The brutal and deplorable September 29 attack on African Union peacekeepers is a stark reminder of the threats that UNAMID — an important component of the overall solution — faces in Darfur. This attack, and the continued fracturing of Darfur’s rebel groups, also severely diminishes the prospects for success at peace talks set to begin in Libya later this month. Nonetheless, assertive diplomacy, cooperation and coordination from international donors, and the judicious use of targeted pressures can overcome the obstacles, get the force on the ground, and set the stage for the only thing that can bring an end to Darfur’s long nightmare — a viable peace process.
To my dismay, the report does not address the particulars of what would make peace stick in Darfur. And I, for one, would love to know what the report’s authors (John Prendergast, Colin Thomas-Jensen, and Julia Spiegel) have to say about the forthcoming peace conference in Tripoli. How, for example, could the international community help secure buy-in from intransigent rebels and also leverage Khartoum’s cooperation?
UNAMID cannot simply impose a peace on Darfur. And absent an underlying peace to keep, it is unclear what UNAMID’s mission will be, other than civilian protection and securing lines of humanitarian access. That said, I am convinced by the trio’s argument that, at the very least, demonstrating progress toward the deployment of UNAMID adds value to the peace process. And to that end, Enough offers specific recommendations abbout how to hasten that deployment. For starters, donor countries need to beef up pledges of logistical and financial support to UNAMID from donor nations. (Offers of peacekeepers from troop contributing countries like Pakistan, Malaysia, and India have been forthcoming. Logistical support from key developed nations and NATO has not. To make matters worse, the administration’s new budget would only pay 20% of America’s share of the mission in Darfur.) Enough also recommends that the Security Council increase pressure on Khartoum, which continues to obstruct the deployment of UNAMID through bureaucratic and diplomatic roadblocks. The Council, says the report, should consider another round of targeted sanctions.
Finally, Enough suggests that the AU should back away from insisting that the force be “all African” and let the UN assume command and control of the mission. “At the planning and operations levels,” says the report. “The resources at the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations dwarf and threaten to overwhelm the AU secretariat’s nascent peacekeeping unit. The Security Council, in particular the five permanent members and the three African members, should work assiduously behind the scenes to cement agreement from [the AU] on the participation of non-African forces and affirmation of the UN’s command and control role.”
Absent anyone of these three elements, deployment UNAMID will have a difficult time getting off the ground.