Monday, February 22, 2010

Two positive recent developments - dare we hope?

In the world of genocide prevention advocacy, we’re used to bad news. In fact, we sort of brace ourselves for the worst even while hoping for the best. That’s a trait beat into us from years of seeing oppressors escape justice for mass atrocities while the general American public blithely ignores what is happening.

Well, take heart. There have been two recent developments of note in regard to Darfur. It’s too early to declare victory on either one of these, but hopefully they are the early signs of a positive turnaround.

1. International Court Paves the Way to Charge Bashir with Genocide
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir could face genocide charges in the International Criminal Court (ICC) after a legal ruling over his role in the conflict in Darfur. Bashir, who already faces an arrest warrant on seven charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, is now eligible to charged with genocide after an appeals court overturned a previous ruling stating there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with genocide.

If the ICC decided to bring charges of genocide against Bashir, it would be the first time it has done so against a sitting head of state. It goes without saying that this would be monumental on many levels, including sending a major warning shot to other oppressors interested in similar tactics. Read more here.

2. New Truce Between Major Rebel Group and Government
The major Darfur rebel movement JEM is set to sign a truce with the Sudanese government in Doha, Qatar, this week. This agreement would mark just one in a ling string of ceasefires – but observers have high hopes for this one. Among other reasons, the Sudanese government (and Bashir in particular) is under particular pressure to demonstrate progress given item #1 above and the upcoming April elections in Sudan. If the truce holds, it will lead to more detailed peace talks in March on issues such as power sharing. Can we hope for this to be a baby-step in the right direction?

Of course, JEM isn’t the only rebel group fighting in Darfur and therefore this peace deal is limited in scope. Success will also be determined by the extent that Sudan and JEM can include the other groups and not alienate them in this process. Read more here.

So, here are two positive recent developments – dare we to celebrate? Not yet. History is littered with false starts.

We’ll keep a close eye on both and keep praying that they ultimately lead to the end of suffering in Darfur and Eastern Chad.

1 comment:

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