corporation, measured by market capitalization, in the world.

But PetroChina’s rise couldn’t have happened without the support of UBS, the prestigious Swiss bank. By acting as underwriter for PetroChina’s listing on the Shanghai stock exchange, UBS guaranteed that PetroChina’s initial public offering (IPO) would be a success. That fact should give great pause to UBS employees and students at Harvard and across the country who are considering employment at UBS.

Though a UBS spokesman tried to justify the company’s decision, telling news agency Swissinfo that “UBS does not do business with companies in Sudan or those that generate substantial revenues in Sudan,” only a tortuous reading of business relationships bears this claim out. While technically separate entities, PetroChina is a public subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which owns 87 percent of PetroChina and controls its corporate governance policies. Indeed, the report that mandated Harvard’s divestment from PetroChina in April 2005—released by the Harvard Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility—found that PetroChina and CNPC enjoy such close ties that “the investment and development subcommittee of the board of PetroChina is comprised solely of two Vice Presidents of CNPC.”

The spokesman’s further apologia that the proceeds of PetroChina’s listing "will only be used in [China]," is just plain unverifiable. Money is fungible, and CNPC has invested millions of dollars in Sudanese oil projects. This oil money bankrolls the Khartoum regime; PetroChina has the power to influence what is going on in Darfur by tightening the regime’s pursestrings.

Despite the obvious link between PetroChina and CNPC, UBS’s apologists contend that had UBS not served as underwriter, one of a number of other firms might have stepped in. But this clearly would not have been the case. As the result of a restriction imposed by China’s communist government, UBS is one of only two western firms that can serve as lead underwriter for companies in mainland Chinese markets, the other being Goldman Sachs.

UBS’s privileged position gave it unique leverage over PetroChina, and a responsibility to exercise sound ethical judgment. Had UBS declined to underwrite PetroChina, PetroChina’s success on the Shanghai stock exchange would have hardly been guaranteed. Without the support of a western firm, PetroChina would have had to rely upon a Chinese investment bank, which would not have been able to provide the same level of financial expertise or resources.

By providing PetroChina with such vital services, UBS squandered a tremendous opportunity to use its leverage to engage PetroChina on its connection to Sudan. Prior to PetroChina’s IPO, an international petition, along with three Nobel laureates, and nongovernmental organizations in 15 countries, called on UBS to make its underwriting of PetroChina contingent upon a change in PetroChina’s behavior in Sudan. Since UBS refused to do so, the focus of the awareness campaign has shifted toward swaying students who are considering UBS as an employer.

Businesses like UBS have a duty to uphold certain ethical standards that do not waver no matter the profit on the line. These standards include avoiding business with companies that prop up dictatorial regimes and finance blatant human rights violations. When a business fails to uphold such standards, it falls upon its potential employees and clients to hold it accountable.

On Wednesday evening, UBS will host an open recruiting event for Harvard students at the Faculty Club. We encourage students who attend this event to get as much information as possible regarding UBS’s complicity in PetroChina’s ties to Sudan. UBS representatives should be questioned rigorously on its role in securing the Sudanese government’s greatest benefactor such a lucrative deal. Students should think twice about working for a company that underwrites genocide.

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