In the months following Obama’s inauguration, activists all over the country demanded that President Obama live up to his word and make Sudan an immediate priority, first by appointing a new Special Envoy to Sudan, and next by completing the policy review on Sudan that outlines the US approach toward the situation there.
On the first count, we were successful. In March, Obama named Maj. General Scott Gration (Ret.) as his Special Envoy to Sudan. Since then, Gration has made several trips to the region, has traveled to meet international stakeholders abroad, and has convened parties to Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Washington, DC.
Gration’s approach, however, has sparked controversy, both within the activist community and within the administration itself.
In particular, there are questions about the Envoy’s overly rosy portrayal of the humanitarian situation in Darfur and his focus on carrots as part of his diplomatic strategy. While carrots are an important part of any strategy for Sudan, they need to be carefully calibrated with appropriate sticks. As we seek to move forward in our relationship with Sudan, we cannot afford to forget that the Government of Sudan has a history of failing to live up to its commitments. We must remain watchful and prepared.
Ahead of the release of the administration’s policy review, we have a great opportunity to have tough questions asked of Gration about his plan for peace in Sudan. On Thursday, July 30, 2009, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on a comprehensive strategy for Sudan, and Gration will be testifying.
We are asking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to attend the hearing, and make sure the following questions are addressed:
- As we know from two decades of dealing with the regime, the Government of Sudan has only responded in the face of concerted international pressure. How is the Government of Sudan currently cooperating with implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, achieving peace in Darfur and allowing for humanitarian access? What steps is the United States prepared to take if the Government of Sudan fails to live up to its agreements?
- You have recently returned from Abyei where you were for the announcement of the court of arbitration’s ruling on the region’s boundary. What is the status of the ruling’s implementation? How will you work to support implementation? Do you expect both sides to move forward to effectively and peacefully make the decision reality on the ground?
- You have commented that indicted President Omar al-Bashir will face justice before the International Criminal Court “in due course.” Does the Administration no longer hold the position that Bashir should be held accountable at the earliest opportunity?
- Tomorrow marks the two year anniversary of the UNAMID peacekeeping force in Darfur. However, UNAMID is only at 70% deployment. What is the Administration’s plan is to ensure that UNAMID is fully deployed and, most importantly, fully effective in protecting civilians and carrying out its full mandate?
Click here for a one-page handout on the hearing from Genocide Intervention Network, and here for three ways to take action.