Wanna hobnob with George Clooney this weekend?

Then come join the crowds at the Save Darfur Coalition’s “Rally to Stop Genocide” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., this Sunday, April 30. Other luminaries appearing at the event include Senator Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, rap impresario Russell Simmons, and Paul Rusesabagina (whose story was depicted in the superb film Hotel Rwanda, which you should rush out and rent tonight if you haven’t seen it yet). The Save Darfur Coalition brings together more than 160 faith-based, human rights, and humanitarian organizations, and the list of speakers at Sunday’s event reflects the incredibly diverse, grass roots nature of this effort. Here’s the blurb from the Coalition’s website:

“The rally is part of the “Million Voices for Darfur” campaign to generate one million postcards for delivery to President Bush, who recently pledged to push for additional UN and NATO help to protect the people of Darfur. We applaud the President’s leadership, but the work is far from done. We are urging President Bush to take steps necessary to end the genocide and build a lasting peace.”

Organizers estimate that around 20,000 people will attend the rally in DC, with smaller rallies to be held in cities around the country. Even if the crowds defy expectations and number in the hundreds of thousands, they will be dwarfed by the figures coming out of Sudan itself: According to the Coalition website, in just three years, 400,000 people have died and nearly 2.5 million have been displaced.

How many political issues out there can unite Barack Obama and Sam Brownback in common cause? Kudos to both Senators, and to the many other politicians, celebrities, and ordinary folk who have put compassion and principle above partisan bickering, in an attempt to shake us all out of our apathy.

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3 Responses

  1. geoff manne says:

    It’s a nice idea, but the UN is, in this (as in much else, unfortunately), pretty useless. Of course NATO intervention is also contentious. My friend Seth Weinberger at the Security Dilemmas blog has been beating the drum for a while now. His latest is here:

    To what I can only hope is no one’s surprise, Sudan today rejected a UN request to deploy a UN peacekeeping force into Darfur, where violence has claimed 100,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people over the last three years. The UN’s second highest-ranking official for peacekeeping, Hedi Annabi, announced the rejection today, and stated, according to the Washington Post that “Sudan’s opposition could doom U.N. peacekeeping plans. [Annabi] suggested the council look outside the United Nations for troops if it decides to intervene in Darfur without an invitation from the government.”

    This last statement from Annabi is troublesome. Not the sentiment itself, which I agree with, but the UN admitting it. As I have blogged about numerous time, including here, the UN is, as demonstrated in this case, hamstrung in its desire to prevent crimes against humanity by its commitment to sovereignty. The UN was willing to wink at NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, but was displeased by the US invasion of Iraq; but you can’t have it both ways. Either states can take the law into their own hands or they can’t. If the UN continues to sanction interventions outside of the framework of international law, then it can’t be upset if that power gets used for policies with which the UN disagrees.

    So now the question is: Where to go from here? Will the UN and the New York Times really be supportive when and if (and it is a big if) the US and/or NATO decides to violate international law and Sudan’s sovereignty by intervening in Darfur? Annabi argued that “such a mission is better undertaken by means other than a U.N. operation.” President Bush has already secured NATO approval to attach observers to the in-place African Union peacekeepers (there’s an article in last month’s Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists about the AU mission, claiming that it is effective, but ultimately too small), but it will take more than observers to stop the slaughter and crimes. Let’s hope that the US continues to ignore international law and does what is right and just.

  2. geoff manne says:

    It’s a nice idea, but the UN has pretty clearly revealed itself to be useless in this, NATO’s involvement is contentious, and I bet Clooney, et al. don’t really advocate unilateral US action. So what is to be done? My friend, Seth Weinberger, at Security Dilemmas has been beating this drum for a long time. His latest (with links to several other posts) is here. Here’s a taste from an earlier post:

    This last statement from Annabi is troublesome. Not the sentiment itself, which I agree with, but the UN admitting it. As I have blogged about numerous time, including here, the UN is, as demonstrated in this case, hamstrung in its desire to prevent crimes against humanity by its commitment to sovereignty. The UN was willing to wink at NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, but was displeased by the US invasion of Iraq; but you can’t have it both ways. Either states can take the law into their own hands or they can’t. If the UN continues to sanction interventions outside of the framework of international law, then it can’t be upset if that power gets used for policies with which the UN disagrees.

    So now the question is: Where to go from here? Will the UN and the New York Times really be supportive when and if (and it is a big if) the US and/or NATO decides to violate international law and Sudan’s sovereignty by intervening in Darfur? Annabi argued that “such a mission is better undertaken by means other than a U.N. operation.” President Bush has already secured NATO approval to attach observers to the in-place African Union peacekeepers (there’s an article in last month’s Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists about the AU mission, claiming that it is effective, but ultimately too small), but it will take more than observers to stop the slaughter and crimes. Let’s hope that the US continues to ignore international law and does what is right and just.

  3. wait a minute – so it’s OK to sometime act unilaterally as a nation WITHOUT first building an international coaltion and receiving the blessings of the UN? and if we go in and don’t find WMDs, Clooney will be OK with that?