Peace and Security Council of the African Union
The African Union (AU), which is currently composed of 54 Member States, has as main objective ridding the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonization and segregation by promoting unity, solidarity and cooperation among African States. The organization also aims at protecting their sovereignty and territorial integrity. As part of its responsibilities, the AU deliberates and decides on interventions in the territory of a Member State in cases of severe circumstances, such as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. An intervention is also possible if it is requested by a Member State in cases where one or more of those issues mentioned above are identified (AFRICAN UNION, 2000). Therefore, the organization must work directly with the United Nations (UN), promoting international cooperation in and with the UN and its agencies and programs.
More specifically, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (PSC-AU) must, above all, promote peace, security and stability in Africa in order to protect life and property. Furthermore, the PSC-AU should attempt to diplomatically avoid conflicts and the use of violence. Where conflicts still occur, the PSC-AU should undertake them to establish ways for their resolution. And where conflicts have occurred, it shall take responsibility for the peace building process. It must also protect human rights and fundamental human freedom, and defend the principle of respect for human life and international humanitarian law (AFRICAN UNION PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL, 2002).
On the scope of the AU-PSC, there are situations such as the case of Darfur, a region located in western Sudan. In 2003, two Darfuri rebel groups launched an offensive against the Sudanese government: the “Sudan Liberation Army” (SLA) and “Justice and Equality Movement” (JEM). These groups attacked the government of General Omar al-Bashir, in power since 1989 after a military coup d´état that took control of Sudan (UNITED HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL, 2014). Both SLA and JEM complained about the marginalization of Darfuri people as well as the oppression imposed by the Arab populations against the non-Arabs with the consent of the government.
The Sudanese government's response was the organization of Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, or "devils on horseback". This response, coupled with the growing political imposition of a unified national identity by the single party – the National Islamic Front – led to an escalation of violence in Darfur, marked by clashes between Sudanese government forces and the rebel groups (DE WAAL; FLINT, 2005; UNITED HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL, 2014).
The conflict, which has persisted for more than 10 years, is still far from over, due to the permanence of confrontation and the escalation of violence. According to UN estimates, 2.7 million people remain in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps, and more than 4.7 million people rely on humanitarian aid (UNITED HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL, 2014). Over 400 villages were completely destroyed by Sudanese forces and militias, and millions of civilians were forced to leave their homes. Darfuri farmers are being displaced and killed. More than 400,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million were displaced due to the conflict. Every day, more than one hundred people die, resulting in five thousand deaths each month (UNITED HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL, 2014).
FLINT, Julie; WAAL, Alex de. Darfur: a Short History of a Long War. New York: Zed Books, 2005.
UNITED HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL. Genocide in Darfur. United Human Right Council Website, 2014. Available at: <http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/genocide/genocide-in-sudan.htm>. Accessed: 28 jan. 2014.
Sources of images:
Image 2 - WORLD WITHOUT GENOCIDE. Darfur Genocide. 2012. Available at: <http://www.worldwithoutgenocide.org/genocides-and-conflicts/darfur-genocide>. Accessed on: 15 mar. 2014.