The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Unstinting Resolve: The New President and Darfur

There has been much talk on the campaign trail of hope and change, rhetoric which is largely responsible for the victory of President-elect Barack Obama. Across the nation and world, there is unprecedented excitement about the new administration and its potential to change.

As the Obama administration makes its transition to the White House, every constituency has high expectations for change in their specific areas of concern; the people of Darfur and the anti-genocide movement are no exception. As I listen to Omer Ismail, the ENOUGH Project advisor for Sudan, at STAND’s National Student Conference, I sense his frustration and urgency. For the past five years, the people of Darfur have received empty promises of change.
Millions of dollars have been poured into Darfur each year in the form of humanitarian aid since the conflict began; a solution which seems focused not so much on resolving the atrocities in Darfur as on appeasing the conscience of the international community.

It is appalling that after a century of genocide in Armenia, Germany, Cambodia, Iraq, Bosnia, and Rwanda, Washington is stands baffled as a deer in the headlights when confronted with genocide. Humanitarian aid has become an increasingly expensive and ineffective band-aid on almost every humanitarian crisis the United States has dealt with in recent years.

Real change lies in assembling twenty-four helicopters and an effective peacekeeping force. Real change lies in the indictment of Omar Al-Bashir. Real change lies in true diplomacy with China.

If the Obama administration wants to make good on its campaign promises of hope and change, it will have to engage in the creation of a comprehensive plan for confronting genocide, now and in the future. In the coming year, the new administration will need to confront a host of status quos in need of hope and change. There is a need for new direction in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in the way our economy is run.

It is up to the anti-genocide constituency, on behalf of the victims of genocide in Sudan to remind the new President that Darfur is in need of hope and change as well.

Weekly News Briefs – July 24, 2008


The secuity situation in Darfur is constantly changing and getting increasinly usntable: the UN is investigating an alleged attack on the rebel group SLM-Minawi by the Sudanese army, which is the second of such attacks. The Sudanese government confirmed the clashes.

UNAMID is facing increasing difficulties and criticism. The Sudanese Government has gone back and forth on whether it will expel UNAMID if Bashir is indicted. The UN is also discussing peacekeeping as the mandate for the UNAMID peacekeeping force expires soon.

The debate over the ICC indictment has made its way to the United Nations, which is split on the issue.

A very interesting article about the role of military contractors Blackwater in the creation of safe humanitarian space in Darfur.


In Abyei, Sudanese Forces are reported to begin their withdrawal, marking progress in the path to peace for Abyei.

In larger Sudan news, Salva Kiir, the Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the former southern rebel group, and current Vice President of Sudan has declared his intentions to run for President of Sudan in 2009. There is much electoral mobilizing happening among former and current Sudanese rebel groups.

Sri Lanka:

The Sri Lankan government rejected a unilateral ceasefire offered by the LTTE, during the regional summit this weekend.

This week, Sri Lanka marked the 25th anniversary of the 1983 anti-Tamil riots, commonly known as “Black July”, during which about 3000 Tamils were killed in government-orchestrated riots.

This week, a Chinese Minister assured Sri Lanka of continued Chinese financial support.

During the last four weeks, over 45,000 Tamils have been displaced in the Northeast due to shelling and aerial bombings.

Continued Violations of Ceasefire Reported in DRC

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report this week stating that killing and raping of civilians continues at a “horrifying rate” in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) six months after the signing of a major peace accord. In a 10-day trip to the province, researchers documented more than 200 killings and the rape of hundreds of women since January.


The group’s findings shed light on important underlying dynamics of the conflict in eastern DRC which, still left insufficiently addressed, threaten the implementation of existing agreements and any prospects for long term peace and stability.

The January 23 agreement, signed in the city of Goma between government and 22 armed groups active in eastern Congo, lays out plans for demobilization of certain militia and their integration into the Congolese national army, known as FARDC. The FDLR, extremist Hutu militia lead by exiled perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, was not party to the agreement.

The majority of the ceasefire violations documented by HRW came from clashes between General Laurent Nkunda’s ethnic Tutsi militia and a “loose coalition” formed by the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), combatants from the community-based Mai Mai Mongol militia, the Coalition of Congolese Patriotic Resistance (PARECO), and the FDLR.

However, FARDC was also implicated in violence. Notably, its soldiers were found to be supporting fighters from PARECO, Mai Mai Mongol, and FDLR. HRW also reported that Congolese government authorities failed to respond promptly when hundreds of Mai Mai Mongol combatants surrendered and agreed to be integrated into FARDC in accordance with the January agreement. As a result of the delay, many returned to fighting.

The documented support by FARDC soldiers for FDLR and other militia certainly decreases the incentives for General Nkunda to uphold his end of the deal. News of FARDC-FDLR cooperation could seriously undermine progress made earlier this month, when Nkunda appeared to be demonstrating a renewed commitment to the Goma agreement. At the same time, the Congolese government’s apparent inability to deal with armed groups that do turn in their weapons decreases incentives for other signatories to cooperate with disarmament and reintegration initiatives.

While many different parties are to blame for the ongoing violence, these observations in particular raise questions about the DRC government’s stated commitment – and its ability – to uphold its end of the ceasefire and, ultimately, to achieve stability in the east

– Nina McMurry, DR Congo Education Coordinator