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Darfur Genocide

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2008

The Petition of Students from seven West Oxfordshire secondary schools; Bartholomew, Burford, Carterton, Chipping Norton, The Henry Box School, The Marlborough Schools and Wood Green,

Declares that genocide is taking place in Darfur, Sudan.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to move the issue of the Darfur genocide to the top of the political agenda and media spotlight, and to keep it there.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.— [Official Report, 12 March 2008, vol. 473, col. 5P]. [P000149]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs:

I utterly condemn the appalling acts of violence committed by all sides to the conflict in Darfur. The UK is at the forefront of international efforts to bring lasting peace and security to Darfur.

The UK has called on all parties to stop the violence, to allow immediate humanitarian access, to protect civilians, and to facilitate the deployment of the African Union-UN peacekeeping force (UNAMID). We continue to work closely with the UN and others to improve the humanitarian situation in Darfur.

The UK welcomed the transfer of authority, on 31 December, from the African Union force that deployed to Darfur in 2006 to the African Union/UN Hybrid force (UNAMID). The UK was instrumental in ensuring the unanimous adoption of UNSCR 1769, which mandated UNAMID in July 2007. UNAMID is operating under UN financing, logistic support and established peacekeeping procedures. UNAMID has increased daylight patrols to support women collecting firewood, and started night patrols.

The UK strongly supports the international community's efforts to monitor and improve the application of human rights in Sudan. There can be no impunity for the crimes committed in Darfur. The UK played a leading role in the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1593 in March 2005, which referred Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC issued arrest warrants on 2 May 2007 on two individuals for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The ICC Prosecutor reported to the UN Security Council on 5 December 2007 that Sudan had not met its obligations. As a UN member, Sudan must comply with all UNSCRs. I raised this with the Sudanese Foreign Minister during his visit to London on 28 April 2008. The Sudanese authorities must co-operate unconditionally with the ICC and surrender the two individuals. The ICC has our full support for its activities.

Ultimately, peace can only be achieved through a committed political process. There is an urgent need to re-invigorate the AU-UN-led Darfur political process, and for the AU and UN to appoint,a single Chief Negotiator. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, during his visit to New York on 17 April, pressed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a single Chief Negotiator as quickly as possible, and offered to host talks in London as part of the AU-UN led process if that was considered useful by the international community and the parties to the conflict.

The UK remains committed to finding a lasting, peaceful and inclusive solution to the situation in Darfur. We will continue to play a leading role in international efforts to support work towards a peaceful future for Darfur.