Clooney on Darfur 2014

Interesting new piece in Vice written by Messrs Clooney and Prendergast. My book, Saving Darfur, was almost entirely a refutation of their analysis and campaign against the government in Khartoum. But now they seem to be adopting a more reasonable position. On genocide for example:

A term like genocide is incendiary and fraught with baggage. Genocide is defined in international law as killing “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” Regardless of what nomenclature you accept, specific ethnic groups are today being targeted in spectacularly destructive ways in three war-torn regions of Sudan: South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and once again, Darfur. We’ve often heard harrowing testimony from survivors in our travels there.

They are still keen to drop the word in, but seem to accept it is not entirely clear-cut and may not be helpful to the discussion. And their list of recommendations is interesting…

First, the US needs to intensify diplomatic efforts to help create a single, unified, broadly inclusive peace process across all Sudan that can address root causes and lead to real democratic transformation. Join us in pressing for the deployment of a senior US official to work full-time on Sudan’s peace process with a small team of experts and diplomats to support African and UN mediators.

A past analysis that has blamed Khartoum and the Janjaweed for the conflict, and which has pushed for ICC indictments against President Omar al-Bashir, would seem not to lead to an inclusive peace process. If Clooney and Prendergast genuinely now want a grass-roots process, not one laid down by outsiders, then that is progress – although much of their language suggests they remain attached to that original analysis.

And they also rather distance themselves from the importance of peacekeepers…

Over the last decade, US taxpayers have contributed billions of dollars to Sudan for humanitarian Band-Aids and for peacekeepers in a land where there is no peace.

Yet it was Clooney’s multiple appeals that almost single handedly (some will say I’m exaggerating here) led to the deployment of a blue-hatted force in 2007, even while quieter voices pointed out that there was little point without a robust peace deal.

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