Discussing Darfur

My EMBA class met again tonight. Last month we discussed the professional violinist who played in the Washington Metro. I agree with my friend that it wasn’t a fair test being in a spot where most people passing would have deadlines to meet, not time to stop and listen.

Today’s topic is Darfur and the genocide in that country.

One of the resources we used was the Council on Foreign Relations Crisis Guide on Darfur

This crisis guide plus the Council’s Special Report brings up the “responsibility to protect” principle first raised in 2001. This principle holds to the idea that mass atrocities in one state are the concern of all states. This principle was adopted at the UN World Summit in 2005. (I have my own opinions about the usefulness of the UN, very mixed results). The first part describes the obligations of a state to toward those living within their own borders. The second part addresses the responsibility of the rest of the world when a state fails in those obligations. This is recognized as a huge change in the attitude toward sovereignty, where the borders of a state were considered inviolable for 3 centuries. Now that sovereignty is conditional upon the behavior of the state.

There is legitimate concern with agreeing that other countries can interfere in a domestic issue, even if it should only apply to atrocities. Is this a good neighbor policy or a slippery slope? Have nations ever needed legitimate reasons when they’ve decided to jump into another country’s issues?

Also, is there capacity to address atrocities in other countries? The UN is already spread out over the globe and the US is pretty busy in Irag and Afghanistan and other places. China and Russia aren’t interested because they have conflicting interests. I also have to include that I’m ambivalent about the UN being the forum for this enforcement. They do not have a good reputation in the area of Peacekeeping, and addressing an atrocity inside a country’s border is quite challenging.

Another resource was a series of columns on Darfur in the NYT. What I have read is well written and provides good information and a compelling perspective. I read the column The Pain of the G-8’s Big Shrug with some interest. Nicholas Kristof does a good job bringing out the issue of genocide compared to other global poverty issues such as banditry, malaria, or AIDS. There is an urge to spend time and money solving issues we know how to fix, such as malaria and maternal mortality, rather than the messy and complex business of stopping genocide or even the civil conflict in Congo. The first thought I had, though, as I read these numbers being tossed about was abortion. According to the Guttmacher institute (who work with Pro-Abortion supporters such as Planned Parenthood for their numbers) there are between 42 and 46 million abortions worldwide each year. That number does put the 10 million to 12 million lives lost in genocides of the last 100 years in some perspective.

All of this fits in with the audio book I’m listening to this week, Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade–and How We Can Fight It and the chapter I’m currently listening to on Uganda and the boys recruited into the LRA and the girls kidnapped and kept as sex slaves and servants. I was impressed to learn that World Vision has camps where they take the children who are rescued and works to help them recover and move on to a productive life. There is post-traumatic stress and shame and fear and shock and so much else, on top of the physical healing that is needed. Another organization that is doing great work in combating slavery is the International Justice Mission.

It’s all so big. Our group talked about trying to find a way to get involved and make a difference. Whether it’s helping refugee resettle in the US or donating to organizations that work in other countries, or letting our representatives know that what’s happening in Darfur is important to us, there are things we can do. I know the only thing that will make lasting change anywhere is for a spiritual awakening and more personal relationships with Christ and the basic needs must be met before people will hear the message.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.