The Flawed Options in Darfur

The long-sought African Union-United Nations joint peacekeeping force for Darfur has now been approved. But several roadblocks still stand in the way, making it very difficult for the joint AU-UN mission to bring about a peaceful settlement to the Darfur conflict.

The long-sought joint peacekeeping force for Darfur, which would combine the existing 7,000-man African Union force with as many as 20,000 additional military personnel and civilian police under UN command, has now been approved. But several roadblocks still stand in the way, making it very difficult for the joint AU-UN mission to bring about a peaceful settlement to the Darfur conflict.

Although UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pressed the UN Security Council to move rapidly to authorize the proposed joint force, member governments remain deadlocked over its mandate. With the encouragement of Sudan’s government, China and Russia have thus far blocked a resolution sponsored by Britain and France that would allow the proposed hybrid force “to use all necessary means” to protect humanitarian workers and other civilians. Sudan’s UN ambassador has called for a draft whose language is “more Sudan-friendly.”

Moreover, UN analysts estimate that most of the additional troops will not arrive in Darfur until early next year. The preceding phase envisages only providing the existing AU force with extra logistical support from non-African countries, such as engineers from China.

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