here is an article from the Economist.Com on the issue
(free registration required, and worth it for this site, I think:
"Stepping up the pressure on Sudan
Jul 30th 2004
From The Economist Global Agenda
The UN Security Council has passed a resolution threatening Sudan's government with sanctions if it does not quickly disarm the Arab militiamen who have been slaughtering black Africans in the Darfur region. This follows the African Union's unprecedented threat of military intervention to protect Darfuris"
The article goes on to say that
"sanctions will follow if the Arab-led government of Sudan does not, within 30 days, disarm the Arab militia, known as the janjaweed, that has been slaughtering, raping and terrorising black African civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan. The resolution passed by 13-0 with two abstentions (China and Pakistan). America, which drafted the text, replaced the explicit reference to sanctions with a threat of action under article 41 of the UN charter?which lists a wide range of economic and diplomatic embargoes that might be imposed."
And - here we have a newish player - the African Union (some info on this body - they have a fascinating website: http://www.africa-union.org/home/Welcome.htm
"The resolution also came three days after the African Union's unprecedented decision to consider expanding its observer mission in Darfur into a full-scale peacekeeping mission: if this happens, it would be the AU's first military intervention in a member state. Already, the AU's firmness over Sudan is a sharp contrast to the largely ineffectual Organisation of African Unity, which it replaced two years ago, and which routinely turned a blind eye to atrocities in member countries."
The AU has its OWN "Peace and Security council" and "it is now contemplating a much larger contingent, with the specific job of disarming the militiamen. If ever such an intervention force were needed, it is needed right now in Darfur where, so far, perhaps 50,000 have died and more than 1m have fled their homes. The UN says it is the world's worst humanitarian disaster and aid agencies fear that the death toll may eventually run into hundreds of thousands."
"Sudan?s authoritarian regime, led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, continues to deny arming and backing the janjaweed, though there is plenty of reliable evidence that it is doing so."
Who are these "janjaweed" I asked:
BBC version: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3613953.stm
The Janjaweed (also known as Janjawid or Jingaweit) is an armed militia group in Darfur, western Sudan, comprising fighters of Muslim Arab background (mainly from the Baggara tribe). Since 2003 it has been one of the principal actors in the increasingly bloody Darfur conflict, which has pitted Arabs against the black African population (also Muslim) of the region. : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janjaweed
And MSN's version:
Some countries already volunterring for peace keeping missions for the UN:
"Britain, Australia and New Zealand have indicated that they could contribute troops to any UN peacekeeping force?though Colin Powell, America?s secretary of state, said on Tuesday it was too early to be contemplating military intervention. The Sudanese government has threatened to attack any foreign troops that enter the country. But it may be harder to resist them if they come from Sudan?s neighbours in the AU rather than from ?colonialist? rich countries."
Why is it happening:
"The conflict in Darfur began early last year, when black African rebel groups began an uprising over a number of long-standing grievances and the government retaliated by unleashing the janjaweed on the civilian population."
Some Economist.com background on the conflict: