Candidate positions on genocide

With the primary season in full swing, I thought it might be helpful to revisit the various candidates and see what they have to say about Darfur, genocide, and Africa.





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Giuliani has said the United States should focus its policy toward Africa on increases in trade. “U.S. government aid is important, but aid not linked to reform perpetuates bad policies and poverty,” he wrote in a September 2007 Foreign Affairs article. In that article, Giuliani also said the next president “should continue the Bush administration’s effort to help Africa overcome AIDS and malaria.”

In May 2007, Giuliani was informed that he held between $500,000 and $1 million in investments in companies that work in Sudan. His campaign spokesperson did not say whether he would be divesting (AP) from those companies.

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Huckabee has not made many public statements relating to U.S. policy toward Africa. His stance on U.S.action in Darfur is unknown. He has said foreign aid (Time) “should be limited to purely humanitarian efforts.”

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Romney’s positions on policy issues toward African countries are not well known. In a July 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Romney praised U2 singer Bono and other activists for their efforts to raise awareness of poverty in Africa and elsewhere. Romney said U.S. efforts to bolster the standing of moderate Muslims abroad by combating poverty and underdevelopment should be focused in Africa as well as the Middle East.

The Los Angeles Times reported on August 14, 2007, that Romney has investments in an oil company tied to the Sudanese government, which is accused of being partially responsible for the massacres in Darfur. Romney’s campaign spokesman told the Times that Romney’s attorney controls his investments and that he “had no influence over how his investments were handled.” His spokesman did not say whether Romney would divest these funds.

All position statements were drawn from the Council on Foreign Relations.

Peace on the decline

The Uppsala Conflict Data Program at the Uppsala University Department of Peace and Conflict Research is reporting that the number of violent conflicts has seen a rise in recent years as peace initiatives are falling off. The Center’s largest number of registered conflicts took place during the 1990’s, but a steady decline began to take place thereafter and continued until 2002. Since then, the number of active conflicts has been holding steady around thirty.

“This is of course a cause of concern. Today’s ongoing conflicts are extremely protracted,” comment researchers Professor Peter Walensteen and Lotta Harbom. “This indicates that the successful negotiation efforts of the 1990s are no longer being carried out with the same force or effectiveness.”

Today’s conflicts appear to be intractable and drawn-out, and the researchers believe that the 1990s peace strategies need to be improved in order to achieve results. At the same time, there are encouraging trends. Conflicts between different groups and peoples, with no involvement of the state, are decreasing in the number of both conflicts and fatalities.

“This type of conflict often arises in the wake of civil war, but they seem to be easier to bring to an end,” says Joakim Kreutz at the Uppsala Conflict Data Program.

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest problems in recent years is the lack of negotiations in the war torn Middle East. Even as the United States takes measures to physically curtail violence, there have been few visible signs that any of the parties in question are being addressed in a meaningful way.

The Middle East is the region in which peace initiatives are most clearly conspicuous in their absence. The central importance of the region for the world’s oil supply and for world religions makes this serious. The conference in Annapolis in lat November 2007 was the first attempt since 2001 to bring the parties together. They even found it difficult to agree on the declaration that started the negotiations, notes Peter Wallensteen.

“This is a worrisome sign. At the same time, we have to welcome all attempts to bring peace to this area. It has been more than 60 years since the UN General Assembly adopted a plan for Palestine. It must be adapted to today’s reality and implemented.”

During the year other regional conflict complexes have emerged and worsened. The crisis in the Sudanese region Darfur is now spreading to the surrounding countries, such as Chad and the Central African Republic.

“These developments have prompted neighboring countries to take certain peace initiatives,” states Lotta Harbom. “The international mediators in the Darfur conflict, including Jan Eliasson, who is also a visiting professor at Uppsala University, are working to arrange negotiations among the parties. But thus far they have had no success.”

It’s likely that many of these conflicts will continue to linger until the United Nations (and others) decide to press en masse. The larger peace deals in the 20th Century were accomplished through multi-national pressure, persuasion, and promising that we’ve seen little of in the last ten to fifteen years.

Genocide should have priority

“We must agree, at a continental level to start with, on the menu for action in case of the threat of genocide. What non coercive measures to take, the threshold for intervention, and the operational principles in the case of intervention in advancement of human security. We must determine that genocide is a threat to our collective security, and give it the priority it deserves in our institutional security architecture at national, regional and continental level. We must move it from the margins of the security agenda to the centre, and mobilize the requisite resources for it.”

— President Paul Kagame’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Ambassador Richard Sezibera, speaking at a five day workshop for the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa.

UN/AU general fingered for Rwandan genocide

The general who is slated to lead the joint UN/AU peacekeeping forces in Sudan has recently come under scrutiny for his alleged involvement in the Rwandan genocide. General Karenzi Karake was approved by the African Union to become the deputy commander of the African forces.

A Belgium-based Rwandan exile group has accused General Karake of supervising the killings of civilians during the genocide in Rwanda and the DR Congo.

“We are taking the allegations very seriously and we have invited the groups to forward them so that we can do an independent background check,” Mr Sorokobi told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

Rwanda’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed the claims as a mere fabrication and an attempt to tarnish Rwanda’s image.

“Major-General Karake is a well-trained and experienced senior officer who has ably served in various senior command staff roles in the Rwanda Defence Forces and rightly deserves the post,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the government of Khartoum is claiming that this is a smear campaign to give the participating members of the African Union a black eye. According to a spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, Karake has yet to be placed under contract with the peacekeeping forces.

Push to confront malaria

According to an article that recently appeared in the Washington Times, the White House has declared war against malaria, calling it “a genocide on Africans.” With a toll that ranges towards one million each year, it has become the leading cause of death for children under five in the region.

In December, Mr. Bush held the first White House Summit on Malaria, where he brought together all the groups to come up with a strategy to fight the disease. On April 25, the United States marked the first Malaria Awareness Day — a day already acknowledged each year by African countries.

As an activist, I’m certainly pleased to see our current Administration doing something about egregious illnesses in other parts of the world. I do, however, wonder why they insist on using the term genocide to promote their efforts, when they’ve clearly shown how allergic they are to dealing with actual genocides.