Call for Submissions - What Can Be Done?

One of the biggest challenges of Stand's work is confronting helplessness in the face of a conflict that is dizzying in its levels of complexity. The feelings of helplessness on not limited only to private citizens but also politicians who don't know what their realistic options are sometimes.

Well, now's your chance to weigh in. On the Stand blog we want to hear from you: how does Canada help bring a solution to the conflict in Darfur? How does Canada make sure that poor men, women, and children are no longer slaughtered, raped or forced to flee their homes in Darfur? I want to hear big ideas, crazy ideas, or practical and subtle ideas...anything. Discuss in your campus groups. Send me a post about it. Write up a post in the comments section and then battle it out among yourselves about which solution is more effective.

Below, I have included Stand-Canada's current policy recommendations. Please engage with them, debate them, and let us know what you think. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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. Form an all-party parliamentary special committee on Darfur whose goal it will be to determine viable actions for the Canadian government to undertake to lead in ending the crisis in Darfur. The committee should 1) exist for a specified period of time, 2) travel to Sudan to collect facts, 3) be fully resourced by the Canadian government and 4) have equal party representation.

3. Engage more actively with the Obama administration to identify new opportunities for collaboration and cooperation on Darfur.

4. 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.
Continue reading this article...

Halifax West High School Shout Out


Way to go Halifax West High School!

They have an article about their efforts in the Chronicle Herald. Continue reading this article...

Action Alert from Save Darfur Canada

Darfur must remain a Canadian foreign policy priority

Darfur must remain a Canadian foreign policy priority


February 16, 2009


Dear friends,


Your action is needed.

Recent violence in the South Darfur town of Muhajiriya is a sobering reminder that the cycle of violence in Darfur continues. In early February, fighting for control of Muhajiriya displaced 30,000 and left 30 dead. A peace agreement is desperately needed in Darfur so that the violence can end and people will be safe.

On January 26th, the Canadian government set its agenda in the Speech from the Throne. Focusing almost entirely on the economic crisis, there was no mention of ongoing foreign affairs priorities, or of Canada's commitments in Sudan. At a critical time for peace and security in Darfur, and when Canada has been an indispensable supporter of peace, security and relief in the region, we must ensure that Canada does not turn away.

Take action: tell Prime Minister Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister Cannon that Sudan must remain a foreign policy priority.

Canada must:

1. Continue to make Sudan, including Darfur, a foreign policy priority;
2. Increase support to the neglected Darfur peace process, which is the key to ending violence in the region; and
3. Assign a special Canadian government representative to Sudan to ensure that policy in Sudan is well-informed and coordinated and that decision-makers have access to relevant and timely information from the ground.

Please take one minute to take action today.


Sincerely,


Tara Tavender
Executive Director
Save Darfur Canada


Recent headlines: Read the latest news and commentary about Darfur
Videos and photos: Learn more about Darfur
The Darfur Challenge: Find out more about the nationwide student campaign
Get involved: Check out volunteer and internship positions in Montreal and across the country
Make a donation: Help the coalition grow

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Save Darfur Canada is a bilingual national coalition of organizations, groups, and individuals advocating for an end to the Darfur crisis
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Stand Chapter Digest

The Stand Chapter Digest is dedicated to connecting Stand members across the country by sharing news, events and advocacy ideas.

In this issue:

1. Principal Director Anne Wagner explains why some tribal leaders may not be thrilled about the rumored ICC arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Watch here.

2. Stand on the Hill: Member of Parliament Paul Dewar has been working for years to make Darfur a key issue on the hill. Read more here.

3. Featured Chapter Stand Western is still going strong 4 years later.

---
A Message from Anne
After meeting with tribal leaders in Sudan last month, Anne's opinion of the rumored ICC arrest of Bashir may surprise you. Watch:





Stand on the Hill: Featured MP

Paul Dewar, MP for Ottawa-Centre and NDP Foreign Affairs critic, recently met with Stand's Ottawa advocacy group to discuss strategies for engaging with parliamentarians. Paul has been a long-time champion for Darfur on the Hill. His contributions include initiating a major study on Darfur at the Foreign Affairs Committee, promoting Corporate Social Responsibility in the Sudan, and calling for greater Canadian commitments in the region. Stand applauds Paul for his tireless work on behalf of the people of Darfur.



Featured Chapter: Stand Western

Four years ago, Stand Canada began at the University of Western Ontario, when a small group of students decided that they would not remain idle while a horrific genocide unfolded in Darfur. Today, Stand has grown to over 70 chapters across the country, but the original chapter remains one of the strongest, currently with an executive of 25 members and a core membership of 200.

Last term, the chapter collaborated with other students on a number of successful initiatives, including a Busk for Darfur event that raised funds and awareness on the streets of London, Ontario. Members of the chapter also worked to create the Western Advocacy Alliance, a collection of social justice clubs on UWO campus, and participated in a number of collaborative events such as the region's Gulu Walk.

This spring, the chapter is launching a number of fantastic events, including a regional art contest and silent auction, their annual Dunks for Darfur basketball tournament, and a screening of the film Rwanda: Hope Rises. The chapter will be flying in the director of the film, Trevor Meier, for the event. "The film shows people the impact of genocide", says Leah Meidinger, the chapter's current president.

Stand Western is also in the process of partnering with the Sudanese community in London to launch a tutoring program for children of refugees in the region. Over 30 volunteers have already signed up for the program. "The community has really come together" to make the program a reality, notes Leah. "It's a great way for students to get involved."

If you are interested in working with Stand Western or attending any of their upcoming events, you can reach them at western@standcanada.org.
Continue reading this article...

Obamarama


Guest post by Jackie Bonisteel.

On February 19th, President Obama is coming to town. Canadians have been repeatedly advised to temper our expectations: the visit will be short and limited to no-nonsense discussion of the economic crisis. There will be no welcome rally, no Rideau Canal skate, no inspiring speech to the Canadian people. So settle down, we are told.

But since Obama himself stands for "the audacity of hope", perhaps the Darfur advocacy community should have the audacity to hope for more. In that spirit, I propose that Darfur should be a top priority on the Canada-US bilateral agenda.

As a close neighbour, and a chief architect of the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine, Canada is ideally poised to stand at Obama's side as his administration acts decisively to end the violence in Darfur. Setting aside a change of course in recent years, we are a nation with a history of peacekeeping and strong international diplomacy. We are one of the largest contributors to UNAMID. Together, Canada and the US can take decisive action for Darfur that will motivate other key international players to follow suit.

Granted, the decisive action we would like to see from Obama has yet to materialize. The economic crisis will of course be the new administration's overwhelming focus for some time. However, there are encouraging signs that US leadership in Darfur is on its way. During his Presidential campaign, Obama spoke of the need for a no-fly zone and greater US logistical support to UNAMID. He has surrounded himself with advisors such as Susan Rice, Joe Biden, Hilary Clinton, Anthony Lake and Samantha Power who are strong advocates for greater US commitment in Darfur. With US resources being freed up from Iraq, the time appears to be ripe for a shift in focus to Darfur.

Yes, there is an economic crisis, but there is also a crisis in Darfur of the utmost severity. Obama may offer the hope we've been waiting for—but only a strong push will turn hope into reality. With our commitment and solidarity, Canada can be part of that push.

Tell Prime Minister Harper that you would like to see Darfur become a top priority on the Canada-US bilateral agenda. It's EASY:

Call 1-800-GENOCIDE to be connected directly to Prime Minister Harper's office. It will only take a few minutes!


You can also write to the prime minister at pm@pm.gc.ca or

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa
K1A 0A2

Tell your friends! Post this link to your Facebook profile or forward it in an email.

Write to the media! Share your views with the public - let's gather more support. Tell your community members why they should care.
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No, Wait, It's On Its Way...


While the International Criminal Court has not actually announced yet that it is going to issue an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, it is expected any day now. This announcement is both a big opportunity and a big danger for the people of Sudan depending on how we, and the rest of the world, use it.

The chief danger lies in the possibility that President al-Bashir will find himself backed into a corner with no reason to work for peace. In this case, he may try to kick out humanitarian aid workers who are saving millions of lives in Darfur, increase attacks on his enemies, the rebel groups, and kick out the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID). Additionally, such a response would endanger the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South that President al-Bashir signed in 2005. The resumption of war between the North and South would be a devastating increase of violence and suffering for the Sudanese people. Also, President al-Bashir might be tempted to cancel the elections that are meant to happen later this year.

The opportunities, however, are also numerous. If the international community supports the decision of the ICC and offers real protection to the civilians, this could be the first real substantial pressure on the government of Sudan for a meaningful peace process. Similarly, this sort of pressure may also persuade the President of Sudan to actually implement the peace agreements he makes, something that he has rarely done up to this point.

Although it's extremely unlikely right now, it is also possible that the President of Sudan will actually be arrested. In this case, the best we can hope for is a scenario like that which has befallen Charles Taylor, the former leader of Liberia who is now on trial in The Hague.

Needless to say, the most important thing is that the international community ensures that the response to this arrest warrant is one that moves the country in the direction of peace rather than more war. This is an opportunity and a dangerous situation. It is partly up to Canada to determine which way it unfolds.

Continue reading this article...

Call for Submissions - What can be done?

One of the biggest challenges of Stand's work is confronting helplessness in the face of a conflict that is dizzying in its levels of complexity. The feelings of helplessness on not limited only to private citizens but also politicians who don't know what their realistic options are sometimes.

Well, now's your chance to weigh in. On the Stand blog we want to hear from you: how does Canada help bring a solution to the conflict in Darfur? How does Canada make sure that poor men, women, and children are no longer slaughtered, raped or forced to flee their homes in Darfur? I want to hear big ideas, crazy ideas, or practical and subtle ideas...anything. Discuss in your campus groups. Send me a post about it. Write up a post in the comments section and then battle it out among yourselves about which solution is more effective.

Below, I have included Stand-Canada's current policy recommendations. Please engage with them, debate them, and let us know what you think. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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. Form an all-party parliamentary special committee on Darfur whose goal it will be to determine viable actions for the Canadian government to undertake to lead in ending the crisis in Darfur. The committee should 1) exist for a specified period of time, 2) travel to Sudan to collect facts, 3) be fully resourced by the Canadian government and 4) have equal party representation.

3. Engage more actively with the Obama administration to identify new opportunities for collaboration and cooperation on Darfur.

4. 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.
Continue reading this article...

Breaking the Ice - Rebels to Sit Down with Khartoum?


The past few weeks have seen some devastating violence in South Darfur around a city called Muhajeriya. Some 30,000 people fled their homes as the largest Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), battled with government soldiers and members of another rebel group called the Sudanese Liberation Movement - Minnawi. To cut a complicated story short, the rebel group JEM took a town from a rival rebel group which was allied with the government and then endured a series of government bombings and retaliations which killed dozens of civilians. Some of you may have seen the recent post about Canada's condemnation of this violence.

Now it seems like the violence has halted momentarily with the rebels withdrawing from the town and the government allowing UN officials and aid agencies access. Even more promising, the JEM rebels have announced that they may start preliminary peace talks this week in Qatar.

There are many reasons to be skeptical about these talks, but also many reasons to be optimistic. The last time JEM spoke with the government, they refused to sign onto the peace agreement with the government and took up arms again claiming that the agreement did not adequately address their concerns. Since then, however, they have shown very little interest in meeting with government officials. For that reason, this is a very positive turn-around. Also, JEM is the most powerful rebel group in Darfur at the moment and may be able to act as a leader in negotiations, especially if other groups see JEM as getting a good deal or worry about losing out if an agreement goes through.

From the government's perspective, officials are trying to do everything in their power to deflect the arrest warrant that may be released against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in the next week or so by the International Criminal Court (ICC). This may be pushing them to play nice. It is yet to be seen, however, how far they are really willing to go to divert the possible arrest warrant. Similarly, the whole process could be thrown into disarray if the arrest warrant is indeed announced and the President decides there is no longer any reason to try to play by the rules.

Canada and the international community can once again influence the process and reinforce peace talks by supporting the negotiations and trying to pressure other rebel groups into joining peace talks. In fact, if peace talks start next week, it would be a great time for everyone to contact their representatives and urge that Canada support negotiations, monitor agreements, and otherwise make sure that the parties do not revert to violence again.

Stay tuned for more information on this exciting development...
Continue reading this article...

Express Thanks - Write a Letter


The Minister of Foreign Affairs released a statement yesterday deploring the recent increase in violence in Darfur (more on this to come soon). In the meantime I encourage all readers of this blog to take a moment to write a letter of gratitude to the Minister at Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca. One of the best ways to build momentum on this issue is to show that there is a large mass of people who care about it when the government takes actions like this. Below is the text of the statement and a possible letter.

Canada Deplores Upsurge of Violence in Darfur

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding the recent upsurge in violence in Darfur:

“Canada deplores the increased violence in Darfur. Military activities conducted by the Government of Sudan and by Darfur rebel forces are seriously undermining prospects for peace in Sudan and impeding humanitarian efforts in the region. Their actions threaten the lives of thousands of innocent civilians.

“Canada also notes that the Government of Sudan has not implemented the ceasefire it announced in November. We call on the government and all rebel forces to cease hostilities and to resume the negotiation process led by the United Nations and the African Union.


For information on Canada’s contribution to establishing long-lasting peace in Sudan, please consult the following website:
www.canadainternational.gc.ca/sudan-soudan/index.aspx.

Possible Letter:

February 3, 2009

Re: Minister's Statement on Darfur


To the Honorable Lawrence Cannon,

I am writing to express my sincerest gratitude for your remarks deploring the recent upswing of violence in Darfur. The wording of your statement reflects both the seriousness of the situation and the responsibility of all parties to cease hostilities and protect civilians.

The ongoing violence in Darfur and deplorable humanitarian conditions is a blight on our common humanity. While your statement condemning the violence is a strong step in the right direction, I urge you also to consider other possible options such as appointing a Special Envoy to the region.

I applaud your efforts to end the violence and look forward to hearing more from you in the future on this vital issue.

Sincerely,

[enter name here]
Stand-Canada
[Address]
[Any other info - phone number, email, etc.]
Continue reading this article...

Stand Campus Digest

The Stand Campus Digest is dedicated to connecting Stand members across the country by sharing news, events and advocacy ideas.

In our premiere issue:
  1. Principal Director Anne Wagner shares what it was like running into an old friend at Rumrol IDP Camp. Watch Anne's video blog here!
  2. Stand on the Hill: read about two Members of Parliament who are true champions of the cause.
  3. Featured chapter Stand UBC is making huge strides in raising awareness in their community. Find out more here.
Want to attend a Stand event this week? Read about our upcoming events here.

----
A Message from Anne





2009 marks exciting new opportunities for Stand – exciting collaborations, exciting events, exciting stories. This is the first edition of our new bimonthly newsletter –we look forward to sharing ideas and events throughout the coming year! I returned from Sudan last week – an inspiring journey that motivates me to continue advocating for change in Darfur and strengthen Canadian policy on genocide.

I look forward to working with you for Darfur, and to stop genocide, in 2009.

All the best,

Anne Wagner
Principal Director
Stand Canada
awagner@standcanada.org


Stand On the Hill: Featured MPs
Stand had the great pleasure of traveling to Sudan with the Honourable Glen Pearson and Dr. Carolyn Bennett this month. After a week of engrossing discussions, sharing ideas, and renewed agreements to work together, one step at a time, to make a difference for the people of Sudan, we left Sudan with a renewed belief that Glen and Carolyn are true champions of the cause. Their openness to inventive ideas and new approaches are inspiring and heartening as advocates.


University of British Columbia’s Stand chapter held a very successful music night this past week in partnership with UBC’s Caribbean African Association. The event, which featured music from Robin Layne, Free City Collective, and local DJ Mmeli, raised $1000 for Darfur advocacy. Over 150 people attended the event.

Under the leadership of Aneil Jaswal and Rebeka Ryvola, this Stand chapter is continuously seeking new ways to raise awareness about Darfur in Vancouver. Last term, UBC actively participated in Stand’s Speak The Name election campaign, meeting with all candidates in the region, as well as implementing a very successful Stoves for Sudan initiative that raised enough money for 185 stoves for families in IDP camps. They are continuing both of these efforts this term by meeting with Member of Parliament Joyce Murray in the next few weeks, as well as continuing to raise money for the Berkeley Stove Project with their Firewood Run planned in April.

One of Stand UBC’s key projects this term is to hold a series of high school workshops about the genocide in Darfur in their community. “High school students are the next generation of Darfur advocates”, says Jaswal, who has been working with Stand for over two years. “They are idealistic and realistic enough to know that they can make a difference”.

Congratulations to the UBC chapter on a successful start to a new term!

If you are interested in joining the UBC chapter, you can reach them at ubc@standcanada.org.


Stand Alberta Presents Genocide in Darfur: On Canada's Watch
Join experts to discuss what Canada can do to stop the killing.

Featuring Dr. Tom Keating & Edward Akufo.

Tuesday Feb 3
11:00-12:20 pm
Dinwoodie Lounge
Students' Union Building
University of Alberta
For more information email
uofa@standcanada.org

Stand Victoria Presents Dance For Darfur
Dance the night away for Darfur! Featuring free beginner’s salsa lesson and silent auction. Proceeds to help the women, men and children victimized by the atrocious acts of violence committed in Darfur.

Friday, February 6th, 2009
Tickets $10
8:30 pm
Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad Street)
For advance tickets email
victoria@standcanada.org


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Darfur Digest - February

Due to a technical problem, our listserv software has been nonfunctional for the past five weeks. This has meant that we weren't able to send out the January Digest via the listserv and we won't be able to send out the February Digest via the listserv either, unfortunately. Please share the Digest (attached) with anyone who might need it. The executive summary is below. Apologies again for the inconvenience - we are working to resolve the issue.

Executive Summary

Canadian Politics and Darfur: The confluence of American President Barack Obama's inauguration and the return of Canadian parliament may create new opportunities for Canadian action on the Darfur crisis.

Security in Darfur: Tensions in Sudan are growing as the possibility of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, looms on the horizon. The last two weeks of January saw an upswing in violence as rebel groups in Darfur jostled with each other and government forces for land and power. The Government of Sudan (GoS) broke the unilateral ceasefire it announced in November by bombing positions of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the largest rebel movement in Darfur. Meanwhile, the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID) continues to try to make a difference but remains overstretched and ill-equipped.

Negotiations and Engagement in Darfur: The International Criminal Court (ICC) continued to examine the evidence against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to determine whether or not a warrant should be issued for his arrest. While China maintained its support for the Government of Sudan (GoS), the new American administration made a number of strong statements on the crisis in Darfur. The Qatar-based Arab-African Committee on Darfur, whose main function is to discuss Arab-African action to restore peace in Darfur, finally met after a number of delays. An increase in rebel factions over the past year and new friction between rebel groups is stalling the peace process.

The Humanitarian Situation in Darfur: The resiliency of the aid community in Darfur is apparent as they continue to plan long-term operations in the face of uncertainty. If an arrest warrant is issued for Sudan's President, a backlash restricting access to the United Nations mission and to humanitarian relief work could be damaging for Darfur's civilians. Tension is mounting in the country as the UN makes contingency plans. Sudan's government has sent a team of traditional leaders from Darfur to address the International Criminal Court in favour of Omar al-Bashir. Yet aid work continues as NGOs begin to plan in advance of the rainy season.


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. Form an all-party parliamentary special committee on Darfur whose goal it will be to determine viable actions for the Canadian government to undertake to lead in ending the crisis in Darfur. The committee should 1) exist for a specified period of time, 2) travel to Sudan to collect facts, 3) be fully resourced by the Canadian government and 4) have equal party representation.

3. Engage more actively with the Obama administration to identify new opportunities for collaboration and cooperation on Darfur.

4. 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.

Continue reading this article...