23 July 2004
U.S. Congress Terms Situation in Darfur "Genocide"
Senate, House pass concurrent resolutions on Darfur
By Charles W. Corey
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Both chambers of the U.S. Congress adopted concurrent
resolutions July 22 condemning the continuing atrocities in the
Darfur region of western Sudan as "genocide" and asking the international
community to join with the United States to help bring an end to
the humanitarian catastrophe that is under way there.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version (House Concurrent
Resolution 467) in a vote of 422-0, with the U. S. Senate approving
its version (Senate Concurrent Resolution 133) by voice vote.
A concurrent resolution is a legislative proposal that requires
the approval of both houses but does not require the signature
of the president and does not have the force of law. These resolutions
are often used to express the sentiments of both the House of Representatives
and the Senate.
In debate in the House of Representatives preceding the vote,
the chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Ed Royce (Republican-California),
said that with the vote, "the House of Representatives will go
on record declaring the atrocities being committed in the Darfur
region of Sudan to be 'genocide.' H. Con. Res. 467 is a statement
for the world, and a stark warning to the Sudanese government.
"We've heard about the atrocities government-backed militias are
perpetrating in Darfur," he told his fellow lawmakers. "This resolution
cites an estimated 30,000 innocent civilians brutally murdered,
more than 130,000 people fleeing to neighboring Chad, and more
than one million people internally displaced."
Royce reminded the lawmakers that the Subcommittee on Africa has
held several hearings on Sudan.
"We've heard about the human suffering. We have also heard about
how this killing is targeted and systematic. Villages are razed,
crops are burned, and wells are poisoned. I fully support this
resolution's determination that genocide is occurring in Sudan,
as it played out in Rwanda 10 years ago!
"Those doing the killing need to understand that the world is
changing," Royce said. He reminded everyone: "We have international
courts to hold human rights criminals accountable. Information
is being collected. The days of impunity are ending. That is a
message that this resolution sends."
"H. Con. Res. 467 deplores the failure of the United Nations Human
Rights Commission to take appropriate action on Darfur," he declared.
Royce said the commission failed earlier this year to support
a United States-led effort to strongly condemn gross human-rights
violations in Darfur.
He credited the Bush administration with taking the lead in "seeking
an end to the slaughter in Darfur" and addressing the humanitarian
"Indeed, the administration deserves much credit for achieving
a North-South Peace Accord in Sudan. It has played a very good
hand with the cards it was dealt. Congress has been supportive
of these negotiations, including with the Sudan Peace Act.
"It's cliché," he said, "but in Darfur, Khartoum is showing its
true colors. Today, that government is hearing loud and clear that
there will be no U.S. aid or improved relations, no support for
the peace process, as long as the killing continues in Darfur."
Also on July 22, Secretary of State Colin Powell traveled to U.N.
headquarters in New York to discuss the situation in Darfur with
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to press for Security Council
action to pressure the Sudanese government to disarm the Jingaweit
Talking with journalists after their private meeting, Powell and
Annan said they had come together not just to put pressure on the
government but also to help the hundreds of thousands in need.
Both Powell and Annan stressed that they will continue to insist
that Khartoum honor the commitment it made to the two leaders when
they visited Sudan in early July.
"We both agree that the international community must insist that
the Sudanese government honor the commitments it gave when we both
visited Sudan," Annan said. "It is important that the internally
displaced people and the villages be protected. It is the sacred
responsibility of the government of Sudan to do that and eventually
disarm the Jingaweit and the other militias in the region."
Powell said that Khartoum should not look on the U.N. efforts
as meddling, but "an effort to save people who are in desperate
There is no reason why Khartoum can't disarm the Jingaweit militias
that have perpetrated large-scale atrocities against Sudanese civilians,
Powell told his audience.
The United States has presented a second draft of a resolution
on Darfur to the Security Council, both Powell and Annan told reporters.
Powell did not go into specifics on the new draft but said that
it "puts down timelines and sets sanctions" if the timelines are
The secretary of state said that since his visit there has been "some
modest improvement" in access for aid workers, the delivery of
humanitarian supplies, and the number of African Union monitors
in the area.
"We are still, it is safe to say, not satisfied with the security
situation," Powell said.
Asked about whether the situation in Darfur can be called genocide,
Powell responded that the United States is examining the issue
State Department officials have been in the Darfur region, interviewing
victims in the camps and villages and sending reports back to Washington
that will be used to make the legal judgment on whether to classify
the situation as genocide.
Nevertheless, Powell said, "whatever you call it, it's a catastrophe."