[JURIST] In a special session Wednesday the UN Human Rights Council [official website] approved a resolution [PDF] to send a mission to Sudan to investigate human rights abuses in Darfur [JURIST news archive]. Council President Luis Alfonso de Alba announced his intent to appoint five "highly qualified persons" to undertake the mission. The rights body, established [JURIST report] earlier this year to replace the beleaguered Human Rights Commission, has so far focused mostly on the situation in the Middle East, holding two special sessions on aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] originally called for a probe of the situation in Darfur in October, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently urged the Rights Council to pay more attention [JURIST report] to atrocities in that region. The UN estimates that in the past three years, 200,000 people have died in Darfur and 2 million have been displaced due to fighting between government forces and rebel groups.
The Council resolution praised the Sudanese government's willingness to cooperate with the mission, and de Alba stated that no resistance is expected from Khartoum. Amnesty International [advocacy website] nonetheless criticized [AI press release] the Council's move as "timid" for its failure to condemn what it termed the Sudanese government's complicity with human rights abuses. Sudan's representative at the session assured the Council that the mission would have consequences for Sudan and called for it to be "accurate, balanced and objective." Reuters has more. UN News Service has additional coverage.