Weekly News Brief June 22-28

*Late, but FYI.

Peacekeeping:

Sudan-

Although the United Nations recently celebrated 60 years of Peacekeeping, the critics of the missions have not backed down. On Tuesday the Security Council asked the United Nations to investigate the Peacekeeper’s involvement in the controversial area of Abyei, in which violence erupted on May 20th, displacing an estimated 50,000 Sudanese. UN envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson accused the United Nations Mission in Sudan(UNMIS) of hiding during the violence rather then protecting civilians and fulfilling their mandate. The accusation was quickly rejected, and although the situation is still unstable, measures are being taken to ensure that tensions do not escalate in Abyei.

Six months have passed since the beginning of the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur(UNAMID), and hopes are dimming that this mission, intended to be the largest peacekeeping mission to date, will succeed. At full deployment, there are supposed to be 26,000 troops on the ground in Darfur, when in reality, only about 9,000 have been deployed. One of the hindrances to full-deployment is the ongoing violence in the region. In a briefing with the Security Council, Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, stated that without Sudanese cooperation, political will, and a committment to implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, we will not make progress. Despite the international community’s efforts or failures, the Sudanese must desire to solve their own problems and have peace within their country.

Zimbabwe

After tensions flared between President Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai before the upcoming run-off elections, Tsvangirai decided to drop out of the elections. Although many, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon were upset by the news, all agree that the precaution was understandable. Although criticism of Mugabe and the sham election have been commonplace this week, Mugabe is still calling for elections, even though he is now the only candidate.

Tsvangirai has now called for UN peacekeepers to enter Zimbabwe, in the hopes of settling political unrest. He was cited in the Guardian as the author of an op-ed piece claiming that intervention by the UN was the only way to end the injustice in Zimbabwe. Soon after the piece was published, Tsvangirai was quoted denying the authorship of the op-ed.

International Criminal Court:

At the beginning of the week, President Bashir of Sudan vowed to the ICC, “I swear to God, I swear to God, I swear to God, we will not hand over any Sudanese to the International Court.” The arrest warrants for Haroun and Kushayb were issued a year ago, but Bashir has continuously rejected handing over the two leaders. ICC prosecutor OCampo is due to issue more indictments of high-level officials in the Khartoum government sometime next month. The anticipation of further indictments prompted Bashir to contemplate handing over the two suspects, “as a protection from further indictments,” said a senior Sudanese official. Nothing has come of this yet, but with the indictments approaching, there is controversial speculation that OCampo will indict President Bashir.

Former US Special Envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios recently attended a forum on Sudan at the U.S. Institute for Peace, where he made statements warning the consequences of indicting further senior-level officials, as well as President Bashir. Natsios spoke of his meeting with ICC prosecuter Luis-Moreno Ocampo, in which he failed to convince Ocampo that justice was a threat to peace in Darfur. There has been others who have spoken up on the subject, including co-authors of Darfur: A New History of a Long War, Julie Flint and Alex De Waal. Ocampo’s indictments should be expected within the next few weeks.

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