Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 28 April 2018

Gen Bashir’s award for UN official is a scandal by all measures

By Yasir Arman*

On the 26th of April 2018, General Bashir, who is indicted by the ICC, has committed genocide and war crimes, is leading a genocidal government that stands against all the values of the United Nations and has displaced over 6 million Sudanese internally and as refugees, has awarded the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Marta Ruedas, the First-Class Order of the Two Niles in appreciation of her service in Sudan from August 2015 to April 2018.

What an ironic and bizarre situation is taking place! The very president who is wanted by the international system and who cannot step into the door of the headquarters of the United Nations in New York is the one granting an award to a representative of the United Nations, the very organization that referred him to the ICC and has taken tens of resolutions against him and his regime.

From her side, Ms Marta was quoted as saying, “It is a great honour to be granted this award from H.E. the President of Sudan and it has been an equal honour working in and for Sudan over the past three years.” It is an unfortunate statement from someone who represents an organization that is tasked with serious humanitarian obligations and protection of civilians. What a message to send to millions of displaced Sudanese! What a message to send to the families of millions who have perished as the result of war crimes and genocide in Sudan and South Sudan by General Bashir! What type of a “great honour” is being expressed here by the representative of the United Nations?!

I have personal experience during the peace talks with Ms Marta, who has always sided with the Sudan government against the aggrieved marginalized Sudanese populations. That alone and her long silence explains why she has received this award and why she feels honoured by an award from an indicted president.

Many previous United Nations officials have been expelled and harassed by the very same president and his government who awarded Ms Marta, including two of her predecessors and the former representative of the Secretary-General, Jan Pronk. Some UN officials decided to resign as in the case of Aicha Elbasri, who was the spokesperson of UNAMID in Darfur. This raises the question of what services Ms Marta has rendered to the government that made General Bashir so happy to give her an award of the First-Class and at whose expense.

The United Nations has a critical role to play in protecting civilians and advancing the course of peace, human rights and democracy in Sudan that will definitely require different capacity and personnel other than Marta to do this job. We are counting on the new Secretary General of the United Nations and his representative in Sudan, given their solid political backgrounds, to adopt a different approach when it comes to Sudan, especially in the war zones of Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile.

* Arman is the deputy chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Malik Agar.