Thursday, August 31, 2006

Save Darfur Coalition is wrong to give up on AU (Daniel Davies)

Another great piece at Comment is free Aug 30, 2006 by British economist Daniel Davies. I'm copying the whole thing here below (except for hyperlinks) because I agree with what Daniel says. I hope it is true that "the central message that the Save Darfur Coalition will be promoting in New York on September 17 is similar to that of Jan Egeland: peace on all sides, funding for the humanitarian effort and resumption of the peace talks and Darfur dialogue." When is the Darfur dialogue to commence? Why hasn't a date been set?
Drawing distinctions in Darfur
There is an important difference between the humanitarian lobby for Darfur and the military intervention lobby.

Following on from my last piece about Darfur, I've had an interesting email exchange with David Rubinstein, coordinator of the Save Darfur Coalition. He wanted to point out that the SDC is not a part of the "Darfur intervention lobby", and that it shouldn't be placed in the same bracket as those who see Darfur as yet another test case for military action in accordance with the doctrine of Responsibility To Protect.

I disagree with David on a number of points: I think that SDC is wrong to implicitly give up on the African Union Mission In Sudan (AMIS) by making the deployment of a UN force a key demand (but right to insist that in the meantime, AMIS and the humanitarian relief effort should be immediately and fully funded). I also think that a number of groups which seem to be affiliated with the SDC website (specifically, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Res Publica/ and the Stop Genocide Now campaign) appear to be promoting an agenda which goes well beyond the humanitarian campaign of SDC and into demands for either coercive military intervention or the break-up of Sudan as a state. And finally, I don't agree with the SDC's emphasis on referring to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur as a genocide; this is not what the UN commission found to be the case, and the campaign in the west to have Darfur designated as a genocide appears to be very caught up with the belief of the Darfur intervention lobby that this would create an automatic legal trigger justifying military action.

However, the central message that the SDC will be promoting in New York on September 17 is similar to that of Jan Egeland: peace on all sides, funding for the humanitarian effort and resumption of the peace talks and Darfur dialogue. As a result, I think I was probably unfair in failing to draw a distinction between the specific organisation SDC and the more general "Darfur lobby". I'll apologise to David for this and it seems to me that the programme the SDC will be pushing is a sensible one.

There remains, however, a very large and vocal lobby for "Darfur intervention", and I think my broader critique of this tendency remains valid. The question is: why do you think you know so much better than the United Nations what the United Nations ought to be doing? If you are so certain that something must be done, why have you no specific proposal for what must be done? And most importantly, has the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan really been such a success that you are prepared to export the model to a country with poor food security? There seems to be an inverse correlation between the amount that people seem to know about Darfur and the amount of violence that they think the solution to the crisis will contain.

The Euston Manifesto Group is planning a meeting entitled "Darfur: An Urgent Case For Humanitarian Intervention", on September 5. I have applied for tickets and if possible, will try to make the point that there surely ought to be at least a question mark in that title.
Excellent Daniel. Loved these two new think pieces of yours. Why can't everyone just pull together? Look forward to reading your follow up. [Click into Daniel's commentary to see hyperlinks provided]

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