The UN Security Council is to send a new peacekeeping force to Darfur in Sudan, following extensive worldwide campaigning by groups including Amnesty International (AI).
AI's Secretary General welcomed the news, but warned that the force must be deployed urgently, resourced effectively and be given the full support of the Sudanese government.
"The people of Darfur are living in the midst of a massive humanitarian and human rights crisis," said Irene Khan. "They can wait no longer for protection: it must be delivered immediately, effectively and with a full mandate to protect civilians from further violence."
The UN Security Council voted unanimously to send a combined African Union/United Nations force to the region, giving some long-awaited hope to millions of Darfuris.
It is now essential that UN member states provide the resources necessary to swiftly deploy an effective force with a strong human rights component. This must include the capacity and authority to monitor and investigate human rights violations, including all cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence, and to report publicly on all human rights abuses.
In a region awash with arms, the UN must ensure the forces can oversee the disarmament and demobilization of government-supported Janjawid militia. The new resolution only allows the force to monitor "whether any arms or related material are present in Darfur" and urgently needs to be strengthened.
AI also urges the UN Security Council to ensure that the current arms embargo is effectively enforced.
"Given the Sudanese government's past record of obstructing such deployments, we urge it to facilitate the rapid deployment of the new force," said Irene Khan. "The people of Darfur have been offered too many words and too many resolutions. Now is the time for effective action."