Learn more about the situation in Darfur throughout the years, including the U.S. government's actions.
The rapidly worsening situation in Sudan is further evidence of the need for greater effort on the part of all people of goodwill from around the world to address the crisis. Concrete steps to end the violence must be taken, such as targeted sanctions and the presence of more troops on the ground with a stronger mandate. Only with an immediate end to the violence and increased humanitarian assistance can the horrors being experienced by the people of Darfur be alleviated.
The International Criminal Court issued a second arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, this time on three counts of genocide against the people of Darfur. Soon after the warrant was issued, President al-Bashir traveled to Chad, an ICC member country, but was not arrested.
In Sudan’s first democratic elections in over 25 years, sitting President Omar al-Bashir overwhelming won re-election. The election was marred by accusations of fraud, and most observers agreed that international standards were not met. However, there was little violence. With the governments of Norway and the United Kingdom, the United States issued a statement saying, “We are reassured that voting passed reasonably peacefully, reportedly with significant participation, but share their serious concerns about weak logistical and technical preparations and reported irregularities in many parts of Sudan. We note the limited access of observer missions in Darfur.”
On October 19th, the Obama Administration, in cooperation with the State Department and special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, released its Sudan Policy Review, a new strategy for working with Sudan to end the genocide in Darfur. In contrast to previous engagement strategies, the Review outlined three main objectives:
1) A definitive end to conflict, gross human rights abuses, and genocide in Darfur.
2) Implementation of the North-South CPA that results in a peaceful post-2011 Sudan, or an orderly path toward two separate and viable states at peace with each other.
3) Ensure that Sudan does not provide a safe haven for international terrorists.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Omar Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The Sudanese President denied the charges, claiming that they are "not worth the ink they are written in.”
On March 12, Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced House Resolution 241, “Commending the International Criminal Court for issuing a warrant for the arrest of Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan, for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and expressing the hope that this will be a significant step in the long road towards achieving peace and stability in the Darfur region.” The resolution has 28 co-sponsors and is currently being considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The government of Sudan responded to the arrest warrant by expelling a dozen humanitarian aid groups such as Oxfam, Solidarities and Mercy Corps. Though they have allowed a few to come back, the safety of these groups remains a constant worry.
The Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act is passed by Congress. The bill aimed to pressure Sudan to change its course of action Darfur through financial incentives. The bill, according to the New York Times, “makes it easier for mutual funds and private pension fund managers to sell their investments and allows states to prohibit debt financing for companies that do business in Sudan. It also requires companies seeking contracts with the federal government to certify that they are not doing business in Sudan.”
The United Nations Security Council passes Resolution 1769, calls for the creation of a 26,000-strong joint United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan.
On December 14, 2006, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that his investigation into crimes in Darfur was nearly complete, and that he was prepared to submit evidence to ICC judges no later than February 2007.
In September 2006, the United States Congress passed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which President Bush subsequently signed into law on October 13. The bill denies U.S. visas to, and blocks assets of, Sudanese government officials and Janjaweed militia commanders blamed for the atrocities as well as restricting economic aid and trade access in attempts to limit oil revenues to the Sudanese government. In addition, the bill authorizes additional help to the 7,000 African Union peacekeepers in Darfur in the form of logistical support, transport, and training. A key section was removed before passage which would have protected the right of states to prevent investments that fund the genocidal Sudanese government.
On September 19, 2006, President Bush announced his appointment of Andrew S. Natsios, former Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development, as a Presidential Special Envoy to Sudan. According to the State Department, “his mandate will include facilitating and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Darfur Peace Agreement, reviewing the state of US-Sudan relations, and making recommendations for advancing our policy.”
On August 31, 2006, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1706, authorizing the deployment of 20,000 United Nations Peacekeeping troops to enter the Darfur region of Sudan to replace the current African Union troops. The Resolution “invites the consent” of the Sudanese government in Khartoum to accept the UN troops, an action that the UN had never taken before. The meaning of the wording remains unclear.
On May 5, 2006, due in large part to international efforts, the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed between the Sudanese government and the largest Darfurian rebel group; while an important step, violence has escalated and in-fighting between the many rebel groups has complicated the situation. In response to the signing of this treaty, the African Union agreed to transfer authority of its peacekeeping force in Darfur to the United Nation by the end of September, 2006, or when the U.N mission is ready.
On February 17, 2006 President Bush called for the levels of international troops in Darfur to be doubled in order to address the ongoing crisis in Sudan. President Bush also called for an increased role for NATO peacekeepers in Darfur and sent a supplemental funding proposal to Congress which included a request for $123 million to strengthen the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. The House of Representatives and the Senate both passed amendments to provide an additional $50 million to the President's request, bringing the total for Darfur peacekeeping within the Emergency Supplemental Fiscal Year 2006 funding bill, H.R. 3949, to $173 million. On June 15, 2006, President Bush signed the bill into law.
The United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions in the spring of 2005: one calling for targeted sanctions against the ruling party and one referring the perpetrators of the Genocide to the International Criminal Court. These are two significant steps in holding perpetrators accountable and providing incentives for the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed to stop their killing.
In a statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 9th, 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced the atrocities taking place in Sudan and concurred that genocide is occurring. Secretary Powell stated the need for the continuation of peace talks, free flow of humanitarian aid and support for observers and troops from the African Union. His statements also marked the first time that one state party to the Genocide Convention used its authority to address genocide being committed by another state party to the convention.
On July 23, 2004 the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a resolution declaring the atrocities being committed in Darfur, Sudan, “genocide,” as defined under the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention. On July 26, 2004, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience declared a “Genocide Emergency,” saying that genocide is imminent or actively occurring in Darfur.