Genocide: Technicalities and Absurdity

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Genocide: Technicalities and Absurdity

Whether or not the situation in Darfur meets the technical definition of genocide is, in my opinion, more or less irrelevant.

But for those who care about such things, Physicians for Human Rights has released an important new report on Darfur, which the Boston Globe describes thusly
The nearly 3-year-old conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur, which has killed an estimated 200,000 people or more, also has killed the way of life for roughly 2 million people, according to a Physicians for Human Rights report released today.

In one of the most detailed studies of the Darfur conflict, investigators from the Boston-based group examined the fate of three villages, interviewing dozens of survivors and collecting hundreds of photographs and hand-drawn maps.

They concluded that Sudan's government and pro-government Arab militia systematically destroyed the livelihood of residents.

The report contends that by doing so, the attackers committed a little-discussed form of genocide. One clause in the UN's Genocide Convention defines the crime of genocide as a group inflicting upon another group ''conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part."

''Not only did the attackers destroy these people's livelihood, but they were driven out to this desert deathtrap, where you virtually cannot survive unless you are getting some outside assistance," John Heffernan, an investigator for Physicians for Human Rights and the report's author, said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., yesterday. "And on top of that, the government of Sudan has been blocking assistance to people."
Of course, there is a 6,000 strong African Union force in Darfur right now supposedly protecting the people and providing security, though in reality it is really just monitoring a non-existent ceasefire.

But all that might be about to end - not because the AU is going to get a broader mandate, but because it is about to run out of money
The African Union (AU) said on Thursday it may hand over its mission in Darfur to the United Nations, saying it was running out of money for the peacekeeping operation in Sudan's troubled western region.
The international community, which has been so unwilling to take seriously the situation in Darfur, passed it off to the AU - and then so underfunded the AU that the situation is about drop right back into the international community's lap via the UN.

But, quite frankly, having the UN take over Darfur from the AU might not be a bad thing. Why? Because guess who is about to assume the chairmanship of the AU at the end of the month.

That's right.

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