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September 17, 2006

Submitted by: Owen

DarfurToday was Global Day for Darfur, on the anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the “Responsibility to Protect” declaration providing the legal and ethical basis for “humanitarian intervention” in a state that is unwilling or unable to fight genocide, massive killings and other massive human rights violations.

Ready and waiting is the prospect of a desperate catastrophe when the African Union mandate in Darfur runs out in 13 days time and the Sudanese government refuses to allow the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force.

The Global Day for Darfur aimed to push national governments to act as members of the internationa community to act rapidly to prevent a horrific deterioration in an already awful situation.

For those with a fast enough internet connect there’s a fifty minute clip filmed by the Aegis Trust from this morning’s event outside the Sudanese Embassy in London (followed by a march to 10 Downing Street via Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square)

First ten minutes are Darfuris calling for UN deployment (with pictures of the demonstration being filming inside the Embassy – behind the camera to start with, later on the white building with the metal-barred window), then various speakers to the rally included Adam Hussein, escapee from Darfur, Susan Pollack, survivor of Auschwitz, Beatha Uwazaninka, survivor of Rwanda, and preceding Beatha Uwazaninka at just after 34 minutes into the clip, Kemal Pervanic, survivor of Omarska, drawing the lesson from Bosnia for public concern to push the need for action over Darfur up the politicians’ order of priorities.

Anyone who wasn’t able to attend a meeting for the Global Day can go and sign the petition to the Secretary General of the UN and to the Prime Minister by going to the bottom of the page at

“I, alongside people and organizations from around the world, call on my President or Prime Minister and the international community to:

* Strengthen the understaffed and overwhelmed African Union peacekeeping force now. We must offer extra help to the African peacekeepers already on the ground.

* Transition peacekeeping responsibilities to a stronger UN force as soon as possible. The UN must deploy peacekeepers with a strong mandate to protect civilians.

* Increase aid levels and ensure access for aid delivery. Shortfalls in aid continue to mean that people are at risk of starvation. Humanitarian organizations must have unfettered access to all who need help.

* Implement the Darfur Peace Agreement. For the violence to end, all parties to the agreement, in particular the Sudanese Government, must live up to their responsibilities.”

  1. Owen
    September 18, 2006 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks for posting that, Dan. Srebrenica is a constant reminder of what happens when we don’t believe it will, in spite of all the warnings. The situation gets slightly better and then worse again in Darfur, but the signs have been pretty bad in the lead-up to the end of the AU mandate.

    The one promising sign is that the Sudanese Vice-President today said that the AU troops should stay on beyond the end of their mandate on September 30. That’s presumably a way of getting out of a UN peace-keeping force, but it would also buy some time in getting a UN peace-keeping force organised.

    Apparently Vice-President Taha believes that “The United Nations cannot declare war on a member state and as long as we remain UN members, nobody can force the deployment of peacekeepers in Darfur.” The Khartoum regime don’t seem to have quite picked up the idea that intervening to prevent genocide is not quite the same as declaring war.

    In September 2005 the UN General Assembly adopted the On September 16, 2005, the UN General Assembly adopted the “Responsibility to Protect” declaration – all States accept the responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, crimes against humanity – including ethnic cleansing – and war crimes, and if a State relinquishes its responsibility to protect – whether by will or lack of capacity – then that responsibility must be borne by the international community which as a last resort can decide to intervene.

    So the Khartoum regime and the rest of the world have had a year to work out that the body of international law now specifically overrules the absolute sovereignty of states and allows outside intervention to prevent atrocities.

    It’s a question now that the excuse for inaction has gone whether the will-power exists to actually stop more Srebrenicas, in Darfur and elsewhere.

  2. Shaina
    September 18, 2006 at 10:12 pm


    thanks so much to you and Owen for highlighting this very important issue.

  3. Srebrenica Massacre
    September 19, 2006 at 1:45 am

    For United Nations, what’s going on in Darfur is not a genocide, but an “ethnic cleansing”. This way, the United Nations’ are protecting themselves from their responsibility to stop slaughter of innocent civilians in Darfur.
    It’s a shame…

  4. Shaina
    September 19, 2006 at 4:48 am

    Good point about the UN and genocide v. ethnic cleansing.

    During the George H.W. Bush administration there was an intense level of debate within the State Department, CIA, White House, etc. over whether the atrocities in Bosnia constituted genocide or not.
    Those who did not want the US to intervene denied that what was happening was an act of genocide.
    They debate over the “G word” was so intense, that in my opinion, they couldn’t see the bigger picture, and thousands of people died needlessly.

    In Rwanda, despite the overwehlming evidence that a plan of total extermination against the Tutsi population was taking place, there wasn’t even a DEBATE over whether the atrocities constituted genocide. Instead, the Clinton administration tried to get around admitting that genocide would take place-so that there would be no pressure (moral or legal-based on the Convention to Prevent Genocide which the US signed in 1988(I believe)) to intervene in Rwanda.

    I did my senior thesis paper on humanitarian intervention, and one thing i discovered is that nation-states are much more opened to the idea of humanitarian intervention and military intervention to stop atrocities. In the 1970s the main focus was on protecting nation-state sovereignty often at the cost of human rights.
    Now, I think that there is a general consensus, that is backed by documents such as the Responsibility to Protect Act, that state soverignty does not trump human rights. And that state soveringity can not be used as a trump card against humanitarian intervention.

  5. Owen
    September 19, 2006 at 6:51 pm

    Dan, fortunately the Responsibility to Protect obligation isn’t restricted to genocide, it also covers crimes against humanity – which includes ethnic cleansing – and war crimes as well. So the hurdle isn’t as high as as for the obligation to act under the Genocide Convention, though the problem is that it hasn’t been put to the test.

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