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Calling For the Suspension of Sudan's Membership on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

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Location: Washington, DC


CALLING FOR THE SUSPENSION OF SUDAN'S MEMBERSHIP ON THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS -- (House of Representatives - September 22, 2004)

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and concur in the Senate concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 137) calling for the suspension of Sudan's membership on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

In April of 2004, Mr. Speaker, at the same time as world leaders were gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, to remember the Rwandan genocide of 10 years earlier, a humanitarian cease-fire was signed between the government of Sudan, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army, and the Sudan Justice and Equality Movement to end the atrocities and reverse the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The agreement was facilitated by the U.S., European Union, the African Union and the United Nations. All parties agreed to take immediate steps to stop the violence and atrocities being perpetrated by the Janjaweed militias.

Sadly, the agreement was not worth the paper it was written on, and the violence continued. The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan later said, "The only difference between Rwanda and Darfur now is the numbers involved." President Bush confirmed this conclusion on September 9 by declaring "The United States is appalled by the violence in Darfur, Sudan. The world cannot ignore the suffering of more than 1 million people."

Mr. Speaker, despite the best efforts of the U.S. Government, including the extraordinary efforts of Ambassador Williamson at the U.N. Conference in Geneva, and I was there and I saw it up close and personal, he did an extraordinary job; Sudan was given nothing more than a half-hearted slap on the wrist during the sixtieth session of the U.S. Commission on Human Rights which concluded its work in May. Like I said, I was there in Geneva, and I was appalled when Sudan was reelected to serve on the commission for another 2 years. The hypocrisy of the election of Sudan, one of the worst violators of human rights on the planet, to serve on the U.N. Commission For Human Rights should not be lost on anyone. It is utterly outrageous.

Sudan now, as it has in the past, uses its clout on the Human Rights Panel to thwart scrutiny of its policies and to water down resolutions of condemnation. Sudan uses its seat on the committee to network and to collude with other rogue nations to run interference for the dictatorships. And again, I saw that firsthand as they were walking the halls in Geneva and working the room to try to water down resolutions.

Finally, let me just say, Mr. Speaker, the atrocities committed in Darfur have all been well documented. An estimated 50,000 people have been killed and another 300,000 face imminent death in the coming months. Over a million have been displaced, and some 200,000 others have been forced to flee to neighboring Chad. This atrocity must come to an end. This resolution again puts us on record in trying to mitigate and, hopefully, end this crisis.

[Begin Insert]

Mr. Speaker, in April 2004, at the same time as world leaders were gathered in Kigali, Rwanda to remember the Rwandan genocide of 10 years earlier, a humanitarian cease-fire was signed between the government of Sudan, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army, and the Sudan Justice and Equality Movement to end the atrocities and reverse the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The agreement was facilitated by the United States Government, the European Union, the African Union, and the United Nations. All parties agreed to take immediate steps to stop the violence and atrocities being perpetrated by the Janjaweed militias.

Sadly, the agreement wasn't worth the paper it was written on and the violence continued. The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan later said, "The only difference between Rwanda and Darfur now is the numbers involved." President Bush affirmed this conclusion on September 9 by declaring, "The United States is appalled by the violence in Darfur, Sudan ..... The world cannot ignore the suffering of more than one million people."

Despite the best efforts by the United States Government, including the extraordinary efforts of Ambassador Williamson, Sudan was given nothing more than a half-hearted slap on the wrist during the 60th Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which concluded its work in May. I was there in Geneva and was appalled when Sudan was reelected to serve on the Commission for another two years. The hyprocacy of the election of Sudan-one of the worst violators of human rights on the planet-to serve on the U.N. Commission for Human Rights should not been lost on anyone. It is utterly outrageous.

Sudan uses its clout on the Human Rights Panel to thwart scrutiny of its policies and to water down resolutions of condemnation. Sudan uses its seat on the Committee to network and collude with other rogue nations to run interference for dictatorships.

Mr. Speaker, this is the third time in the past 4 months that this House has considered resolutions which have shed light on the crisis in the Darfur region. The first resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 403, condemned the Government of Sudan for its attacks against civilians in Darfur. The second, House Concurrent Resolution 467, declared that the atrocities taking place in Darfur constitute genocide. This declaration of genocide was affirmed by President Bush and Secretary of State Powell. Senate Concurrent Resolution 137, which lies before you now, represents a logical next step.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 137 endorses the Secretary of State's call for an investigation into violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law that have occurred in Darfur, and calls for Sudan's suspension from the Commission on Human Rights until that investigation has been completed. Should the investigation lead to a determination by the United Nations that genocide has occurred or is occurring in Darfur, the resolution calls for the removal of Sudan from the Human Rights Commission. Finally, the resolution calls upon the Member States of the Human Rights commission to convene an immediate special session to consider suspension of Sudan's membership.

The atrocities committed in Darfur have been well documented. An estimated 50,000 people have been killed, another 300,000 face certain death in the coming months, over a million have been internally displaced and some 200,000 others have been forced to flee to neighboring Chad. Attacks show a systematic pattern and include murder, rape, gender-based violence, and other scorched earth tactics. Despite the existence of a cease-fire, African Union monitors have confirmed government support for and participation in attacks against civilians in Darfur as recently as August 26, 2004. Human Rights Watch reports that the Sudanese Government has allowed the Janjaweed to maintain military camps in all Darfur states-several of which they share with the Sudanese Army-and that many Janjaweed have been incorporated into the army or police.

On July 22, 2004 the House voted unanimously to declare that the atrocities in Sudan constituted genocide. On September 9, 2004, the State Department followed suit, releasing a report which outlines these atrocities and concludes that the Sudanese Government has "promoted systematic killings based on race and ethnic origin," and that these acts constitute genocide.

It is unconscionable that a government which has perpetrated genocide would be welcome to sit on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights-the very body charged with the protection of human rights around the globe. Sudan should be in the dock-being held accountable for crimes against humanity. Sudan's flagrant disregard for the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes a mockery of the Human Rights Commission's work, and tangibly undermines that work. Its continued presence on that Commission degrades the United Nations system as a whole.

The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights places great importance on each member country having a common understanding of human rights and freedoms. One must wonder if the Government of Sudan, which has demonstrated such a flagrant disregard for these principles, has ever read that document. If they have, surely they have not taken it to heart.

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the recent adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1565, which establishes the International Commission of Inquiry called for by both this body and by President Bush. But in light of the evidence already before us, I believe it would be extraordinarily difficult to make an argument against suspending Sudan's membership from the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. This resolution is timely, it is logical, and I urge your support.

[End Insert]

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from New York (Mr. McHugh) control the remaining time on our side.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

There was no objection.

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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