Sudan: Look what you did! Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) this week, after significant advocacy from our wonderful JWW activists, wrote a scathing blog post about the potential waiver of sanctions on the Sudanese government. He’s right to be outraged – Sudan’s pattern is to sign agreements as a stall tactic, and any aid to the regime should be conditioned on it meeting all existing agreements, ceasing attacks on civilians and finalizing all outstanding issues with South Sudan. In fact, the plan to allow humanitarian access to desperate populations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, brokered in negotiations two weeks ago, is already behind schedule – even as the region this week sees at least 8700 people in the region newly displaced by fighting. These are added to more than 650,000 people the UN says are either displaced or severely affected by the crisis. An “operational plan” detailing how delivery of aid would be implemented was due within a week of the agreement, a field assessment by the UN, AU and League of Arab States due within two weeks – neither has been completed. Meanwhile, Sudan is still slated to earn a seat on the UN’s Human Rights Council, an outrageous position for a genocidal regime – take action here.
Congo: Passage of final conflict minerals regulations by the SEC last week was an incredible milestone – one we could not have reached without the consistent, ardent activism each one of you has contributed in the last few years. The rules, however, were weakened in a nod to businesses, and particularly in deference to the US Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers which have not-so-quietly been threatening suit against the SEC over these rules in the last year. Significantly, companies will now have a two-year time period (four years for smaller companies) in which they can describe their mineral supply as being “of indeterminate origin,” and major retailers like Wal-Mart and Target who put their logo on otherwise generic products won’t be required to report on their supply chains. Meanwhile, negotiations continue in Congo over a neutral force that would be tasked with dealing with the M23 rebellion and other “negative forces” in the region – but it’s unclear where troops would come from, or who will pay for them.