Sudan is home to some of the worst human rights violations in the world today and, according to freedom house, it is one of the least free countries. Beginning in 2003, the people of the Darfur region were facing mass genocide. For further context, the Darfur region is in Western Sudan. In this region, the people are seen as lesser in terms of ethnicity and religion. While killing of any kind is grotesque, this genocide falls under an even more atrocious category. This is because the mass killings have been government sanctioned through the use of government funding of the Janjaweed Arabic Militia. The Janjaweed had been told to raid specific villages at specific times all the while being able to do whatever they please within those villages; their actions have included murder, rape, torture, and looting. While massacring the innocent people of Darfur, the Janjaweed would repeatedly chant a phrase translating to “kill the slaves.”
The international response to the conflict in Darfur has been minimal for how horrendous the acts committed were. The African Union (AU) tried to put in peace monitors; however, they were extremely ineffective. The United Nations (UN) also called for potential international intervention with little to no avail. Brian Steidle, a UN and military based investigative journalist, mentioned how only 4 of his more than 80 reports of what he witnessed were ever received by the international community. Regarding the U.S., it did declare it a genocide, but nothing was really done. In fact, when Steidle began releasing his findings to the public, he received calls from the State Department asking him to stop. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has investigated the Darfur genocide and found Omar al-Bashir guilty; however the warrants have not been enforced and he is not in ICC custody.
The sanctioning of a genocide by the government is something, many believe, would not be tolerated by the rest of the world. The senseless killing, raping, looting, and burning which took place in Darfur was horrendous and the (now former) government faced little-to-no repercussions. Not only was the government’s role largely overlooked, but the Janjaweed are still strong today. The fact that the rest of the world allowed this occur and still allows regional control by the Janjaweed is unacceptable.
The overall international response to the conflict in Darfur is disgraceful. It came to light and was an international focus, however nothing substantial enough was done. Everyone was saying that something needed to be done and that these kinds of human rights atrocities could not be allowed to continue, yet that is all it was – talk. Although the government responsible for the genocide is no longer in power, the Janjaweed and other various groups throughout the country remain prominent. With their prominence comes continued violence and the forcing of people into refugee camps in Eastern Chad. The international community did not do enough in the early 2000s and it is not doing enough now.
Many of the talks regarding what to do in Sudan have ended in the same way. Everyone agrees that there must be change, but nobody has been willing to truly take the steps necessary in bettering the lives of the Sudanese people. Minor projects with minimal funding will never be sufficient if Sudan is to become a country of peace. Calls for intervention, minimal peace monitors, and investigative journalists are all good; however, they are clearly not enough. The fact that nothing else has been done in Sudan is a clear sign that the international community feels as though it is a lost hope. In other words, many feel as though Sudan has reached the point of no return; a point of violence and corruption that is only reversible internally. This is not the case. Through global cooperation, the international community can work to reverse the damage done in Sudan and provide a humane and prosperous life for the Sudanese people.
Combating the ongoing issues in Sudan is no simple task. Despite the fact that previous efforts have been relatively minimal, they were still efforts and they all failed. It is beyond time for something meaningful to be done in Sudan. To start, the UN and AU could work together in providing protection for protesters today. Current day protesters in Sudan are often the victims of extreme violence by government forces. By allowing the people to have a voice (and feel safe using it), Sudan is likely to move in the right direction much faster regarding the implementation of a principled and respectable government.
Of course, giving people the opportunity to peacefully protest and attempt to re-establish the government is only one small piece of the puzzle. The violence brought to Darfur stems from three main ideas. The first is religious/ethnic hatred, or the identity theory of conflict. Another factor is the self-determination theory of conflict which claims that the people simply want their own free lives and land to cultivate. The government and Janjaweed use this as fuel for the genocide and continued violence. Finally, there is the scarcity theory of conflict. This theory uses the fact that Sudan is poor and does not have an abundance of resources to explain why the government contributed to the killing of countless innocent people.
These theories all point to deeply rooted issues within Sudanese society. The scarcity of resources is something that the UN could aid in. By increasing trade opportunities and agricultural aid to Sudan, the world can help diminish this ever-growing problem. Regarding the self-determination theory, one possible route to explore would be to utilize the Peace Corps and other similar organizations to rebuild villages destroyed by the Janjaweed. This would allow people to return to their homes from refugee camps and attempt to restart their lives on their own terms. The main concern here is that if they were to return, then so would the Janjaweed. Although the use of violence is to be condemned, the use of protective and military aid forces is sometimes necessary. The people of the Darfur region would need some form of assurance that they would be able to lead their own lives without being afraid of continued ethnic/religious cleansing. UN and AU peace forces have been used in the past, however these organizations sent in a very limited number. If this issue were to be more of a focus for the international community and more peace forces could be stationed in and around Darfur, the people would be able to return to their rebuilt homes. This combined with increased action, in the form of convictions and acting on said convictions, by the ICC could prove to be enough to keep the Janjaweed (and other actors) at bay.
Many people throughout the world believe that in order to solve its problems, Sudan must adopt a true Western democracy. While it is likely that a democracy, with free and fair elections, would be immensely helpful, it is important to understand that the Western world pushing this only increases hate. The white savior complex is one of the biggest factors contributing to the growing hatred in the region. The people of Darfur have stated in interviews that they love America and Western aid, giving the Janjaweed and other forces even more of a reason to put up resistance towards what people are working for. There must be a common understanding that the international community is there and is working to promote safety, peace, and equality by working with the people. The world cannot force anything onto Sudan, it can only offer support and guidance which is what must be done to bring peace to the country.