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Mustered Musings

"The years teach much that the days never know." -- Emerson

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Politics of Double Standards ...

It was subsequent to comments on my blog by Ingrid, that I got interested in going ons in Sudan, particularly through his sudan blog Sudan : The Passion of The Present.
Oil, ethnicity and ideology seems to have complicated the conflict in Sudan. Africa’s largest country faces conflict on many fronts — mainly in the south where rebels have been fighting the government since 1983 when Khartoum tried to impose Islamic law on the entire country. But violence has also erupted in the western Darfur region, triggering what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
I am not sure about how to express my feelings on going ons at Sudan. Not because I felt dejected, angry and helpless but just could not see the rationality behind action of international organisations like the U.N., African Union and the nations which really can influence the situation at the Darfur.
No action seems to be taking place in absence of the so called consensus amongst the nations and their unions. This time it seems the brothern african nations are playing the spoilt sport, and the reason for doing so is not because they are not aware of the genocide going on in Sudan but because they want to counter the double standards of the EU, and to signal a backlash against the U.S. abuse of the world body and international law !!
While US decided not to heed to any of the UN resolutions which were against its own interests in Afghanistan and Iraq, this time it finds it helpless (!) to do anything in Sudan since the United Nations General Assembly committee has rejected a resolution that would have condemned human rights violations in Sudan. The action drew a sharp rebuke from the United States and the European Union, and a spirited defense from African nations.
The General Assembly's committee on social, cultural and humanitarian affairs voted Wednesday to take no action on a measure that voiced grave concern at human rights conditions in Sudan.
Ninety one of the 191 U.N. member countries voted for the "no action" motion. The United States and European Union countries, which sponsored the resolution, were among 74 nations that tried in vain to save it.
Ambassador Scott called the refusal to condemn atrocities in Sudan "an indefensible parochially motivated action". He said "three consecutive failures of member states of the United Nations to present a unified front against well-documented atrocities would represent nothing less than the complete breakdown of the U.N.'s deliberative bodies related to human rights. If these bodies cannot speak with one voice on an issue as clear as Darfur, what can they do?"
Netherland's Ambassador Dirk Jan Van den Berg, representing the European Union, noted that the Security Council had passed several tough resolutions on Sudan in recent months, going so far as to threaten sanctions against Khartoum unless it took action to stop atrocities in Darfur. He said the General Assembly must follow suit or risk becoming irrelevant.
"How can we explain that the Security Council speaks out on the human rights situation in Sudan while the General Assembly remains silent," he said. "The European Union strongly urges delegations to vote against this motion to adjourn the debate, for reasons of principle, and to prevent the General Assembly from fading away into irrelevance."
But African countries, backed by many Islamic nations, stood firmly with Sudan in voting to kill the resolution.
South Africa, representing the African group at the world body, said it opposed all resolutions condemning a specific country.
Pitso Montwedi, director of human rights in South Africa's foreign ministry, denied that the "no action" motion constituted a defense of Sudan's rights record. He said condemning the Khartoum government would have undermined African efforts to end the country's long-running civil war.
"I should emphasize at the beginning that the African group had chosen to use this rule not as a denial of violations of human rights in Africa but only for the purposes of countering the double standards of the European Union," he said. (alas!)
The General Assembly also adopted a "no action" motion on a similar resolution critical of Zimbabwe.
Only yesterday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said close to 2.3 million people were in desperate need of aid, more than a third of an estimated population of six million in Darfur. In Darfur, chaos is looming as order is collapsing,” Annan warned.
All said and done, time and again the international happenings and the UN actions leaves one to wonder ... Is the United Nations going down the same ill-fated road as its predecessor, the League of Nations. The signs are not good.
Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) will launch a fourth round of peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebels in the country's Darfur region, in the Nigerian capital Abuja on December 10.
The people of Sudan are not only victims of atrocities being committed by their own government but are also victims of the double standards of the international politics.

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