SUDAN WATCH: U.N. General Assembly refuse to denounce human rights violations in Sudan

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

U.N. General Assembly refuse to denounce human rights violations in Sudan

John Fitzgerald writes about the U.N. General Assembly's recent refusal to hold a vote on a resolution denouncing human rights violations in Sudan - and describes the reaction of John Danforth, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. (the “motion to take no action” on the proposed resolution was put forth by South Africa):

“One wonders about the utility of the General Assembly,” Danforth said, “on days like this. One wonders if there can’t be a clear and direct statement on matters of basic principle. Why have this building? What is it all about?” Danforth summed up the Assembly’s attitude to Sudanese refugees as “‘You may be suffering, but we can’t be bothered.’”
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Note, After three years of dealing with Khartoum, Ambassador Danforth must be feeling disillusioned. He was the person who suggested holding the recent UN Security Council meeting in Nairobi in order to demonstrate the importance the Council places on finalising a peace agreement for Sudan. After the meeting, all they came away with was a promise from the warring parties to sign a peace agreement on December 31, 2004 - six weeks away. There was little reference to Darfur. The warring parties started fighting 48 hours later.

I've seen a photo of the meeting. It was a large gathering, like a mini UN General Assembly. Imagine the expense in terms of security, flights, hotels, etc. Everyone attended. And that same week they went on to hold Council meetings in other African countries. Like a Grand Tour. No objections from China or Russia. Must have cost millions. I wonder how many bags of flour could have been bought instead.

Meanwhile, for security reasons, the U.N. World Food Program pulled back from most of Darfur, leaving 300.000 Darfurians cut off from aid.
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Update: A friend has just visited me. We talked about Darfur. The friend (the second one to tell me the same thing) told me I am completely wasting my time and energy blogging about it. And asked me why I was not more concerned for the poor people in this country; why did I need to concern myself over people on the other side of the world; the whole world's problems can't be attended to all at once; and the only people that can help are the people on the ground; apart from going out there myself, there is nothing I can do except make myself feel better that I think I am doing something to help.

I explained as best as I could that we in the blogosphere were trying to raise awareness and put pressure on politicians to act to provide security for the aid effort, provide a safe route for the aid and protect the civilians. The friend said some things cannot be helped straight away, that thousands of people were helping and things were happening politically behind the scenes.

My argument was simply "it is not good enough" - and I asked, if 300,000 people had been killed in the State of Texas or in France - and 10,000 each month continued to die - would more help have been provided? My friend answered yes, because it was closer to home and there would be the political will.

My answer to that was, it doesn't matter whether someone is near or far - if they are suffering the most dismal life on this planet and being killed off by their own government who at the same time refuses all offers of outside help, we must do everything we can to help them, whether they are living next door or in Africa - it doesn't matter - we are all human beings. I pointed out the atrocities in Sudan have happened over the last 20 years. Two million Sudanese have been slaughtered. Genocide in Darfur has been happening for well over 1.5 years. The U.N. has had enough advance warning.

I brought up the subject of the Holocaust and how millions of people, who knew what was happening, turned the other cheek. After everything that's been said about genocide in Germany, Bosnia and Rwanda - and "never again" - with today's technology, we watch genocide unfolding in slow motion - and find there is still nothing we can do to stop it. Who is listening? Do our voices don't count? So yes, my friend may be right.

What is the point of being aware of what is going on and not being able to do anything about it? What has changed since WWII? If the political will is not there, and we can't push the politicians to take action, what are we to do - what can be done?

Sorry for this depressing post. The first one of its kind I believe. My friend made me feel stupid, like I was being silly and naive. I know I am probably all of those things. But over the past seven months, an inner voice tells me differently.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your inner voice is right. Though it may be cold and dark, you bear a small flame. This blog puts that flame to a candle, and the more readers you touch, the greater likelihood we have of being ablt to put that candle to parafin -- or, god help us please, gasoline.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hello anonymous. Thank you for taking the time to comment. You have written such an inspiring and heartwarming comment, I shall write a post on it. Pity the new commenting system here at Blogger allows anonymous comments, I would like to know a bit more about you, where you are from and if you are a blogger visit your blog. If you read this, please say another hello and leave the URL of your blog. Thank you again and God bless.

Thursday, December 02, 2004  

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