Refusing to Save Darfur

Refusing to Save Darfur

DARFUR’S ongoing agony continues to be attended by an obscene chorus of international mendacity, hypocrisy, and expediency. Not content simply to allow Khartoum’s génocidaires to accomplish their ghastly task, the African Union, the Arab League, the Non-Aligned Movement, key Security Council members China and Russia, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have all offered the National Islamic Front regime essential diplomatic and political support—now in the face of formal charges of genocide by the International Criminal Court (July 14, 2008). Indeed, China continues to provide military equipment that facilitates ethnically targeted destruction, as well as the critical commercial and capital investment that underwrites a booming economy in Khartoum and a small surrounding portion of the Nile River valley. Shamed by an international “genocide Olympics” campaign, Beijing has made various gestures designed to show support for Darfur over the past year and a half; some have been significant. But the leverage provided by China’s hosting of the Games ended in August, and there can be little doubt that Beijing will resume business as usual with Khartoum.

Western democracies have long known that genocide and massive crimes against humanity were occurring in Darfur, but have not wished to incur obligations under Article 1 of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Parliament of the European Union, for example, voted 566 to 6 in September 2004 to declare what was happening in Darfur to be “tantamount to genocide,” a phrase that managed to invoke the “g-word” without quite saying it. Latin America and most of Asia have either ignored Darfur or, in the case of Islamic Pakistan, openly supported Khartoum.

Given European and Canadian support for the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), there has been an awkward discomfort with the unambiguous indictments brought by Argentine prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, who found in the course of a three-year investigation strong evidence that Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir “bears criminal responsibility for the crime of genocide under Article 6(a) of the Rome Statute.” Some of this discomfort derives from large business interests in Sudan. France, for example, has a significant industrial and commercial presence in Sudan, and oil giant TotalFinaElf controls the largest and perhaps most lucrative oil concession in southern Sudan. And yet France, while contributing nothing of note to the political resolution of the Darfur crisis, has been outspoken on the significance of the ICC indictment, apparently disinclined to suspend further ICC actions (Article 16 of the Rome Statute gives the Security Council the power to suspend ICC investigations and prosecutions in the interest of “international peace and security”). The United States, which under the Bush administration has been vehemently opp...


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