Letter from Presiding Bishop Griswold to U.S. United Nations Ambassador John Negroponte expressing concern about the situation in Sudan.

March 30, 2003

The Honorable John Negroponte
United States Mission to the United Nations
799 UN Plaza
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the situation in Sudan. The UN Human Rights Commission, which is now meeting in Geneva, is poised to pass a resolution that would reclassify Sudan as it relates to that country’s human rights status. This action would revoke the mandate for the presence of a UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, a post currently held by Mr. Gerhart Baum.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has stated, “there is perhaps no greater tragedy on the face of the Earth than in Sudan.” The conflict in Sudan has claimed the lives of over two million persons and has left hundreds of thousands displaced, often without food and exposed to unremitting bombardments. It has long begged for resolution, and clearly nothing less than the full diplomatic energy of many nations, with strong leadership from the United States, can create sufficient urgency around the peace process. Human rights violations are an ongoing and significant problem in Sudan, and the need for credible human rights monitoring has not diminished. The passage of a UN resolution that determines that Sudan is no longer a country with “special problems” will undermine the fragile peace process and the credibility of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

The U.S. has been instrumental in the progress that has been made in the Machakos peace talks. The presence of the UN Special Rapporteur and credible human rights monitoring has been a strong factor in that process. The failure of the UN to renew the mandate for Special Rapporteur will jeopardize the peace talks as they enter a critical round of negotiations.

Please call on all members of the UN Human Rights Commission to adopt a resolution that recognizes the seriousness of the human rights problems in Sudan. I encourage you to work to maintain Sudan’s current human rights classification and to renew the mandate of Special Rapporteur Gerhart Baum.

Yours sincerely,

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA