UNSC gets failing grade on 2004 African conflicts
Immediate: Thursday 18 November 2004
UN Security Council given failing grade on African conflicts in 2004
The UN Security Council has failed so far this year to respond adequately to conflicts in Africa, states a new report card released by international agency Oxfam today. Oxfam is urging the Council to put this record behind them as they meet in Nairobi tomorrow and Friday, and undertake a mission to the Great Lakes next week.
The report, released ahead of the Council’s historic meeting in Nairobi, ranks the UN body poorly on its efforts to help push for peace and protect civilians in forgotten and deadly conflicts in neighbouring DRC and Northern Uganda, as well as in Sudan.
“As the eyes of the world are on the Council’s unique meeting in Nairobi and trip to the Great Lakes region, now is the time to address forgotten African conflicts that have claimed millions of lives,” said Oxfam New Zealand Executive Director Barry Coates.
“We urge the Council to turn words into concrete actions to stop the ongoing violence and address the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. They must also, together with the African Union, take early action in response to new crises before they spiral out of control.” said Coates.
Oxfam focused particularly on the Security Council’s failure in Northern Uganda. A war has raged here for a generation, claiming thousands of lives and causing 1.6 million to flee their homes.
“The Security Council has left the situation in Northern Uganda to fester for two deadly decades, said Coates. “It has largely ignored the situation and has never passed a resolution addressing the crisis. This appalling negligence has resulted in lives lost.”
As Council members discuss a resolution on Sudan and meet the African Union and the Inter-governmental Authority on Development, the meeting in Nairobi gives them an opportunity to come a step closer to seeing the impact of their decisions on the conflicts they seek to solve.
“The response to the crisis in Darfur has been characterized by internal wrangling, months of delays and half-hearted action. In contrast the Council’s response in Cote d’Ivoire shows that they are capable of acting swiftly when they want to,” said Oxfam’s Coates.
“African people will be looking to the Security Council’s visit to be more than just a token – the UN must deliver real action to deal with Africa’s conflicts.” said Coates.
Oxfam’s Report Card:
UN Security Council record this year
Progress this year: After years of civil war that has claimed the lives of up to 3 million people, a UN authorised intervention force helped to stabilise areas of conflict in Ituri. However, instability remains in the east and massacres have continued - in some areas under the noses of UN troops. Kofi Annan recently requested an increase in troops from 10,800 to 23,900, but the Security Council authorised less than half that and deployment has not progressed.
Assessment: An important challenge to which the Council has failed to rise. Requests for more support have met with lukewarm response. The Council has not galvanised the world.
Progress this year: The Council has not passed a single resolution on the ongoing war in Northern Uganda, though Under-Secretary-General Jan Egeland’s November report called this the world’s worst forgotten crisis. Children are still being abducted and killed, millions remain homeless, 30,000 are forced to flee to Kitgum town every night.
Assessment: Council attention is long overdue and urgently required to catalyse the peace process and insist that vulnerable civilians be protected.
Progress this year: Internal divisions have kept the Council from reacting quickly and appropriately to the massive humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Very limited steps have been taken to restrain the parties, end impunity, and support an African-led protection force. Violence and insecurity continue to plague Darfur, where up to 70,000 have died and 1.7 million been forced to flee their homes. Attention to the North-South peace talks has been more promising, with the upcoming meeting in Nairobi expected to yield results.
Assessment: As a major focus of world attention, the Council has been forced to take some limited steps, though these are woefully inadequate given the scale of the crisis. Thousands of lives and the Council’s credibility now depend on its ability to follow-through and hold the parties to their commitments.
Progress this year. A peacekeeping force was deployed last year, but only after several months of fighting that cost many lives. 15,000 troops were eventually deployed, combatants were disarmed and situation stabilised. However, attention has since waned and the reconstruction process is now progressing very slowly, which could again jeopardize the stability of the country.
Assessment: An example of how the Security Council can perform and deploy large numbers of troops once it finally gets into gear, but the delay cost lives.
Progress this year: The Council authorized peacekeepers and rapidly passed resolutions in response to renewed violence.
Assessment: On top of long-term peacekeeping work, the Security Council has responded quickly to a recent test. A good example of how the Council can respond when there is sufficient political will.