Guest Post - Comments Needed

Here is a guest post from an anonymous Stand'er seeking feedback:

Recently, I've been asked to share my thoughts on Darfur as it stands today. That deadline has sharpened in my mind some of the questions I have on region right now. Obviously, situations change, and the Darfur we see today is not the same as that of four or five years ago.

Darfur has evolved to become far more complex than its original two- or three-sided conflict (the Government vs. one or two major rebel groups). I am also aware that rebel groups are guilty of adding to the chaos, having recruited child soldiers and engaged in acts of violence themselves (to what degree is an underreported issue). So, one question is, who much power does Sudan actually have to stop the violence? If the GoS suddenly wanted to bring peace to Darfur (and to its strained relations with South Sudan), would they be able to?

Given the painfully sluggish attempt to get 26,000 peacekeepers on the ground (I think we've reached about 50% of that goal), I am unclear on how much of this is Sudan's fault, and how much is the fault of UN Member States. Certainly, the GoS has in the past shown a lot of intransigence, and back-and-forth on UNAMID--rejecting contributions by certain nations, and flip-flopping whether or not to accept UNAMID or componenets thereof. Where my knowledge lags is in Sudan's actions of late--has the threat of ICC arrests made her more cooperative, or is this same-old, same-old? A final question is this: is targeted divestment still the right way to go with Sudan? Is it possible that it's no longer the correct remedy for the problem?

Knowing who holds the most influence in Sudan should directly affect where we focus our activist energies. I have my own hunches on all this, but what better place than the Stand blog to ask my peers for some research help!

We're in the thick of the holidays, but any links or responses you can give would help--short or long.


Here are a couple links to get us started:

Both place continued blame strongly on Khartoum. From the former, here is an interesting side note: "Since July this year the Government and specially the National Congress Party priority has sharply changed. The issue of the ICC Chief Prosecutor's endeavour to indict President Omer al Bashir has become the only agenda in their calendar....[the GoS] has changed their instinct for common survival into individual concern for self-preservation. Every single one of them is looking back to see whether he has any link with the violations committed in the Darfur conflict and what responsibility he may have which could take him to The Hague. Some of the NCP leaders are even contemplating handing over President Bashir to save the Islamic movement. This movement recently elected Mr Ali Osman Taha to become its Secretary General, the post which used to be occupied by Dr Hassan al Turabi before the 1999 split." Continue reading this article...

End Slavery in Darfur

This just in from Stand'ers Scott Fenwick and Joel Stephanson - Thousands Made Slaves in Darfur. During the North-South war, Sudan became famous for the slave trade. Armed by the government as proxy militias, Arab tribes on the border with the South would raid Southern villages and kidnap children to sell as slaves in the north. The justification for this practice in many ways was based on fact, many in the "Arabized" north refer to the more "African" southerners as "abeed," which means slave in Arabic. Because the southerners were viewed as an inferior race, the practice of slavery was accepted all too often.

This BBC article points out that the slave trade is still alive in Darfur, even among government soldiers who kidnap young boys and girls as slaves. I don't know whether there is still the same "rascist" element to it, but it would not surprise me considering the government-sponsored militias and government troops see themselves as more "Arab" and thus superior to ethnic groups like the Fur. (just to remind people, almost everyone in Darfur is a muslim).

Unfortunately, in civil war scenarios like Darfur, it is extremely difficult to combat something like this. Joel Stephanson has recommended checking out the Darfur Consortium, a group of Africa-based and Africa-focused NGOs working to bring peace and justice to Darfur. Otherwise, we need to continue working to bring attention to ongoing human rights abuses like this and demand action from our leaders. If anyone has any other ideas on how to take action to prevent slavery in Sudan, please sound off in the comments section.

And thanks to Joel and Scott for bringing this issue to our attention! Continue reading this article...

The Problem with the Camps

Here at Stand-Canada, we've been talking for quite some time about the dangers and difficulties associated with the camps for Internally Displaced Persons and refugees in and around Darfur. Today, the New York Times has a really good article illustrating some of the problems associated with the camps, particularly the upending of traditional authority structures and the empowerment of radical elements. It focuses in particular on the rise of angry youths in the camp who are rabidly anti-government:

“You cannot call them a unified group with one political ideology, but they are all angry...That is the factor unifying them.”

This article touches on a couple really good points that I'd like to stress here:

1) the situation in the camps drastically complicates the rebel groups' ability to negotiate. We've already seen that with exiled rebel leader Abdul Wahid al-Nur who frequently takes an extremely hard-lined position in order to consolidate his support among radical elements in the camps. This article suggests that the inhabitants of the camps are so anti-government that any rebel group seen to negotiate would immediately lose legitimacy in their eyes and possibly even put people of their similar ethnicity in danger of reprisals (rebel groups tend to line-up with ethnicity in Darfur).

2) The article briefly touches on something that jumped out at me from this article. Does anyone else see the resemblance in this scenario of situations in Afghanistan, Somalia, or Lebanon? Basically, in a lawless environment, people turn to radical elements that are able to provide meaning and bestow some semblance of order in an unstable world. The Taliban did this in Afghanistan following the country's many civil wars in the '90s. The Shabab, or Islamic Youth, in Somalia are also seen as the only real possibility for order in the country, despite their brutal tactics. The Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are still sources of trouble in that country as well.

Basically, this is a worrying scenario. The government doesn't know how to deal with it (and is probably unable to deal with it actually). These youth are angry, frustrated, and disillusioned with both the international community and the rebel groups. And, something that the article does not touch on is the fact that they all have guns - I recently spoke with someone who returned from the camps and was just floored by the sheer number of guns available. These "mobilized" youth could become a source of violence and trouble for a long-time to come in the country.

I don't really know that there is any easy way to deal with this situation, other than try to stem the number of weapons entering the camps, provide some sort of opportunity for the youth, and work to end the war. I'd love to hear more thoughts, but this situation is definitely something to look out for... Continue reading this article...

Voices of Victims

For all you Winnipeggers out there...

Tutsi genocide survivor and human rights activist speaks at the Berney Theater, Asper Jewish Community Campus

December 9, 2008 (WINNPEG) The Jewish Students’ Association/Hillel in partnership with the East Indian Students’ Association, The African Students’ Association, Walk4Darfur and STAND are proud to present Eloge Christian Butera on January 8th, 2009 at 7pm at the Berney Theatre inside the Asper Jewish Community Campus.

Butera will be speaking about his experience as a survivor of the 1994 Tutsi genocide and the need to prevent genocides and other human rights violations.

Butera is currently a second year law student at McGill University and previously studied religions and psychology at the University of Manitoba, where he was actively involved in various human rights awareness and advocacy initiatives. He has spoken to dozens of audiences across Canada about his experience.

Winnipeg composer Zane Zalis, along with his talented musical troupe Prodigy, will also perform excerpts from I Believe, which will premiere on May 21, 2009. I Believe documents the Holocaust experience as seen and lived by those directly involved -- the perpetrators, the victims, the observers and, in a plea for informed hope and peace, ourselves.

Tickets are $5.00 and can be purchased at any of the following locations:
∑ Answers – University of Manitoba at University Centre
∑ Info-booth – University of Winnipeg
∑ Jewish Federation of Winnipeg – C300-123 Doncaster Street

A portion of all ticket sales will be donated on behalf of the partners, organizations and students to Tubahumarize, a women’s collective based in Kigali, Rwanda. The organization was founded by Butera’s mother, Jeanne Mwiliriza, to provide trauma counseling and support to widows and orphans of the genocide. Since then, the collective has grown to help hundreds of women and children escape domestic violence. Continue reading this article...

One Year Later

The New York Times recently had this important editorial on Darfur. It's good to see that there is still some attention out there for Darfur, an issue that it seems many people have started to give up on. It starts with this:

"In January, President Bush said this about Darfur: “My administration called this genocide. Once you label it genocide, you obviously have to do something about it.”

Yet, last week — nearly one year later — this is what the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the United Nations Security Council about Darfur: “Genocide continues. Rapes in and around the camps continue. Humanitarian assistance is still hindered. More than 5,000 displaced persons die each month.” How can this still be?

One of the most interesting parts of this article to me was that the author seemed to be celebrating the role of the International Criminal Court and Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo for finally putting some real pressure on the government in Sudan. While the killing has not stopped, the government of Sudan has taken a few superficial steps towards peace, such as calling a ceasefire and pledging to prosecute war criminals. Although these steps at the moment seem to be merely aimed at saving face rather than genuinely working towards peace, it is precisely these sorts of moves that Canada, the US, and other nations should pick up on and build off of. Even a superficial step can turn into reality if there were other nations holding the government accountable to the pledges it makes and the words it speaks in this time period. So I tend to agree with the author of this article - Moreno-Ocampo has generated some real it's just time for some one else to pick up on the "ripe moment" he has helped create.

Continue reading this article...

Susan Rice for a Change of US Policy?

While the Canadian government is in shambles, Stand'er Ben Fine recently sent me this article about US President-elect Obama's new choice for UN Ambassador. Like Clinton, it is expected that Obama will make this position a Cabinet-level position, critical to making foreign policy decisions.

This could very seriously represent a change of US policy when it comes to Darfur or response to genocide. As the VOA article mentions, Rice gained some notoriety when she called upon the US to use force against the Sudanese government to end the crisis in Darfur. Here is an op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post outlining her policy recommendations. The basic outline of her argument is that the US should not be afraid to bomb Sudanese military targets or blockade Sudan from oil exports in order to enforce compliance with UN resolutions.

Clearly, this is a very controversial stance and built upon the US actions against Serb targets in the late 1990s in response to Milosevic's campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Would force end up making the situation worse? Could it empower an even more radical elite within the National Congress Party (NCP) that currently rules Sudan? Could it unravel the fragile north-south peace treaty and plunge the country back into a larger civil war, even as (supposedly) the possibility of elections approaches for next year? Would it make the UN peacekeepers currently deployed sitting ducks for government retaliation? In that case, there could be a very serious escalation in which US ground troops would have to get involved eventually. And with military interventions, it is almost inevitable that some civilians will be killed...

On the other hand, I would welcome an Obama presidency that made it clear from the outset what sort of actions it would accept and wouldn't accept, while at the same time ensuring that the US complies with international law to maintain its own moral legitimacy. The Bush Administration, despite forceful action to bring about the end of the North-South civil war, has had its hands tied on Darfur, partly because of Iraq, the war on terror, and the loss of legitimacy due to Gunatanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. I think Obama might have a little more leeway because of the street cred he already seems to have in the rest of the world.

So basically, it would be great to see Susan Rice and Obama outline a strategy from day one that is both consistent and coherent. There will be much more international support for the use of force in Sudan if it is clear that other steps have been taken and the Sudanese Government has clearly violated resolutions or agreements. I also believe that other countries would jump behind the US if they seriously took the lead on pushing for peace negotiations.

At the very least, I think we can be fairly confident that Rice will keep the issue of Darfur on the agenda, as well as other possible scenarios of genocide, considering her research interest in failed states and responsibility to protect.

If only we had some similar hope in Canada right now... Continue reading this article...

Darfur Digest - December

Stand’s Darfur Digest is a monthly report which contains analysis on current events relevant to the crisis in Darfur and offers a unique Canadian perspective. It chronicles developments in four areas: Canadian politics, the security situation, negotiations and engagement, and humanitarian affairs.


I. Executive Summary

Canadian Politics and Darfur: Newly-appointed Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon issued a statement supporting the Government of Sudan’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire in Darfur. There was no mention of Darfur in the Speech from the Throne. Defence Minister Peter MacKay hinted that Canadian troops could still play a role in Afghanistan after the 2011 end-date for the mission, but if not, Canadian Forces could be called to participate elsewhere in the world.

Security in Darfur: The security situation in Darfur came under international attention in November as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced a ceasefire in the region. Despite this, days after the ceasefire announcement there were reports of bombings and UNAMID peacekeepers being attacked. The Indonesian Formed Police Unit (FPU) conducted its first confidence building mission to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Northern Darfur.

Negotiations and Engagement in Darfur: The ICC Prosecutor presented evidence against three rebel commanders for their role in the September 2007 attack against peacekeepers in Darfur. The Arab League and the African Union called on the UN Security Council to suspend the July 2008 ICC charges against al-Bashir. However, the Bush administration has stated that it will veto the effort. In mid-November the Sudanese government called for a ceasefire. This ceasefire, however, was short lived as rebel groups accused the government of attacking an area in northern Darfur. One of the rebel groups (JEM) demanded direct talks with Khartoum and said it would not go to a planned peace conference in Qatar if it involved a large number of Darfur's fractured insurgent movements.

The Humanitarian Situation in Darfur: The United Nations launched the 2009 Work Plan for Sudan in November, valued at $2.2 billion, but a global recession could make it hard to attract the necessary money. On the ground, aid workers fear that Darfur IDP camps will breed long-term dangers, as frustration mounts among the civilian population and violence hampers humanitarian work. A recent UN investigation uncovered that Sudanese officials are working with Chadian rebel forces against the aid community. Meanwhile, dry roads means more access for aid vehicles to reach isolated populations, while the UN relief chief visited Darfur at the end of November.

II. Policy Recommendations

1. Build on Canada's recent commitments to Darfur by appointing a Special Envoy to the region. A Special Envoy could strengthen Canadian policymaking on Darfur in three key ways: 1) providing the world with a public face for Canada's efforts on Darfur, 2) providing a presence on the ground in Sudan, and 3) coordinating an integrated “all of Sudan” approach to Canadian peacebuilding. Specifically, a Special Envoy could play a key role in assisting efforts of the Darfuri rebel groups to form a unified and coherent bargaining position, a critical success factor for renewed negotiations.

The Canadian government should pursue targeted divestment from Sudan conditioned on the Sudanese government's cessation of atrocities in Darfur and active engagement in the peace process.

3. Canada’s mission to the UN should engage more actively in multilateral diplomacy at the UN to bring renewed prominence to the Darfur issue internationally and rally greater international support for conflict resolution efforts.

Please forward this to other people interested in making a difference for the people in Darfur.

To receive a copy of the Digest, feel free to send me an email at
Continue reading this article...

6 Signs of a Good Activism Organization

It's been a little while since I posted anything, so I thought I would give a rundown of the Six practices of great non-profits that was discussed at a recent meeting I attended. I believe the list initially comes from Not on Our Watch, the book by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast (though it may have changed slightly as it was passed down the line).

1. A comprehensive range of activities, from working with governments to working in the field to advocacy. Advocacy tends to be improved by in depth knowledge of the situation in the field, while humanitarian activities can be well-supplemented by working with governments to find solutions to the problems a non-profit may be addressing.

2. Harness market forces and partner with businesses.

3. Turn individuals into evangelists.

4. Build and utilize non-profit networks and alliances.

5. Adapt to changing circumstances.

6. Share leadership.

Stand performs a couple of these functions uniquely well. A couple of them don't really apply to us. And some of them I believe we could probably improve on. Stand does not have too much difficulty turning individuals into committed advocates. The national conference last year was a great example of how the organization tries to share leadership (though I believe that internal communication is still something that can be worked on to give everyone more of a sense of what people are doing). We are also fairly good at adapting to changing circumstances, which has been proven by some Stand'ers' willingness to take up the cause of civilians suffering in the Democratic Republic of Congo right now.

On the other side of the coin, we are not uniquely situated to provide humanitarian aid (clearly), although perhaps there is room to make partnerships with groups that do. And although we have some good connections with other groups in the Save Darfur movement, I think there is probably room to establish more connections with groups within Sudan itself, or around the world. Unfortunately, I don't really know about whether we have partnered with business, although the divestment campaign has been a success on this front. Anyone else care to comment?

I know it is not traditional to put an organization's internal discussions in a public forum, but Stand has always been an inclusive and interactive organization and we'd love to hear your opinions. Meanwhile, I leave you with six ways you can be an activist on your own.

1. Raise Awareness
2. Raise funds
3. Write a Letter
4. Call for Divestment
5. Join an organization
6. Lobby the government (through personal meetings/calls to your representatives) Continue reading this article...

The Problems of Peacekeepers

To pick up on an interesting discussion that was happening earlier on this blog, I'd like to point out an interview with Alan Doss, the head of MONUC, the peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in TIME Magazine. Here are some excerpts:

What implications does the success or failure of MONUC have for other peacekeeping operations?
Every case is different. Darfur is very different. Every time a U.N. peacekeeping force deploys, it raises lots of questions. But yes, there are issues raised by our experience that will have a long-term effect. There is a very fine line between peacekeeping and peace enforcement. Our mission was equipped for peacekeeping. And as one of my officers says, you don't go to war in blue helmets and white tanks. When we shift from a monitoring group to one that takes on military elements, we have to change the way we operate...But I think that one should not forget that there have been a lot of achievements. Three to four years ago, the country was dividing into three parts. That was overcome. Most of the country now has peace. This is a country that is literally back from the dead. There is progress...

One important point to take from this statement is the fact that peacekeeping has to be adapted to every scenario. There are distinctions to be made between peacekeeping - the monitoring of a peace agreement; peace enforcement - the enforcing of a peace agreement through force; and peace making - the imposition of peace through the use of force. It is generally agreed that the UN is only capable of peacekeeping because of its lack of resources, confused command structure, inability to make quick decisions, and other challenges. Peacekeeping, however, in its traditional form is meant to be a symbolic protection force more than anything else - a way to overcome the security dilemma whereby neither side will disarm for fear that the other side will not disarm. They deployed to countries that have recently had a peace agreement and allow the rival factions to disarm without losing face while also holding them to their agreements. A more recent version of traditional peacekeepers, like those in Congo or Darfur, are able to use violence to protect civilians or themselves but are still not meant to be actual "peace enforcers". The fact that peacekeeping works in certain scenarios is evident in the progress that has been made in other parts of the Congo.

But what happens when a peace agreement doesn't hold and complex violence breaks out as in Darfur or Congo? There is still no real agreement on what is to be done when the situation is not amenable to peacekeeping. The peacekeepers surely can't start attacking government troops who are committing atrocities because they will be attacked or kicked out of the country. Furthermore, as we've all heard in both Darfur and Congo, they don't have enough troops or resources to effectively "wage war" against violent elements that may be targeting or attacking civilians.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to make peacekeepers better. When it comes down to it, people need to start discussing the practicalities of these scenarios. How do you adapt different mandates to different environments? Is peace enforcement by the UN possible or even desirable? What is clear is that peacekeepers on their own are not able to be the "solution" to a civil war, whether in Darfur or Congo.

I'll end this post with Mr. Doss's quote about R2P, which I think supports this discussion nicely.

The Responsibility to Protect [or R2P, a concept of humanitarian intervention] was only adopted by the U.N. in 2005. How much is MONUC feeling its way here? Is MONUC an experiment?
R2P is a huge step forward ... But the question remains: How do we actually do it? We have come up against the sharp end of R2P. We can claim that responsibility, but actually doing that in North Kivu, with a collapsing army, a resurgence of ethnic groups — well, that raises fundamental questions. When we make these statements, we have to be careful that we have the means to match our mandate. Continue reading this article...

Hand in Hand for Peace

Here's an encouraging new initiative just sent to me by an enterprising Stand'er:

Please take a moment to join this effort to ask the Canadian government to take action in Congo. If you don't know what is going on and want to learn more go here:r or search news sites. This petition was designed by a great group called Hand in Hand for Peace and what they are asking from our government is reasonable and necessary to stop the current crisis. It only takes a minute to add your name to the list and tell your friends and family about this!

Once again, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one that we at Stand are clearly interested in. Over 5 million deaths in the past 10 years. People are still dying at the rate of....wait for it....45,000 a month (mostly from disease and malnutrition)! (according to a study by the International Rescue Committee). While it's important to remember that some parts of the country have made great strides, including a landmark election a few years ago, the situation in the eastern province of North Kivu is a disaster and threatens to pull surrounding nations into a large conflict.

I, for one, strongly encourage advocacy on this issue. Even a little bit of attention is a big step for one of the most under-reported places on the planet. Continue reading this article...


Reports are already coming in of government attacks following the ceasefire. Now is the time when international outrage should be loudest. Continue reading this article...

What does it all mean?

The comments below do not reflect the official position of Stand, but are intended to start a discussion:

While governments, groups and individuals are issuing statements left, right and center about the announcement of a ceasefire by the Government of Sudan, it is sometimes difficult for us concerned to really have any idea what it means. Let's try to look at this move with a little perspective.

First off, the number of ceasefires that the government of Sudan has violated in the past is uncomfortably large. No one is denying this. A ceasefire is very tentative measure that can be overturned on a dime, and is often no more than an excuse to regroup, rearm, and redeploy. As Alex de Waal points out, the Government and government-supported militias have undoubtedly broken more ceasefires than the rebels over the past year. So you can't blame the rebels for being skeptical.

There are reasons to be positive about this effort, however. Partly, because there has been no real peace process for a year or so now, and partly because the ceasefire comes after a "peace conference" with no rebels but a few opposition voices, including the Southern SPLM and the Umma Party. In fact, the recommendations of the conference offer some really interesting criticisms of the government, including calling on them to release Darfuris who may be arbitrarily detained, establish a fund to help internally displaced persons and refugees return home safely (and voluntarily!), and create a new Vice-President position in the government for someone from Darfur. Those are some solid, good ideas that, if truthful, could lead to good negotiations.

Finally, from our point of view, I'm glad the UN and Canadian Government are issuing statements of encouragement, but seriously, is that all that's going to happen? If this ceasefire is really to be turned into an opportunity, a few things need to happen on our end.

1. UN mediators (or a Canadian Envoy....hint hint...) need to sit down with the rebels and discover what sort of monitoring methods would convince them of the government's commitment to this initiative, and then set up those mechanisms. It is not implausible to me that the Canadian government would set up some sort of benchmarks that the government of Sudan would need to meet step-by-step to prove their commitment. The US did precisely that during the negotiations for the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement, responding to the attainment of a benchmark with rewards and the failure with punishment. Such benchmarks could include allowing UN troops access to places they have otherwise had trouble monitoring, disarming the Janjaweed militias, setting up real trials for crimes and providing compensation to victims, or allowing unfettered humanitarian access to the entire region. Halting bombing campaigns is assumed also....

2. UNAMID (the joint African Union-UN peacekeeping force) needs to focus on verifying the implementation of the ceasefire and needs to yell really loudly if it is broken.

3. As already mentioned, the rebels need to be brought on board. Discussions about a Qatar-backed peace conference are already circulating. The UN and/or Canada et al. need to meet with Qataris, government and rebels and reach a compromise about how such a conference would take place and where. While I'm glad to see that the peace process is slowly getting started, it won't be a peace process for long if the rebels don't jump on board at some point.

As de Waal mentions, we should all encourage and support a "homegrown" Sudanese solution to Sudanese problems; that said, the international community now needs to help make sure those solutions are actually carried out. Luckily for us, this is something we CAN do (unlike so many of the prescriptions that have been passed around over the past five years), through monitoring and verification, trust-building exercises, mediation, diplomacy and public statements, neutral locations for peace conferences, providing peacekeepers as a way to break the security dilemma, and more such "soft-power" actions of referee-ing. So let's get on it.

A whole other question arises should it prove that the ceasefire is merely dead air...

As always, I welcome thoughts and comments. Continue reading this article...

Canada's Reaction to the Ceasefire

Ceasefire called by government accused of genocide in Darfur: what does this mean for Canada?

Sudanese President Omar-al-Bashir recently announced a unilateral government ceasefire in Darfur. This release provides contacts to help make sense of what this means for Canada.

On Tuesday, November 12th Sudanese President Omar-al-Bashir announced a unilateral ceasefire in Darfur. He stated that his government would start disarming militias and restrict the use of weapons among armed groups. Darfuri rebel groups did not take part in talks, and have not agreed to reciprocate.

This move follows the International Criminal Court's application to indict Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, issued the following statement:

"Canada is encouraged by the Government of Sudan's announcement of its unilateral ceasefire in the Darfur region. The Sudanese government must now fully implement this ceasefire and resist all provocation. Canada urges rebel and other armed groups to cease hostilities as well, in the interest of the security of Darfuri civilians.

"A comprehensive ceasefire is the first step toward creating favourable conditions for the resumption of peace talks and ensuring the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers in the region. Therefore, Canada calls on all parties to the conflict, which has devastated the lives of so many Sudanese people, to resume the negotiation process led by the United Nations and the African Union." Continue reading this article...

Darfur in the Canadian News: Weekly Round-Up

With the news that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has declared a ceasefire in Darfur as part of the government's peace initiative, the Canadian media is suddenly swamped with stories about Darfur. Personally, I believe this presents a very real opportunity for the international community.

Everyone should therefore take a minute to either write a letter to the editor (200-300 words, one message) or post a comment on a website. I've listed some below as well as a sample letter.

Sudan president offers Darfur ceasefire - CTV

Sudanese president announces Darfur ceasefire - CBC

Sudan declares ceasefire in Darfur - Globe and Mail

Sample Letter

The announcement of a ceasefire by the Government of Sudan presents a very real opportunity for the international community to push for a just and lasting peace in Darfur. Canada and its international partners should support the move by the Government of Sudan, hold it to its word, and work to bring the rebels to the negotiating table.

I understand cynics and detractors who point to broken ceasefires in the past as reason that this one too will not work; however, it is precisely for that reason that we need to help this move build momentum. There has been far too little progress on peace talks for the past year. It is time that changed.

A few ways that the Canadian government could take the lead on this issue would be to appoint a Special Envoy, create benchmarks testing the Sudanese government's commitment, and setting up a contact group of like-minded nations willing to support the process. It is time that this "genocide in slow-motion" is brought to end. Continue reading this article...

Standing up to John Bolton

Stand's Scott Fenwick recently sent around an article that has been generating some discussion on email so I thought I would transfer it to the blog where everyone can pipe in. The article is written by a Mr. John Bolton, who if you haven't yet heard of him, is famous for being the only US Ambassador to the UN who wanted to get rid of the UN entirely. He is a notoriously polarizing figure in the neo-conservative vein whose period as the Ambassador to the UN was never approved by the rest of the government and was marked by an intimidation-heavy approach to diplomacy.

That said, his article in the Globe and Mail does have some interesting points. It's about "humanitarian intervention," that nebulous concept that is firmly embedded in our work and appears often in the world of international politics. Below I relate the main "points" in the discussion:

Scott Fenwick: "Although the topic is on "humanitarian intervention," it wrongly suggests that the only way to end war/rights abuses is to send in the troops. Bolton's article doesn't even suggest using diplomatic action as an alternative."

Josh Scheinert: "I don't think there's anything wrong with this article. In fact, I think it's very well done and presents real challenges for the human rights/ngo/r2p community that we need to be able to meet. His goal wasn't to talk about tough diplomacy, sanctions or anything else. Merely to give a defence of realpolitik in the face of a subject largely premised on idealism...

"at the end of the day, Americans, Canadians, and the citizens of other signatories to R2P (Responsibility to Protect), aren't convinced "why the should put their sons and daughters.... where there are no vital interests (humanitarian aside - because I'll put myself in the category that does feel situations like these affect the national interest). So then the second challenge, is making people understand that this is part of the vital interest. But as of now, it's not and people don't consider it to be. So with that void looming and crippling our ability to act, like Bolton says, "we have to be able to explain.....".

Evan Cinq-Mars: "While I do agree that Bolton's article articulates very well the challenges on intervention posed by domestic opposition and realpolitik, there is a portion of his article that I find must be addressed:

"And as tragic as the situation is in Darfur, in a democracy we have to be able to explain to American citizens why they should put their sons and daughters at risk, in an area of undoubted humanitarian tragedy, but where there are no vital US interests."

During conscience-shocking situations - like we are experiencing in Darfur - it is this ideology that has allowed atrocity to continue... The pursuit of national self-interest has already crippled the attempts at collective action to protect the people of Darfur (As Bolton points out with China, Russia and the veto). How will responding to genocide become "easy" if the 'vital interests' of a nation condemn it from acting, whether it be the US, Canada, Indonesia, Fiji, etc...

There must be a shift towards an ideology where the responsibility to protect ciitizens from genocide is synthesized with the 'vital interests' of a nation.

While aspirations don't make foreign policy, aspirations are all these people have. Aspirations empower us to make responding to genocide a cornerstone of Canadian policy."

These guys are smart. Those are some really well-articulated arguments and questions: what is "intervention," merely military or military, diplomacy and other? what defines our national interests? What does the responsibility to protect doctrine refer to? How do you reconcile idealism with reality? What is the future of sovereignty? I feel that everyone should weigh in on these questions.

As for myself, I tend to believe that the phrase "humanitarian intervention" is a bit of fallacy, or maybe just poorly defined. Am I an "interventionist," as Bolton claims, because I want my government to take action on Darfur? What if the actions I'm calling on my government to take are diplomatic, not military? Basically, as Scott mentions, there are a whole range of "intervening" tools in a government's handbook and any one of them may work better or worse at different times.

That said, (though I hate to say it) Bolton is absolutely right that there is much confusion right now over the "responsibility to protect." Josh and Evan are absolutely right that we no longer know exactly what state interests are. In a globalized world, how is averting a humanitarian disaster that could destabilize the global system (eg Afghanistan, Rwanda) not in our national interests? And then even more importantly, how the heck do we go about that? Someone else smarter than me recently argued with me that the evoking of R2P too often by advocacy groups is delegitimizing the concept for when it is really needed....either way you look at, the modalities are poorly defined, to say the least.

As I have previously on this blog, I would argue that averting humanitarian crises requires forceful, consistent and coherent multilateral actions in a range of areas, diplomatically, economically, and possibly as a last resort militarily. In the case of military action, there is still the most work needed, as Bolton rightly points out, as the road is unclear, the commitments tend to be half-hearted, and the mandates weak (I recommend people interested read Lakhdar Brahimi's review of the UN Peacekeeping functions....among its proposals are a UN rapid response army, clear mandates, and more preventive actions).

Those are some thoughts to get people going...Please let me know what you are thinking in the comments. Or send me an email to be posted if you have particularly strong opinions...

Continue reading this article...

Letter of Congratulations from Save Darfur Canada

To everyone in the STAND Canada team,

I just wanted to commend you all for your Darfur advocacy activities during the recent election campaign, and the impact you have had so far.

Your national team's analysis of party positions going into the election, your chapter-led local engagement of candidates, and your participation in Save Darfur Canada's online elections campaign helped ensure that Darfur is now on the minds of newly elected decision-makers across the country.

You should be incredibly proud of your contributions - but this is only the beginning! In a few short weeks, Canada's 40th Parliamentary Session opens, and there is so much for us to do to help bring an end to the Darfur crisis. We must move forward with the same enthusiasm as we did during the elections period, and work just as hard to ensure that Canadians and decision-makers make Darfur their issue.

There are several upcoming dates of importance that you should be marking on your calendars, including the 60th anniversary of the Genocide Convention (December 9th), International Human Rights Day (December 10th), the first anniversary of the UNAMID mission (December 31st) and the International Criminal Court's announcement on whether they will indict Omar al-Bashir for 10 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity (likely in December or January). I encourage you to remind members of your community, your local media and your MPs of these important dates, and of the need for Canada to make peace and long term stability in Darfur and all of Sudan a foreign affairs priority.

On behalf of everyone at Save Darfur Canada, we look forward to working with STAND Canada in upcoming months, and to seeing more results from the larger and ever growing national Darfur advocacy movement.

Keep up the good work - and don't forget that your efforts are making a difference!


Tara Tavender
Executive Director
Save Darfur Canada

Continue reading this article...

Darfur Digest - November 2008

Stand's Darfur Digest is a monthly report analyzing developments related to Darfur in four key areas: Canadian politics, security, negotiations and engagement, and the humanitarian situation.

I. Executive Summary

Canadian Politics and Darfur: The federal election dominated Canadian politics this month, but Liberal candidates Irwin Cotler and Bob Rae spoke out about the crisis in Darfur during their campaigns. John McNee, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, highlighted Canada’s contributions to Darfur in addressing the General Assembly.

Security in Darfur: The security situation in Darfur has deteriorated dramatically over the past two months. In September, North Darfur saw heavy fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and three of the largest rebel groups following a series of offensives by the Government of Sudan (GoS). In early October, the SAF and government-sponsored “Janjaweed” militias attacked numerous villages throughout South Darfur killing civilians and causing large-scale destruction. Meanwhile, the number of people displaced by the fighting continues to rise even as the camps they inhabit grow more unstable and violent.

Negotiations and Engagement in Darfur: The first meeting of the AU, UN and GoS Tripartite Committee on the deployment of UNAMID met on October 7. The meeting emphasized the need for cooperation between the three bodies for the success of the mission. President al-Bashir announced that attempts by the ICC and the international community to indict him for charges of war crimes would derail Darfur peace negotiations and increase regional instability. Major General Emmanuel Karake Karenzi, the second-highest UN commander in Darfur, has been accused of overseeing Tutsi troops which committed war crimes in Rwanda.

The Humanitarian Situation in Darfur: Peace talks led by the Government of Sudan may signal a step forward, but the victims of Darfur are far from safe. Tribal infighting and attacks by government forces continue to claim lives. Recent violence has displaced thousands of Darfuris. A bleak UN report said that security in Darfur is so bad that the UN-African mission cannot be effective. The environment within internally displaced persons camps remains tense after a fatal attack in Kalma IDP camp in August left many civilians dead. According to UN officials, aid organizations are evaluating whether they can continue their work. This comes as the number of attacks against aid workers in 2008 surpassed the number of attacks in all of 2007.

II. Policy Recommendations

1. Build on Canada's recent commitments to Darfur by appointing a Special Envoy to the region. A Special Envoy could strengthen Canadian policymaking on Darfur in three key ways: 1) providing the world with a public face for Canada's efforts on Darfur, 2) providing a presence on the ground in Sudan, and 3) coordinating an integrated “all of Sudan” approach to Canadian peacebuilding. Specifically, a Special Envoy could play a key role in assisting efforts of the Darfuri rebel groups to form a unified and coherent bargaining position, a critical success factor for renewed negotiations.

The Canadian government should pursue targeted divestment from Sudan conditioned on the Sudanese government's cessation of atrocities in Darfur and active engagement in the peace process.

3. Canada’s mission to the UN should engage on more actively in multilateral diplomacy at the UN to bring renewed prominence to the Darfur issue internationally and rally greater international support for conflict resolution efforts.

Please forward this to other people interested in making a difference for the people in Darfur.

Sign up here to receive the Digest: Continue reading this article...

A Vision of Chaos

I would like to take a moment away from the focus on Darfur to highlight the worrying events of the past week in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. While Stand focuses almost exclusively on Darfur and Sudan in its activities (with good reason), it is important to our fundamental mission of making preventing genocide a cornerstone of Canadian foreign policy to stay informed about all pertinent events in the world.

For those who don't know, over the past week the eastern region of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has embarked on a spiraling descent into further violence and chaos. North Kivu is a resource-rich area that has been more or less at the center of the various wars and violent conflicts in the region since the end of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 (many of the Hutus responsible for the Rwandan genocide fled to this region). Last year, a mortality survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee concluded that 5.4 MILLION people have died as a result of war and violence in the DRC since 1998. That's the most amount of people killed in a conflict since World War II. DRC currently plays host to the largest peacekeeping force in the world, at 17,000.

The most recent bout of fighting began in late August when a peace agreement between the government and a rebel group led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda collapsed. Since then some 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

In the past week the situation has deteriorated dramatically due to a very serious and well-crafted offensive by Nkunda's rebels. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, especially around the provincial capital Goma. Many aid agencies including Oxfam, MSF and IRC have suspended their most if not all of their activities and evacuated most of their personnel. The rebels are now besieging Goma, although things have momentarily calmed down following a cease-fire last night. It is yet to be seen whether the cease-fire will hold. Nkunda claims that he is fighting to protect ethnic Tutsi populations and make sure they get a fair share of the region's resources. Most experts seem to think that he is being supported in some way by the Rwandan government (though of course Rwanda denies this).

Unfortunately, eastern DRC must be one of the most difficult regions in the world to provide minimum standards of protection, with its volatile mix of ex-genocidaires, ethnic tensions, warlords, resources, weak and corrupt government, and interfering neighbors. Outside interference and interventions are difficult enough in a case like Sudan where its more obvious who "the enemy" is. In North Kivu government soldiers have been accused of raping, pillaging and killing civilians as they flee in the face of the better-trained enemy. The rebels also commit horrible acts of violence and are responsible for the majority of the displacement. The UN peacekeeping force (MONUC) has had some notable successes in the past, including by enforcing agreements with gunships at times, an approach to peacekeeping that would more accurately be called "peacemaking" or "peace enforcing" and is controversial to say the least.

So what can we do? Not much, unfortunately. The first thing I would recommend to everybody is to get informed. Do some research, find out about the situation, ask your professors about it. Also, a letter to a newspaper or politician is never a bad idea when trying to bring attention to a bad situation. Getting attention to the conflict is definitely the first step.

I would welcome anybody else's thoughts in the comments section about what we can do to help settle the conflict and prevent the deadly violence that seems all too often to consume the DRC. Continue reading this article...

A Few Items of Interest

I would just like to highlight a few items from Save Darfur Canada (SDC).

1. SDC just announced the Darfur Challenge, a fundraising competition for elementary, middle and high schoolers. Check it out or get involved here.

2. I just received a mailing from SDC called the Darfur Advocacy News which has the following to say about Stand Canada's election performance:

Stand Canada acheived some important successes over the course of this election. Notably, their new elections website and blog. 51 candidates who publicly expressed their support for Stand`s Speak the name! campaign were elected across the country, including 8 Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Conservative Party, 27 from the Liberal Party, 14 from the NDP and 2 from the Bloc Québécois.

They also give a shout-out to the blog!

3. At the end of the mailing they point out a few upcoming events:
- US Save Darfur Coalition national conference, Nov. 7-9 in Washington D.C. (apparently FREE)
- 2008 Annual Royal Society of Canada Symposium: The Cultures of War and Peace, Ottawa, Nov. 14;
Holocaust Memorial Week Toronto, November 2nd to 9th :
Save Darfur Human Rights Fair Kitchener - Waterloo, November 28th
Continue reading this article...

Canada Gives Turabi Something to Remember

When studying Sudan, there are a few names that keep appearing over and over again: Omar al-Bashir, John Garang, Sadiq al-Mahdi and Hassan al-Turabi, to name a few.

The last one, Hassan al-Turabi, is arguably the father of Sudan as it now looks. It was Turabi who was the force behind implementing shari'a (Muslim law) in the North of Sudan and who led the Islamist movement that ended up dominating the political scene. It was his ideology that inspired Omar al-Bashir to take charge of the country in 1989. He remained the real power behind Bashir for about a decade. In fact, it was Turabi who invited Osama Bin Laden to hang out in Sudan in the mid-1990s.

It was also Turabi who inspired and taught Khalid Ibrahim, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement. I even heard an expert on Darfur once suggest that Turabi was a big force behind the Darfur uprising of 2003-4, which he encouraged in a bid to gain leverage over Bashir while the two men were struggling for power. Now, I believe, he is under house arrest in Khartoum after splitting with the ruling coalition of Bashir (the NCP) in 1999.

Anyway, I bring him up because I just came across a surprising story about Hassan al-Turabi's last trip to Canada. Turabi, the man of power behind so many events in Sudan over the past 30 years, was visiting the country in 1992 when he was suddenly beaten up in the Ottawa airport by a black belt in karate. Apparently, the former Sudanese martial arts champion just happened to be walking through Ottawa airport when he saw the man whom he blamed for so many of Sudan's problems and decided to give him a few karate chops to the head. Turabi ended up with serious injuries and stayed in the hospital for four weeks. The BBC also mentions the incident.

Now while I don't think we can include karate chops as a suggestion in our policy prescriptions, it is a telling story about some of the anger that has built up against members of the northern elite over the last 50 years of mismanagement.

Needless to say, I don't think Turabi'll be visiting Canada again in the near future... Continue reading this article...

Walking 4 Darfur in Winnipeg

Check out this article in the Jewish Tribune on Winnipeg's Walk 4 Darfur. While I personally was not in the area to partake, it sounds like it was a great event with some 500 people in attendance. Special shout out goes to Bobbie Whitman for "doing a fan-tab-ulous job with the event." Continue reading this article...

A Blogger in Darfur

Everyone interested in an in-depth look at Darfur from a counter-insurgency perspective should really check out the commentary over on one of my favorite blogs, Abu Muqawama. It's really interesting to hear the perspective of someone who was recently "on the ground" in Darfur and Khartoum, talking with rebels, government officials, and Khartoum residents. There are three different sections to the commentary, all of which give the sort of eye-witness accounts and analysis that we haven't seen enough of in relation to Darfur.

Worth checking out. Continue reading this article...

Have Spoken the Name...and Were Elected

This (hopefully) should be the first of many posts following up on the elections last month. Stand'ers were out in big numbers all over the country, hosting events with candidates, asking candidates tough questions on Sudan, volunteering with big supporters of Stand, and generally making some noise over Darfur. For some evidence, see some of the 30 or so posts on this blog...

...And it was a big success. 51 friends and supporters of Stand were elected across the country, including 8 members of the Conservative Party, 27 members of the Liberal Party, 14 from the NDP, and 2 from the Bloc. These were all candidates who mentioned Darfur or Sudan and helped to make it an election issue this year.

So congratulations to Stand'ers and Stand supporters across the country for making a difference in this year's election. Now all we need to do is hold these worthy politicians to their word and help them make Canada a world leader in ending genocide and crimes against humanity.

Sounds easy? Continue reading this article...

Back to Darfur

With all the excitement over the elections over the past few weeks, events in Sudan have been a little ignored. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that the situation has improved at all. In fact, it may just be getting worse again.

To update everyone on the situation, I would like to highlight an article in the Christian Science Monitor from last week:

"Last month saw heavy fighting between government troops and rebel factions in North Darfur. Many of the areas targeted by the government were under control of the only rebel group to have made peace with the government in 2006, contrary to the agreement's cease-fire. Tens of thousands of Darfuris are believed to have been displaced, many of them still hiding in the mountains afraid the bomb-dropping Antonov planes will return...

...Analysts have characterized the current conflict as low-level, compared to the height of the conflict in 2003-04, when government troops and allied militias allegedly burned villages, raped women, and looted animals en masse. But many Darfuris say the conflict is worse today than it was almost five years ago. Rape, looting, and killing by government police are weekly occurrences in camps for the displaced, residents say...

..."People who have been here a long time say this conflict is as bad now as it has ever been," one UN official said. "Things are going to worse before they get better."

So business as usual in Darfur. The government threatens and attacks people in the camps for displaced people. Humanitarian organizations which are supporting millions of people with life-saving work are constantly harassed and pressured to leave. Lawlessness and insecurity are the name of the game.

Meanwhile, in what has become almost a signature move, Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, is once again making a mockery of international peace and justice. This time, he has convened a conference in Khartoum to elaborate a comprehensive vision for peace in Darfur. The only problem: no rebels were invited. None. Zero. Zilch.

Not surprisingly, I don't have a lot of faith in this initiative, which seems very clearly designed to try to deflect the possibility of an arrest warrant against the President from the International Criminal Court. That said, there are a lot of actors involved, including the members of the African Union, the Arab League (traditional Bashir supporters), some civil groups, and international mediators, so wouldn't it be great if I were proven wrong? As I've mentioned before, I think it would be amazing if Sudan's own fledgling civil society were gradually able to hold some sort of peaceful influence on the government. Still, I wouldn't hold your breath...
Continue reading this article...

Speak the Name Rewards

As part of the Speak the Name campaign, Stand'ers have offered publicity as well as the occasional volunteers to politicians who talk about the issue of Darfur on the campaign trail. Here's a picture of Stand's own Ben Fine with Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the Liberal candidate for Etobicoke, in exchange for his past commitments to Sudan and Darfur.

Well done, guys!
Continue reading this article...

They Just Keep Coming: David McGuinty

Here's a Letter about Darfur from David McGuinty, the incumbent candidate for Ottawa-South:

October 11, 2008

Dear Stand Canada,

I appreciate having the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the tragedy in Sudan. The brutality in Sudan has reached staggering proportions. Civilians have starved, been beaten and raped, and hundreds of thousands have died of malnutrition, disease, neglect or violence. Millions more have been displaced. We must work to end this crisis.

Upon re-election I will work with my Liberal colleagues to try to mitigate an all-party caucus to address the crisis in Darfur. Many Liberal Caucus members, myself included, have already called for a comprehensive policy for Darfur. Among these measures is the appointment of a high-level regional coordinator. We have also called for an increase of Canadian aid to Africa.

I will lobby for increased resources and support to the UNAMID mission. Deployed January 2008 the UNAMID mission is mandated to protect civilians and uphold the Darfur Peace Agreement. Canada has a duty to ensure this mission succeeds, and a Liberal government will ensure Canada does its part. As a first step, a Liberal government will contribute badly needed resources for the mission, so it can contract the tactical and heavy lift helicopters it needs. I will also encourage our United Nations ambassador to re-energize the Darfur peace process through the US-Norway-Canada UN contact group, and also to re-engage China.

I will push to send more Canadian expert staff to the region for professional capacity building. I have spent much of my life designing and teaching programs for mid-career legal professionals throughout the developing world. By training mid-career professionals in key areas, such as education, law, and governance, Canada can play a crucial role in fostering local civil society and stability. We need to train the leaders of Sudan for tomorrow, so they can gain the expertise they need to succeed.

I look forward to continuing to work with you on these issues in the future.

Kind regards,

David McGuinty

Continue reading this article...

Paul Dewar

This just in from Paul Dewar, NDP candidate seeking re-election from Ottawa-Centre:

Thank you for writing regarding Canada`s role in the crisis in Darfur. It
is an issue that I have worked hard on in Parliament.

New Democrats are united in their support for all efforts to end the
violence against civilians in the Darfur region. We continue to support the
work of STAND and the Sudanese Diaspora to keep the Sudan crisis on the
Canadian government's agenda.

I am the NDP foreign affairs critic and have taken the lead on Darfur. I
have worked hard to move the issue forward in the House of Commons by
initiating a study at the Foreign Affairs committee. I am also vice-chair
of the parliamentary group against genocide and has been active on Darfur in
that capacity as well.

There is a growing concern among everyday Canadians that their public and
private investments may be directly or indirectly contributing to the crisis
in Darfur. Despite opposition from Conservatives, the Foreign Affairs
committee last year adopted my motion to undertake a study of Canadian funds
invested in Sudan and explore legislative initiatives to regulate such
investments in light of the worsening crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

In May of this year, we called on the Harper Conservative's take leadership.
This is exactly the kind of peacekeeping role that Canadians have always
supported. Canadians would want us to be in Darfur. That sentiment is found
right across the country.

Our Party wants Canada to take a lead role in any UN mission to stop the
bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur province. Canada could and should commit
immediately to the following measures:

-support the United Nations Mission to Sudan (UNMIS)

-offer Canadian troops to complement the advance party requested by the UN

-push for a stronger UN resolution on Sudan

-offer logistical support to the United Nations-African Union hybrid force
carrying out its mandate to protect the population in Darfur.

I will continue to speak out on both Canadian and international inaction on
Darfur and will support all efforts to bring peace to this tragically
neglected region.

Thanks again for writing, and I hope I can count on your support on October

Paul Dewar

Continue reading this article...

One from Todd Smith

Here's a heartfelt note from Todd Smith, Green Party candidate for Miramichi:

I would like to thank you for your efforts!

I am ashamed by the yearly abandonment of
peacekeeping. The conflict of Darfur is not 'another' conflict in
Africa, the history of weapon build up from Cold War politics along
with global warming has played an important role in the development of
the violence.

We must recognize that our nations actions as a Western
cold war ally have contributed to the flooding of weapons in the Darfur
region, along with major contribution to Global Warming. It is
difficult to label the conflict as Genocide as the Janjaweed's desires
are to seize lands not destroy another ethnic group. First and foremost
it is depressing that the purely academic debate of labels has such
political power.

These crimes against humanity are frightening and the
UN and Canada must commit to aiding the Africa Union. I believe that
the diplomacy is where we must move towards, me must be willing to
place Canadian peace keepers feet on the ground in order to provide
opportunity for realistic negotiations.

I believe Canada's foreign
policy should turn back to Mackenzie King's vision of a middle power,
one which promotes peace negotiations. In the meantime with true UN-AU
commitment we can stop the current violation of women and children
until a resolution can be negotiated.

Todd Smith
Rape of a Nation's women, is the rape of a nation, an ever lasting
crime, a crime against humanity.

Miramichi - Green Party Continue reading this article...

Talking It Up: Irwin Cotler in the National Post

Irwin Cotler has an op-ed in the National Post today entitled "The Issue this Election Forgot." In case you can't tell from the title, this article is right up our alley (e.g. see every other post on this blog). Below are a few excerpts and comments:

In this federal election campaign, important questions about Darfur need to be addressed by the leaders of Canada's major parties: How do we respond to the Sudanese government beginning its sixth year of genocidal warfare by launching ferocious ground and air assaults on its African civilian populations? How do we protect the Darfurian people as the Sudanese government attempts to destroy the relief efforts set up to offer food and shelter to those in need? How do we reassure aid workers whose own lives are threatened by a government-orchestrated campaign of terror? How do we respond to the bloodshed in the Kalma displaced persons camp last month, where the Sudanese government killed 31 people, including 17 women and children?...

...As I have previously recommended, what is desperately needed now is a "Darfur Summit" convening the leadership of the African Union, the European Union, the UN, the Arab League, NATO and the Sudanese government, to implement a "Save Darfur/ Sudan" action plan. This would include the urgent mobilization and effective deployment of the UN-African Union protection force, which could include the 10,000 South Sudan volunteer peacekeepers who are ready to act, the enhancement of humanitarian assistance and protection of aid workers, the rescue of the Darfur Peace Process and the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement, both of which are in a coma, the leveraging of China to end its arms sales to Darfur and the implementation of a no-fly zone to stop the indiscriminate bombing of civilian villages.

I have stressed numerous times on this blog that the biggest problem with the international response to Darfur (that is, other than the obvious ones) is a lack of Consistency. There is no strategy, no unity, and no coherency. Cotler's suggestions are precisely the sort of thing the situation needs for the international community to develop a strategic plan that encompasses diplomacy, justice, military protection, and humanitarian concerns. For example, a large group of nations standing together and saying to the Government of Sudan, "you will be supported if you stop the bombings, proceed with elections, hand over international criminals, etc, but you will be punished in these specific ways if you don't."

My only concern with the idea of a "Darfur Summit" is that it would likely be co-opted before it even began by the Government of Sudan's friends in China, the AU, the Arab League and elsewhere. Basically, President Bashir and his cronies have shown a remarkable ability to rally support from other nations when they need it. For this reason, Canada, the US, the UN, and other concerned parties should get together and make sure they are all on the same page before any such meeting (or regardless of whether such a meeting actually occurs anyway). I think Bashir would have a much more difficult time rallying support against a forceful, unified message from the world's most powerful nations.

One of the questions that I'm really glad Cotler points out involves the protection of the humanitarian aid community who are supporting close to 5 million people in Chad and Sudan yet could be thrown out any day by the Government (which threatens precisely that). A possible first step of an international contact group for Sudan could be to make it abundantly clear to the Government of Sudan that any attempt to shut down or seriously interfere with the life-saving aid effort will absolutely not be tolerated. If the humanitarian effort is shut down (piece by piece), this crisis could turn suddenly a lot worse.

Thank you Irwin Cotler for your emphasis of this issue. Continue reading this article...

Another Point for the Green Party

This just in from Laura Bisaillon, Green Party candidate for Charlottetown:

I offer several thoughts on Darfur:

First, Elizabeth May is the candidate who first made and routinely
makes reference to Darfur. She impresses the need for concerted and
effective action in Sudan. You will have read about her ideas and
those endorsed by the Green Party on Point 9 of the Party Platform
Brief, "Looking Forward" at:

Second, faraway conflicts are the concern of global citizenry for
reasons relating to common resources, ethics, human security, and
human rights. For those in doubt, I urge them to read up on Complexity
Theory. I speak from experience in the field and research in refugee
health in Africa and Canada. I have worked as a Social Support Worker
for Rwandan Genocide survivors in Montréal and Ottawa. I worked in
refugee camps in the Horn of Africa, and was involved in health policy
and evaluation work during the same period. I am personally
disheartened that resolve is not brought to this conflict several
years after I lived in neighbouring Ethiopia. While there are no quick
fixes to complex situations, I am frustrated that this conflict is

Third, I am aware of the links between war and illness, which is a
further reason for *serious* global action to resolve this conflct. I
am involved with the AIDS movement in Canada and internationally, and
see first hand the impacts of war. For a time I was involved with the
Canadian Council for Refugees, and I am knowledgeable about refugee
and immigrant health issues; these are subject of my doctoral research
in Population Health.

I applaud and support you in your advocacy/lobby efforts to bring
about a cease to violence and human rights violations.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss in further detail.

Warm wishes,

Laura Bisaillon
Green Party of Canada
Candidate for Charlottetown Continue reading this article...

NDP on Darfur

In case you haven't had enough of the major parties' positions on Darfur, here's one from the NDP:

Jack Layton and Canada’s New Democrats are united in their support for all efforts to end the violence against civilians in the Darfur region. We continue to support the work of STAND and the Sudanese Diaspora to keep the Sudan crisis on the Canadian government’s agenda. New Democrat MPs, including Alexa McDonough, Paul Dewar, Tony Martin and Bill Siksay, have consistently spoken out about the need for the Canadian government to do much more for the people of Darfur.

Paul Dewar (MP for Ottawa-Centre) is the NDP foreign affairs critic and has been our lead on Darfur. As you may know, he has been instrumental in moving the issue forward in the House of Commons by initiating a study at the Foreign Affairs committee. Paul is also vice-chair of the parliamentary group against genocide and has been active on Darfur in that capacity as well.

There is a growing concern among everyday Canadians that their public and private investments may be directly or indirectly contributing to the crisis in Darfur. NDP Foreign Affairs critic, Paul Dewar noted, "Knowing what we know about Darfur, business as usual is unconscionable." Despite opposition from Conservatives, the Foreign Affairs committee last year adopted an NDP motion to undertake a study of Canadian funds invested in Sudan and explore legislative initiatives to regulate such investments in light of the worsening crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

In May of this year, we have called on the Harper Conservative’s take leadership. Jack stated that "this is exactly the kind of peacekeeping role that Canadians have always supported. Canadians would want us to be in Darfur. That sentiment is found right across the country."

Our Party wants Canada to take a lead role in any UN mission to stop the bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur province. Canada could and should commit immediately to the following measures:
  • support the United Nations Mission to Sudan (UNMIS)
  • offer Canadian troops to complement the advance party requested by the UN
  • push for a stronger UN resolution on Sudan
  • offer logistical support to the United Nations-African Union hybrid force carrying out its mandate to protect the population in Darfur.
New Democrats will continue to speak out on both Canadian and international inaction on Darfur and will lend our support to all efforts to bring peace to this tragically, neglected region.

While I believe this position shows a lot of commitment to the issue and a great deal of promise, I have to reiterate the point that has been made before on this blog: DIPLOMACY. A peace process is absolutely necessary, but unfortunately it is unlikely to come about without a consistent and coherent international position supported by numerous nations. Along these lines, we've suggested the idea of a Special Envoy (or even a all-parliamentary committee) to create a point man in the diplomatic effort. We really appreciate the NDP stance on Darfur and like the fact that they are making it a priority, but if I could add one thing, it would be about diplomacy.

Thanks NDP! Continue reading this article...

Winnipeg's Walk/Run for Darfur (with friends)

Guest Post: Bobbie Whiteman

This sunday was Winnipeg's second annual Walk/Run for Darfur. It was a really great turn out, close to three hundred people participated, a Winnipeg radio celebrity from a popular radio station kicked the whole thing off, we had support from numerous provicial MLA's and of all the federal candidates that the University of Winnipeg chapter of Stand invited, Anita Neville, Liberal MP and candidate for Winnipeg South Center and John Loewen Liberal candidate for Winnipeg South were there standing up for Darfur and participating in the walk. We at UofW Stand would like to thank them both for attending and for continuing to bring Darfur into attention.
Continue reading this article...

Green Party Position: David Blair

Dear [Stand-Canada],

Thank you for your letter. I too am very concerned about Darfur. Having been a Deputy Director for 25 years and dealing with social and health issues daily, when I retired I wanted to make a difference a difference and loned CANADEM (Canada's registry of experts available to the UN) and was looking at, offered going to the Sudan to work with child combatants. I did not go last year due to family illness but this was something I cared about. I may still make that commitment to go there.

The crisis in Darfur is crying out for global intervention and Canadian statesmanship. The Rwandan genocide must not be repeated through a failure of political will and heart. Canada must assume leadership in rapidly organizing an international emergency initiative to deal decisively and effectively with the situation

Based on the Green Party's holistic approach to international affairs, using a combination of diplomacy, defense and development, we not only reiterate our consistent pleas for action of past years but now urgently call on the government of Canada to take an immediate 'whole of government' approach to the region and related conflicts in order to force a stop to the fighting and force humanitarian assistance to be provided on an urgent basis. We call on Canada to move boldly on multiple fronts to:

  • Provide new, increased financial, political and logistical support to the UN/AU mission in Darfur and encourage it to accelerate its deployment and strengthen its capacity to protect civilians at risk.
  • Provide Canadian diplomatic assistance as needed and determined by the African Union to keep all parties negotiating towards a new comprehensive peace agreement that delivers democracy, shared power, shared wealth and stability; and ensure the collective adherence to existing agreements.
  • Demand the Sudanese government end its blocking of the deployment and acceptance of the UN force and recognize its authority to intervene when necessary under a legitimate "responsibility-to-protect" UN-sanctioned process and mandate.
  • Demand the government of Sudan comply with UN Security Council resolutions and fulfill its legal obligation to arrest and surrender Ahmad Harun to face charges of war crimes and human rights abuses in Darfur. Sudan has the ability to do so and as a member state of the U.N. Sudan cannot ignore the law.
  • Insist the UN Security Council apply sanctions against any party that violates negotiated ceasefires or attacks civilians, humanitarian workers or peacekeepers and to interpret and enforce its mandate to the fullest extent possible.
  • Mobilize additional emergency humanitarian aid and support aid organizations struggling to deliver essentials to those in desperate need both in Darfur and in nearby regions such as Chad where over 2 million refugees have fled.
  • Encourage the UN/AU Mission to coordinate efforts with the French led EU mission in Chad and Central African Republic to provide safe 'corridors' between refugee camps to facilitate increased protection of, and delivery of, international aid and encourage the governments of Chad and the CAR to permit this.
  • Increase pressure on the Sudanese government to achieve a ceasefire and no-fly zone over Darfur to stop the bombing and killing and enable safe delivery of aid.
  • Pressure China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to use their political influence to further push Sudan into accepting the UN/AU mission and adhere to all negotiated peace agreements to which it is a signatory, both within Sudan and neighbouring countries.
  • Recognize the larger regional factors of the conflict, offer diplomatic and development assistance to accelerate further cooperation between Chad, the Central African Republic and the negotiated peace settlements between them and rebel factions within their two countries and increase our role in supporting the Great Lakes Region Security and Development Pact to which the CAR and Sudan are signatories.
  • Recognize that climate change and environmental degradation is at the origins of the regional conflict and in light of the recent rejection by the UN to declare access to water a basic human right, the Canadian government should actively engage and encourage the African states comprising the AU and the signatories of the Great Lakes Region Security and Development Pact to declare and enshrine access to water as a basic human right within their respective agreements and constitutions and further act in solidarity by declaring it a basic human right within Canada. Refocus long-term aid on efforts to cope with desertification, drought and climate change.
  • Finally recognize the larger collective need for development throughout the region, the futility of and excessive financial burden of military solutions, and immediately move to meet our Millennium Goals obligation of 0.7% of GDP and accelerate poverty alleviation and development of sustainable communities and strong, sovereign governments on the African continent.
I commend you and your organization for the work you are doing. It will take substantive and sustained public and political pressure to put in place measures that can stop the genocide. I look forward to discussing this matter further with you and learning more about Stand.
David Blair
Green Party
South Surrey - White Rock - Cloverdale
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One Week To Go

Guest Post: Jackie Bonisteel

One week to go until Election Day, one more week to get candidates talking about Darfur! You may have heard Dion mention Darfur briefly during the leaders' debates. It can be disappointing to constantly see the crisis tagged on as an after-thought to discussions of Afghanistan, but at least it seems to be the primary after-thought.

In truth, Darfur has the potential to be much more than a backburner foreign policy issue. I've been convinced of this after seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to our Speak the Name election campaign.

In recent weeks, Stand emailed packages explaining our goals to all candidates across the country. Since it's so easy for email to get lost in the inundation during such a busy time, we've been extremely impressed by the volume of response. Candidates of all stripes (though Liberals, Greens and NDPs in much larger numbers than Tories…) have expressed support, explained their Party's platform, and asked how they can help. The names of all these individuals are continually being listed on - check it out to see which candidates in your riding are speaking the name.

The election is a prime opportunity to push Darfur onto the political agenda – let's use this last week for all it's worth. Here are some ideas on how to contribute:

- Attend all-candidate debates (there will be tons of them this week!) and try to get a question in on Darfur (or even just one on foreign policy going beyond Afghanistan!)
- Call up the campaign office of a supportive candidate and offer to volunteer for a few hours on election day. Be sure to mention that you're willing to help out because of that candidate's vocal support for Stand and Darfur.
- Write a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper and explain that you think Darfur ought to be an election issue.

Many thanks to everyone who has been supporting Speak the Name. The hard work is paying off, and hopefully we'll continue to see the effects post-election.

PS. Check out Much on Demand tomorrow at 4 PM to see a Stand'er from Ryerson asking Mr. Dion a question about Darfur! Continue reading this article...

One More for Darfur: Carolyn Scott

Below is a letter from Carolyn Scott, the Liberal candidate for Sackville-Eastern Shore:

Thank you for raising the profile of the tragedy and travesties which are occurring in Darfur.

The genocide in Darfur is a blight on the reputations of so many responsible governments in the world, governments who are standing by as so many people become the victims, through no fault of their own.

When elected, I commit to working to support real and positive action to stop this criminal action in Darfur.

Canada needs to be a part of this, to show, in real and meaningful ways, that we are a country of citizens who genuinely care about the fate of our sisters and brothers in other nations.

We cannot just stand by, and let it happen – Canada is better than that, and Canadians are better than that.

The citizens of Darfur are our sisters and brothers.

Continue reading this article...