UNITED NATIONS — UNITED NATIONS - The Security Council passed a resolution yesterday that threatens the Sudanese government with punitive measures if it does not disarm and prosecute Arab militias that have forced black Africans off their land in the Darfur region through a campaign of killing, rape and pillage.
The vote on the U.S.-crafted resolution was 13-0 with China and Pakistan abstaining.
Passage was achieved after the United States revised the measure Thursday to drop the word "sanctions" and substitute a reference to a part of the U.N. charter that in effect lays out sanctions as the consequence of noncompliance with the demands of the resolution.
Principal among those demands is the call on the government in Khartoum to show tangible progress within 30 days in disarming and bringing to justice the government-supported marauding militias. Under the terms of the measure, the Security Council will receive reports every month on whether Sudan is fulfilling its commitments or should be subject to international sanctions.
The Arab militias, known as Janjaweed and supported by the Sudanese government, are accused of killing up to 30,000 black Africans and gang-raping women and girls, destroying crops and polluting water supplies in a campaign that U.N. officials say constitutes ethnic cleansing and the U.S. Congress has called genocide. More than 1 million people have fled their land into refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad.
John C. Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a former Bush administration special envoy to Sudan, told the council that it had long been his hope to see Sudan emerge as a "model of ethnic reconciliation."
"The last thing we wanted to do was lay the groundwork for sanctions," he said. "But the government of Sudan has left us no choice."
The measure, jointly sponsored by Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Chile and Romania, also places an immediate arms embargo on all fighters in Darfur and calls on the government to end all restrictions on relief workers and equipment in the area.
Pakistan and China said they abstained out of concern that Sudan was not given enough time to live up to its commitments and that outside action would be complicating rather than helpful.
The Sudanese ambassador, Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, said he was "overwhelmed with sorrow and sadness over the hasty resolution" and said it came at a time when his government "is in a race for time to implement its agreement with the United Nations."
Sudan signed a joint communique in Khartoum with the U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan, on July 3 pledging to rein in the violence in Darfur, and Erwa said yesterday that that accord was now being used as a "Trojan horse" by "some activists within the U.S. administration" to bring military pressure on the Islamic government in Khartoum.
He said that his government had responded immediately to the terms of the communique, deploying police officers and arresting militia members, but that the Security Council had ignored this progress in response to "colonial" pressures from Washington.