Global Advocacy Briefing
Sudan: a Responsibility to Protect
The May 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement promised to stop the horrific violence in western Sudan, yet it was too limited to be effective and has been ignored by Khartoum. Sudanese leaders continue to hamper humanitarian aid and support the raiding and burning of villages and the rape and murder committed by the militia group, the janjaweed. Hundreds of thousands have died and millions displaced. The Government of Sudan must be held accountable for the security and democratic future of the people of Darfur, and this objective must be vigorously pursued by the U.S. and United Nations in the context of credible progress on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between northern and southern Sudan.
A pastoral letter released March 7 and signed by UCC and Disciples General Ministers and Presidents John Thomas and Sharon Watkins, Global Ministries Co-Executives David Vargas and Cally Rogers Witte, and Africa Office Executive Sandra Gourdet, expresses "As Christians, we realize that we must share in the responsibility to protect human life." The Psalmist declares that the blood of the needy is precious in God's sight and that they should be redeemed from oppression and violence (Ps. 72:12-14). The resolution "Promoting Peace for All in the Sudan," passed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ in 2005, called for the Sudanese government to cease what has been recognized as genocide against its own citizens, and to engage with the international community in efforts to obtain a comprehensive peace that includes Darfuris and "all Sudanese, regardless of race, gender, or color."
U.S. Special Envoy Andrew Natsios pledged to increase U.S. pressure and sanctions on Khartoum if it did not by January 1, 2007 permit UN peacekeepers to join the limited African Union force attempting to intervene in Darfur. Yet Khartoum's obstruction persists because it knows the U.S. is unwilling to force it; the U.S. won't pressure China into UN Security Council sanctions against Sudan because it needs China's help economically and diplomatically, and the U.S. doesn't want to alienate Sudan which has been on the fence as an ally in the War on Terror. The American people must urge the Bush Administration to lead in the Security Council to exercise sanctions and other measures if the Sudanese government refuses to comply in disarming the janjaweed and implementing the United Nations plan for an expanded peace-keeping presence in Darfur. Only sufficient protection of civilians will ensure adequate access for humanitarian agencies to deliver critically needed assistance, including food, to the internally displaced.
On February 27 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the first war crimes indictments against a Sudanese Minister and a militia leader shown to bear clear responsibility for rape and murder in Darfur. The U.S. through the UN Security Council should also encourage the Sudanese government to end the impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sudan by supporting the efforts of the ICC to indict and prosecute perpetrators. As Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin said in the Senate following the indictments, "it is an act of accountability, when up to now there has been none." Sen. Durbin continued in his speech: "[I]f you firmly believe that the genocide in Darfur must end, start by seeing what you can do personally. ... [W]e must understand that if we use the word and fail to act, what does it say of us?"
To focus members of the UCC and Disciples on the urgent need to respond to the crisis in the Sudan, we are beginning an emphasis called Sudan: A Responsibility to Protect. This is a place where background materials, worship resources, updates and opportunities for action will be posted. Our UCC and Disciples church leaders conclude their March 7 letter with this appeal:
"We urge members of our two churches and all those who are compelled to stand in solidarity with the people of the Sudan/Darfur to continue to pray, study and discern. We encourage action in all forms:
We firmly believe that 1 John 3:18 is calling us to love not only in word or speech, but in truth and action and that God's spirit is calling for peace and justice on behalf of the people of Sudan/Darfur. Let us heed God's call for lasting peace during this Lenten season."
Pastoral Letter from Disciples and UCC Leaders About Sudan
Sudan: A Responsibility to Protect