Remarks on the Current Policy Options for Darfur

Carlos Pascual
Carlos Pascual Former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Senior Vice President for Global Energy - IHS Markit, Former Brookings expert

April 13, 2006

I think internal pressure within the United States and internal advocacy is important, and let me just recap these things.

First of all, support for the African Union peacekeeping force. Regardless of what its limitations might be, if it is not strengthened and if it is not there, the situation is going to be worse. They are under a major funding gap with supplementals before the Hill. That needs to be passed and those resources need to be moved forward.

Second is the U.S. role with the United Nations and funding for the United Nations mission. If indeed it moves to a U.N. mission, resources are needed to be made available extensively and very quickly. This will come at a particularly complex time. I think that many of you aware that the U.S. dues to the United Nations were only provided on a 6-month basis, and that critical point will come to a junction in June. So regardless of what the United States is doing more broadly in its position vis-à-vis the U.N., that cannot and should not be used as a barrier to obstructing and slowing down U.S. funding for a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan and in Darfur. If that happens, it will be in effect actually allowing the atrocities to go on because it will not give us the capacity to put on the grounds the kinds of peacekeepers that are necessary to try to keep at least to a minimum the level of violence.

Another issue related to the United Nations I think that is important to underscore is this Responsibility to Protect. There is legal authority already within the U.N. to be able to act on this using Chapter VII peacekeeping resolutions. This does not need a new legal authority within the U.N. Hence, the U.N. has the capacity to mobilize itself and show the political will to act on the responsibility to protect using a Chapter VII resolution.

Another point is the role that NATO can play. It has been underscored before, but if the United States wants NATO to be a serious support in planning and logistical activities where there is an absolutely crucial need, the United States is going to have to be willing and able to put some of its own troops on the ground in support of that NATO mission. Otherwise, we will simply be calling on the other countries of NATO to act on our behalf, and it will not be credible. So as we continue to work this issue, we not only have to make the moral exhortations, we have to show that we are willing to support that with resources and with troops as well.

The need for U.S. humanitarian assistance is obviously tremendous. As Deputy Secretary Zoellick indicated, we are supplying 86 percent of the World Food Program’s pledge, and only about 85 percent of the pledge is actually being met. So to do the math, somewhere about 65 percent of the needs are actually being met, so 35 percent of the needs are simply being unmet, and those are not exactly lush rations. So there is a huge need to sustain the pressure for addressing those humanitarian needs.

In addition to that, I think it is absolutely critical that the public keep on pressing Congress, the Administration, and the international community to be thinking ahead to the future, because the only way that you are going to have a sustainable situation in Darfur is if some of the root causes that were there that led to the conflict to begin with, in particular, increased environmental degradation, the tension between nomadic herders and sedentary farmers, problems with water, issues that existed in Darfur for the last 50 years and have been getting more worse over time, those issues are not being addressed and the resources are not being put in place to actually address these kinds of questions. We are going to revisit this again in 5 or 10 years, it is going to happen again, so we have to put those resources on the table.

I think it is particularly important that we also keep thinking about the situation in the South, and ironically, some of the sanctions that we have in place are now precluding the international financial institutions, particularly the World Bank, combined with Sudan’s debt, from actually playing a role in addressing the very vast infrastructure needs in the South. The U.N. in playing a role in the management of trust funds that bilateral are putting together, but it is not actually able to lend World Bank money in order to address some of the vast needs in the South, and this is an issue that can be tackled with creativity.

Finally, I think it is worth noting that Hu Jintao will be in town in about a week, and China obviously has been a very key player in the situation in Sudan. It is a principal investor and the principal consumer of oil resources, and this is one of those opportunities where it is absolutely critical for the leaders of our country and the Congress to ensure that the issues of Sudan and Darfur are on the agenda.