E.g., 10/25/2014
E.g., 10/25/2014

How Many People Have to Die Before We Care? The Role of the International Community in Darfur

Policy Briefs
July 2004

How Many People Have to Die Before We Care? The Role of the International Community in Darfur

This policy brief provides a background to the conflict and humanitarian situation in Darfur. While the situation in Darfur—characterized by widespread forced displacement, encampment, and denial of assistance—may not fit the definition of genocide in the traditional sense as embodied in the Genocide Convention, the brief makes the case that semantics should not interfere with the international community’s obligation to protect civilians. The responses of various international actors are then detailed, with particular attention directed to the reluctance of some actors to get actively involved, before concluding with recommendations for moving forward.

Although many observers suggest that the suffering in Darfur amounts to or is on a path to becoming genocide, the lack of consensus among the international community on this matter is apparent in the reluctance of some United Nations Security Council members to publicly criticize the actions of the Sudanese government or put Darfur on the Security Council agenda. Drawing parallels to the Rwandan genocide, the brief calls for immediate intervention beyond diplomacy, arguing that none of the reasons put forward for limited engagement—ranging from concerns about upsetting the existing peace process to the fear that involvement would weaken the concept of state sovereignty—can justify the failure to prevent genocide in Darfur. In order to force the Sudanese government to stop the current violence, the author suggests continued high-level diplomatic pressure, along with an enforced no-fly zone and preparations for possible military intervention.

Additional recommendations include a systematic protection mandate that extends beyond refugee camps, long-term humanitarian aid, and international commitment to address the root cause of the conflict and reverse ethnic cleansing.