Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Never Again and Again and Again

The UN has decided that the ethnic cleansing in the Sudan is not genocide. They do point out that other crimes are being committed. HT: Democratic Peace Blog

Why would they say such a thing?

In 1948 the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defined genocide “as the intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”

It seems from multiple new sources that what is going on in the Sudan is that the leadership of one group “Arab Moslems” in the Sudan wants to destroy in whole or part the resident population of Darfur, as such: the intentional destruction of a group that is racially black African, ethnically non-Arab, and Christian or followers of a traditional religion.

It seems to me that the facts have a reasonably close relationship to the definition. So why not call it what it is?

The government of Sudan has the power to commit genocide and only outside opposition can stop them. As noted in the article, the responses being discussed are things like “peace keeping” forces that are to small and lightly armed to keep the peace or protect any one including themselves. Bringing the government of the Sudan into the “process” to find a solution and prosecuting individuals who are responsible after the fact. (Why would someone want to be part of process who’s end result will be to put them in jail? They are murderers, not stupid!) But there is nothing about doing anything to stop the crime. So it continues.

I think that part of the reason lies in several changes of perspective in international relations that have been gaining ground in past few years. A movement towards resolving disputes some sort of process similar to how governments handle internal conflicts. This has been a motive in the way the UN operates, the establishment of bodies like the World Trade Organization and the International Criminal Court.

Since the Peace of Westphalia (1648) the use of force between nations was bound up in the idea of sovereign states that would only go to war (at least in theory) over serious violations of agreements or general principles of Internal Law. But no one was required to go to war, and presumably had to satisfy themselves first as to the justice, winability and relative cost of the war.

Internally, in a country when there is an incident, someone calls 911, the police are dispatched, backups are sent if necessary, the SWAT teams may be called out, or even the National Guard called up. After the fact the courts sort out whether it was justified or not.

Therein lies the problem. Genocide has it’s own treaty. Genocide has an extremly poor public image that demands action. The failure to take action in the Rwanda genocide has many people saying that the Military should be deployed at the first sign of Genocide, and let the international courts sort it out afterwards

Why did the UN find that the action in the Sudan is not genocide?

Under the old perspective countries could have said we do not have the means, there is no probability of success, the damage would be greater than the gain and decline to do something. While otherwise calling it what it is and denouncing it.

Under the modern perspective calling it Genocide would be to much like a 911 call. It would have to go to the Security Council who would invoke Article 41ff of the UN Charter and require a military force sent STOP the genocide and the pieces would be picked up later. Like the police dispatcher sending the first squad car the accuracy of the complaint, cost, and likliehood of success would be poor excuses for no action in public opnion or perhaps in court. If it is called Genocide something real has to be done.

Why did the UN find that the action in the Sudan is not genocide? Why, because, under the new perspective, if you do not, or cannot do something you have to lie and say there is not a problem.
There are more than enough uncommited militry forces in the world to stop the genocide if the the political will was there. It is not there.

Amoung the reasons I do not like the new perspective. The old one is a lot more honest.

Related posts


Death by Governemnet


Rwanda and Darfur Compared

Continuing coverage is at the Coalition for Darfur Blog.

Also R J Rummel’s Democratic Peace blog has provided extensive coverage (Scroll down to Sudan section)

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