Abuja talks end without progress; Save the Children/UK withdraws from Darfur; MSF worker murdered by Khartoum’s forces in Labado (South Darfur); African Union fired upon and forced to curtail monitoring activities
Eric Reeves, 22 December 2004
There should be no doubt about the extent of Khartoum’s brutal triumph in furthering its genocidal policies in Darfur over the past several weeks. Indeed, the regime is fairly trumpeting its “successes,” which culminated with yesterday’s acrimonious and ominous suspension of “negotiations” in Abuja (Nigeria):
The head of the Sudan government delegation [to Abuja] Majzoub al-Khalifa said talks had reached a “successful end and we are all committed to the talks again.” (Reuters, December 21, 2004)
Khartoum’s conclusion that the Abuja talks have been “successful” derives primarily from the regime’s not having faced any consequences for its ongoing massive military offensive in Darfur. Following huge deliveries of weapons and armaments to Darfur (see below), the regime began its offensive shortly before the scheduled re-convening of the Abuja talks (December 10, 2004) and deliberately sustained is military actions beyond the urgent deadline (December 19, 2004) set by African Union mediators for cessation of hostilities. Associated Press reports from Abuja:
Sudan’s government kept up attacks on rebels in Darfur on Saturday, defying a deadline set by African Union mediators for an end to active hostilities, AU officials said. AU mediators at peace talks being held in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, gave Sudan and rebel delegates a 24-hour ultimatum Friday to stop fighting by 6 p.m. Saturday [December 18, 2004] or face possible referral to the UN Security Council. AU officials said the government continued attacks. AU spokesman Assane Ba told reporters government helicopters were attacking the town of Labado. (AP [dateline: Abuja], December 19, 2004)
A dispatch from Agence France-Presse was equally unambiguous:
The African Union has been very clear in its condemnation of [the government of] Sudan’s latest actions [i.e., failure to observe the AU deadline for cessation of all offensive attacks]. Khartoum’s decision also deals a severe blow to the AU’s bid to resolve the crisis without broader international intervention and increased the likelihood that the United Nations will be asked to take action.
AU spokesman Assane Ba said the 53-nation body’s chairman President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and the head of the AU Commission Alpha Oumar Konare would be informed of the clashes and take a decision on the future of the talks. As Saturday’s deadline came and went with no sign of the government [of Sudan] backing down, the commander of the AU observer force in Darfur told international envoys in Abuja that government helicopters were bombarding Labado. At the same time, from his headquarters in Addis Ababa, Konare issued a statement calling on Khartoum “to immediately stop its present military offensive and withdraw its forces to their former positions.” (AFP, December 19, 2004)
And Reuters reports on the inevitable consequences of Khartoum’s indiscriminate attacks:
“Thousands of Darfuris are fleeing the fighting, streaming towards Nyala town from the east, bringing reports of government bombardment with helicopters and Antonovs. They say government forces and Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, attacked their villages and in some cases set up bases there. (Reuters, December 19, 2004
What was Khartoum’s response to these emphatic findings and urgent warning by the African Union, at the most critical moment in the Abuja negotiations?
“What the government is doing in these areas is actually within its sovereign rights,” Sudan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Najib Abdulwahab said in a statement issued by Sudan’s embassy in Nigeria.” (Associated Press [Abuja], December 19, 2004)
In Khartoum’s mind, “sovereign rights” include the right to ignore international commitments, to attack civilians targets indiscriminately (the fighting in Labado resulted in the death of an aid worker for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières: see below), indeed to commit genocide. The threat of meaningful UN action against Khartoum has long since faded from the regime’s calculations.
This highly provocative military offensive ensured that negotiations in Abuja had no chance of a meaningful start, even as Khartoum clearly feels it need do no more than “commit to the talks again” at the next session (tentatively scheduled for January 2005).
This is precisely as the National Islamic Front regime wishes: it has no interest in genuine political negotiations, or in negotiations to resolve the deteriorating security conditions that threaten the lives of 3 million civilians now affected by conflict and in need of humanitarian assistance. Indeed, it is quietly celebrating the killing of two aid workers for Save the Children/UK by a drunken soldier of the Sudan Liberation Army (on the road north of Nyala). For these deaths have precipitated the withdrawal of Save the Children/UK, one of the most important international humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur.
Khartoum’s military offensive has also resulted in the murder of an aid worker for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, as reported by the organization today:
International medical relief organisation Mdecins Sans Frontires is shocked by the murder of one of its Sudanese aid workers in South Darfur. According to reliable reports the aid worker was killed on Friday, December 17, during an attack led by Government troops on Labado in South Darfur. (Médecins Sans Frontières [Amsterdam], press release, December 22, 2004)
Khartoum’s continued indiscriminate use of aerial bombing and helicopter gunship attacks; its refusal to rein in or militarily neutralize the Janjaweed; the regime’s increasingly restrictive policies on visa and travel permits for humanitarian workers; and the general commitment to military victory in Darfur by genocidal means—all work to make the prospect of a total collapse in humanitarian relief efforts frighteningly real. The consequences of such a collapse would be catastrophic: current monthly mortality of 35,000 human beings in the greater humanitarian theater (see mortality assessment at www.sudanreeves.org) would grow to more than 100,000, a figure recently suggested by Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs:
[The monthly death toll could rise to 100,000] if countries did not do more to protect aid workers and punish the guilty. We’re ending the year more or less how we started, with huge areas inaccessible to humanitarian workers, Mr Egeland said.” (Financial Times, December 16, 2004)
KHARTOUM HAS CONSISTENTLY RESISTED INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR DARFUR CRISIS
The National Islamic Front has from the beginning of conflict in Darfur done as much as possible to prevent any meaningful “internationalizing” of the crisis in order to forestall diplomatic or political pressure; the attenuation of international humanitarian relief presence and operational reach directly serves this primary goal.
We must ask in this context about the motives lying behind the recent firing upon an African Union helicopter, en route to monitor Khartoum’s offensive in the area of Labado:
International efforts to bring peace to Sudan suffered a major setback yesterday when the African Union suspended operations in south Darfur following an attack on one of its helicopters amid renewed fighting. The incident in the Labado area east of Nyala, capital of south Darfur, came as the helicopter was on its way to investigate an upsurge in fighting between Sudanese government and rebel forces. The AU’s role is to monitor the ceasefire, which has been blatantly disregarded in recent weeks.
“We have to condemn this,” said Jean-Baptiste Natame, a senior AU political officer based in Khartoum, who noted it was not the first time that an AU vehicle has been targeted in the past few days. “If we can’t go anywhere without being shot at, it is a serious problem for us.” (The Telegraph [UK], December 21, 2004)
Restrictions on the movements of AU monitors clearly benefits Khartoum disproportionally, especially in the deployment of its aerial military assets and more conspicuous ground assets. Here we should bear in mind another recent finding of the African Union:
“General Festus Okonkwo, the AU’s chief ceasefire monitor said in Abuja last Friday that vast quantities of [government of Sudan] weapons had poured into Darfur in recent weeks, turning the arid region into “a time bomb that could explode at any moment.” “The quantity of arms and ammunition brought into Darfur to meet the present build-up of troops in the region is (so) astronomical that the issue is no longer whether there will be fighting or not, but when fighting will start,” the Nigerian general said.”(UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, December 21, 2004)
Khartoum’s determination to prevail militarily, by means of conventional military tactics as well as genocidal destruction, has never been in doubt. But given these reports of a massive increase in arms and ammunition, in conjunction with a clear willingness to engage in offensive military action in the midst of “peace negotiations,” it is hardly surprising that the regime is ignoring an African Union call for a military stand-down. The firing upon the AU helicopter is almost certainly the work of a regime fully committed to restricting the access and deployment of international observers in Darfur.
STILL-GROWING DIMENSIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL FAILURE TO RESPOND
The failure of international resolve (particularly at the UN), the lack of African Union capacity, the expediency of President Obasanjo of Nigeria, the weakness of President Déby of Chad, and the duplicity of Libya and Egypt during October’s Tripoli “summit”—all have worked to ensure that Khartoum has not had to negotiate under effective auspices, with clear prospect of diplomatic pressure.
This explains why negotiations over a military cease-fire in Darfur, first in N’Djamena (Chad) and subsequently in Abuja (Nigeria), have never had any real significance. For example, when early on in cease-fire negotiations the distinguished Henry Dunant Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (Geneva) offered its auspices, Khartoum peremptorily rejected the offer of mediation (even as the insurgents accepted), preferring to deal only with the weak and beholden government of Chad’s President Déby. In turn, the African Union auspices under which the present “cease-fire” was negotiated in November (essentially a reiteration of the April 8, 2004 N’Djamena “cease-fire”) have proved similarly ineffectual. And there is no prospect of more meaningful international engagement.
As a means of justifying its failure in Darfur, the international community increasingly resorts to the assertion of an expedient “moral equivalence” between Khartoum’s génocidaires and the insurgents in Darfur. There have, of course, been actions by the insurgents that deserve unambiguous condemnation. But there has never been a conflict in which culpability lies wholly on one side. And here we must continue to bear in mind that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, following her return from a September mission to Darfur, reported to the UN Security Council: “My mission received no credible reports of rebel attacks on civilians as such” (Statement to the Security Council on the Human Rights Situation in Darfur, Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights, September 30, 2004).
But this doesn’t prevent the UN’s Jan Pronk, or diplomats from the US and the UK, from asserting a specious equivalence. Chris Mullin, UK Foreign Office Minister, recently declared that “news reports often [give] the impression that ‘there is only one party, the government of Sudan, involved.’ ‘There are actually two parties and according to UN special representative Jan Pronk, in the last two months at least, the rebel forces have been responsible for a greater number of violations than the government side,’ Mullin told lawmakers in the House of Commons” (Associated Press, December 14, 2004).
This account comports extremely poorly with the events of the past week, but is muddled on many other counts as well. Mr. Mullin evidently feels no need to include Khartoum’s brutal Janjaweed militia in his larger assessment, no doubt in part because the UK has failed, along with many others, to have the Janjaweed included as a named party in the “cease-fires” negotiated in N’Djamena and Abuja. But given the central role of the Janjaweed in genocidal destruction throughout Darfur, this is simply disingenuousness on Mullin’s part. Nor does Mullin acknowledge that the African Union’s ability to monitor fighting in Darfur, an area the size of France, is hopelessly limited. The AU still has fewer than 1,000 troops, monitors, and other personnel on the ground in Darfur. It is very badly under-equipped and simply unable to provide any quantitative assessment that has real authority. Some contrived census of “incidents” and “violations” can’t begin to tell the real story about what is happening on the ground in Darfur, or how human destruction is being accomplished.
Most fundamentally, Mullin and others of his expedient ilk simply refuse to acknowledge the genocidal context that obtains in Darfur, and the increasing desperation of Darfuris, combatants and non-combatants, over international failures of the sort embodied in Mullin’s own government. We have heard brave words from UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, but to date there have been no actions remotely adequate to the scale or nature of human destruction in Darfur.
To be sure, Mullin and the UK have plenty of company. In an especially disingenuous maneuver, US envoy to the UN Stuart Holliday yesterday attempted to give an impression of US engagement by simultaneously misrepresenting the Security Council and laying the blame for international action on Kofi Annan’s “forgetfulness”:
After Tuesday’s [UN Security Council] meeting, US envoy Stuart Holliday said the 15-nation council took its responsibilities “seriously” but added that Annan should make another visit to Darfur to see the horrors of the situation first-hand. “The continued engagement of the secretary general on this question is absolutely critical,” Holliday told reporters. (Agence France-Presse, December 21, 2004)
What possible evidence is there that the UN Security Council has taken its responsibilities for Darfur “seriously”? Mr. Holliday should begin by explaining UN Security Council failure to secure compliance with the only “demand” it has yet made of Khartoum: that it disarm the Janjaweed and bring its leaders to justice (Security Council Resolution 1556, July 30, 2004 [section 6]). He should also explain why the Security Council, five months after diffidently alluding to the possibility of sanctions against Khartoum, has not done anything to threaten the regime for its genocidal intransigence. And he should confess that the still mooted US proposal of an “oil embargo” is simply fatuous: China alone, which has many allies in retarding UN Security Council action, could purchase every barrel of Sudan’s petroleum exports without the slightest difficulty.
And just why should we believe, with Holliday, that another trip to Darfur by Kofi Annan, where “horrors” certainly abound, would make any difference? Can anyone imagine that Khartoum would not provide an even more fully sanitized itinerary than during Annan’s previous high-profile visit (the highlight of which was the over-night removal of all the displaced persons from a camp scheduled to be visited by Annan and UN personnel the following morning)? Holliday seems also to have forgotten that Khartoum promised Annan that it would disarm the Janjaweed (Joint Communiqué, July 3, 2004), a promise notable only for being contemptuously ignored. Just what is to be gained from another visit, other than a contribution to the illusion that the UN is responding to Darfur’s agony?
Annan for his part engaged yesterday in sanctimonious exhortation, clearly meant to give the impression that he was making an important statement, even as his words were without discernible implications for specific action:
“If additional support is needed and additional action is needed, the Council has to assume its responsibility,” [Annan] told a press conference at UN headquarters in New York. “After all, it has the ultimate primary responsibility for international peace and security,'”Annan said, also raising the possibility of slapping sanctions on the war-torn nation. “There comes a time when you have to make a reassessment as to whether the approach you’ve taken is working or not,” he said. (Agence France-Presse, December 21, 2004)
Amidst this vague sententiousness and statement of the obvious, Annan disingenuously neglects to mention China’s public and fully explicit threat to veto any sanctions measure against Khartoum, and the lack of any evidence that a sanctions regime might seriously affect the regime. Again, talk of an “oil embargo” is expedient nonsense. Moreover, Annan conveniently makes no mention of other diplomatic sources of assistance for Khartoum and its present policies: from China, Russia, Pakistan, and Algeria within the Security Council; from an uncritically supportive Arab League, especially Egypt; and from an equally uncritical Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Even the African Union is divided, in addition to being without the organizational or material resources to make good on its commitment to increase AU presence on the ground in Darfur. Here the failure of the AU to secure from Khartoum a peacekeeping mandate for its forces has become the symbol of political and diplomatic impotence.
THE CURRENT HUMANITARIAN SITUATION: Security Context
As part of its efforts to prevent any internationalizing of the Darfur crisis, the Khartoum regime has long systematically denied humanitarian access, restricting the entry and deployment of humanitarian aid workers, as well as equipment. This behavior was first highlighted in November 2003 by Tom Vraalsen, UN Special Envoy to Sudan for Humanitarian Affairs: he spoke at the time of the “systematic” denial of humanitarian access to areas of the Fur, the Massaleit, and Zaghawa—perceived by Khartoum as the ethnic base of support for the insurgents. Khartoum has again begun to use denials of visas and travel permits as a means of restricting current humanitarian assistance; the regime is also taking an increasingly aggressive and hostile attitude toward humanitarian organizations that are critical of the regime. Even Kofi Annan was obliged to note in his December 3, 2004 report to the Security Council that,
during the last two weeks [of November], [Khartoum’s] process of issuing visas has slowed down for the nongovernmental organizations [NGOs] compared to previous months. In addition, some Government authorities seem to have hardened their position towards international NGOs in allowing them to continue their work unconditionally. (Section VII, paragraph 28)
This ominous development has continued, symbolized in the expulsion of Shaun Skelton, Oxfam International’s head of country operations for Sudan. This followed Oxfam comments that were critical of the most recent and useless in a series of UN Security Council Resolutions on Darfur (1574, November 19, 2004). It is likely that in the coming weeks and months Khartoum will continue to restrict humanitarian workers; put in place increasing numbers of obstacles designed to impede the movement of humanitarian supplies; allow growing insecurity to restrict humanitarian access and efficacy; and simply prevent personnel from carrying out their work.
Indeed, though it received relatively little notice at the time (mid-November 2004), Khartoum deliberately obstructed the protection work of the UN High Commission for Refugees, forcing the organization to withdraw key international staff from South Darfur:
UNHCR said today it is temporarily withdrawing some key international staff from strife-torn South Darfur because Sudanese authorities are preventing them from carrying out vital protection work on behalf of thousands of internally displaced people. Jean-Marie Fakhouri, UNHCR’s operations director for the Sudan situation, said UNHCR staff had been restricted to Nyala for nearly three weeks on orders of Sudanese officials following an incident on October 20 when UNHCR and other UN colleagues intervened to stop the involuntary relocation of displaced people. (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, November 12, 2004)
Further killing of aid workers could also lead to the full-scale withdrawal of essential international humanitarian aid organizations. Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, warned even before Khartoum’s killing of an MSF worker in Labado that “the 7,000 aid workers in Darfur already felt they were on the brink of being reckless, and if more such attacks occurred they would have to withdraw, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths” (BBC, December 15, 2004). Here we must bear in mind the additional grim news that was also included in today’s press release from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF):
[MSF emergency co-coordinator Ton Koene said, “Other national staff members who were present in the town [of Labado] are still missing. MSF employs 38 national staff in Labado of whom 29 are still unaccounted for today.” (Médecins Sans Frontières [Amsterdam], press release, December 22, 2004)
We must pray for the safety of these MSF staff, even as we must recognize that Khartoum’s murderous and indiscriminate attack on Labado may well have killed other aid workers.
OTHER SECURITY ISSUES
Security issues take a different form in neighboring Chad, where more than 200,000 refugees have already fled from attacks by Khartoum’s regular and Janjaweed militia forces. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recently warned that well in excess of 100,000 additional refugees could be expected during the first half of 2005; yesterday UNHCR gave new urgency to this warning:
Anticipating a potential influx of refugees into Chad, UNHCR said the latest phase of its emergency airlift had enabled it to build up an overall contingency stock of relief items for up to 50,000 more people over and above the 200,000 who have already sought shelter in Sudan’s western neighbour. “But we are also extremely concerned about the capacity of eastern Chad to sustain any substantial new influx, given the chronic water shortage in an extremely arid region,” agency spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva. (UN News Center, December 21, 2004)
There have already been reports of serious violence in Chad as the indigenous population and refugees compete for exceedingly scarce water and pasturage. A large influx could spark expanded and deadly fighting.
And finally, within the camps for the displaced in Darfur, there remain no guarantees of security. This was revealed clearly in Khartoum’s decision to storm the El Jeer (also Al Geer) camp for displaced persons in the second week of November 2004:
Sudanese government forces stormed a refugee camp in Darfur, attacking men, women and children, within hours of Khartoum signing a security agreement with rebels that was supposed to bring peace to the region. BBC television footage showed Sudanese security forces entering the El Geer refugee camp near Nyala, bulldozing it, firing tear gas at women and children, beating some of the male inhabitants and moving others to a nearby camp. The violence came hours before Jan Pronk, the UN’s Sudan envoy, arrived to visit the camp, the BBC said. At one point during his visit a plastic bullet was fired at a cameraman standing next to a UN vehicle. (BBC, November 10, 2004)
Many of the “police” controlling the camps are simply Janjaweed militiamen who have been recycled by Khartoum into the role of security officers, tasked with protecting the very people they have killed, raped, and tortured, and whose villages and livelihoods they have destroyed. The continuing violence in the camps has been widely and frequently reported by both humanitarian and human rights groups, particularly the raping of women and girls who search for firewood:
A UNICEF statement said armed militias were raping girls and women in Darfur as a tactic to terrorise and humiliate individuals as well as families and communities. UNICEF also lamented that children had, in a series of incidents, been loaded on to lorries and transported to a new camp without their parents, while others had been injured during government attempts to relocate people from camps. (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, November 23, 2004)
There is no meaningful security in Darfur, and the great likelihood is that human and humanitarian security will deteriorate rapidly in the very near term.
THE CURRENT HUMANITARIAN SITUATION: Relief context
We can see a good deal of the context for recent developments on the ground in a series of distressing news reports, as well as in the belated release of the UN’s Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 8. Despite its date of November 1, 2004, this is still the most current official global view of the humanitarian crisis.
Polio is a growing threat in Darfur, one that will be compounded by the inability of humanitarian workers to complete what has been a very partial vaccination program. Voice of America recently reported [dateline: Hara al-Zawiyah, South Darfur]:
Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) say the number of confirmed cases of polio in Sudan has made a dramatic rebound in a country that had been declared polio-free three years ago. [ ] Since then, WHO officials say the number of confirmed cases of polio-induced paralysis in Sudan has soared to 54. Because paralysis of limbs occurs in only one in 200 cases, health experts say there is a high probability that more than 10,000 Sudanese have been infected with the virus, prompting several UN aid agencies to issue repeated warnings that Sudan is in the midst of a massive outbreak.
Particularly disturbing for health workers is the virus’ potential for spreading in the crowded, festering camps of western Sudan and neighboring Chad, where nearly two million people have sought refuge in the wake of atrocities by pro-government Arab militias aiming to crush a rebel uprising. [Nor is the threat confined to Darfur: the medical implications of Khartoum’s genocidal campaign are international in scope (see Voice of America report at http://www.voanews.com/english/2004-12-15-voa27.cfm)]
To date, humanitarian organizations have been able to prevent serious outbreaks of cholera and dysentery, two diseases that pose tremendous risk within the terribly overcrowded camp environs. But the humanitarian organization Medair announced in a recent press release that it is presently responding to a serious outbreak of dysentery in West Darfur:
8,000 villagers fled their homes in November  when Arab militia came on horseback to attack a remote part of West Darfur. These internally displaced people (IDP’s) settled a kilometre away from a Medair run health clinic in Abu Suruj, 2.5 hours drive north of our base in the Provincial Capital, El Geneina. In early December we received reports of a suspected outbreak of Shigella Dysentery amongst these displaced people, as well as an acute need for shelter, safe water, improved sanitation and food. (Medair press release, December 16, 2004)
Both dysentery and cholera pose grave dangers to the camp populations, and in the absence of medical treatment capacity, many tens of thousands of lives could be claimed in a matter of weeks from these diseases alone.
SECTORAL HUMANITARIAN COVERAGE
The shamefully belated Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 8 provides at least a snap-shot of humanitarian relief coverage in Darfur through October 2004. At the time, 57% of the targeted population received some food distribution (the “targeted population” refers to accessible populations in Darfur; it does not refer to the refugee population in Chad or the very large inaccessible populations in Darfur itself). The quality, quantity, and balance within food distributions is clearly inadequate, as a recent study by the UN World Food Program and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes fully clear. Moreover, while reaching 1.3 million people in October, the World Food Program has conceded that the figure for November was only slightly over 1.1 million. In other words, even as the population in need of food assistance was rising sharply (it was well over 2.5 million in the greater Darfur humanitarian theater), the provision of food aid was falling.
Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 8 also reveal that 39% of the nominally accessible populations had not received any shelter; 57% had no access to clean water (a terrible harbinger of future disease); and only 52% had access to sanitary facilities (another clear health risk). 40% had no access to primary medical care, and this figure may decline precipitously with the withdrawal of additional aid organizations. The loss of resources provided by Save the Children/UK will certainly have a consequentially negative impact on humanitarian capacity.
THE DARKENING FUTURE FOR DARFUR
The humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, as does security throughout the region; the international community remains effectively paralyzed; and the genocidal Khartoum regime feels no pressure to enter into meaningful negotiations with the insurgency groups.
Nor is there prospect for change, despite the continuing bluster from variously embarrassed and ashamed international actors. Indeed, even the pointless bluster has begun to fade in the interests of expediency. Jan Pronk, who has made so many disastrous comments and negotiating blunders in dealing with the Darfur crisis, recently declared that labeling the vast, ethnically-targeted human destruction in Darfur “genocide” was “counter-productive.” It is not clear what counts as “productive” in Mr. Pronk’s expedient mind, but the notion that the word “genocide” should not be deployed, even if true, because of “production” calculations is morally shocking, and suggests how fatally compromised UN thinking about Darfur has become.
We may hope (however tenuously) that the UN Commission of Inquiry, set to report in late January, will ignore Pronk’s expedient advice and render honestly a determination concerning genocide. There are reasons to be skeptical that such honesty will obtain; but if it does, then there should be an immediate referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The US should end its unjustified opposition to the ICC, and support this as the only international legal forum in which justice might be meted out in timely fashion to the genocidaires in Khartoum, as well as to all those guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur. Such action is all that presently suggests a way of pressuring the regime to halt its genocidal activities.
Tragically, this opportunity is likely to prove only another measure of international failure. If politics of expediency govern the decision of the Commission of Inquiry, or if the US refuses to yield on its unreasonable opposition to the ICC, then Darfur will have been betrayed yet again. At this point, there are few Darfuris who expect anything else.
Eric Reeves, Smith College