Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Opposing sides agree there is much to be done in Darfur

“Peace process and protection” were the words uttered repeatedly during today’s “What to do about Darfur” forum hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, GI-Net and ENOUGH!. Awke Amosu moderated the debate between African issues specialists John Prendergast and Alex de Waal.

Prendergast and de Waal share similar backgrounds, both having authored several books, participated in peace negotiations and both boasting extensive participation in and knowledge of African politics. However, the two have different ideas about the correct course of action to be taken in Darfur.

According to Prendergast, the solution to Darfur lies in peacemaking among all involved parties, protection for the most vulnerable populations and punishment for those responsible for the majority of the violence. A transparent, multilateral peacekeeping mission must be launched with legitimate international backing, both politically and militarily. Finally, Prendergast stressed that the key ingredient that is missing from the negotiating table is leverage, which must be generated by key investors such as France, China and the United States.

De Wall also stressed the importance of a comprehensive peace agreement throughout his argument, but was more concerned with addressing the underlying problems behind the conflict in Darfur. A dysfunctional government and growing disparity among the people of Sudan are key issues behind understanding the conflict and they must be addressed if the conflict is to be solved, he said. Lastly, de Wall said that a genuine peace agreement must be reached before protection through military force can begin.

Despite their differences throughout the debate, both emphasized the importance of international involvement in the peace making and peace keeping process. Prendergast and de Wall also agreed that there is a dire need for a comprehensive peace agreement that addresses Sudan as a whole, not just the situation in Darfur.



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