Amnesty's Salil Shetty, at the Guardian, on the latest revelations about the use of chemical weapons in Darfur:
Chemical weapons have been banned for decades at the international level in recognition of the fact that the suffering they cause can never be justified. Credible evidence that Sudan’s government might now repeatedly be using them simply cannot be ignored.
More than a decade ago, the international criminal court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on three counts of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes. And yet, the president has since won two elections and travelled regularly, including to Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. As signatories to the Rome statute which created the ICC, each of these countries had a duty to arrest Bashir on his arrival. None of them did.
Absolutely no effective measures have ever been put in place to protect civilians in Darfur despite being under the watch of a joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping mission (Unamid). Peace talks and agreements have brought no security or respite for the Darfuri people.
The response of the international community in the last 10 years has been utterly deplorable and in the face of such an ineffective reaction, it is little wonder that Al-Bashir’s hubris has grown.
All true, alas. So what can be done?
In the light of this shocking new evidence, and on the eve of the UN security council meeting in New York, we are calling on it to do more to protect the children, men and women of Darfur.
It can do this by applying political pressure on the government of Sudan to ensure that the Unamid peacekeeping force, as well as humanitarian agencies, can access parts of Darfur such as Jebel Marra, where some of the worst abuses appear to be happening. There need to be more peacekeeping bases, and they must be able to conduct proactive patrols deep into these remote areas.
There also needs to be an urgent investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Jebel Marra and, if there is sufficient evidence, prosecutions of all those suspected of criminal responsibility must follow.
Bashir must learn that there are consequences when crimes under international law are committed. There has been 13 years of catastrophic violence and recurring human rights violations; it’s time the world set its focus, once more, on Darfur and act.
After the ringing condemnation earlier, this can't help but sound a little, well, anti-climactic. We can no longer tolerate these outrageous and barbaric war crimes being committed by the government of Sudan against its own people, so we're going to....apply more political pressure. The president has already, we are reminded, been indicted "on three counts of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes". If that leaves him and his African and Arab allies entirely unmoved, what more exactly can be done in terms of political pressure? The UN, as we know only too well, is subject to the whims of its member states, and hasn't exactly got a sterling reputation in such matters.
One of the first comments on Shetty's piece captures the isolationist spirit of the new Guardian left:
Obviously this is a tragedy but international “peacekeeping” is almost always, in the long run, a terrible idea that merely freezes conflicts rather than allowing them to reach resolution
Imagine if the English Civil War had been halted halfway by a force of foreign soldiers who insisted on the validity of both side’s claims and demanded amicable negotiations
Maybe part of the reason that Africa remains riven by war while other continents are markedly more stable is the continual presence of “peacekeeping” troops attempting to maintain a stasis in the balance of power. And oh how surprising, that balance of power suits the world’s major powers.
If peacekeeping was going to fix Sudan it would have happened already. Awful as it is to say, some wars need to fight themselves out. People didn’t pick up arms for a laugh. They won’t put them down just because they’re asked nicely.
So leave Bashar and his government to finish off the genocide undisturbed. Wonderful. [To be fair, another commenter immediately sets the guy straight.] This used to be called "survival of the fittest", and was a position associated with the political right. Now, though, with the new anti-imperialism, it can be embraced by the left with a clear conscience. Times have changed.