Ahead of the launch of the global 365 Campaign on Sudan, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan urging him to appoint a “special adviser on Sudan, who will be able to provide political and strategic advice to your office to improve Nigeria’s role and leadership in the global efforts to find a durable solution to the recurring human rights problems in Sudan.”The UN General Assembly is scheduled to meet in NY 20-24 September 2010 during which time world leaders will discuss the future of Sudan.
Over 1000 activists are gathering in 14 countries around the world including Nigeria, Australia, Egypt, Germany, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Netherlands, and South Africa in a coordinated global day of action, calling on world leaders to take urgent step to prevent a total collapse in diplomacy in Sudan that could lead to deadly conflict in 2011.
Apart from SERAP, other organizations participating in the Sudan365 Campaign include: Crisis Action, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Aegis Trust, and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
Expecting that he would attend the General Assembly session, SERAP asked President Jonathan to ensure that during his “meetings with world leaders in NY that Nigeria plays a key role in the African group and within the AU during the UN General Assembly meeting.”
In the letter dated 16 September, 2010 signed by SERAP Executive Director Adetokunbo and sent to President Jonathan, the organization said that, “We are concerned that despite Nigeria’s contribution to the peace process in Darfur, and to the work of the AU, the country has repeatedly failed to show leadership and assert its authority to put political pressure on the authorities in Sudan to rsolve the human rights problems in Sudan.”
According to the organization, “Unfortunately, the failure of leadership presently being demonstrated by Nigeria and other key members of the AU has had devastating consequences for innocent civilians in Darfur, especially children and women. Unless Nigeria and other leading members of the AU show leadership and take more proactive steps, the situation in Sudan will continue to deteriorate.”
The organization also said that “preparations for Southern Sudan to vote for independence are woefully behind schedule and the risk of conflict is increasing.
Unfortunately, the African Union (AU) and governments including Nigeria who promised to help implement the peace agreement have failed to develop a package of pressure and incentives to persuade the Sudanese parties to broker peace and not war.”
“As a member of the Sudan365 campaigners working to promote durable solutions to the human rights and humanitarian problems in Darfur, SERAP is concerned that the situation in Sudan has seriously deteriorated and that if handled poorly, the January 2011 referendum for southern independence could have a devastating impact on millions of civilians and regional security,” the organization said.
According to the organization, “In Darfur, violence continues against civilians, in particular in the IDPs camps. Aid workers have been expelled in recent weeks and kidnappings continue. In North Sudan, there has been a crackdown on human rights defenders, media and political activists since the April elections.”
The organization is asking President Jonathan to use his address at the UN General Assembly to:
1. Reaffirm the right of the people of Southern Sudan to self-determination and pledge to recognise the authentic choice of Southern Sudanese whether they elect for unity or independence
2. Support the preparations for a free and fair referendum. These preparations must include adequate measures to protect civilians from potential violence, especially in volatile areas. Scrutiny over the referendum preparations must begin immediately
3. Call on donors to deliver on past funding pledges to Sudan and to increase their level of engagement in the immediate future, especially in Southern Sudan. Sudan is on course to fail 6 of the 7 Millenium Development Goals being reviewed in New York.
4. Clearly and publicly state that the conflict in Darfur must be resolved, justice delivered for its victims and that international human rights and good governance standards must be respected in Northern as well as in Southern Sudan.