It is important to outline that the Darfur conflict is a conflict that has been going on for several decades. The causes of the conflict are complex and can’t be attributed to a single government or ethnicity.
Tribes in the Darfur region have been engaged in an ongoing conflict for centuries. The identity of the war is neither ideological nor religious; it is primarily an ethnic conflict. It is the most difficult to deal with because it involves culture, parentage, race and many other factors too difficult or even impossible to change.
Therefore, acknowledging the difficult situation Darfur is going through, we can have a much clearer perspective of what is going on, and most important, if there a viable solution for the problem… is military intervention a legitimate and efficient tool to end or at least ameliorate this tragedy?
Ethnic wars can only end in three ways: complete victory on one side; temporary suppression of the conflict by third party military occupation; or by self-governance of separate communities.
Should the eyes of the international community stare while they witness another potential Rwanda? Richard Falk states in the essay The Responsibility to Protect: “Genocidal behavior [or crimes against humanity] cannot be shielded by claims of sovereignty, but neither can these claims be overridden by unauthorized uses of force, delivered in an excessive and inappropriate manner.”
The military intervention that we are in favor of is an intervention that is both legitimate and legal. Legitimate in the sense that it is done with strict humanitarian objectives, legal in the sense that the Security Council has ratified the intervention, in compliance of the Geneva Conventions. The UN previously issued the Resolution 1706 in respect of the deployment of troops in the conflict. It was passed under Chapter VII authority, acknowledging the urgent need of troops to stop the ongoing humanitarian crisis, described by some as the worst ever.
Under the UN Security Council Resolution 1674 passed on April 2006, countries accepted unanimously the “responsibility to protect” any civilians that were under the threat or are suffering from genocide or crimes against humanity. The international community can clearly see that there are victims.
Right now they are 7,000 African Union troops in Darfur, which is the size of France. It is obvious that despite the efforts of the AU, it has been unable to make some significant positive impact. During the weekend, the government of Sudan, led by President Bashir, has backed the entrance of 19,000 soldiers of a UN-AU coalition. The nations of the Security Council, including China (which is an economic ally for Sudan) have approved this plan. If it were an anti-Sudan action, without a doubt China would veto any resolution. The president has finally permitted the military intervention, both legitimate and legal.
To try to compare this with another Iraq or Afghanistan is wrong. The territorial integrity and sovereignty will be fully respected. No one is trying to overthrow the actual Sudanese government, whether there is evidence or not that they have supported the Janjaweed in the conflict.
Oil? There is no scientific proof that there is oil in Darfur, it is a very poor region resource-wise. The oil concessions are already owned by China and France. so it is a weak argument to suppose any economic interest from part of the West. There might be other minerals, but the sovereignty at all times will be respected. No one has ever even proposed a partition between Darfur and Sudan. Darfur will remain Sudanese, that’s out of question.
Humanitarian Aid? Should the international community avoid a military intervention and strive for humanitarian aid only? The presence of humanitarian organizations is simply not enough. Recently Oxfam pulled out its operation and support in Darfur because of the ongoing violence against its workers.
More aid could become a fuel for the rebels. Humanitarian aid expert, Professor Sarah Kenyon Lischer told in 2005 that: “Recently, the World Food Program has had over a dozen of its trucks hijacked. And the aid that was on those trucks has been stolen. The trucks reportedly have been repainted and used for military purposes by rebels. And so that’s just a very obvious way that aid can be used for war”. The humanitarian aid system is collapsing and exposed to constant threat.
Diplomacy? The UN has made several attempts to deal with the problem. The international community made tremendous pressure over Sudan. The international community demanded the Sudan government to deal with the humanitarian crisis. A Cease-Fire agreement was signed earlier this year between rebels and the government. It quickly dissolved.
Ask the 2.4 million people displaced for the conflict? What are they claiming? Protection and food! What are the NGO’s asking for? Protection! Has the African Union been able to provide any protection at all? No! Has the government of Sudan provided any protection or support at all? Not at all!
Our team firmly believes that legit and legal military intervention is the only way to stop this tragedy from getting worse. By no other possible means can this crisis be solved. There’s no need of another example in a Human Rights book of how the international system failed to stop a humanitarian crisis. There’s still time left.