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Two Days After ICC Genocide Warrant, Aid Workers Expelled from Darfur

The last time the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, in March 2009, Khartoum responded in kind by expelling several aid workers and organizations from Darfur. The expulsion of aid agencies back then had a profoundly deleterious effect on the humanitarian situation in Darfur, in particular for the provision of health services to victims of sexual assault.

Is history repeating?

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What Changes with the Bashir Genocide Warrant and What Stays the Same

The International Criminal Court yesterday issued an arrest warrant for the crime of genocide for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.  Now, you might be asking yourself: "wasn't he already under indictment." The answer is yes. But when the prosecutor applied for an arrest warrant in spring 2009, the judges did not sign the warrant for "genocide"--only for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  At the time, the judges ruled there to be insufficient evidence to support a genocide charge.  An appellate chamber reversed that ruling.

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In Praise of the Save Darfur Movement

Laura Rozen reports that the Save Darfur Coalition president Jerry Fowler is stepping down.  At the end, she quotes something I wrote a few months ago about what I believe to be some of the strengths and limitations of the Save Darfur movement.  Here's  what I wrote:

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Were the promises on Darfur for real?

So ask John Prendergast and David Eggers. 

Now that Obama, Biden and Clinton are in office, and another fierce anti-genocide advocate, Susan Rice, is in as ambassador to the United Nations, we felt there finally would be a consequence for the perpetrators of the genocide, the regime officials in Khartoum, Sudan.

But rather than the kind of tough actions the these top officials had all advocated in their previous jobs and on the campaign trail, President Obama's Sudan envoy instead began to articulate a friendly, incentives-first message that even Sudan's president, an indicted war criminal, publicly welcomed. Our chins hit the floor in disbelief, because our chins had nowhere else to go.

That op-ed, plus this piece by Randy Newcomb in Foreign Policy and this new campaign from Humanity United all point to a deep frustration and dissapointment felt by Darfur advocates.  Their angst is understandable. Even though a number of the anti-genocide movement's top luminaries hold positions of influence in the Obama administration, Sudan policy seems hopelessly stuck. 

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New Sudan activist ad campaign

A coalition of Sudan/Darfur activist groups launched a new effort today they are calling Sudan Now. The timing is noteworthy. Since January, the administration has been unable to complete a Sudan policy review, something the president initially said would be concluded in the first 60 days.  Some in the administration, like Sudan Special Envoy Scott Gration,  believe that striking a more conciliatory tone with the Sudanese government will help secure cooperation on Darfur and on implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accord with the south.  Activists, and a number of other administration officials,  think this is a wrongheaded approach; they argue that absent significant pressure on the government of Sudan, securing Khartoum's cooperation is unrealistic. This basic strategic question is as of yet unresolved. 

Enter Sudan Now.  From the release:

With the U.S. administration planning to release its major policy review on Sudan any day, Sudan Now calls on President Obama to:

1. Lead a more effective and urgent peace process for Darfur;
2. Build an international coalition for strict implementation of the North-South peace deal; and
3. Implement a policy that creates real consequences for those in Sudan who continue to attack civilians, block life-saving aid, undermine peace, and obstruct justice.

As you can see from the ads, the group intends to use the Obama administration's own words to show support for their preferred policy option. Ads like this one are appearing in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, a number of blogs and websites and for good measure, the Martha's Vineyard Times and the Vineyard Gazette