Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

THE URGENT NEED FOR ACTION IN SUDAN

Adopted by the 117th Annual Convention
of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
San Diego, CA
June, 2006

Background

We affirm the sanctity of all human beings as a value that flows from being created in God's image.

We recall our own people's experience of genocide. Therefore, in June and September of 2004, respectively, the CCAR and URJ adopted resolutions concerning the need for urgent action in response to the genocide taking place in the Darfur region of the Sudan. A summary of the history of the civil war in the Sudan and background on the current genocide and humanitarian crisis can be found in those resolutions.

While the US has begun to move in the right direction, the international community has yet to take meaningful enough action, and the genocide and humanitarian crisis continue. The purpose of this resolution is to build on the consciousness-raising we have already accomplished and to call upon our nation and the international community to act quickly.

According to recent figures, an estimated 400,000 civilians have now lost their lives and 10,000-35,000 are dying each month; over 2 million civilians have been internally displaced; and over 200,000 have fled to neighboring Chad. The Sudanese government-supported militia, the Janjaweed, which is responsible for the slaughter, is now making regular raids across the border into Chad, and there are reports that the war has crossed the border into Chad as well.

Janjaweed militia-men are systematically raping women as part of this campaign of violence. Women and children are particularly vulnerable as they venture outside the refugee camps to collect firewood and water necessary for survival.

The situation on the ground, already unsafe and unstable, is deteriorating rapidly, and violence, according to recent UN reports, is escalating. The Sudanese government is not doing its part to stem the violence. Money has dwindled resulting in significant cutbacks across the board. The US has given money and aid but the rest of the international community has not.

The African Union (AU) has provided 7,000 troops, yet these troops lack adequate funding and are not mandated to protect civilians, meaning that their presence has little value.

The United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions in the spring of 2005: one calling for targeted sanctions against the ruling party and one referring the perpetrators of the Genocide to the International Criminal Court. These are two significant steps in holding perpetrators accountable and providing incentives for the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed to stop their killing. These declarations have not led to enough meaningful action and the genocide continues. The UN has also been hesitant to push for sanctions or enforce an arms embargo and a no-fly zone that could help to curb the violence.

On May 5, 2006, under pressure from the United States, the government of Sudan and the biggest Darfur rebel faction signed a peace accord aimed at ending the conflict. However, the cease-fire is already being widely violated, and the AU force is unable and ill-equipped to exert meaningful control over the marauding rebel groups and government- supported militias that are committing atrocities with impunity.

On May 16, 2006 the UN unanimously passed a resolution pressing Sudan to cooperate in enforcing the May 5 peace treaty among rebel groups and promising to expedite the UN efforts to create a peacekeeping force. The AU has agreed to cede authority to the UN by September, or sooner. The international community is vital in leading the UN to act. NATO, China, Russia, and EU support is indispensable to getting food aid to Darfur, readying the UN troops, and integrating the AU troops into the UN force.

The US Congress has finally taken action on this issue. The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127 / S. 1462) was introduced in the 109th Congress by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and by Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL). The Senate passed its version of the bill unanimously on November 18th, 2005, and the House of Representatives followed on April 5th, 2006. It is now critical that the strongest possible version of the bill is passed by both houses of Congress when it comes out of conference.

In February 2006 President Bush called for doubling the levels of international troops in Darfur in order to address the ongoing crisis in Sudan. President Bush also called for an increased role for NATO peacekeepers in Darfur and sent a supplemental funding proposal to Congress which included a request for $123 million to strengthen the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. The House of Representatives and the Senate both passed amendments to provide an additional $50 million to the President's request, bringing the total for Darfur peacekeeping within the emergency supplemental Fiscal Year 2006 funding bill, H.R. 3949, to $173 million. Both houses of Congress have passed this bill, but the two versions have not yet been resolved in conference. It is vital that the full $173 million remains in this bill.

Reports that Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who helped broker the May 5 peace agreement intends to resign from his post highlight the need for President Bush to appoint a Special Presidential Envoy for Sudan. An Envoy is essential to coordinate United States and international policy on the peace process and help ensure that high level attention and pressure is brought to bear on all parties. The Senate already passed an amendment that earmarks $250,000 to establish and support an Office for a Special Presidential Envoy for Sudan.

On April 28th, 2006 the UN World Food Program (WFP) announced that beginning in May, the food rations in Darfur will be half the minimum amount required each day. So far in 2006, the United States has provided $215 million in food aid to WFP. The proposed supplemental funding bill, H.R. 4939, contains an additional $150 million for food aid in Sudan.

Furthermore, on February 17th, 2006 Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.) also introduced Senate Resolution 383, which calls on President Bush to take immediate steps to help improve the security situation in Darfur, with an emphasis on civilian protection. It was passed by Unanimous Consent on March 2nd, 2006.

The rapidly worsening situation in Sudan is further evidence of the need for greater effort on the part of all people of goodwill from around the world to address the crisis. Concrete steps to end the violence must be taken, such as targeted sanctions and the presence of more troops on the ground with a stronger mandate. Only with an immediate end to the violence and increased humanitarian assistance, can the horrors being experienced by the people of Darfur be alleviated.

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has tirelessly worked to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease around the world. AJWS supports humanitarian assistance efforts in the Darfur region, using emergency funds to ensure access to clean water, construct sanitation facilities, provide primary and reproductive health care, and support survivors of gender-based violence. Ruth Messinger and AJWS, often working in concert with our own Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, have raised our consciousness and insisting that America act.

AJWS has played a key role, as part of the Save Darfur Coalition, which organized the million postcard campaign and the April 30th March on Washington. Other efforts -- such as the "Dolls for Darfur" campaign, initiated by Temple Emanu El in Dallas and the Southern California, synagogue-based coalition initiated by Rabbi Harold Schulweis -- have helped to raise consciousness about the genocide in Darfur.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

1. Urges the United Nations Security Council to immediately authorize an expanded AU or combined AU/UN force of the number of troops necessary to execute a mandate to protect civilians under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and to provide them with the necessary logistical and financial support to fulfill its mission;

2. Calls upon the U.S. Government to authorize the use of a NATO "bridging" force to increase the current troop level until a combined AU/UN force is ready to be mobilized.

3. Appeals to the U. S. Government to establish an Office for a Special Presidential Envoy for Sudan and calls upon President Bush to immediately appoint an Envoy.

4. Urges its members, their congregants and other constituents, to write and call the White House at least two times a week to ask the President to act immediately on items #1 - #3 above.

5. Thanks President Bush for speaking out forcefully on this issue and challenges him to put his words into action.

6. Commends Congress for passing the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (S. 1462/H.R. 3127) and urges our Senators and Representatives to ensure that the strongest possible version of the bill is passed by both houses of Congress when it comes out of conference.

7. Urges its members and the communities they serve to participate in local and national advocacy efforts coordinated by the Save Darfur Coalition and American Jewish World Service to educate about and act on behalf of those who are suffering.

8. Encourages its members and the communities they serve to participate in the "30 Days for Darfur" campaign, organized by the Religious Action Center. The goal of this campaign is to lobby foreign officials from NATO and African Union countries to cooperate in efforts to put UN troops on the ground and bring international aid to the region.

9. Commends the outstanding work of Ruth Messinger, American Jewish World Service and the Save Darfur Coalition; our colleague, Rabbi David Saperstein and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and all CCAR members and the congregations and communities they serve who have worked tirelessly to raise consciousness and urge action on this critical issue.