Position and Response of the African
Union on the Darfur Crisis as being Genocide
FOR ORAL REPLY
QUESTION NO 99
QUESTION TIME: 3 NOVEMBER 2004
MR KO BAPELA (ANC) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
(1) Whether the position of the United States on the
Darfur crisis as being genocide has been officially
communicated to the African Union; if so, what was the
AU' response in this regard;
(2) Whether the response of Egypt, Libya and Sudan in
this regard is compatible with that of the AU; if not,
why not; if so, how and why?
1. The United States Senate during its 108th Congress
declared on 13 July 2004 "that the atrocities unfolding
in Darfur, Sudan, are genocide". Despite this stance
retained by the United States, no other country or international
organisation has classified the crisis in Darfur, Sudan
in the same category.
It should be stressed that the humanitarian situation
in Darfur is precarious and one should not make light
of the dire circumstances that the people in that region
are experiencing. This factor is highlighted by the
African Union (and supported by South Africa) in its
Communiqué at the launching of the 10th Meeting
of the Peace and Security Council on 25 May 2004 when
that body reiterated "its concern over the prevailing
situation in Darfur, particularly the continuing humanitarian
crisis and the reported human rights violations committed
in the region since the beginning of the crisis".
However, to label the crisis something that it is not
will only add fuel to an already volatile situation.
The United Nations for example, has classified the situation
in Darfur as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis"
while the African Union - the only institution that
presently has a permanent Observer Mission in Darfur
- stated through the Peace and Security Council (25
May 2004) that it continued to be concerned about the
prevailing situation in Darfur, "particularly the
continued humanitarian crisis and the reported human
rights violations". The present chair of the African
Union's PSC (Cameroon) placed issues in perspective
when he stated earlier this month that, "abuses
are taking place. There is mass suffering, but it is
The fact that the Government of Sudan has facilitated
assistance (through such channels as the granting of
visas and in some cases protection) to various members
of civil society organisation - as reflected by the
fact that there are presently 6 000 aid workers operating
in Darfur (as opposed to less than 30 in 2003) - hardly
reflects the actions of a country practising genocide.
The fact that the President of the highly respected
humanitarian organisation 'Medecins Sans Frontieres
(MSF), Dr Jean-Herve Brado recently stated that the
term genocide was inappropriate, places a more comprehensive
and realistic perspective on the present humanitarian
crisis in Darfur.
2. Countries within the North African Region such as
Egypt and Libya have a direct interest in developments
in the Sudan. These collective interests are expanded
upon within the forum that the African Union provides.
Compliance with the multilateral objectives of the AU
is met through discussion and negotiation with agreement
by all parties being the ultimate objective. The fact
that Sudan has recently approached the African Union
to send additional Peacekeepers to Darfur reflects the
credibility and objectivity of the institution as well
as the trust African countries have in their own institutions.