If you haven’t looked at Mark’s thoughtful consideration on the place of the Darfur advocacy movement in today’s world of Sudan policymaking, read it now.
I largely agree with Mark’s analysis, but I’d offer a different possible conclusion: instead of the end of the “Save Darfur” community’s role, this may be a make-or-break moment for Darfur advocacy, or even for foreign policy advocacy writ large.
Most savvy Darfur advocates already know this, but the time for sloganeering and awareness raising is long past (and endured well past what should have been its expiration date). In some respects, the kind of misguided, generalist “stop genocide” tactics that one could find in early Save Darfur campaigns and that are so maligned by critics like Mahmoud Mamdani have affected the position we find ourselves in now, in which rhetoric that generates a lot of heat but no light can supplant directed action. This is not entirely the fault of vapid aims by advocacy organizations, to be sure; policymakers actually need little excuse to make noise instead of policy, and stopping genocide provides the perfect soundbite.
Darfur advocacy organizations for the most part adapted their tactics, targeting their energies and substantial constituencies toward specific aims, such as deployment of UN peacekeepers and the provision of long-needed helicopters. Some have had more, and some less, success (and in ways intended and unintended) than others, but the trickiest of them has always been the promotion of a robust peace accord.
This may be simply past the ability of advocacy organizations to effect, as Mark suggests, but it could also represent a stunning opportunity for transforming the nature of grassroots foreign policy campaigns. If the “Darfur movement” is successful in navigating the complicated and unsexy terrain of policymaking, then it will be a major victory for Darfur, for citizen activism, and for democracy.