Security Council Vote on Darfur

As noted below, the Security Council approved a new resolution establishing the 26,000-strong United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, UNAMID. Remember that acronym, because for the next many months the central tasks facing the international community on Darfur will center around: 1) actually raising the requisite troops for UNAMID; 2) providing UNAMID with a steady funding stream; 3) making sure Khartoum actually permits UNAMID troops to enter Darfur.

None of these challenges will be easy. The Secretary General cannot wave a magic wand and summon peacekeepers — rather, he must depend on the contributions of member states. Also, at $2 billion this mission will be the most expensive peacekeeping operation in the world — and cash is not exactly in surplus at UN Peacekeeping. Still, this resolution presents a major step forward. In every previous Security Council resolution on Darfur, China (which has extensive financial and business relations with Khartoum)had helped to water down the text, only to abstain in the end. But this time, China voted for, rather than abstained from the resolution.

To be sure, at China’s request the council dropped the threat of sanctions. But it kept intact harsh language under Chapter VII of the UN Charter–which permits the use of force in the event of Khartoum’s non-compliance. This is a big step forward in Chinese diplomacy toward Sudan.

The Security Council — for the very first time — is unified around sending peacekeepers to Darfur. With China finally on board, it will be much, much harder for Khartoum to resist signing a status of forces agreement with the UN.