26 February 2013

Sudan Agrees to Abandon Humanitarian Post At UNECOSOC

Washington — The United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC) president Nestor Osorio is set to announce a compromise this week by which Sudan would not head the humanitarian segment at the council and instead take on a different role.

According to Innercitypress website, Sudan will cede the Humanitarian segment to Pakistan, from which it will take over the Coordination segment at the UNECOSOC.

The deal was agreed to by the ambassadors of Pakistan and Sudan, the report said.

Sudan was picked as representative of the African bloc and was to serve as one of four deputies to UNECOSOC president along with Austria, Albania and Pakistan.

But the United States and Canada led a lobby to prevent Sudan from presiding over the humanitarian section arguing that the country has a record of restricting access to aid workers in conflict-ridden areas.

Sudan would have been chairing a special session next July in Geneva n the promotion of humanitarian assistance which these governments found ironic.

Following the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to charge Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir with war crimes, Khartoum ordered the expulsion of 13 international aid groups saying they are working as spies.

Sudan has also prevented international aid workers into the restive Sudanese regions of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where conflict has displaced nearly 700,000 people and forced more than 200,000 to flee to Ethiopia and South Sudan.

"Clearly Sudan is trying to score points in the humanitarian field to try to show the world it cares about this when we know on the ground that their action runs contrary to that," one UN diplomat told 'Turtle Bay' blog on Foreign Policy magazine.

"Given all the criticisms of their humanitarian record why would they put such a visible target on their back?" asked another U.N. diplomat.

At the UNECOSOC organizational session this month to prepare for the Geneva meeting, several delegations raised objections to Sudan's chairmanship of the humanitarian affairs segment.

According to a press release on the meeting, Osorio announced that, since there appeared to be disagreement of the matter, he would postpone a final decision and begin consultations on the distribution of responsibilities as soon as possible to come to an agreed solution.

The US and Canada made their disapproval clear at the meeting, noting Sudan's record in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

But other countries such as Cuba, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Egypt and Nigeria argued that Sudan is only serving as a representative of Africa and not in its national capacity.

France and Australia did not oppose Sudan's election but said that the concerns of other states mean more consultations are required.

Sudan's ambassador to the UN, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, said his country rejects the "wholly unfounded" allegations leveled by Canada and the US.

Osman said he hoped it was not an attempt to "turn this body into the United Nations] Security Council".

Last year Sudan withdrew from consideration to the African seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) after similar pressure from Western countries and rights groups.

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