The chance for achieving peace in the Sudan created by the signing of a protocol earlier this year must be seized in order to end human rights abuses in the country, a United Nations expert argues in a report released today. In his report to the UN General Assembly, Gerhart Baum, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Sudan, says the signing of the Machakos Protocol in July could lead to successful peace negotiations. This development “may provide a chance not to be missed to put an end to war-related human rights abuses,” he says. Documenting those violations, the Special Rapporteur says the country’s overall human rights situation has not improved. The population has suffered ongoing military activities, widespread internal displacement and obstacles to the humanitarian relief effort. In addition, the “oil issue” persists, with Mr. Baum receiving “alarming information pointing to the continuation of grave human rights abuses linked to oil exploitation, aimed at depopulating oil-rich areas to ensure their control.” “The Special Rapporteur was shocked to read witnesses’ accounts of scorched earth tactics used by air and ground forces to clear oil-rich areas, chase people out of their villages and ensure that they would not return, including by planting anti-personnel landmines around watering points and along pathways to areas where wild food is available and in emptied villages,” the report states. In considering the possibility of future peace in the Sudan, Mr. Baum stresses that the international community must develop strategies for a post-conflict scenario. Calling for “wealth-sharing” in the country, including for oil revenues, he recommends the creation of an international monitoring mechanism, but adds that “it would not be appropriate for military personnel to be utilized to this end.” The Special Rapporteur also places great importance on the engagement of the UN in helping the Sudan. “Strong political involvement by the United Nations is urgently needed to support the peace process, for the neutrality and objectivity that characterize its action as opposed to single governments’ initiatives and for its potential to bring on board the whole international community in an effective and sustainable way,” he says.

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