Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It's Only Words

Sudan is describing the UN agreement on a peacekeeping force for Darfur as a "practical" solution. After lots of talking, and lots of watering down under pressure from Sudan's trading partner China, the UN Security Council finally passed a resolution agreeing a joint African Union/UN force of around 26,000 personnel. They're going to have the power to use force to defend civilians and aid workers - but there's no threat of sanctions if Sudan doesn't go along with things.

And that's the key point here. Although Gordon Brown, whose interest in this issue is admirable, is warning the Sudanese the clunking fist of tough sanctions remains an option, it's not written anywhere in the resolution. No wonder Khartoum seems pretty pleased.

Working on the assumption that anything Sudan welcomes is not likely to be good for the people of Darfur, this resolution is nowhere near strong enough. We've heard promises of a bolstered international force for Darfur before, and nothing's ever come of it. This latest plan, as grand as it might seem, remains just a plan until those first boots hit the ground. Don't be surprised if it doesn't happen.

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