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Articles and Analysies Last Updated: Oct 27, 2009 - 9:33:43 PM

Why a reality check is needed on Darfur by Anne Bartlett
Sudaneseonline.com

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Why a reality check is needed on Darfur

 

 

Hard on the heels of yet another day of action for Darfur we are no further forward. Yes, there have been a whole series of expensive, symbolic stunts aimed at keeping attention focused on one of the worlds most intractable crises, but the reality is that women are still being raped, civilians bombed, homes destroyed and lives wrecked. In recent weeks, the Government of Sudan has succeeded in its plans to escalate the carnage in the region due - in no more small part - to a widening rhetoric/reality chasm. The time has come for a reality check on Darfur. Darfur needs accountability, practical help and action, not more fancy words.

 

In saying this I do not mean to denigrate the efforts of those trying to help the people of Darfur, but I do think that questions have to be asked about the current trajectory of activism. For example, while demonstrations on the White House lawn or elsewhere certainly achieve the goal of generating pressure for change, such pressure often remains unfocused. Notably in Abuja before the last set of negotiations, this kind of pressure generated a nebulous atmosphere of crisis. This atmosphere ultimately militated against a systematic exploration of the issues facing Darfur, and instead, for peace at any price.

 

At this point in time, it is not a question of whether governments or supra-national organizations are aware of what is needed. They are. For the most part, governments salivate at the thought of a foreign policy win on Darfur especially in the face of other foreign policy catastrophes elsewhere on the globe. In this respect, pressure for peace is already there and there is little that activism can do to increase that. The spoiler however, is competing geopolitical priorities. How for example, can Darfur be truly prioritized while Sudan remains a partner in the war on terror or a potential partner for oil?  

 

Publicity stunts do little to move this impasse. They are usually costly and do more for the people taking the action than for the intended recipients. I have said elsewhere that Darfur has become a social club where everyone but the Darfurians are invited and this still holds. With the level of fundraising running into the hundreds of millions of dollars, how much of that money has seen the light of day in Darfur? How many people have been helped by the wearing of green wristbands or fundraising dinners? How many kids have been educated with this money? How many families have been able to eat? The answer is not many.

 

The time has come for practical action and a refocused advocacy agenda. With the deteriorating humanitarian situation and an impending round of negotiations a number of things are needed:

 

The first is a specific kind of security. Darfur is the size of France and it is therefore not realistic - at least at this point - to expect blanket security everywhere. But it is also hard to see how parties to the negotiations can be expected to negotiate while their tribes and followers are being attacked. The international community is quick to blame rebel groups for being belligerent and refusing to attend talks, while allowing wholesale hypocrisy on the part of the Government of Sudan. The AU and UN must start taking a hard line approach with the Government of Sudan, ensuring that places of refuge such as the camps are what they say. They must also crack down on GoS duplicity, such as painting their planes UN white to disguise arms shipments. Without simple measures such as these, it is difficult to see how any kind of talks can get off the ground, still less how peace can be carried over the long term.

 

The second issue relates to the talks themselves. As a start, the negotiations need to take place in a location where serious engagement can occur and where the sponsor has a benevolent interest in the outcome. Libya, as I have pointed out elsewhere, provides none of these things. It has been a key agitator in this crisis, has a perpetual interest in creating instability across the Sahel and couldnt care less about the people of Darfur. It also has resource interests throughout the region that will militate against an honest broker role in any talks.

 

Additionally, the key parties involved in the peace talks need to have pre-negotiation training. It is manifestly ridiculous to expect local people from Darfur to face off with the international community and the Government of Sudan without training on how to do this. All of those directly involved in the negotiating process - and I do mean key people, not peripheral figures - need to be trained on how to approach the talks. At a minimum this means training on positions and interests, leadership, conflict resolution, group dynamics and basic negotiating skills before they are expected to enter the fray. This process then needs to be fed directly into the negotiations.

 

Third, core-periphery issues must be addressed. It is not enough to continue to make ad-hoc agreements with every area of Sudan that is marginalized or that has been subject to the Government of Sudans brutality. The CPA is not working because the government of Sudan is not taking seriously their power-sharing duties and is being allowed to renege on implementation. If the CPA can fail - which was a much better crafted document than the DPA - then what chance for the people of Darfur? It is not enough to create another VP position unless that position is also accompanied by a real transfer of power and an implementation schedule that pins the Government of Sudan to the mast. Advocacy should focus on putting pressure on the international community to craft an agreement that will last, rather than being something that the GOS can renege on five minutes later.    

 

Finally, Darfur groups should look at practical measures to help local people. Education is a priority. Many of the kids in Darfur have lost 5 years of schooling due to the war. If they were marginalized to start with, then to what depths have they fallen now? Support those organizations that are building schools now. Raise money for educational scholarships to get young people trained in the US and elsewhere on business and development. The result is then tangible: one can see who has been helped and what fundraising has achieved.  Partner with local organizations to provide culturally appropriate forms of counseling for rape and trauma. Over the longer term, partner with local organizations to build basic health centers in the villages and towns that have been affected. All of these things require that organizations work with local people who are doing work on the ground, instead of advocating for Darfurian interests without consulting Darfurian people.

 

In the final analysis, exhorting the world not to look away is one thing. This is an admirable sentiment made by well-intentioned people who feel horrified by this crisis. However, perhaps a more pertinent question is: If I look towards Darfur, what should I focus on? How can I help?

 

Anne Bartlett is a Director of the Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development based in London. She can be reached at [email protected]


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  • The Value of Peace in Sudan: From Ki-Moon to International Wisemen By James Okuk Solomon
  • South Sudan Egyptians relations / John Lawrence Morbe Joseph
  • Will the Failed Abuja Diplomacy Be Repeated in Libya? By Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman
  • Why a reality check is needed on Darfur by Anne Bartlett
  • United, Cairo's poor and poorer get heard
  • A Message from Ajik (Ajang) Union in North American To: Commander and Comrade Daniel Kodi by Fadul H.Haimad
  • What Happened To Gen. Kiir First Vice Presidency Position? / by Isaiah Abraham
  • Eritrea in the Sudan's president's office, By: Mohamed Osman Ibrahim
  • UN Ban Ki-Moon and his Drought Thesis of Darfur Conflict By: Abdullahi Osman El-Tom, Ph.D.
  • UN Secretary General: Mission Impossible By Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman
  • Old Habits Die Hard: The National Congress Party is Back to Its Outmoded TacticsBy: Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman
  • Greatest Marginalization of All Time/Isam Siddig
  • Darfur: A Little Less Talk, A Little More Action by Anne Bartlett
  • Muslims eye America by MOHAMMAD ALI SALIH
  • General Elections in Sudan by the Year 2009: A Fact or a Fiction?/By Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman
  • Alsalkeen Charitable Organization General Secretary. /By Al Sammani Awadallah
  • Cons and Cues About The Sudanese Forthcoming General Election/Isaiah Abraham
  • Animals rights are also rights/Isaiah Abraham
  • SPLM Official Counters the Recent Remarks of the NCP Official over Abyie and Darfour Translated by MAJOK NIKODEMO AROU
  • The Arab Congregation and the Ideology of Genocide in Darfur, Sudan By: Abdullahi Osman El-Tom, Ph.D.
  • Catholics Led to Hell/Written by Daniel Deng Monyde,
  • Keep away from Darfour, Mustafa Osman Ismail, warns the SPLM Translated by Majok Nikodemo Arou
  • Abyei Protocol. by Mayen. D. Ater
  • Darfur Actors and the absence of Road Maps By Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman
  • Judiciary Reshuffle Ineptly Calculated by Daniel Deng Monyde
  • Stop the Genocide and give the security then peace will come/Hamed Mohamedain Omer
  • THE AMERICANS AND ME (2): ISLAM Mohammad Ali Salih, Washington, Asharq Alawsat
  • Unwanted in Israel By Sherine Tadros at the Egyptian-Israeli border
  • ISSUES that Rose From the Sudanese Ambassador Press Conference By Jwothab Amum Ajak
  • Al Bashir Slams on Campaigners against Sudan, Reviews Political Developments By: Al Sammani Awadallah
  • Was Dr. John Garang Assassinated?/Daniel Deng Monyde,
  • What had happened in Darfur?/Mahmoud E. Yousif
  • Abie conflict The Inferno of Nivasha or the Paradise of Peace by Dr. S.M.Eldebailo
  • TEXT- Conclusions of AU-UN, Sudan on the Hybrid Operations
  • Alfashir is nearer than Kampala: JEM/NRF Commends New SPLM Stance on Darfur/By: Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
  • COMSARY by SALMAN OMER MAHMOUD
  • Sudan: The Politics of Naming - Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency/Prof. Mahmood Mamdani
  • US to Sanction Dr. Khalil Ibrahim! A Statement/Gammali Hasan Galal Eldin
  • Can Darfur Survive the CPA?/Abdullahi El-Tom and Mahmoud Abbaker Suleiman
  • GOD OR AMERICA: WHO IS FIRST? 8 DIFFERENT OPINIONS/Mohammad Ali Salih, Washington, Asharq Alawsat
  • It would be Unwise to think that a United Sudan Properly Functions within the Main Frameworks of the Phenomenon of Eastern African Development./Urban T. Kir
  • Darfur Crisis: Mediation Failure (2)/Ahmed M. Mohamedain
  • Government of Sudan and Darfur crisis/Musa Yakub Daoud
  • President Bush "Hurts" for Darfur Darfur Is Safer than US Urban Cities/Ali Baghdadi
  • Our Vision on the prospect of peace to end the Darfur tragedy/By Dr. M.A.Suleiman
  • Lies, Damned Lies and the Darfur Crisis by Anne Bartlett is a Director of the Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development
  • International Media Ignore Sudanese Voices /AfricaFocus (Washington, DC)
  • Sudanese cyber rally forces website to remove controversial ad by Wasil Ali
  • why war in abyaii by bakhit mohd humaidan
  • Al Salikeen Earmarks 1.2 Billion Pounds for Service Schemes by Al Sammani Awadallah
  • A CALL TO ALL THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH SUDAN/By James Ogilo Agor Agokwech-Rochester, MN USA
  • Will the Quartet Summit Contradict with the UN, AU Role in Darfur By: Al Sammani Awadallah
  • Sudan Vision Carries Out a Survey on Pros and Cons of Humanitarian Aid in Sudan By: Al-Sammani Awadallah
  • Al Khatim Adlans legacy of wisdom and vision/ahmed elzobier
  • WHEN THEY BEG FOR UNITY by Mack Awer Riak
  • The Genocide Glitterati by Anne Bartlett
  • Darfur-Darfur Dialogue Will Not be Held Hostage by Hostile Armed Factions", Says Dr. Omar Adam
  • A brighter future for the Nuba Mountains/by Nuba Mountains Democratic Forum/Nour Tawir
  • A brighter future for the Nuba Mountains by Nuba_Mountains Democratic Forum by Samie A Djudo
  • RIFT KAKUMA HITS BY VALLEY FEVER. By;Mabior Mayom Mayom
  • How Dr. Garang wanted Abyei to be? (1) /By Akol Miyen Kuol
  • A brighter future for the Nuba Mountains by Nuba Mountains Democratic Forum
  • The Doomsday Cult/Ahmed Sam, human rights activist.
  • China must emulate AU wisdom in Sudan by Simon Roughneen for ISN
  • An article introducing our country Sudan by Maha esmeal ahmed esmeal
  • It is a time for all Peace forces to take action By : Matur Aciek
  • Kiir stood to his pledge of no reverse gear/ BY MAJOK NIKODEMO AROU
  • IT IS TIME FOR THE SPLA TO ESTABLISH ITS OWN AIR FORCE/Maker Costa
  • Unwitting Party to Genocide By Stephen Rademaker
  • SPLA, STANDS STRONG AND PROUD!/By Hakim Makuer Gol
  • January 9th- a Day of Peace and Full Independence/By Dr. Mawien Akot
  • Muslim cadet clear on identity/YVETTE CABRERA
  • 2008 General Elections: What Are The Scenarios Awaiting Us?/Maker Costa-Syracuse New York
  • s NCP is planning to rig elections at census level/By Sabrino Majok Majok*
  • Criticism to the Global War Against International Terrorism, (G-WAIT) by Tarig M. M. K. Anter
  • The Swindles of Modern Liberal Democracy by Tarig M. M. K. Anter
  • Peaceful Conflict Resolution & the War on Terror The cases of Sudan and Iraq by Tarig M. M. K. Anter
  • The Jinjaweed Leader By : kuku kadia
  • UA-GSC Sudan Resolution Passes/By Marie Y. Thibault
  • All About Darfur: Is Sudan in a culture of war? By Virginie Wembey
  • AU Recommends Six Month Extension for its Mission By: Al Sammani Awadallah / IOL
  • No South/North border and ABC: CPA is dead.By Sabrino Majok Majok*
  • Darfur destruction is Sudans al-Bashirs Shame/By Sabrino Majok Majok*
  • Relationship Between Economic Mismanagement & Social Instability by Eng. Tarig M.M.K. Anter
  • Fake Modern Religions Are Fighting Faith by Tarig M. M. K. Anter
  • The Ideological Structure of The Conservative Professional Nationalist Party & System by Eng. Tarig M.M.K. Anter,
  • 'Lost Boys of Sudan' By: Kristin Boyd , Staff Writer
  • Sudan's al-Bashir and Palace are imperfect Match By Sabrino Majok Majok
  • Frank Wolf: Divest from Sudan By U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10)
  • Sudanese Native Relates Horrors of His Childhood/By Konstantin Shishkin
  • General Congress of JEM Asserts Creation of a political Party/Professor Mahmoud Abakar Sulaiman
  • Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and the Litany of AU Deceit in Darfur/Dr. Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
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  • Reign of Corruption and political stagnation By Andrew Bak
  • Current American Planning Strategies vs. Planning Strategies of the 50s/By: Adil Bala (PhD)*
  • Free Will, JEM Peace Wing Sign Political and Military Protocol By Al-Sammani Awadallah
  • Only Favourable Humanitarian and Security Conditions are Needed in Darfur By: Al Sammani Awadalla
  • A call to Abolish Sharia Law in South Sudan: GOSS must take a Lead
  • Race and colour consciousness art or is it ... Religions? Hatim Elmadani
  • Who are Landless People in Sudan? Mack Awer -Cairo
  • Darfur: Diplomacy and its Discontents by Anne Bartlett
  • Why Egypt won't press Sudan: the Nile By Dan Murphy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
  • Pathological Delusions by Ahmed Elzobier
  • NIF is determined to kill CPA By Sabrino Majok Majok
  • Darfur - Solution Must Come From Africans By Mohammed Eisa Ismail
  • The responsibility to protect Darfur By William G. O'Neill
  • Sudanese go tech savvy By Cheryl Lecesse
  • Sorrow in Sudan By Vivian Ho