What The World is Saying About Darfur — Almost Nothing
NEW YORK –– After a week of speeches by heads of State at the General Assembly of the United Nations, only one third of the one hundred and forty-eight speakers mentioned the situation in Darfur.
“It’s striking that so few countries would comment on the mass slaughter that is going on in Darfur, and it is left to countries like Slovakia, Namibia, Liberia, Mauritius and Bulgaria to eloquently call out to the world about the crisis,” said Maureen Byrnes, Executive Director of Human Rights First.
As of September 25, out of the 148 heads of State who spoke, only 55 mentioned Darfur in their speeches; and not all of those comments were supportive of international action to help quell the violence in the region. The record on heads of State referring to the principle of the Responsibility to Protect is even more meager despite U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s address to the General Assembly on September 17. “[T]his Assembly, meeting a year ago at the highest level, has solemnly proclaimed the responsibility – of each individual State in the first instance, but ultimately of the whole international community, acting through the United Nations – to “protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,” said Secretary-General Annan.
Only 13 heads of State mentioned Responsibility to Protect in their speech, despite the over 170 countries who endorsed the principle a year ago.
Secretary-General Annan cited the Darfur crisis as the most pressing test of the international community’s commitment to protect civilian populations. “Sadly, once again the biggest challenge comes from Africa – from Darfur, where the continued spectacle of men, women and children driven from their homes by murder, rape and the burning of their villages makes a mockery of our claim, as an international community, to shield people from the worst abuses.”
This table shows the states whose leaders have mentioned Darfur or the Responsibility to Protect in their General Assembly addresses, as of September 25. For the most up-to-date chart go to: http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/international_justice/darfur/