A Way Ahead for Sudan Advocacy?

The Darfur advocacy movement has been going through a period of self-examination. A new American president, a changed pattern on the ground and a growing realisation that conditions for many of the displaced have not eased despite almost six years of campaigning has provoked some headscratching about the way ahead.

Readers of this blog will know my thoughts on the misguided analysis and wrongheaded policy prescriptions that have dominated the debate. So I’ll not be banging that drum again, which brings me neatly (ahem) to a wholly positive development in the field of Sudan advocacy.

The Sudan365 campaign, which began its noisy efforts last week, seems a good thing for the following reasons:

  • It combines pure advocacy groups (Save Darfur, Amnesty International) with a lot of behind the scenes input from humanitarian agencies which have direct, first-hand experience of Sudan
  • It has shifted the focus from purely Darfur to examining the conflict there in a pan-Sudan context, bringing the problems of the South back on the radar
  • And, while making loads of noise and headlines, its policy prescriptions are limited. It has created the space for policymakers to consider the issues, without pushing its own unaccountable agenda

And finally, although I’m pretty certain that drums are rarely a symbol of peace, at least this particular tool of advocacy is familiar to people in Africa and Sudan. Unlike dolls houses…

2 thoughts on “A Way Ahead for Sudan Advocacy?

  1. I agree, engages new audiences and popularises in a way that is not vacuous and the content works. A 3 minute campaign based video that you can watch till the end without flicking through other tabs is no mean feat (take a bow Amnesty).

    More importantly, it raises the spectre of another multi-decade conflict which sits in the offing.

    Any engagement from the west in Sudan is now loaded (though would Obama be perceived any differently?) and the pan-African solidarity for Sudan still feels rock-solid.

    Unaccountable advocacy may be unpalatable Rob but someone needs to come up with some ideas…

    1. Thanks for the comment Sam. Of course we need ideas, but should advocacy groups be pushing them? Raising awareness is the way to put pressure on politicians to act. That’s what counts. The impact of the Save Darfur movement shows what happens when things go too far. It became an unstoppable force, pushing the wrong solutions. Six years on from its formation, it got what it wanted but 2.7m people are still living miserable lives in camps. The CPA was forgotten and peace building efforts stalled in Darfur – simply because they weren’t sexy enough to put on a banner.

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