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Dithering over Darfur? A Preliminary Review of the International Response

Hugo Slim
International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-)
Vol. 80, No. 5 (Oct., 2004), pp. 811-828
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3569473
Page Count: 18
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Dithering over Darfur? A Preliminary Review of the International Response
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Abstract

The extreme violence against civilian communities in the Sudanese province of Darfur has coincided with the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. This article makes a preliminary assessment of the international response to Darfur to see how it compares to the denial and delay of ten years ago. The slow evolution of the international community's response is charted from early Chadian efforts at mediation in 2003, the eventual involvement of the UN Security Council in July 2004, the increasing role of the African Union and the US government's conclusion in September 2004 that the violence constitutes genocide. The international community has certainly been too slow and divided in its response in the face of competing political priorities. There were also significant misgivings about a US-led military intervention and considerable Sudanese intransigence and diplomatic skill. Nevertheless, there are important signs that key parts of the United Nations and the international community have worked with a definite post-Rwanda consciousness. Important developments have also been made in combining humanitarian and political negotiation while a committed African Union is now in a position to make a real difference. Although late to gather force, international political will and US leadership have been strong. But, like many tragedies before it, Darfur shows that political will is not enough. The choices facing even the most wilful politicians still remain intensely difficult and 'doing something' is not as easy as most NGO press releases imply.

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