Celebrity Advocates

Those of you who have followed this blog over the past few years will know my views on celebrity advocacy. Or more particularly my views of celebrity advocacy as applied to Darfur. Broadly, the likes of Mia Farrow, Matt Damon and George Clooney have done an incredible job of raising awareness, funds and pressure for a solution to Darfur’s myriad conflicts.

Without their work, thousands more people would have died. Without their work, the world’s media would not have descended on the refugee camps in Chad in 2004 to highlight the killing. And without their work, you can be sure that Kofi Annan, Ban ki-Moon, George W Bush, Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and many others would have spent a lot less time considering the issue. African wars don’t usually matter much to voters. The triumph of the broad advocacy coalition and its celebrities has to turn Darfur into the faraway conflict that people care about (albeit temporarily).

What troubles me though is the crossover from awareness raising to policy advocacy. I disagreed with George Clooney that the priority for Darfur was blue-hatted UN peacekeepers. I disagreed that an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir was the best way to help almost three million people still living in aid camps. And I continue to disagree with Mia Farrow that Khartoum has created genocidal conditions in the camps.

But what we can agree on is that Darfur is a place still filled with terror and one that still needs the world’s attention. So I am particularly pleased that Mia Farrow has managed to look beyond our differences to offer a few words of endorsement for my book…

While I disagree with much of Mr Crilly’s analysis, he provides us with a solid journalistic account of his first-hand experiences in Darfur

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