Sudan’s FM rejects ‘biased’ UN proposal on human rights mechanism

Sudanese refugees seek shelter from a sandstorm in the border town of Amdafok in the Central African Republic (Xavier Bourgois / UNHCR)

The United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, and the United States of America jointly presented a draft resolution before the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) 54th session in Geneva yesterday, to establish an independent investigation mechanism concerning human rights violations in Sudan. The Sudanese Foreign Ministry rejected the draft, saying it ‘lacked objectivity and fairness’.

In a statement issued Sunday, human rights group DefendDefenders urged member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to endorse the proposed resolution to establish an independent investigative mechanism on human rights violations in Sudan “without delay”.

Hassan Shire, executive director of DefendDefenders and chairperson of AfricanDefenders, expressed concern in the statement over “escalating reports of violence, including sexual and interethnic violence, as well as violations of international law by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and their allies”.

Calling upon the HRC to send a clear message to those responsible for these violations, he asserted that “the Council’s failure to do so, and its inability to establish an independent investigation and accountability mechanism, would only embolden perpetrators, foster impunity, and potentially lead to further atrocities”.

Shire criticised the UN Security Council’s inaction and paralysis, stressing that “lasting peace in Sudan cannot be achieved without accountability”. Touching upon the special session held by the Human Rights Council on May 11, the executive director viewed it as a step in the right direction but felt it “lacked a clear message of solidarity and hope for the Sudanese people”.

Regarding mediation initiatives, which he believes “achieved little progress toward achieving a sustainable ceasefire, safe humanitarian corridors, and peace talks”, Shire expressed doubt that future mediation efforts would prioritise human rights and accountability.

“Voting against the draft resolution would be deemed shameful, while abstaining from voting should be considered the minimum response”, the director asserted. “A vote in favour of the resolution would be a significant step toward formulating an objective and coherent response to one of the most serious human rights crises in the world.”

Foreign ministry response

The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs categorically rejected the draft resolution proposed by the UK, the US, Germany, and Norway to the Human Rights Council.

In a statement published yesterday, the Foreign Ministry lamented that “despite collective rejection by the Arab Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the African Union, Britain and other Western countries persist with the draft resolution”.

The ministry criticised the draft resolution for its perceived ‘lack of objectivity and fairness’, “as it equated the Sudanese army with the RSF and called for the formation of a so-called fact-finding committee”.

The statement argues that the resolution “comes at a time when the SAF is fulfilling its constitutional, legal, and moral responsibilities in defending the country” against what they considered a “foreign invasion, in accordance with the United Nations Charter”.

The ministry also contended that serious crimes committed by the RSF had not received the condemnation they deserved, “with some Western powers seeking to impede appropriate action”.

In explaining its rejection of the decision, the ministry asserted that the draft resolution provided a biased description of the situation in Sudan and unfairly prejudiced the Sudanese Armed Forces. It argued that the resolution “did not consider Sudan’s current priorities, which include ending the rebellion”.

On September 1, 117 Sudanese, regional and international human rights organisations jointly called on the Human Rights Council to establish an independent mechanism “tasked with investigating human rights violations and abuses committed by all parties and advancing accountability in Sudan, without delay”.