The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

November 24, 2022

Associated Press: Secretary general of Sudan's opposition party killed in car crash. The secretary general of a Sudanese opposition party was killed in a car crash Saturday on a highway outside the capital, dealing a blow to the party as it prepares for elections expected next year. Abdel Nabi Ahmed, of the Umma party, was driving with his two sons south of Khartoum when the accident occurred. His sons survived. Originally from Darfur, Ahmed, 58, was seen as a figure capable of rallying the people of the vast western region of Sudan, where rebels have been at war with government forces and allied militiamen since 2003.

Reuters: Ex Darfur rebels report govt attack - peacekeepers. Former Darfur rebels who signed a peace pact with Sudan's government accused state forces of raiding and bombing one of their positions, peacekeepers said on Sunday. It was the latest in a series of reported clashes and attacks in Darfur just over a week after Sudan's president announced an "immediate and unconditional" ceasefire in the western region. Darfur's joint U.N./African UNAMID peacekeeping force said a delegation from an arm of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) reported that government forces and state-backed militias attacked its post in Abu Dangal, south Darfur on Friday.

New York Daily News: Rockets' Tracy McGrady finds true calling in missions to ravaged Darfur. Tracy McGrady was expecting to see nice drawings, happy drawings, the kind that kids typically make. But the crayon depictions McGrady saw were horrifying: Scenes of airplanes dropping bombs, people on fire, men squatting in bushes and spraying machine-gun bullets. More than a year later, McGrady and his partners are ready to launch the Sister School Initiative, which will work with the U.N. to fund education in refugee camps, and link African and American schools with the ambitious aim of modernizing education in war zones.

The following op-ed by Kenneth Roth appeared in today's Wall Street Journal. 

Bush Does the Right Thing for Darfur

Human Rights Watch rarely lauds the Bush administration. But when it comes to supporting international efforts to prosecute Sudanese leaders for their slaughter in Darfur, the administration so far has it right.

The International Criminal Court's prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the atrocities he allegedly directed in Darfur. Sudan's government is trying to convince the United Nations Security Council to suspend the prosecution.

On the one hand, Khartoum has launched a charm offensive, announcing on Nov. 12 yet another cease-fire and peace initiative. On the other hand, it is subtly threatening violence against civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers should prosecution proceed. Backing Sudan are Libya and China, as well as South Africa -- whose concept of African solidarity tends to favor African persecutors over their African victims.

Surprisingly, the toughest governmental defender of the proposed indictment is the Bush administration -- which entered office vowing to undermine the ICC because of the theoretical possibility that it might someday prosecute an American. The administration "unsigned" the ICC treaty, cut off military aid to close allies that wouldn't foreswear ever surrendering an American for trial, and encouraged Congress to authorize invading The Hague should the ICC ever hold an American suspect there.

Yet today, Washington's desire to hold Mr. Bashir to account has made even a strong ICC backer like France seem weak by comparison. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says that, to suspend prosecution, Mr. Bashir must "totally change his policy." But when he refused to surrender two other suspects to the ICC, Mr. Sarkozy obligingly suggested that it would suffice for one merely to resign his ministerial post. France has since backed off that concession, but fears remain it will settle for mere promises of good behavior from the serial liars in Khartoum rather than the "radical and immediate" change it claims to be demanding.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has let it be known that, in the unlikely event that Sudan attracted the nine of 15 votes needed for the Security Council to suspend prosecution, it would veto the effort. That's the right thing to do, because if the Security Council were to succumb to Mr. Bashir's blackmail, it would only encourage more of the same from every tyrant or warlord who might fall into the ICC's sights. Any mass murderer could secure impunity for his crimes by simply threatening more mass murder.

Will prosecuting Mr. Bashir make it more difficult to secure peace in Darfur? Any head of state facing criminal charges might want to fight on to avoid capture and prosecution. But history shows that indictment for mass atrocities profoundly undermines a leader's legitimacy and authority. Predictions of fatal consequences for peace negotiations also attended the indictments of Liberian President Charles Taylor, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. But the charges ended up reducing their power and facilitating peace.

If Mr. Bashir does intensify the violence in Darfur, the right response is not capitulation but a redoubling of efforts to protect the people there, and to apprehend and prosecute the blackmailer.

The Bush administration's support for accountability is a logical consequence of its longstanding commitment to end atrocities in Darfur. It also reflects a broader reassessment of the ICC.

Contrary to early fears, the ICC has acted with restraint and professionalism. Its prosecutions, whether of the warlords of eastern Congo, the child-soldier recruiters of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army or the killers of Khartoum, all accord with U.S. interests, as well as basic decency. President-elect Barack Obama should continue that approach, and embrace the ICC as an important tool to combat mass atrocities.

Mr. Roth is executive director of Human Rights Watch.

The following op-ed by George Clooney, David Pressman and John Prendergast appeared in Saturday's Wall Street Journal. 

Obama's Opportunity to Help Africa

Given the daunting challenges before him, it would be unsurprising if bringing peace to Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo was not at the top of Barack Obama's list of early priorities. But it should be. Not only because Sudan and Congo are the two deadliest wars in the world, but because they are wars that the Obama administration could actually help end.

The war in Congo alone has led to more deaths than any war, anywhere, since the Holocaust. Five million people have died there in the last decade. The wars in Sudan over the last two decades -- both in the south and in Darfur -- have cost the lives of more than 2.5 million people. The number of those driven from their homes is in the millions. Two of Africa's richest countries in natural resources have reduced most of their citizens to abject poverty.

Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, Sudan and Congo garner only occasional attention and sporadic diplomatic action. When the bodies start to pile up, diplomats from around the world descend upon Khartoum and Kinshasa. But this type of emergency diplomacy has left the root causes of conflict unaddressed and has allowed them to fester.

In both wars, government soldiers, militias and rebels ruthlessly deploy rape as a weapon of war. We have met with Congolese women who have been gang-raped, had their lips cut off to prevent them from speaking, and who were then set on fire. Sudanese women tell similar stories.

Rahm Emanuel, the newly minted White House chief of staff, recently reminded us that in the midst of crisis, there is great opportunity. For Congo and Sudan, we see three big reasons for hope.

The first is China. Because of China's nearly $9 billion investment in the oil sector in Sudan, and recent $5 billion deal for Congolese minerals, China increasingly has a vested interest in peace and stability in these two countries. President Obama could send a powerful message and take a meaningful step by sending a high-level envoy to Beijing, early in his first 100 days, to explore ways to work together to help bring peace to these African countries. With all that divides the U.S. and China, these are issues we can and should unite on.

The second reason for hope is the president-elect himself. Mr. Obama has offered the world a renewed American commitment to global citizenship. In both Congo and Sudan, as is the case in countries around the world, there is an extraordinary eagerness to see this global phenomenon engage positively in their crises. However intangible, the president-elect's ability to inspire and lead is as real as any other point of leverage. He can make the case for peace to those controlling the flow of money and munitions into Congo and Sudan. And he can raise the cost of continuing the status quo through multilateral measures to economically and politically isolate the spoilers.

The third reason for hope may be the most potent of all. The American public, especially our younger generation, is increasingly interested in what happens outside of our borders, and particularly in Africa. While we have each participated in our own way in building an advocacy movement around Darfur, it has been the high-school and college students who have made Darfur a political issue too important to be ignored, and who are now preparing similar campaigns for Congo. It is these same young Americans who voted in large numbers for the new president. They are now ready to be led by a President Obama to build a safer world and a safer Africa.

Investing in the resolution of the conflicts in Congo and Sudan will be much cheaper than continuing to spend billions of dollars a year on humanitarian aid and observer forces. These band-aids are expensive substitutes for the real solutions that come from rolling up our sleeves and building an international coalition committed to addressing the root causes of conflict in a serious and sustained manner. President-elect Obama has a chance to help build an international coalition to end the two biggest wars in the world. He should seize it.

Mr. Clooney, an actor and director, and Mr. Pressman, a human-rights lawyer, are co-founders of the international advocacy organization Not On Our Watch. Mr. Prendergast co-chairs the Enough Project (

The following op-ed by Eric Reeves appeared in today's Christian Science Monitor. 

Obama, Darfur, and ICC justice

Of all the issues President-elect Barack Obama faces before he takes office, none is of greater moral urgency than changing the tenor of the US response to what he has repeatedly described as "genocide in Darfur."

That's because, before Inauguration Day, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is very likely to issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, charging him with crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

These charges are amply justified by the evidence. Mr. Obama's clear and effective response is needed, because the Khartoum regime has threatened aggressive violence in a calculated campaign to fend off the arrest.

Indeed, its threats are as shocking as they are underreported.

In August, the UN head of mission in Sudan declared to the Security Council: "The government has conveyed to me that the issuance of an arrest warrant against President Bashir could have serious consequences for UN staff and infrastructure in Sudan." Translation: Seek to arrest our president and we'll unleash further hell on the aid personnel who protect Darfur's vulnerable civilian populations.

Also in August, Bashir declared, "We are ready to go through war with the great power" to forestall ICC actions. Such threats against UN personnel and operations are unprecedented - and they must be fully registered by the Security Council, both for Darfur and for future peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

As if to make clear just how high the stakes have become, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mulet recently stressed that a warrant for Bashir could "derail the [north/south] Comprehensive Peace Agreement," which in January 2005 ended more than 20 years of catastrophic civil war.

Sudan's unambiguous threat - which also poses grave regional dangers - means the international community has no excuse not to act forcefully now. And yet, to date, Khartoum's threats stand unrebuked. The UN Secretariat has acquiesced: Despite Secretary-General Moon's tepid and abstract support for the ICC, he refuses to challenge Khartoum directly over its recent dangerous pronouncements.

Compounding the diplomatic problem, several regional organizations and international groups are pushing for deferral of any indictment of al-Bashir - not because of doubts about his guilt, but in service of a putative "Darfur Peace Process."

But no such process exists or lies in prospect, primarily because no adequate pressure exists on Khartoum to engage meaningfully.

Perversely, present efforts on Bashir's behalf by the Arab League, the African Union, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference work to sustain Khartoum's sense of impunity rather than create the necessary pressures for radical changes in regime behavior on the ground throughout Darfur - the key to any meaningful peace agreement.

That's why the "peace versus justice" trope often invoked by Westerners is the wrong way to think about Darfur. It's not a choice between peace and justice, not if we are serious about meaningful peace: for it is precisely the relentless absence of justice and accountability (impunity) that has sustained violence in Darfur and will continue to do so if unaddressed.

What will follow if an Obama administration, its Western and democratic allies, and a divided Security Council allow Khartoum to make good on its ominous threats?

After more than five years of genocidal counterinsurgency war, hundreds of thousands have died. Around 4.7 million civilians in Darfur remain affected by the conflict and in need of humanitarian assistance; nearly 3 million have been displaced from their homes, and approximately the same number need food aid.

The fragile lifeline of assistance simply cannot continue without greater protection of the sort promised by the UN-authorized peacekeeping force known as UNAMID. Yet now Khartoum is threatening UNAMID militarily and the tenuous security it provides to the world's largest and most endangered aid operation.

The Obama administration can take a key leadership role right now, beginning with unambiguous support for the international legitimacy of the ICC. The administration in waiting should also commit to the provision of critical helicopter and ground transport, the lack of which has so far crippled UNAMID.

The European Union must be pressed vigorously to impose monetary sanctions. Heavy diplomatic pressure must be exerted on China, Sudan's most powerful ally, to condemn all threats against the UN.

And the US must be sharply mindful of Khartoum's evasive penchant for engaging multiple diplomatic interlocutors: With its regional and global allies, the US must work to compel the regime to engage with a single, credible peace forum that recognizes not only Darfuri combatants and civil society leadership, but the obligations of international law.

To do less is to acquiesce to the threats of a brutal regime whose responsibility for atrocity crimes throughout Darfur is beyond dispute.

Eric Reeves is author of "A Long Day's Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide."

The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition. To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].


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