ConservativeHome was at London’s rally for Darfur this morning to hear
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell
win the loudest applause.  Mr Mitchell, who has twice written about
Darfur for ConservativeHome (here and here), called for prosecution of the Sudanese politicians responsible for the massacre of more than 200,000 people in Darfur.

Using his Blackberry for his text Mr Mitchell read a message of solidarity from Tory leader David Cameron:

“No one should be in any doubt that Darfur is now an extreme international emergency. The hopes raised by the Peace Agreement earlier in the year have been cruelly dashed.

“Instead, the situation has steadily deteriorated. Tens of thousands more people have been driven from their homes by the fighting. The numbers at risk are huge – two million people displaced, three million dependent on food aid. And yet many aid workers have been forced to leave. Violence and rape against displaced people has increased. The Sudanese armed forces are apparently massing in the area. Renewed genocide appears imminent.

“Today’s Global Day for Darfur will focus the attention of the whole world on the suffering there. Darfur must stay right at the top of the international agenda in the days and weeks ahead.

“Britain must now work urgently with the rest of the international community to put unprecedented pressure on Sudan to permit the UN Force to deploy in Darfur. The AU Force must remain in place until it arrives. We should insist that the existing No Fly Zone be rigorously enforced. The International Criminal Court investigation into ethnic cleansing in Darfur needs to be given all the support necessary to carry out its mandate.  We must make clear that the Sudanese leaders will be held personally and collectively responsible before the International Criminal Court for crimes that are committed.

“Today, the people Darfur have the world’s support. But what they need most is urgent and resolute international action – action, at this eleventh hour, to save their lives and prevent catastrophe.”

Mr Cameron has been slow to take a lead on Darfur but this ‘eleventh hour’ intervention is welcome.

I left the rally with little hope that the people of Darfur would get the kind of intervention that the world also failed to give to Rwanda.  Three factors cause my pessimism:

  1. The reliance on the UN for action when the UN only acts as fast as the slowest member of the Security Council;
  2. The unreasonable veto of China because of its oil interests in Sudan and its determination to pursue what Andrew Mitchell calls a commodity-driven foreign policy;
  3. The exhaustion of the USA in Afghanistan and Iraq and the lack of political will in Washington for any further military deployment (particularly in a Muslim theatre).

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