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What's next in Darfur?

Posted by Christopher Shea  July 22, 2008 11:49 AM

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If you want a primer on what's going on in Sudan, now that the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al Bashir, there's no better place than this group blog, overseen by the Social Science Research Council.

In one recent entry, Harvard's Alex de Waal, a skeptic of the ICC's move, describes how the main Sudanese opposition party -- and, astonishingly, even some of the rebels in Darfur -- would prefer that the Sudanese justice system itself handle the charges of atrocities in Darfur. The recent indictment, he goes on to argue, has prompted a circle-the-wagons defense of Sudanese sovereignty, as well as a search for regional allies to help in this defense. (Rather strikingly, for regular readers of Nicholas Kristoff, de Waal rejects the term "genocide" vis a vis Darfur in favor of the somewhat Orwellian term "complex emergency," though he is the opposite of naive about the horrors of the conflict.) At the same time, other contributors to the blog, titled "Making Sense of Darfur," suggest the ICC's move represents a belated but important blow for justice.

To get a sense of what the debate must sound like in Sudan itself, there's this howl of protest from a Sudanese writer, who links the ICC's move to America's bombing of Hiroshima and to an American quest for oil and worldwide hegemony. Even though the main prosecutor is Argentinian.

(Oddly, given its goal of enlightening the non-specialist, the blog is awfully spare in helping the reader with abbreviations and acronyms. It helps to know, for example, that the CPA is Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement; the JEM is the Justice and Equality Movement, one of the Darfurian resistance groups; the NCP is the ruling National Congress Party; and so on. I found myself Googling madly; still, I learned more here in a few hours than in weeks of desultory newspaper-reading.)

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