President Urged to Appoint Dedicated Envoy and Increase Diplomatic Effort
WASHINGTON, DC—Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Brian Higgins have led an effort in both chambers of Congress calling on President Bush today to strengthen America’s leadership role in ending the crisis in Darfur. In their letters to the President, Clinton and Higgins urged the appointment of a single, dedicated Administration official who would have final authority on Sudan policy, as well as the deployment of a full-time diplomatic team in the region.
“The genocide in Darfur must be brought to an end, and the United States has a responsibility as a world leader to bring its weight to bear in order to achieve peace,” said Senator Clinton. “It is time for this administration to develop a clear, coherent policy toward Sudan and to make all necessary diplomatic efforts to stop this tragedy.”
“Without the effective coordination of our policies, the government of Sudan will continue to ignore the international community’s calls for an end to the violence in Darfur,” said Congressman Higgins. “As we witnessed this weekend, unabated this violence will spread into nations like Chad and undermine efforts to restore peace. I thank Senator Clinton for helping lead the effort to restore the effectiveness of American diplomacy abroad.”
Senator Clinton has repeatedly urged the Bush administration to take action in Darfur. Most recently, Senator Clinton authored a measure as part of the Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Defense Authorization Act requiring the administration to report on the planning and implementation of US policy in Darfur.
Senator Clinton is joined in her letter to the President by Senators Mikulski, Harkin, Bayh, Menendez, Klobuchar, Johnson, Cantwell, Dodd, Murray, Bill Nelson, Schumer, Obama, Kerry, Boxer, Whitehouse and Durbin, and the letter is supported by the ENOUGH Project, the Genocide Intervention Network, and the Save Darfur Coalition.
The text of Senator Clinton’s letter follows:
February 8, 2008
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC, 20500
Dear Mr. President:
In a world where regional crises can develop overnight and multiple violent conflicts occur on a daily basis, the United States must act as a strong proponent of peace and stability in the international community. Our responsibility to provide clear leadership can be no greater than on the rare and horrible occasions when genocide is committed.
Since February 2003, nearly 2,500,000 people have been displaced from their homes and more than 200,000 civilians have lost their lives in Darfur. Since the May 2006 signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement peace remains elusive. The two main rebel groups that refused to sign the agreement have splintered into a handful of factions and the ruling National Congress Party continues to pursue policies that restrict humanitarian access, prevent effective civilian protection, spread the crisis beyond Sudan’s borders, and undermine the push for renewed peace talks. The current situation on the ground is worse than it was last year, with over 140,000 people newly displaced since the beginning of 2007. United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently sought to get leaders of the African Great Lakes region to defuse tensions in the region, but she made no major breakthrough and the government of Sudan did not attend her meeting with African leaders.
While the United States has taken some action to encourage peace in Darfur, we believe that several steps need to be taken to strengthen American leadership in the region. First, we ask that you articulate a clear strategy for Sudan and designate a leader within the Administration to guide this policy. The Darfur conflict began in February of 2003, yet almost five years later the United States still does not have a clear strategy to end the conflict. Our policy toward Sudan has been obfuscated by the fact that there is no single authority in the State Department for Sudan policy. There has been a constant turnover of government advisors on Darfur. The Special Envoy for Sudan and the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs share responsibility for decision making, which has resulted in a lack of coordination. We are hopeful about the appointment of Richard Williamson as the new Special Envoy for Sudan, but there is still clear need for a single, dedicated person in the Administration who is a final authority for Sudan policy.
Second, we ask that you place an adequately staffed, full-time diplomatic team in the region. The National Congress Party in Sudan is adept at manipulating conflict in the region to its advantage. The complicated matter of coordinating sanctions, supporting peace talks and working toward the deployment of a peacekeeping force is made even more problematic by the proliferation of other regional crises. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the conflicts in Darfur, Eastern Chad, Northern Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea are all interrelated. Such crises could sabotage the Darfur peace process and we need to have the capability in the region to provide a robust response to the underlying problem.
The need for additional resources and attention in Chad is especially pronounced. In Chad, weak government control of wide swaths of the country present conditions ripe for insecurity and dangerous international terrorist threats. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that, as of December 2006, eastern Chad contains approximately 270,000 registered refugees. Meanwhile, resource competition and cultural incompatibility between the residents of eastern Chad and incoming Darfuris has led to nearly 200,000 internally displaced persons among the Chadian population. Last Fall, both Catherine Huck, the joint operations representative for UNHCR in Abéché, Chad and Loum Ndoadoumngue Neloumseï Elise, the Vice-President of the Chad National Assembly, analogized the current security environment of Chad to that of the Darfur region of Sudan about five years ago. This weekend the world saw these unstable conditions give rise to a rebel uprising that is further destabilizing the region. We note that before this happened the country team at the U.S. mission had no permanent commercial or economic officer, the USAID mission was closed, and despite reports of terrorist activity there was no U.S. Treasury attaché on post.
With a strong leadership structure in place and a focused diplomatic team on the ground, the United States will be able to develop and implement a more coordinated and effective policy for Darfur. To inaugurate this new approach, we suggest initiating a strong diplomatic effort both to bring together much needed logistic support for the AU-UN hybrid peacekeeping force, and to enact strong multilateral sanctions to match current unilateral U.S. sanctions. Improved leadership in form and substance will send an urgently needed message abroad that the United States is a moral nation that will stand to protect the most vulnerable among us.
Thank you for your consideration.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Barbara A. Mikulski
Christopher J. Dodd
Charles E. Schumer
John F. Kerry
Richard J. Durbin