Darfur Stalemate

In a statement to the Security Council, Sudan hardened its opposition to a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur, saying it would consider UN peacekeepers in Darfur a “hostile act” and a “prelude to invasion.” In response, the Security Council met for a special session yesterday to condemn Sudanese defiance.Column Lynch’s Washington Post piece captures a revealing quote from Jean-Marie Guehenno, the head of UN peacekeeping, who suggests that the situation may be becoming intractable. Lynch writes, “Guehenno told reporters on Wednesday that the United Nations is not equipped to fight a war and that it cannot send peacekeepers into Darfur without the consent of the Sudanese authorities. He added that UN members have not been ‘forthcoming’ with pledges of peacekeepers for the new force. ‘When you try to apply peacekeeping to any kind of situation and confuse peacekeeping with peace enforcement, you run very quickly into great difficulties,’ he said.”

This temporary paralysis is threatening to become self-reinforcing: the United Nations cannot deploy peacekeepers until Sudan gives consent. And all the while, potential troop contributing countries are reluctant to supply forces to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) because of Sudanese opposition. Absent bilateral pressure applied to Sudan from key members of the Security Council, it is hard to see a way out of this stalemate.