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US Sanctions on Sudan over Darfur.

The humanitarian emergency on the Darfur region of Sudan continues. Instability in Darfur (in the eastern part of Sudan) increases the violence in Chad and in the Central African Republic. Displaced and brutalized people, links between rebels and governments and divided opposition groups add to the complexity. What has President Bush proposed? Will the proposals work?

On Tuesday 29th May President Bush announced the imposition of economic sanctions on Sudan in an effort to gain the cooperation of the Sudanese Government with international efforts to halt the violence in Darfur and neighboring states. Sudan has had pressure applied before and the pressure worked, in particular with respect to the problems in southern Sudan where peace was restored as the result of an agreement brokered in 2005. The current issue is the full deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Darfur. President Bush made it clear that he is going ahead with the sanctions because ‘President Bashir’s actions over the past few weeks follow a long pattern of promising cooperation while finding new methods of obstruction’. The United States first talked of ‘genocide’ in Darfur some three years ago.

The new United States actions, set out by Bush, are to be three-fold. First ‘the United States will more aggressively enforce existing sanctions’ whilst adding new Sudanese companies to the list of those excluded 'from the United States financial system’. Second, individuals known to be active in the pursuit of violence in Darfur will be debarred ‘from the U.S. financial system’ and this will prevent them from doing business with American citizens. Third, the President directed ‘the Secretary of State to consult with the United Kingdom and other allies on a new United Nations Security Council resolution’ that will provide the possibility of further economic sanctions against Sudan. Efforts—such as the diplomatic efforts of Ban Ki-Moon and the cooperation between the UN and the African Union— already being pursued by the United Nations will continue to be supported. Bush made it clear that the United States was strengthening the multilateral approach and hence recognizing the need for a broad range of additional diplomatic initiatives.

What seems to be happening with respect to Darfur is the search for a series of coordinated diplomatic actions that will attempt to deal with the complexities of the problem. Securing the active cooperation of Khartoum, rather than the passive resistance that has been in evidence to date, is clearly of key significance. In addition, the actions proposed will attempt to directly shame and punish (economically at least) those who are primarily responsible for organizing the violence. Promoting peace means that accompanying diplomatic initiatives will need to: prevent further Sudanese government action; unite the rebel opposition into one negotiating body; bring the links between governments and rebels to an end and tackle the issues of poverty and wealth-sharing. The complex situation in southern Sudan proved to be amenable to a settlement. The process there could serve as a recent historical model for resolving the situation in Darfur. Such a process needs close supervision and the consistent application of, and careful coordination of, negotiating expertise. Critics of US policy have called for a sustained multilateral engagement with the Darfur issue. This now seems to be a possibility.