Friday, May 8, 2009

Investing Against Genocide

On May 8, 2009, the Connecticut Coalition to Save Darfur hosted Eric Cohen, the chair of Investors Against Genocide. These are notes taken at that meeting.

Cohen began by explaining his talk was about money and acknowledged talking about money is generally boring. People get statements and nobody reads them, but there is something going on in those documents that's important and relevant to you.

He then showed a video, courtesy of Fox News, with the following information and perspective.

Unlike the Holocaust or Rwanda, the genocide in Darfur has been widely identified while it's going on.

Fidelity is the largest investor in PetroChina, with four and a half million shares, valued at $500 million. Cohen is trying to convince Fidelity to pull this money out of PetroChina.

Early in the game, the group wrote Fidelity asking for a meeting, but Fidelity refused and said it had the fiduciary responsibility to obtain the best returns for its investors. Someone being interviewed pointed out Fidelity has other ways to make money; it doesn't have to invest in PetroChina.

Samantha Power, Harvard Professor: If anything is going to make a difference, it's divestment.

There is a bill pending in the Massachusetts legislature mandating divestiture from any company complicit in the genocide in Darfur.

After showing the video, Cohen when he first heard of the problem he thought Fidelity would divest from PetroChina as soon as it was made aware, but he learned he was wrong. His group then started going public, including the website.

They tried explaining to Fidelity that it surely would have divested if in 1942 they learned one of their companies was making Zyklon B gas, but Fidelity didn't want to engage; they said they were just finance guys. Eric has made it his mission to make sure this issue doesn't go away.

At a minimum, there have been 200,000 complaints that went to Fidelity, which wasn't fazed and hasn't change its policy.

He noted once you leave the executive offices, they people at Fidelity are people like us and they care. One fund manager in charge of three funds hadn't known about the connection between PetroChina and Darfur, but he got educated and in 2007 sold every share of PetroChina in those three funds, more than half a billion dollars worth. On a human level, he showed it could be done and his funds performed well compared to others in his sector.

At the same time, other funds at Fidelity didn't change and hasn't changed to this day. At one time they had about $1.3 billion invested in PetroChina and still have $600-700 million.

Investors Against Genocide came up with another strategy - shareholder proposals. Until they started doing this, nobody had come up with shareholder proposals on mutual funds. They're targeting mutual funds because that's where ordinary Americans put their money.

They wrote a shareholder resolution that a mutual fund not invest in companies that substantially contribute to genocide. (An electronic copy of the resolution may be obtained by sending an email to proposals@investorsagainstgenocide.org.) They had twenty-one funds in Fidelity on which the resolution was voted. Usually shareholder proposals get approval in the single digits. These got on average 25-30%. This was recognized by everyone but Fidelity as a really powerful message.

This helped with publicity. When you want to drive out bad behavior, shine a spotlight on it. It also took a discussion and turned it into an event.

So they decided this was a good strategy and now have proposals filed at 118 different funds, including Fidelity, Vanguard. This isn't a single institution problem, but an industry-wide problem.

This is another dimension of the problem of companies not wanting to engage with their customers. This type of initiative is foreign to them. Investors Against Genocide thinks there should be one more rule: we should draw the line at complicity with genocide.

Since it was so public and written about in the financial press, it was watched by other firms and had a spillover effect.

TIAA-CREF was a significant holder in PetroChina. They had written letters to PetroChina, but predictably with no effect. Eric Cohen published something about TIAA-CREF's holdings in PetroChina in the Chronicle of Higher Education. There was to be a proposal on the ballot, but TIAA-CREF changed its tune and the proposal has been dropped. TIAA-CREF is now a model for other companies. This was the first major win for the campaign.

There are now shareholder proposals at 30 different funds at Vanguard, which will be having votes this July.

In its communications, Vanguard is recommending a vote against the proposal on the grounds it allegedly substantially duplicates their current policies. However, their behavior hasn't changed and they've actually bought more shares in PetroChina.

Evidence of progress: Vanguard now says it can divest. Also for Vanguard, there will now be an opportunity to vote. There are also votes coming up at American Funds in August.

Investors Against Genocide can help shareholders fill out the forms needed to get a proposal on the ballot. Shareholders have to have at least $2,000 invested and have it invested for at least a year in order to have standing.

A question and answer period ensued.

Question from Steven Bayer: If you're successful, what happens to the Chinese company?

Eric Cohen: The question really is why would this do any good. It will make it more difficult when those companies need to raise more capital. It also affects the management directly in their pockets.

The broader picture is the entire industry needs reform in the area of socially responsible investing.

There is a question about whether divestment pressure works. China doesn't really care enough about their image with us to respond to pressure, but they do care about their business.

When it comes to helping Darfur, no one strategy is enough, but everything taken together might be enough. It's unlikely China will change, but it may have an effect on future genocides. We don't really want China to leave Sudan; we want China to force change in Sudan.

Hopefully, this campaign is touching some people who now know more about Darfur. Even if this doesn't do any good, how many of us want our money invested in companies doing business with Darfur.

David Schneider: Before taking my money out of Vanguard, I'm planning to send Vanguard a letter telling them I want them to do what TIAA-CREF did.

Eric Cohen: Whatever you do, don't do it quietly. We've sent a letter to John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, who has a solid reputation.

We used to tell people to complain and move their money; now we are asking people to use their vote. The most valuable thing groups can do is tell their people about the ability to vote.

Bob Fishman: Is there a way to approach the relevant people in the Obama administration and get them to make this part of their strategy?

Eric Cohen: There's little chance Fidelity will do anything publicly.

Cohen may be reached by email at ericcohen98@gmail.com. The Investors Against Genocide website is at www.investorsagainstgenocide.org

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gaza and Darfur: Some people matter more than others

By Savo Heleta

This is from the Sudan Tribune.

March 25, 2009 — The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza created fury and protests around the globe and especially in the Arab and Muslim world. A number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa saw some of the largest demonstrations in their history that condemned the killings of civilians and children by the Israeli forces.

At the same time, the Middle Eastern media, such as Al Jazeera, had a 24/7 coverage of the conflict.

One has to wonder why the Darfur conflict has never received similar attention.

Since 2003, Sudan’s western province of Darfur is an epicenter of a conflict between the mainly African rebels and the Arab-controlled government of Sudan and its proxy militias.

As in Gaza, the civilians in Darfur are paying the highest price. It is estimated that over the last six years about 200,000 people have died in Darfur from fighting, starvation, and diseases. The United Nations and aid agencies estimate that over two million Darfurians, out of a population of about six million, are currently living in refugee camps.

Even in the grimmest moments in Darfur, in 2003 and 2004, when the entire communities have been brutally destroyed by the government forces and their militias, a very few people in the Arab and Muslim world protested and condemned the killings of innocent Darfurians. Up to this day, not one Arab or Muslim leader has publicly criticized Sudan’s actions and atrocities in Darfur.

Suffering in the hands of an Arab regime

The Sudanese ruling elite portrays itself as an Arab regime both at home and abroad. Some would say this helps explain the lack of concern for the Darfur conflict in the Arab world. However, both sides in Darfur are Muslim and Darfurians, both Arabs and Africans, are Sudan’s most devout Muslims.

Rami Khouri, a Lebanese journalist, thinks that the silence in the Arab world "is not specific to Darfur or Sudan, but rather reflects a wider malaise that has long plagued the region: Arab governments tend to stay out of each other’s way when any one of them is accused of wrongdoing, and most Arab citizens have been numbed into helplessness in the face of public atrocities or criminal activity in their societies."

This changes only when Muslims suffer in the hands of non-Muslims – Americans, Russians, Serbs, or Israelis, to name a few. Then the Arab and Muslim governments and organizations are very active in condemning the atrocities while citizens show solidarity with the victims and demonstrate against "crusaders, infidels, or Zionists."

But when Muslims suffer on a large scale in the hands of an Arab regime, then there is barely any condemnation of the violence and crimes in the Arab and Muslim world.

Even though millions of innocent Muslims have been the victims in Darfur over the last six years, the fact that they are the victims of an Arab regime seems to prevent the Arab public and governments from often even acknowledging the suffering and humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur.

Darfurians matter less than Gazans

Ahmed Hussein Adam, the spokesperson of the Justice and Equality Movement, currently the most powerful Darfur rebel movement, have condemned the killings in Gaza but "observed with deep regret and sorrow the political, diplomatic, and humanitarian mobilizations for the civilians in Gaza, while [the Arab countries] adopted a dismissive attitude for the safety and security of civilians in Darfur."

Adam says that it is shameful that many in the Arab world seem to "consider blood of the people of Darfur [to be] less important than the blood of the people of Gaza."

Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, the leader of one faction of the Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, thinks that "if the Arab and Islamic countries mobilized 10% of what they [have done recently] for Gaza," they could have stopped the suffering of millions in Darfur long time ago.

Throughout the Darfur conflict, the Arab League stood by Sudan and defended its dismal actions. When the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor decided to seek an arrest of Sudan’s president for the alleged war crimes and genocide committed in Darfur, the League slammed the move and called it an "unbalanced stance."

After the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, the Arab and Muslim world continued to support the Sudanese regime. Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi Arabian foreign minister, said his country "stands by Sudan with our heart and soul" despite the indictment.

In the aftermath of the recent Gaza conflict, however, the Arab League immediately called on the United Nations to "form an international committee to investigate Israeli crimes in Gaza and set up a criminal court to try Israeli war criminals."

It is appalling that the people of Darfur, who have suffered unspeakable atrocities since 2003, do not matter to many in the Arab and Muslim world only, it seems, because their tormentors are Arab Muslims and not Jews or Christians.

The killings of children and civilians in Gaza have be condemned in the strongest terms possible. But what about the innocent people in Darfur and their anguish and suffering? They are human beings, too!

Savo Heleta is the author of "Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia" (March 2008, AMACOM Books, New York). He holds an Mphil degree in Conflict Transformation and Management from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What the Warrant Means: Justice, Peace, and the Key Actors in Sudan


From Enough Project

The issuance of an arrest warrant for Sudan’s sitting head of state for crimes against humanity offers the Obama administration a chance to catalyze multilateral efforts to bring about a solution to Sudan’s decades-long cycle of warfare. One of the crucial missing ingredients to conflict resolution efforts has been some form of accountability for the horrific crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated by the warring parties in Sudan, primarily the Khartoum regime. Peace without justice in Sudan would only bring an illusion of stability without addressing the primary forces driving the conflict.

The decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is unsurprising given the long pattern of profound abuses in Sudan directed from the highest echelons of government. Over the past several weeks, President Bashir has escalated violence in Darfur and increased human rights violations in Khartoum in a last-ditch effort to force the United Nations Security Council to defer the ICC’s investigation for one year “in the interest of peace.”1 However, as Enough argued when ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo requested the warrant in July 2008, the prior indictments of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic demonstrate that the pursuit of justice can be a catalyst for peace—if the international community stands resolutely behind efforts to promote accountability for genocide and crimes against humanity.2 The situation in Sudan is no different. Senior officials within Bashir’s National Congress Party, or NCP, are deeply concerned about the possibility of further charges by the ICC, and a growing fissure between Bashir’s loyalists and potentially more pragmatic elements of the NCP could lead to the president’s removal.

To ensure that any potential leadership change within the regime will actually produce meaningful movement toward peace on the ground, the international community must fashion a firm and coordinated peace strategy conditioned on actions rather than words and policies rather than personalities. What should be clear to the international community, including the United States, is that President Bashir should be delivered to the court to face a fair trial on the charges against him. Furthermore, the international community needs to use multilateral diplomacy, well targeted pressures, and judicious incentives to bring both the NCP and Darfur’s rebel groups to the negotiating table, while making a major effort to revitalize the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, as part of a broader and more strategic peace effort for all of Sudan.

How the warrant affects the key actors in Sudan

Sudan is teetering on a dangerous precipice: Violence in Darfur is escalating and CPA implementation is faltering. An NCP-backed coup attempt in neighboring Chad seems increasingly likely. (Rebels supported by Khartoum have reached the capital N’Djamena twice already, in 2006 and 2008). The response of key actors in Sudan to the ICC’s move against Bashir is still obviously a work in progress, but the choices made in the coming weeks by the NCP, as well as the main rebel groups in Darfur, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, or SPLM, will have profound impact on the country’s future. Understanding the calculations of these actors is fundamental to leveraging the arrest warrant into progress toward peace.

The National Congress Party

Sudan’s ruling NCP has faced substantial pressures both from within and without in anticipation of the warrant against Bashir. Internally, Bashir and his loyalists face growing opposition from a group led by Sudan’s Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha, its intelligence chief Salah Abdullah Gosh, and its energy minister Dr. Awad al-Jaz. Tensions between the two camps have been mounting for months, and Gosh blames Bashir and his senior advisor Nafie Ali Nafie for Sudan’s increasing international isolation.

With the warrant now out in the open, this jostling between these two main factions will likely intensify and could split the party. Although Bashir, an army general, still commands loyalty within the regular armed forces, this rival alliance is represented by powerful actors in Sudan’s political, security, and economic sectors. Taha and Gosh bear significant responsibility for crimes against humanity committed during the regime’s 20-year rule, yet they have shown willingness to work with the international community. Taha was the NCP’s point person in negotiating the CPA, and Gosh has become the United States’ favored interlocutor on counterterrorism. Within a ruling party increasingly focused on its own survival, Bashir may become a sacrificial lamb for a party in search of more pragmatic leadership.

Externally, Bashir’s efforts to force a deferral of the ICC investigation have run aground, and the new Obama administration has already raised the possibility of additional punitive measures against the regime. The African Union, the Arab League, and China have all maintained vocal support for a deferral, but the United States’ outspoken opposition has effectively neutralized these efforts.

Furthermore, the recent government attacks in Darfur have made it difficult for even some of Bashir’s most loyal allies to use their typical arguments while seeking to defer justice. In the weeks leading up to the arrest warrant, some of the regime’s most stalwart allies already began distancing themselves from Khartoum. Most important is Egypt, which for years used its influence in the Arab League to rally support for Bashir’s government. However, relations between the two countries have cooled since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met Bashir in Khartoum in November 2008. According to Sudanese officials, Mubarak called Bashir to task for failing to implement the CPA and for driving the South toward independence, a situation that would complicate maintaining the uninterrupted flow of the Nile River, Egypt’s main interest in Sudan. Mubarak also voiced concerns that the Sudanese Islamist movement is the gravest security threat in the region, and blamed the Sudanese government for instability in Chad, and the continued predations of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. If Egypt expresses a willingness to accept new leadership in Khartoum, other allies in the Arab world will likely follow suit, further weakening Bashir’s internal position.

Given these internal and external pressures as well as the regime’s historic patterns of behavior, there are three likely scenarios for how the NCP will react to the indictment:

Scenario one—President Bashir opts for confrontation with the international community: By intensifying the aggressive crackdown in Darfur that he began in Muhajiriya in advance of the warrant, increasing aerial bombardments of civilians, restricting or expelling humanitarians and peacekeepers, stepping up support for Chadian rebels, threatening to withdraw from the CPA, or backtracking on counterterrorism cooperation, Bashir could force the international community to take more assertive action or back down. At the same time, Bashir could work internally to assert firm control of the NCP by jailing opponents, imposing martial law, and increasing military presence in Khartoum and elsewhere. While many humanitarians and U.N. officials have expressed deep concerns about this scenario, it is important to note that such maximalist behavior by Bashir would only serve to further galvanize international support for decisive action against his government.

Scenario two—Internal pressure forces Bashir from office: Given the mounting pressure from within, Bashir could decide to peacefully step aside and cede control to a new NCP candidate, who would participate in the upcoming national elections. Alternatively, rivals within the party could attempt to take power by force. Salah Gosh is one of the strongest advocates for removing Bashir, and Sudan is no stranger to coup d’√©tats. However, Bashir has reportedly told Gosh that he may step down if the divisions within the NCP become irreconcilable. Some Sudanese officials have cited the possibility of exile in Saudi Arabia, which is not a party to the ICC. The new leadership of the NCP could then adopt a more pragmatic approach to the international community by negotiating an end to the war in Darfur and recommitting itself—although unenthusiastically—to the CPA. Bashir’s peaceful departure would undoubtedly be in the best interests of the NCP and the country as a whole, but some Bashir loyalists have threatened to kill Vice President Ali Osman Taha if any attempt is made to remove Bashir from power. Here again, it is important to note that after charges were brought against both Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic much was made of the fact that there was no clear mechanism to deliver them to The Hague—yet that is exactly where both men eventually found themselves. This was in large part because in both cases loyalists recognized the increasingly steep cost of resisting international norms on an issue as fundamental as crimes against humanity.

Scenario three—Bashir stalls for time: After years of what the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice calls “bluster and retreat,” by the international community, Bashir may well calculate that the pressure arising from the arrest warrant will eventually dissipate. The NCP has weathered heavy external pressure in the past and survived by exploiting the inherent divisions in the international community. It may be entirely possible that Bashir, rather than take dramatic action in response to the warrant, will bide his time, and commit the bulk of his energy and resources to facing internal challenges.

The Darfur rebel groups

Bashir’s indictment fundamentally alters the context for Darfur’s rebel groups, presenting a rare opportunity for the more politically savvy groups in the region to gain some legitimacy at the expense of the regime. Darfur’s most significant rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, supports the issuance of an arrest warrant. At the same time, however, Mr. Ocampo is pursuing cases against the rebels, and the leaders of the JEM and the various factions of the Sudan Liberation Army, or SLA, have to weigh their support of a warrant for Bashir against the possibility that they are potentially subject to a similar fate.

Given the JEM’s dominant military and political status vis-√†-vis the other rebel groups, its response to the warrant will strongly influence other rebels. The JEM’s recent behavior—renewed military offensives, bellicose threats against the government, and overtures to the international community—suggests that the rebels are keeping their options open. Although the JEM took control of Muhajiriya, South Darfur, by force in late January, the rebels withdrew when Khartoum requested that peacekeepers from the joint United Nations/African Union mission, or UNAMID, leave the area and threatened to level the town. Afterward, JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim met in the Chadian capital N’Djamena with a senior UNAMID official and stated that the JEM is “willing to establish a working relationship with UNAMID for the protection of civilians.”3

The JEM’s gesture toward UNAMID, a recent JEM visit to the United States (at the invitation of the outgoing Bush administration), and its decision to participate in “talks about talks” in Qatar suggest a broad effort to present itself as a credible political actor. However, the JEM continues to warn of greater military action down the road, including another attack on Khartoum if Bashir’s indictment leads to “chaos.”4 Although government forces routed the rebels when they attacked the Khartoum suburb of Omdurman last May, the JEM could seek to rally support for a new offensive meant to remove a president charged with war crimes from power. Provoking a heavy-handed response from the Sudanese government could also be a way to force external actors—particularly the United States—to increase pressure on the regime and potentially take military action to protect civilians against wholesale casualties. Generating a threat of force from the international community to buttress one’s own strength is nothing new: The Kosovo Liberation Army used this tactic to great effect during the run-up to NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement

The SPLM is largely in reactive mode, and senior officials within the party disagree on the possible effect of the arrest warrant. Salva Kiir, the president of the Government of Southern Sudan and Sudan’s first vice president in the national unity government, is deeply concerned that Bashir’s indictment signals the end of the CPA. Other SPLM officials are optimistic that second Vice President Ali Osman Taha will remove Bashir and recommit the NCP to CPA implementation. Taha’s influence has diminished since the death of SPLM leader John Garang, and the NCP has sought to undermine CPA implementation. Yet many within the SPLM believe that Taha understands the importance of the CPA to the survival of his party, and that he will make some sacrifices—as he did while negotiating the CPA—to keep the deal on track. If Bashir were to step down, the new NCP leadership would have to work with the SPLM to reorganize the government of national unity, which an interim president would lead until elections and the formation of a new government.

Next steps for the Obama administration

Although no one can accurately predict how various actors in Sudan will respond to the warrant for Bashir, the international community, including the Obama administration can—through effective multilateral diplomacy, a willingness to call Bashir’s bluff, and practical steps to increase pressure on Khartoum in pursuit of a comprehensive peace deal that includes both Darfur and revitalized CPA implementation—make the pursuit of peace the most attractive option for the NCP and Darfur’s rebel groups. The Obama administration’s response to the immediate challenge posed by the warrant should take into account the calculations and possible scenarios discussed above, but it should also flow from answers to broader and more strategic questions: What is the end game? What is the overall strategic goal? And what level of force is the administration and its allies willing to use, if the Sudanese government chooses to escalate confrontation? Answering these big picture questions up front is fundamental since many of the tactical responses to the situation on the ground and arrest warrant could inexorably lead to a much higher stakes game.

A comprehensive policy approach to Sudan must include several components:

* Consistent high-level diplomacy: Given the scale and complexity of the crisis in Sudan, the president should appoint a special envoy to serve as the United States’ point person on Sudan policy and lead U.S. efforts to forge a multilateral coalition that supports more robust measures to help end the war in Darfur and ensure full implementation of the CPA. This envoy must have direct access to President Obama, and appropriate staff and resources, including authority over the State Department’s Sudan Programs Group. This envoy would need a dedicated team and sufficient resources to carry out his or her work.
* Firm messaging to the NCP: Messages should be conveyed to the key actors within the NCP both publicly and privately. In terms of public messages, the administration should make it clear that it fully supports justice and accountability for Darfur’s genocide, and will not tolerate any obstruction of aid efforts, deployment of UNAMID, or implementation of the CPA. There will be consequences for such actions that will directly affect the leadership of those entities party to the conflict. Behind-the-scenes, the United States must make clear that continued attacks on civilians or peacekeepers, the anticipated proxy coup attempt in Chad, or efforts to cut off humanitarian aid will be viewed as a major escalation of hostilities by Khartoum and will be treated as such by Washington and its allies. Any credible peace effort will demand an unconditional ceasefire and a peace deal in Darfur that includes accountability mechanisms broadly acceptable to Darfuri citizens, real movement on CPA implementation, and the demonstrable return of large numbers of Darfuri IDPs and refugees to a secure environment.
* Firm messaging to the rebels: The Obama administration should make clear to Darfur’s rebel groups that it and the international community will apply a common set of standards to all sides of the Darfur conflict. The U.S. envoy should make clear to JEM and others that the international community will hold rebels accountable for crimes against humanity and that attempts to provoke external intervention will be met with consequences.
* Contingency planning: The Obama administration must take steps to detach humanitarian and peacekeeping operations from dependence on Khartoum. Contingency plans should be established to reposition all non-life-saving personnel, and to provide life- saving programs in non-permissive environments. The United States should consider providing air assets and logistical support to facilitate these steps if needed, and Washington’s allies should consider similar measures. Too often, UNAMID has been left in the position of pleading with the Sudanese government and rebels not to be a target of attacks. UNAMID should be in a position to respond with decisive force to provocations from any side and to effectively protect civilians. Until it can meet those basic standards, it cannot be considered an effective peacekeeping mission.
* Clear consequences: The international community should establish clear consequences if Sudan fails to deliver Bashir to justice. These measures should include rapid escalation of targeted sanctions, an expanded arms embargo, imposition of an oil blockade on Port Sudan, and targeted airstrikes against air assets used by the regime for offensive military operations, with escalating strikes against military and government installations if there is continued intransigence. To that end, the Obama administration should task Pentagon and NATO planners with developing options for a multinational force to carry out the military options outlined above. Such a force could also temporarily buttress UNAMID by providing the robust command-and-control capabilities UNAMID currently lacks and badly needs.
* Direct diplomacy with the SPLM: Although more robust measures aimed at Khartoum carry risks to the CPA, the United States ought to reaffirm its commitment to southern self-determination and take advantage of the SPLM’s role in the national unity government to encourage more pragmatic elements within the NCP to step forward.
* Deeper engagement with China: The Obama administration should engage more deeply with the Chinese to make clear that the U.S. goal in Sudan is stability and lasting peace—goals which Beijing should also support and which the two countries could work together to secure. An American envoy should invite closer collaboration between the United States and China in support of Darfur peace and CPA implementation. Bashir is increasingly an obstacle to those goals and his behavior risks creating more danger and instability for the international community.

An historic choice

The situation in Darfur is changing daily, and it is impossible to predict what will occur in the immediate post-warrant period within the ranks of the NCP and among the key rebel factions. One thing, however, is certain: This is a moment of opportunity during which the United States has a crucially important choice to make. It can help lead the international community in the pursuit of a credible and strategic approach to peace and justice, or it can let the situation worsen absent serious pressure from outside actors. Now is the time for the Obama administration to follow through on its promises to end the crisis in Darfur and lead international efforts toward a peaceful future in Sudan.

Endnotes

1 Article 16 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides that “[n]o investigation or prosecution may be commenced or proceeded with under this Statute for a period of 12 months after the Security Council, in a resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, has requested the Court to that effect; that request may be renewed by the Council under the same conditions.” The Sudanese government so far has failed in getting Security Council support for a 12-month suspension of the investigation, in large part because of the dismal situation on the ground in Darfur and the government’s lack of seriousness in addressing the peace process.
2 See Enough’s strategy paper by John Norris, John Prendergast, and David Sullivan, “The Merits of Justice” (July 2008).
3 See ReliefWeb, “UNAMID JSR Adada meets with JEM Chairman in N’Djamena, Chad,” February 5, 2009.
4 See “Darfur JEM claims free reign in the region, warns government,” Sudan Tribune, January 31, 2009

OUT OF EXILE: Narratives From the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan


Thursday, January 29, 2009


[Click on photograph to view audio slideshow.]

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to the deadliest war in the world today. An estimated 5.4 million people have died since 1998, the largest death toll since the Second World War, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

IRC reports that as many as 45,000 people die each month in the Congo. Most deaths are due to easily preventable and curable conditions, such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, and neonatal problems and are byproducts of a collapsed healthcare system and a devastated economy.

The people living in the mining towns of eastern Congo are among the worst off. Militia groups and government forces battle on a daily basis for control of the mineral-rich areas where they can exploit gold, coltan, cassiterite and diamonds.

After successive waves of fighting and ten years of war, there are no hospitals, few roads and limited NGO and UN presence because it is too dangerous to work in many of these regions. The West's desire for minerals and gems has contributed to a fundamental breakdown in the social structure.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

ACTIVIST BRIEF: President Obama's Immediate Sudan Challenge

by John Prendergast, John Norris, and Jerry Fowler

Jan 22, 2009
The ENOUGH Project

Within the first month of the President Obama’s administration, the International Criminal Court, or ICC, is expected to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir. If the warrant is issued, President Bashir has threatened to cut off humanitarian aid and escalate the conflict. The possibility of a further deterioration of the situation on the ground represents an immediate challenge for the Obama administration. How the United States responds to Bashir’s threats will factor greatly into what the Sudanese regime actually does in response to the ICC action and will also help shape what the international community is prepared to do. President Obama’s response must be firm in addressing this immediate threat, but should not lose sight of the larger strategic goals that ought to be at the center of a new administration’s policy: an unyielding focus on brokering a peace deal for Darfur and the implementation of the existing Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, the 2005 agreement to end the 22-year war between northern and southern Sudan.

FOCUSING ON THE LONG TERM SOLUTION

While immediate attention must be paid to the potential negative impact of the ICC arrest warrant, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice must also establish and implement a holistic strategy to bring long-lasting peace to Sudan. Focusing on an all-Sudan solution and ensuring that U.S. policy shifts from managing Sudan’s conflict to ending it will be important in framing the overall strategy approach.

The United States must take leadership in launching an international “peace surge” for Sudan. Leverage for bringing peace to Sudan can come from the following actions:

* Supporting for the ICC’s investigation into crimes against humanity
* Enhancing international efforts to isolate the regime economically
* Expanding the arms embargo
* Making the joint United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force more effective
* Enforcing the U.N. ban on offensive military flights over Darfur

Members of the Obama administration have spoken passionately about their intention to act boldly to end the crisis in Darfur and promote international efforts toward a peaceful future in Sudan. Now they will have the chance to do so at a crucial juncture in Sudan’s history.

TAKE ACTION: Call the White House today by dialing 1-800-GENOCIDE (1-800- 436-6243). Tell President Obama to appoint a special envoy as a first step in addressing the crisis in Sudan.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Darfur from Day One: Fax Obama!


Day 1 - January 20

Fax the Obama administration on Day 1, and let them know what you expect them to do in terms of Darfur. Remind them of the promises they have made. Make sure that on Day 1, President Obama and Secretary Clinton realize this is a priority for the American people.

1. Go to http://faxzero.com/
2. Fill out the information in the "Sender" and "Receiver" information fields.
* Sender Name: your name
* Sender Company: STAND: a Student Anti-Genocide Coalition
* Sender Fax #: 202-682-9258
* Sender Email: your email
* Receiver Name: President Obama
* Receiver Company: The White House
* Receiver Fax #: 202-456-2461
3. Download the page that we're faxing in, save it, and then attach it in the "Fax Information" box
4. You will be prompted for a confirmation code in the "Fax Information" box
5. Click on "Send Free Fax Now" on the bottom left
6. You will be sent an email form FaxZero.com with a link. You need to click on this link in order to send the fax.