UNITED NATIONS -- The UN Security Council
authorized on Tuesday up to 26,000 troops and police for Darfur in an effort to
protect civilians and quell violence in Sudan's vast arid western region.
Expected to cost more than $2 billion in the first year, the combined United
Nations-African Union operation aims to quell violence in Darfur, where more
than 2.1 million people have been driven into camps and an estimated 200,000
have died over the last four years.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the resolution as "historic" and
urged member states to offer "capable" troops quickly.
The resolution, number 1769, invokes Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, under which
the United Nations can authorize force. The measure allows the use of force to
be used for self defense, to ensure the free movement of humanitarian workers
and to protect civilians under attack.
But the resolution, which has been watered down several times, no longer
allows the new force to seize and dispose of illegal arms. Now they can only
monitor such weapons.
Gone also is a threat of future sanctions, but British Prime Minister Gordon
Brown warned on Tuesday that "if any party blocks progress and the killings
continue, I and others will redouble our efforts to impose further sanctions."
"The plan for Darfur from now on is to achieve a cease-fire, including an end
to aerial bombings of civilians; drive forward peace talks ... and, as peace is
established, offer to begin to invest in recovery and reconstruction," he said
on a visit to the United Nations.
Britain and France are the main sponsors of the resolution.
Specifically, the text authorizes up to 19,555 military personnel and 6,432
Troops Mostly from Africa
The resolution calls on member states to finalize their contributions to the
new force, called UNAMID or the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur,
within 30 days. UNAMID would incorporate the under-equipped and under-financed
7,000 African Union troops now in Darfur.
Rape, looting, murder and government bombardment drove millions from their
homes in Darfur, where mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003,
accusing Khartoum of neglecting their arid region. The rebels have now split
into a dozen groups, many fighting each other.
Sudan, after months of hesitation, has agreed to the troop numbers, but UN
officials expect it will take a year to get the force in place. Khartoum also
has to agree to allow units from individual countries into Sudan.
Infantry soldiers will be drawn mainly from African nations unless not enough
Africans can be recruited. Personnel from elsewhere in the world are expected to
be used for specialized engineering and in command headquarters. The United
States is restricting its contribution to transporting troops to Darfur and
helping to pay for the operation.
The new headquarters should be running by October 31, and UN members were
urged to cover costs as soon as possible for the under-financed African Union
The timetable is then staggered so the combined force will be in charge of
all operations by December 31.
The resolution asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report to the council
every 30 days on implementation of the resolution and progress on a political
settlement. The United Nations and the AU are attempting to organize a peace
conference among a myriad of rebel groups and the government.