7.17.2011

Failing R2P: The Neglect of Sudan



Evidence of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, and War Crimes
Conflict is not a foreign concept to Sudan. From its independence, Sudan has seen two civil wars that have lasted decades, a genocide in Darfur, and now a conflict immerging in the Abyei and South Kordofan regions. The conflict-ridden stereotype that is attributed to Africa is in many ways attributed to Sudan. What is often incorrectly termed an 'ethnic conflict', the Darfur conflict began in 2003 when two Darfur-based rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, attacked "government military installations as part of a campaign to fight against the historic political and economic marginalization of Darfur" (Save Darfur). In response to this attack, the government of Sudan formed a proxy militia called the Janjaweed, which began to target the ethnic groups that primarily comprise the two rebel groups. The Janjaweed’s savagery is quite apparent:
  • Over 400 villages have been burned 
  • 300,000 people killed between 2003-2005 
  • Over 300,000 living as internally displaced people and refugees along the Chad/Sudan border (Save Darfur)
The terror in Darfur can be clearing defined as genocide because it meets many of the qualifications.
  • Killing members of a group: The government-armed proxy militia, the Janjaweed, have aimed their violence against the specific ethnic groups that comprise of the two main Darfuri rebel movements. 
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group: Rape is being used as a control tactic in refugee camps along the Chad/Sudan border among other examples. 
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part: Villages are being burned, wells are being poisoned with dead animals, and agricultural production has come almost to a halt, causing a large portion of the population to rely on food and humanitarian aid.

      The ICC Indictment
      Omar al Bashir, the mastermind behind the Darfur genocide; the Hitler of Sudan. Bashir was formally indicted by the toothless International Criminal Court (ICC) on counts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. (I say “toothless” because the ICC has no real way of catching the criminals it places arrest warrants for, other than that, I love the ICC!) The ICC indictment read as follows:
      • Five counts of crimes against humanity: murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, and rape. 
      • Two counts of war crimes: intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking part in hostilities and pillaging. 
      • Three counts of genocide: genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction. 
      Bashir remains at large because the ICC has no power to capture its wanted criminals. Although the arrest warrant is out, his capture depends on him being turned in by member states of the ICC. The little thing known as state sovereignty prevents the ICC from entering Sudan to personally arrest Bashir. He continues to commit crimes in Darfur and now in the South Kordofan and Abyei states with impunity.

      Source: Filibuster


      China. China. China. The Truth of the Matter is, It's All Geopolitics
      Darfur is home to inexcusable violence. The government of Sudan has failed to protect the civilians in Darfur for years now. There is the presence of the African Union, but they are unable to protect the civilians as well. The crisis in Darfur is obviously eligible for intervention under R2P. The United States used the "G" word (Genocide) for Sudan, but the UN has yet to do so. Labels only go so far. So why hasn't something been done?

      The UN Security Council voted on whether or not action should be taken in Darfur, but Russia and China unsurprisingly vetoed the resolution. Why does China care what happens in Sudan? One word: Oil. China's growing economy and industrial sector needs large amounts of oil to survive and Sudan provides them with plenty of it. As observed by a BBC article, China now imports 80% of Sudan’s nearly 500,000 barrels of oil it exports every day. In return for oil, China builds roads, oil pipelines, bridges and other public projects. Furthermore, China takes a no-strings-attached approach with the Sudanese government which makes their relationship appealing for Sudan. Bashir can continue with his genocide in Darfur and export his oil to China while they silently look the other way. It’s a win-win situation for both countries. By vetoing intervention in Darfur, China is simply upholding the idea of state sovereignty and its unspoken agreement with Bashir.

      It's obvious why China doesn't agree with intervention, but what happened to the United States and the United Kingdom who proclaim "Never Again!" after every genocide? The truth of the matter is that it’s all geopolitics. The United States has very little interest in the region (besides oil), but with 80% of Sudan's oil going to China, it is not a good enough reason to strongly advocate for intervention.

      Furthermore, Sudan at one point used to house Osama Bin Laden and was once a Al-Qaeda stronghold. However, since September 11th, Sudan has cooperated with the United States in its war on terror and is now seen as somewhat of an ally for the US in the region. The US and UK, although obligated under R2P to intervene, are over-stretched in their two wars in the Middle East (and now Libya) and would be able to provide very little support in any intervention in Sudan. 

      Finally, the last excuse for non-intervention is the "prudence" criteria for intervention. The ICISS states that the intervening parties/states must have a good likelihood of success in their intervention and that they also have the "responsibility to rebuild" the country in which it intervenes. The United States and England (as well as other powerful nations) claim that they do not have a good chance at succeeding in the complicated crisis in Sudan and none are particularly willing to stick around to rebuild Sudan and oversee a change in government (Iraq and Afghanistan have scared most countries away from wanting to stay for the 'rebuilding' process). 

      Since there is no enforcement of R2P intervention among powerful nations and the UN, each nation simply keeps pushing Darfur aside using a variety of different excuses. This is the one major flaws in R2P. The veto power of China and Russia and the unwillingness to intervene in nations where the conflicts are complex and involve a lot of manpower make R2P largely ineffective in its current state. What was meant to help put an end to deadly conflicts and unnecessary civilian deaths is simply writing on paper now; the world continues to look on as innocent blood is shed worldwide every day. Things have not changed since the Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, and Rwanda. And that is a sad fact.

      As a side note, I really hope my newly attained visa to China doesn't get denied because of my critical stance on China and Sudan. Government of China, if you are reading/censoring this, I am looking forward to visiting your country in a week, so please, let me keep my visa! Much appreciated. Cheers!


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