By Evelyn Leopold 1 hour, 21 minutes ago
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council was set to authorize up to 26,000 troops and police for Sudan's Darfur region on Tuesday in an effort to quell violence in the vast arid region.
Britain and France, sponsors of the resolution, formally introduced their draft resolution late on Monday to the 15 council members, stripping the text of harsh language. A vote was expected Tuesday afternoon on a combined or "hybrid" United Nations-African Union force.
Visiting Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in a speech on development, warned Khartoum and rebels that if killings continued, "I and others will redouble out efforts to impose further sanctions."
"The message for Darfur is that it is time for change," Brown told U.N. diplomats. The threat of sanctions, however, has been deleted from the resolution's text.
Estimated to cost more than $2 billion in the first year, the operation is an effort to quell violence in Sudan's western region, where more than 2.1 million people have been driven from their homes and an estimated 200,000 have died over the last four years.
Parts of the resolution are under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes it mandatory. This includes taking "necessary action," a euphemism for the use of force, in self-defense of UN-AU personnel, to ensure freedom of movement of humanitarian workers as well as to protect civilians "under threat of violence without prejudice to the government's responsibilities."
China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, who had qualms about the use of force in Chapter 7, said now this provision was needed but "we have to be precise and very careful where it is applied." He said Beijing generally approved the new text.
Deleted from earlier texts was the right to "seizure and disposal" of illegal arms in violation of earlier agreements. Now the new force is to "monitor" such weapons.
Specifically, the text would authorize no more than 19,555 military personnel and 6,432 civilian police.
The resolution calls on member states to finalize their contributions to the new force, called UNAMID or the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, within 90 days. UNAMID would incorporate the under-equipped and under-financed 7,000 Africa Union troops now in Darfur.
Sudan, after months of hesitation, has agreed to the troop numbers but U.N. officials expect it will take a year to get the force in place. Khartoum also has to agree to allow units from individual countries into Sudan.
Infantry soldiers will be drawn mainly from African nations unless not enough Africans can be recruited. Personnel from elsewhere in the world are expected to be used for specialized engineering and in command headquarters. The United States is restricting its contribution to transporting troops to Darfur and helping to pay for the operation.
The new headquarters should be running by October 31, so U.N. members could cover costs for the African Union, as the United States had proposed.
The timetable is then staggered so the combined force will be in charge of all operations by December 31.
The new text also eliminates a specific reference to the Janjaweed, a brutal pro-Khartoum militia, blamed for rape, murder and burning villages.
The draft resolution asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report to the council every 30 days on implementation of the resolution and progress on a political settlement. The United Nations and the AU are attempting to organize a peace conference among a myriad of rebel groups and the government.