The Darfur Genocide
“Call it civil war; call it ethnic cleansing; call it genocide; call it none of the above. The reality is the same. There are people in Darfur who desperately need
the help of the international community.”
In the 1940s, when the Holocaust raged, the need for defining the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group appeared. In this matter, the Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide”. As Lemkin notes, the term described an “old practice in its modern development”. The observation made by the Polish lawyer, according to which historical patterns of violence recurred on the 20th century society and took a great toll on civilization crosses the border of centuries and distempers the international peace and security. From the slaughter of the Armenians, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and finally, the genocide in Darfur, the issue of humanitarian security grows in importance. As one shall see, the principle of protecting groups and minorities becomes of paramount importance to the 21st century international law.
The interest for genocide derives from the complexity of the phenomenon itself: it comprises, inter alia, diverse elements of history, philosophy and law. From my point of view, studying genocide is a challenge which will keep the researcher in a permanent state of alert, but which will never come to be fulfilled, inasmuch as, I consider, one might discover what, when, how, where it happened and who were the perpetrators and the perpetrated, but one shall never be able to fully understand the mental factor which stands at the basis of the urge for destroying the human being. Another reason for which the study of the phenomenon of genocide is that it has a major relevance to political science in what concerns the identity issues of societies in a certain period of time.
The state directed mass violence can be prevented in the future if it will not remain shadowed by ignorance. The role of the genocide studies over the prediction and prevention of genocide is truly a concerning issue, since genocide reports and investigations generally appear ex-post facto. As it has been already noted, emphasis should be put on immediate intervention and prevention when there exist suspicions of genocide. Arguing over if it was or was not a genocide, as in the case of Darfur, Sudan, is nothing more than cynicism. While scholars, diplomats, jurists and members of authorized international organizations were caught in the dilemma of declaring or not the existence of genocide in Darfur, hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, communities destroyed and the poor economy of the region wrecked. In this respect, this research aims at proving that, while afraid of not breaking the principle of sovereignty of an authoritarian state, the international community tacitly approved and assisted the modern breaking of the human being in Darfur.
The genocide domain of the research shall be framed in a general theory of genocide, through a collection of specific studies which, wishfully, are objectively and, at the same time, carefully selected to be relevant for the topic. In this respect, the work of Raphael Lemkin represents a major support, mainly his 1994 book, “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe”. As in the case of any other genocide study, I believe, the contribution of Lemkin’s innovation is of the greatest significance since the ethnic motive he introduced in the analysis of mass violence is the most important and relevant in the study of the genocide in Darfur. As in accordance with Lemkin’s theory, the analysis of genocide is rather complex, comprising political, cultural, economical, social and philosophical issues. Even though Raphael Lemkin’s studies were based on the German World War II case, the research enacts a comparative approach with the Sudanese case, by courtesy of the most approachable characteristic of genocide: it follows a certain pattern.
Further on, for issues related to the theory of genocide, the works of Dan Stone (The Historiography of Genocide), Colin Tatz (With intent to destroy: Reflection on Genocide) and Edward Day and Margaret Vandivier (Criminology and Genocide Studies: Notes on what might have been and what still could be) were used as theoretical resources.
Despite the fact that opinions are different in what concerns the integration of the atrocities in Darfur in a certain category of crime, this research takes the side of one of the versions. Thence, the hypothesis of this research is that the Government of Sudan, under the control of President Omar Al Bashir, has sustained an authoritarian regime and has infringed the international conventions and treaties related to humanitarian and criminal law. Also, the crimes against the people of Darfur amounted to a very serious level. Deriving from these assumptions, the research question refers to whether Darfur experienced a genocide or not. In order to determine this, the events in Darfur are examined through the lens of genocide, using a legal framework basically designed with the use of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and of the International Court of Justice Statute. With the aid of these documents, which provide all the necessary information in what concerns the characteristics of genocide, the research finally argues that Darfur truly experienced a genocide.
In support of this idea, information were gathered from the works of Gerard Prunier (Darfur, a 21st Century Genocide), Dale C. Tatum (Genocide at the Dawn of the 21st Century), and Samuel Totten and Erik Markusen (Genocide in Darfur. Investigating the Atrocities in Sudan). In completion of the analytical perspective designed by these scholars, direct sources, such as reports and investigations of the UNICEF, United Nations and the African Union, video documentaries containing eye-witness testimonies as well as Human Rights Watch Organization’s reports have been used. A different chapter is dedicated to the statute of Sudan in the international law. A series of legal documents, treaties and conventions to which Sudan has adhered are analyzed (such as the Hague Regulations of 1907, the four Geneva Convention of 1949, the Rome Statute, the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1965, The Protocol II Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1990 ), in order to stress out how this state has violated its international legal obligations. At the same time, the purpose of this special chapter is to underline the lack of utility of labeling crimes and internationally contradicting about this matter, without any practical involvement in stopping them. Surely an effective intervention would be of a greater use to the civilians than regulations that are however infringed.
In creating the conceptual framework of this research, chapters are organized in such a manner that the State of Sudan would be generally understood, beginning with its historical background and continuing with the specific events which are examined from the perspective of genocide studies and, further on, their integration in the international legal cadre.
A special chapter is dedicated to the evaluation of the atrocities in Darfur at a global level. In this respect, the perspective of the universal passive bystander is summarily discussed, in order to comprehend the grounds on which the international community tacitly approves violations of international law. Further on, a perspective on the international media involvement in the conflict is offered and finally, the relationship between the International Criminal Court and Darfur, completing in this manner the international framework for discussing Darfur.
The type of study approached is a mixed one, belonging both to the descriptive area (by the use of primary sources, such as legal documents, conventions, treaties, official reports etc.) and also to the secondary type (using systematic accounts and secondary sources).
It was believed that the genocidal atrocities experienced during World War II were never to be met again. Yet, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda and Darfur, for instance, cruelty and extermination based on ethnic and national reasons happened.
The choice for this research derives from the belief that ceaseslessly raising awareness about the genocidal actions in Darfur starting in 2003 would lead to preventing similar events from happening.
The Darfur governmental violence on its civilians is little known of, although it represents one of the most recent events with genocidal characteristics. With an estimated number of over 400, 000 dead and approximately 2.7 million refugees, the Darfur genocide is one of the cases which prove the failure of modern international political organizations in preventing political violence, and moreover, their non-interventionism when the latter did take place. The lack of force and other reasons for which the world’s political super-powers took no action and quietly assisted to the mass killing, enslavement, raping and dislocation of innocent civilians remain debatable. Both European and Arab nations have doomed the fate of the Sudanese state by means of colonization, through enslavement and creation of society gaps by ethnic labeling (during the British Empire’s occupation of Sudan the differentiation between black Africans and Arabs was made, the colonizers considering the first to be despicable and the latter superior and educated).
Starting from the assumption that the actions of the governmental perpetrators fulfill the requirements necessary in order to be defined as a genocide, the here-by paper shall try to design a general framework of the events. It comprises a short historical background for a better understanding of the origins of the conflict, its apogee, and references to the international provisions related to the prevention of genocides.
The final purpose of this paper shall be the abolishment of doubts in what concerns the existence of genocide in Darfur. Nevertheless, future researches are in need in order to determine the causes for the lack of international response and humanitarian aid for Darfur, considering the fact that human rights organizations, NGOs and international criminal law are working at a high level of quantity and quality.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Historical background of Darfur 9
Summit of the violence 13
Proofs of genocide 20
Darfur and international law 26
Darfur and the international arena 34
V.1. The perpetrated-bystander relationship
V.2. The reflection of the Darfur atrocities in international media
V.3. Darfur and the International Criminal Court
Concluding remarks and outlook 44