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Historical Commission of Inquiry of 2005

The Historical Commission of Inquiry (COI) simulates two historical commissions, each established by the United Nations Security Council to provide in-depth reporting on the facts and developments of a particular dispute. The Commissions’ mandates may also empower them to serve as mediators in negotiations between the parties to the dispute. At the United Nations, each Commission is unique in membership and purpose. At AMUN, however, two disputes that have been the subject of past Commissions will be scrutinized by the same body of experts. These experts will include representatives from states which were seated on the historical Commissions–in this case Egypt, South Africa, India, and Fiji–and representatives from states which applied for placement on the AMUN Commission.

Members of the United Nations can formally raise disputes to the Security Council through Article 35 of the United Nations Charter. The Security Council investigates those disputes through Article 34 of the Charter, historically by forming Commissions of Inquiry. The objectives of a Commission of Inquiry are to investigate the facts and allegations of a dispute, keep the Security Council informed of its findings and developments, and to tender a final report on the facts of the dispute at the conclusion of each investigation. That final report may also include recommendations for the Security Council.

At AMUN, the Commission of Inquiry is a historical simulation. History is considered to track with true events until the start date for the simulation. Events occuring after that date are subject to change through the actions of the experts and by direction of the simulation staff. This brief provides an introduction to the issues before the Commission as of the start date of the simulation. The start date for this year’s Commission is 25 October 2004.

International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur

Concerned by the growing influence of the Ottoman Empire in northern Africa throughout World War I, the British invaded and annexed the region of Darfur into Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in 1916. British administration divided the area into two regions, a predominantly Arabic-speaking, Muslim region in the north, and a Christian, non-Arabic South. The majority of financial development and influence centered in and around Khartoum in the North. Peripheral regions, such as Darfur, experienced economic and political deterioration. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, adverse climate conditions impacted the region’s agrarian economy and subsequently led to famine, which further highlighted the tensions between African farmers and the urban Arab elite.

Regional conflicts in northern Africa contributed to the tumultuous environment. Sudan achieved political independence from Britain in 1956 but was plagued by the violence and instability of proxy wars with neighboring Chad and Libya. With the onset of the first Sudanese Civil war between the North and South in 1955, many Darfurians living on the border of these countries developed identities aligned with the ideology of Arab supremacy promoted by Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, further fragmenting the division between Arab and African groups within the Sudan.

Throughout the remainder of the twentieth century, social and political polarization gave way to physical action. Shortly after Sudanese independence, the Umma Party, led by Sadiq al-Mahdi, assumed political influence within the country. Continued neglect of outlier regions by the Umma led to the formation of various regional opposition groups. In 1968, the first significant efforts to separate “Arabs” from “Africans” in the region began. One prominent opposition group, the Darfur Development Front, capitalized on this ethnic division and began blaming the Arabs for the marginalization of the river-side provinces, in order to gain support from numerous African tribes within the electorate. This tension reached a head in late 2003, when non-Arab rebel groups began to mobilize significantly militarized operations against the Sudanese state in North Darfur and along the Chadian border.
Growing tension between Chad, Libya and Sudan turned Darfur into a militarily advantageous region where numerous groups sought strategic influence and further drove Darfurian tribes to identify as “pro-Arab” or “pro-African.” Al-Gaddafi declared Darfur to be of “Arab” nature, and Libya began to support Arab supremacist militants fighting to form an ethnically and culturally Arab state. Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiry subsequently began to bolster the government of Chad in an attempt to stabilize Sudan’s position of power within northern Africa. In response, Al-Gaddafi sent troops into Sudan to directly assault the capital city of Khartoum, resulting in three days of vicious fighting. After the Libyan forces were defeated, Nimeiry aligned Sudan with the anti-Libyan Hissene Habre, giving sanctuary to Chad’s armed forces.

The discovery of oil in the Melut Basin of southern Sudan in 2003, combined with spreading desertification of arable land and neglect of African groups by Nimeiry’s government, led to deteriorating conditions in rural Darfur as citizens continued to be displaced as oil endeavors developed. Ethnic tensions continued to build as African-identifying farmers in Darfur believed their suffering came at the hands of an Arab elite in Khartoum, while semi-nomadic Arab populations felt that resources were hoarded by agrarian Africans. As Islamist Omar al-Bashir gained influence and overthrew Nimeiry in 1989, the country’s political system further stressed the divide between ruling Arabs and non-Arab tribes. In 1999, African nomadic groups began to attack Arab tribes throughout Darfur, fueled by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army, a rebel group formed in opposition to growing Arab and Islamic control. In response, state-sponsored Arab militias began to raid rural villages, reinforcing the ethnic lines between the Sudanese state and the rebel groups.

Opposition to the Sudanese state continue to gain power into the 21st century, forming the major players central to the current conflict. By 2003, rebel movements had coalesced into two major organizations, the SPLM/A and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Both groups accused the Sudanese government of systematic oppression of African groups, and, with an attack on the Sudanese military base at al-Fashir in early 2003, significantly escalated the intensity of the rebel operations. While launching its own military operations and airstrikes against the rebel groups, the Sudanese government began to reinforce the Janjaweed, a large force of mounted Arab militiamen, with weapons, finances and additional resources. As reports of pillage and rape at the hands of the Janjaweed and Sudanese military spread, along with claims of rebel attacks on state-run hospitals and humanitarian convoys, the United Nations began its initial inquiries into the crisis.

With the adoption of resolution 1556 in July of 2004, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on all non-governmental entities and individuals operating in Darfur, including the Janjaweed. At this time, Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as Juan Mendez, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, were also dispatched to Darfur to assess the situation. Based upon United Nations estimates of widespread civilian displacement along with the destruction of rural villages, the Security Council passed Resolution 1564 later in 2004, establishing the formation of an international Commission of Inquiry that would investigate the possibility of war crimes, crimes against humanity or acts of genocide committed by the various militarized groups involved in the conflict. While the Sudanese government has agreed to comply with the Commission, these interventions by the international community have not eased tensions in the region. If the international community concludes that Sudan has committed genocide against its African citizens, economic sanctions and additional peacekeeping operations may further destabilize al-Bashir’s internal regime, as well as Sudan’s regional influence amongst neighboring Chad and Libya. The manifesto of the SPLM/A and JEM seeking greater political and economic influence for rural regions such as Darfur may be jeopardized if international scrutiny determines that the Sudanese government is responding to rebel attacks with appropriate military action. For the militarized groups involved in the conflict, the scope of influence that each faction will hold in the future shaping of the Sudan will depend greatly on the international perception of their respective actions.

Questions to Consider Questions to Consider

  1. What factors must be considered when determining whether or not genocide has occurred under the Sudanese government?
  2. If it is determined that genocide has occurred, how will the parties responsible be identified and held accountable? If genocide has not occurred, what steps, if any, should the international community take to address the humanitarian crisis?
  3. What obstacles might the Secretary-General encounter when approaching the development of possible ceasefire agreements within the region?

Bibliography Bibliography

  • Sikainga, Ahmad (2009). The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis: Understanding the Darfur Conflict. The Ohio State University Press.
  • Zirulnick, Ariel (2011). South Sudan: A Timeline to Independence. The Christian Science Monitor.
  • United Nations, Department of Public Information (2007). The United Nations and Darfur. Peace and Security Section of the United Nations Department of Public Information.

UN Documents UN Documents

  • United Nations, Security Council (2004). The Sudan. 18 September. S/RES/1564.
  • United Nations, Security Council (2004). The Sudan. 30 July. S/RES/1556.

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Commission of Experts to Review the Prosecution of Serious Violations of Human Rights in Timor-Leste (the then East Timor) in 1999 Commission of Experts to Review the Prosecution of Serious Violations of Human Rights in Timor-Leste (the then East Timor) in 1999

From the early sixteenth century until the beginning of the Second World War in the Pacific, the island of Timor had been divided between a Dutch-ruled western half (administered as part of the Dutch East Indies) and a Portuguese-ruled eastern half (known as Portuguese Timor or East Timor). The Japanese invasion of European territories in the Southwest Pacific interrupted this state of affairs; Allied troops were driven off Timor in February 1943 and European colonial control was not restored until after the surrender of Japan in 1945. Portugal was quick to re-establish colonial rule over their half of the island and declared East Timor an Overseas Province in 1955, but the territory was largely neglected. In 1974, the Carnation Revolution in Portugal resulted in the installation of a new government which sanctioned the creation of Timorese political parties. On 28 November 1975 Fretilin, the de facto governing party of East Timor, made a unilateral declaration of independence that was largely unrecognized by the international community; the United Nations continued to classify East Timor as a non-self-governing territory. On 7 December 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor by air and sea. Indonesian military action had effectively dismantled Timorese armed resistance by the end of the 1970s, but a clandestine separatist movement persisted in the cities. The United Nations did not recognize Indonesia’s annexation.

In January 1999 the increasing cost of supporting the occupation and internal democratization efforts within Indonesia prompted Indonesian President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie to announce that a referendum would take place to allow the people of East Timor to vote on the issue of autonomous integration within Indonesia. The Security Council established the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) to provide consultation and security for the referendum. On 4 September 1999 the results of the referendum were announced, with the majority of votes cast against autonomous integration, the results were a de facto vote in favor of independence. Within hours of the results being announced, pro-integration militias supported by Indonesian soldiers began a campaign of violence and destruction throughout East Timor, resulting in the deaths of 1,400 Timorese and the forced evacuation of UNAMET staff. Under economic pressure, Indonesia announced on 12 September 1999 that it would withdraw from East Timor and allow international forces to restore order. On 15 September 1999 the Security Council passed resolution 1264, authorizing the establishment of the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET). Australian troops arrived in Dili the next day and brought an end to the violence. On 19 October 1999, the Indonesian Parliament formally revoked the integration proposal and, on 30 October, the last Indonesian representatives left East Timor. On 25 October, the Security Council passed resolution 1272 (1999), establishing the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to administer East Timor, which it would do until the declaration of East Timorese independence on 20 May 2002.

In June 2000, UNTAET established the Special Panels for Serious Crimes (Special Panels) within the Dili District Court and the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) within the Office of the General Prosecutor in order to bring those responsible for the 1999 violence to justice. Under mounting international pressure, the Indonesian government authorized an inquiry into the events in 1999 and created the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court to try those indicted by the report of the inquiry. However not all those indicted were brought to trial, and by 2004 all but one of those brought before the Ad Hoc Court had been acquitted either at trial or on appeal. In East Timor, concerns have been raised about the ability of the Special Panels to deliver justice, and whether the General Prosecutor is able to operate sufficiently independent of the East Timorese government. In fulfilment of the Security Council’s request that the Secretary-General inform it of developments in East Timor, a Commission of Experts was appointed on 18 February 2005 to assess the progress made in bringing to justice those responsible for such violations, to determine whether full accountability has been achieved and to recommend future actions. The members of the Commission of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General were representatives from India and Fiji.

Questions to Consider Questions to Consider

  1. What have been the judicial processes used by the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor, and the Special Panels for Serious Crimes?
  2. Have those institutions functioned effectively to achieve justice and accountability for the crimes committed in East Timor? If not, what obstacles and difficulties have been encountered?
  3. What additional measures should be considered by the Secretary-General to hold those responsible accountable, secure justice for the victims and the people of East Timor, and promote reconciliation?

Bibliography Bibliography

  • Marker, Jamsheed (2003). East Timor: A Memoir of the Negotiations for Independence. McFarlnad & Company, Inc.
  • Martin, Ian (2002). Self-Determination In East Timor: The United Nations, The Ballot and International Intervention. International Peace Academy Occasional Paper Series.
  • Nevins, Joseph (2005). A Not-So-Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor. Cornell University Press.
  • Smith, M.G. (2003). Peacekeeping in East Timor: The Path to Independence. International Peace Academy Occasional Paper Series.
  • Ramos-Horta, Jose (1987). Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor. Red Sea Press.
  • Taylor, John G. (1999). East Timor: The Price of Freedom. Zed Books.
UN Documents

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