Darfur Digest - January 2009

I. Executive Summary

Canadian Politics and Darfur: With the prorogation of parliament until January 26, there have been no new developments on Canadian politics and Darfur this month. This month‟s section will therefore take the opportunity to examine the past year‟s key developments in Canadian politics regarding the crisis in Darfur.

Security in Darfur: The situation in Darfur remained unstable in December despite renewed
efforts at peace negotiations. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping
Operations warned that violence has not decreased since the deployment of the joint United
Nations-African Union peacekeeping force one year ago. The camps for internally displaced
persons continued to be a source of violence and tension in the region and there have been
reports of the use of child soldiers by almost all groups involved in fighting. Clashes occurred
throughout the region, with police officers being killed and the reported assassination of a rebel
group leader. Sexual slavery and forced labour was the focus of a report released this month that
said thousands of people were affected.

Negotiations and Engagement in Darfur: More UNAMID troop contributions were deployed to the Darfur region by Gambia, Ethiopia and Uganda. Ban Ki-Moon asserted that a mission should be deployed in Chad to deal with the overflow of the conflict from the Darfur region. Susan Rice was appointed as the UN Ambassador for the United States and is expected to bring positive change to the Darfur issue. Chief ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo continues to push for the indictment of President al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and genocide. The peace process is once again put on hold with the SLM‟s rejection of Qatar as a mediator.

The Humanitarian Situation in Darfur: As 2008 ended, refugees were killed and injured in several IDP camps, while six aid workers were abducted and beaten. Sudanese officials are
interfering with non-governmental organizations who they accuse of spying for the ICC,
according to several UN reports. An activist group also launched accusations at Khartoum for
abducting Darfur civilians during raids and forcing them into sex work for soldiers. Significant
amounts of money were donated to fund humanitarian work in Darfur through charities and the
European Commission.

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.

2. 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

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.


Ruth said...

I still find it hard to believe Canada has yet to appoint a Special Envoy to Darfur. As far as I know, Canada is a fierce advocate when it comes to humanitarian interventions. If PM Harper does eventually choose an Envoy, who do you think would be a good choice?

Ian said...

Truthfully, there would be better people to answer this question than myself. A couple of names off the top of my head? Maybe Alan Rock, the former UN ambassador? Lloyd Axworthy would be pretty awesome, though that's kind of far-fetched, I guess. There's always Romeo Dallaire, but he's really busy with many other things. I don't really know, unfortunately. The person doesn't necessarily have to be an expert on Sudan so much as committed and effective.

MPs Glen Pearson and Irwin Cotler would probably have some good ideas...they are the chief proponents of action when it comes to Darfur. I'm sure they could recommend someone qualified for the job.