UN rights council votes to strengthen monitoring of abuses in Sudan

Ahram Online , AP , AFP , Thursday 11 May 2023

The United Nations' top rights body narrowly decided Thursday to beef up monitoring of abuses amid Sudan's spiralling conflict, despite vehement opposition from Khartoum.

The Human Rights Council during a special session devoted to Sudan.
The Human Rights Council during a special session devoted to Sudan. AFP


The UN Human Rights Council's 47 members voted with 18 in favour, 15 opposed and 14 abstaining for a resolution calling for an end to the violence and broadening the mandate of a UN expert on Sudan to include monitoring of abuses "arising directly from the current conflict".

The fighting in Sudan started as a result of a power struggle between the chief of Sudan’s military, Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and rival Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF.

During the opening speech, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk accused both sides of violating international humanitarian law.

Turk accused the Sudanese military of launching attacks in densely populated areas and the RSF of taking over “numerous buildings" in the capital, Khartoum, to use as "operation bases, evicting residents and launching attacks."

The call to hold the special session was led by Western countries and joined by others, including Chile, Costa Rica, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. Europe and the United States co-sponsored the draft resolution.

While all representatives unanimously called for de-escalation to the ensuring conflict, some expressed skepticism about the draft.

"We regret that this draft resolution includes wording that this council has not yet had time to debate and which would warrant an in-depth examination,” said Salim Baddoura, Lebanon's representative to the U.N. office in Geneva. He provided no further details.

The conflict has so far killed more than 600 people, including civilians, and displaced hundreds of thousands. The violence has also spread to other regions, namely the restive Darfur province.

The U.N. has raised concerns about the plight of civilians caught up in the crossfire and worries about food security and aid deliverie s, and urged support for neighboring countries hosting people fleeing the ongoing violence.

“We have also received several reports alleging sexual violence by uniformed men, as well as allegations of unlawful killings and enforced disappearances,” Turk said.

Echoing Turk's remarks, the U.S. ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Michèle Taylor, condemned the targeting of hospitals and healthcare providers. Amid the fighting, numerous hospitals across Khartoum have been damaged and forced to close.

Separately, dozens of independent experts working with the U.N. rights office issued a joint statement Thursday, citing reports that “civilians of all ages are experiencing various human rights abuses,” in Sudan, including sexual assault, gender-based violence, looting, and shortages of food, water and healthcare.

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