Communique and resolutions of the Inaugural Meeting of the Secretariat – Tanzania

UNITED REPUBLIC TANZANIAPARLIAMENT OF TANZANIA

Telephone: +255 022 2112065-7
Fax No. +255 022 2112538E-mail:  tanzparl@parliament.go.tz

Communique and Resolutions of the Inaugural Meeting of the Secretariat
September 21, 2007

National Assembly
P.O. BOX 9133
DAR ES SALAAM

The Inaugural meeting of the Secretariat of the Parliamentarians’ Consultative Meeting on Darfur was convened at the Seacliff Hotel in Dar es Salaam on 21st and 22nd September 2007 in line with the Follow-Up Mechanism generated by the First Consultative Meeting that took place in 26-28 May 2007. The Secretariat comprises of Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees of Tanzania (Chair), Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Sudan, Pan African Parliament (PAP) representatives of the Darfur Consortium and staff of the Tanzanian parliament.  

The meeting gathered to deliberate and decide on, inter alia, the role & responsibility of the Secretariat as put forward in the Follow-Up Mechanism. It also received updates on developments post May 2007, and then deliberated on the next Consultative Meeting.

Of particular note the members deliberated on the role of the Secretariat and the Consultative Committee in general and the limited context of Darfur. The possibility of other conflict zones being included was tabled. Of interest was the role of non African states in African conflicts with particular focus placed on the role of China in Sudan. The Secretariat pondered the issue of parliamentarians’ engagement in continental peace and security and how best to utilise the Consultative Mechanism as a process towards good governance. In their deliberations the Secretariat concluded and adopted the following resolutions:

  1. The role of the Secretariat is to oversee the implementation of the Follow-Up Mechanism. 
  2. Secretariat will be made up of members of parliament supported by experts/functionaries made up of parliamentarian and Darfur Consortium experts.
  3. The Secretariat will, through its support functionaries, ensure that Steps 1- 4 of the Follow-Up Mechanism be implemented without delay, starting with the notification letters to all parliaments of AU member states and the dispatch of the report of the inaugural meeting. 
  4. Functionaries of the Secretariat establish a research mechanism to provide the Secretariat with comprehensive and current information and data on the conflict.
  5. Step 4.3 – a mission to the AU Commission should take place in the month of October 2007 (save for 6-10 October), with Kenya, Tanzania and PAP. 
  6. The next Consultative Meeting will take place between 19-25 November 2007 in Dar es Salaam, with the Secretariat meeting a day before the actual meeting.
  7. The title of the Consultative meeting to remain as: African Parliamentarians Consultative Meeting on Darfur. The role, mandate and capacity of the Consultative meeting be discussed at its next meeting.   
  8. Report of the May meeting of the First Consultative Meeting was corrected and made ready for circulation to the national parliaments of all 53 AU member states and PAP.

In addition, the Secretariat would like to highlight the following: 

  1. The Secretariat appreciates the UN Secretary General’s visit to Sudan to discuss the Darfur conflict and working out the modalities for the follow up peace negotiations in Libya.
  2. The Secretariat commends the government of Sudan for accepting UNAMID and urges it to expedite action and giving access to the peacekeeping troops. 
  3. Also, the Secretariat commends the efforts of the AU/UN envoy in organising the Arusha talks in August 2007 and urges all parties to the conflict to attend the Libya meeting. 
  4. The Secretariat is happy to note the emergence of the group of African Elder State-Persons and commends their resolve to throw their weight and wisdom behind the resolution of the conflict in Darfur.  

In conclusion, the Secretariat expressed hope that, having being initiated, this Parliamentarian mechanism will become a beacon of hope for Africans and demonstrate African solidarity to the world. 

________________
Hon. Anna Abdallah

Darfur Consortium urges Contact Group to take strong stance on Darfur

(NEW YORK, September 21, 2007) As diplomats from 26 countries meet today in New York, the Darfur Consortium is asking this enlarged contact group on Sudan to pursue a holistic approach to the Darfur crisis by addressing issues of the protection of civilians, continuing the political process and remaining seized of the questions of accountability for crimes committed in the course of the conflict. 

“The enlarged contact group should send a strong message to the government of Sudan, rebel movements, militias and the people of Darfur that they will keep the pressure on until the situation on the ground improves,” said Dismas Nkunda, Spokesperson for Darfur Consortium. 

Recent diplomatic moves, including the passage of Security Council Resolution 1769, paving the way for deployment of a UN-AU hybrid force (UNAMID) and the announcement that peace talks will be resumed in Tripoli on October 27, are steps in the right direction. 

“Unfortunately, these positive developments in New York and Addis Ababa have not translated into any improvement of the situation on the ground in Darfur. Indeed, not only have the Janjaweed militias continued to attack and rape civilians, but new violence has sprung up among Arab tribes causing further insecurity and displacement,” said Salih Mahmoud Osman, an opposition member of Parliament in Sudan.  

The Darfur Consortium urges the contact group to ensure expeditious deployment of UNAMID in Darfur. In particular, the members of the enlarged contact group who can contribute to UNAMID’s medium utility helicopter units or the medium heavy transportation companies should do so promptly. 

Given the fact that UNAMID is unlikely to be in a position to deploy until next year, the contact group should consider taking urgent measures to improve the security situation for civilians in Darfur. These might include continuing political pressure on the parties to ensure an effective ceasefire and reinforcing AMIS in the short term. 

The contact group should also consider what types of financial and political support it can offer to the next phase of political negotiations in Libya in order to ensure that they constitute a genuine and effective political process. 

The Darfur Consortium equally asks the contact group to keep the question of justice and accountability on their agenda. “Justice and accountability have become an orphaned child in the whole Darfur debate,” Nkunda said. “Yet questions of justice and accountability are, very integral in the resolution of the crisis and should not be swept under the carpet,” he added.
                                              


The Darfur Consortium is a coalition of more than 50 African and international non-governmental organizations committed to working collaboratively for a just and sustainable peace in Darfur.  

Coalition for the International Criminal Court holds press conference on Darfur war crimes

US Fed News

The United Nations issued the following press release: 

(September 20, 2007) A day before Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and African Union Commission Chair Alpha Oumar Konaré was due to hold a high-level meeting on the path to peace in strife-torn Darfur, human rights activists urged the leaders to break their silence on the two men charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with committing war crimes in the Western region of the Sudan – an issue not on the agenda of the talks.

“The ICC has been noticeably absent from the discussion on Darfur and as a result, justice has been sidelined,” said Tanya Karanasios, programme Director of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court as she opened a Headquarters press briefing by a diverse panel of civil society actors. Noting that Security Council resolution 1593 (2005) had called on Khartoum to cooperate with the Court, she urged the United Nations, the African Union and the wider international community to “step up and meet their obligations”.

The Hague-based ICC has charged Ahmad Harun with organizing a system to fund and arm militias against rebels attacking the Sudanese army. The Sudanese Government has since appointed him Minister of State for humanitarian affairs. The Court also issued an arrest warrant for pro-Government militia leader Ali Mohammed Ali Abdalrahman, similarly charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. At an earlier press conference, ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told reporters that he was concerned that the silence by most States and international organizations on the arrest warrants had been understood in Khartoum as a “weakening of international resolve”.

Niemat Ahmadi, a native of North Darfur, said that the “war crimes”, “genocide”, – whatever the atrocities committed in her homeland since 2003 were called – was continuing with impunity. The lack of pressure to bring accused criminals before the Court had emboldened the Government to virtually ignore what was going on. There must be accountability for mass killings, rape and destruction of countless villages, said Ms. Ahmadi, who is a founding member of the Darfuri Leaders Network.

She said that Harun’s appointment had sent a “damaging message” that those committing crimes in Darfur would not be held accountable. It had also humiliated the people of the region, sending them the message that rights abusers could do whatever they wanted in their homeland. Among other troubling signs, she said that the Khartoum Government was relocating people of Arab descent to the Darfur region and giving them automatic citizenship, and that gender based violence was also on the rise.

“It is time for silence to end,” she said calling on the international community to back the Court’s efforts to hold criminals accountable. Darfurians would not give up, but they needed support. Accountability was the key and without it many Darfurians were left feeling dejected and ignored. They deserved to see justice done and “even if they lost a lot”, the groundwork would be laid so that such atrocities would not be committed in the future.

Calling strongly on the African Union to get behind the Court and its Prosecutor, Dismas Nkunda, Co-Director of the International Refugee Rights Initiative and co-Chair of the Darfur Consortium, said that regional body – and African leaders – were skirting this issue of accountability and justice. Even though it had been the only organization working in the region since the beginning of the conflict, the African Union had been strangely silent on the issue.

“The African Union has a duty, for the benefit of all African people and the people of the world, to see justice done,” he said. Stressing that Africa was on record as having the most States parties to the Court’s founding Rome Statute, he admitted that he was confounded and dismayed by Africa’s response. “Why are they using kid gloves?” he asked. He called on African Union chief Konaré to make it unequivocally clear that the African people demanded, required – and were deserving of – justice. “We want them to show leadership from an African perspective.”

Responding to questions, he said that “those criminals [charged by the Court] should be sitting in a prison cell in The Hague”. Justice and accountability were an absolute necessity to ensure lasting peace in Darfur. If the Chair of the African Union travelled to the Sudan again, stood in the Presidential palace and said nothing about justice or suggested that justice be deferred, “it is a slap in the face to the entire continent”. If that ended up being the case, “We will feel, Mr. Konaré, that you have let us down as a continent.”

Ahead of the talks convened by the Secretary-General and other political initiatives on the Darfur crisis, expected to be discussed when world leaders converge on New York next week for the General Assembly’s annual general debate, Sara Dareshori, Senior Council in the International Justice Programme of Human Rights Watch, said that what was said or not said about justice in the coming days would send an important message to Khartoum about the international community’s commitment to the Court.

Frustrated that there had been near total silence on the issue and lack of public support for the arrest warrants issued by the Court, she said that “not a peep had been uttered in protest” – not by the Secretary-General, not by Member States. The fact that the international community “had turned a blind eye” had not been lost on Khartoum. The Sudanese Government continued to show utter contempt for the rule of law, and had even appointed Harun, the very man who had allegedly orchestrated attacks on civilians, as humanitarian minister during Secretary-General Ban’s recent visit.

“It’s time to break the silence of justice on this issue,” she said, rejecting the argument posed by some that drawing attention to the issue would be an obstacle to the imminent launch of the hybrid African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). That argument didn’t hold water because the Government had been objecting to international peacekeepers since 2004, long before the Court’s criminal charges had been filed. Indeed, Khartoum had its own strategy and United Nations and African Union member countries must counter that strategy by emphasizing that “justice is not a moral luxury”. Silence now would make it more difficult to enforce the warrants later, she added.