The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

June 25, 2023

AFP: Sudan Leaders Pledge to Avoid Return to North-South War. Sudanese rivals from the north and south of the country pledged here Wednesday to implement a fragile 2005 peace deal and avoid reigniting Africa's longest civil war. Delegates from Sudan's ruling party and former rebels from the south added that they hope to preserve national unity after taking part Tuesday in an international conference aimed at bolstering the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). But the two sides still differ on preparations for national elections in February and a referendum on the future of southern Sudan in January 2011. Gration reiterated his belief that long-term peace in Sudan is possible, saying he would not have taken the job if he thought otherwise.

Associated Press: United Nations: Few Peace Accords Seek to Curb Wartime Rapes. Just 18 of 300 such agreements since the Cold War ended in the early 1990s address sexual violence by including preventive or monitoring measures, according to the U.N. Development Fund for Women, known as UNIFEM. UNIFEM's finding, released at a panel discussion at U.N. headquarters, was meant to highlight a U.N. Security Council resolution a year ago that sought to elevate the problem of sexual violence to a matter of international peace and security. Safeguards for women, including access by humanitarian aid workers, are especially important before cease-fire negotiations, said UNIFEM adviser Anne-Marie Goetz."It may be one of the biggest conspiracies of silence of history," said former U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland, who described sexual abuse against women as "the most haunting outrage" among all the horrors he ran across in his days at the U.N. Egeland recalled meeting women who had been gang-raped by militia groups for weeks on end. "They were physically and mentally destroyed. And they were not one or two or five, they were thousands, in the eastern part of Congo, in Darfur, northern Uganda, Ivory Coast, many other places," he said.

The following piece written by John Norris was featured on the Enough Said blog:

Pretzel Logic.

A whopper of an op-ed by Andrew Natsios today, criticizing the Obama administration on Sudan. It is hard to know where to start.  Perhaps the most egregious argument by Natsios is that:

U.S. use of the term "genocide" is reducing our diplomatic options. In the face of genocide, the United States could hardly act as a neutral mediator. No politician wants to explain why he or she remained complacent in the face of slaughter.

Hmmm. Perhaps Mr. Natsios, from his perch at Georgetown, has been having a bit of trouble recalling his own involvement on Sudan. The president under whom he served, George Bush, declared Darfur a genocide on June 2, 2005, yet both Natsios and Bush remained largely complacent despite this declaration, and the Bush administration - acting as a "neutral mediator" - was very heavily involved in the disastrous Darfur Peace Agreement signed on May 5, 2023 with U.S. representatives to the talks strong-arming rebel groups to accept the deal.

There is also something morally repugnant about Natsios and others who argue essentially, "Ok, the genocide is over now, let's move along." They make it seem as if the only problem with genocide is the social awkwardness it creates for diplomats rather than the immense suffering inflicted on innocent civilians or the need to secure lasting justice.

Yes, the death rates in Darfur have slowed dramatically from their peak in 2003 and 2004, but that is in part because the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed succeeded in killing hundreds of thousands and driving millions from their home - unable to return to this day. While far fewer people die today because of guns and bombs, how many lives are cut short because these millions of people are trapped in squalid refugee and IDP camps?

Natsios also takes a quote by my colleague John Prendergast out of context. John, at a public lecture, had simply noted that arriving at accurate figures of the dead was incredibly difficult because the government of Sudan has made such essential fact finding almost impossible. Natsios uses this to make a case that deaths in Darfur are only around 250,000 in total and that "wild estimates are compromising American diplomacy." Again, Natsios doesn't see the killings as the root problem, or the fact that aid agencies and mortality experts can't operate on the ground as the problem, rather that all this is making it hard for diplomats. The number of those who have died is complex and confusing, but it is far too many by any estimation. For more on this, see the new book, Darfur and the Crime of Genocide, by John Hagan and Wenona Rymond-Richmond, drawn from interviews with more than 1,000 Darfuris, that suggests that about 400,000 Sudanese have been killed.

The op-ed also rather oddly criticizes the Obama administration for focusing on Darfur at the cost of the North-South issue on the same day the administration is convening a high-level conference in Washington, D.C., on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. We have not been shy in criticizing the approach of the administration when it deserves it, but Natsios criticizing Obama's approach to Sudan is akin to Don Rumsfeld coming out of retirement complaining that the administration is handling Iraq poorly.

Natsios also laments that the pesky genocide issue is making it hard for U.S. diplomats to meet directly with Bashir, asking, "How do you mediate a peace agreement if you can't speak to one side's leader?" One doesn't have to go far back to find the answer. In 1999, the United States reached a peace agreement during the middle of the Kosovo war with President Slobodan Milosevic, who was facing a war crimes indictment at that time. No U.S. diplomats met directly with Milosevic during the lengthy negotiations to resolve the conflict once the indictment was announced, and negotiations were handled through a very skilled set of proxies. Such a basic failure to understand the mechanics of diplomacy goes a long way in helping explain why Natsios' tenures as both Special Envoy to Sudan and USAID administrator were so often marked by failure.

John Norris is executive director for The Enough Project at the Center for American

he 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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