Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Advocacy Group Truns to Freelance Diplomacy on Darfur

Amazing. Nicholas Kristof writes today at the NY Times about the way - in the absence of moral leadership from top government leaders, a private advocacy group, the Save Darfur Coalition, has undertaken a freelance diplomat, Bill Richardson:
President Bush and other world leaders have dropped the ball on Darfur. But that vacuum of moral leadership has been filled by university students, churches and temples, celebrities like George Clooney and Mia Farrow, and armies of schoolchildren. [..]

[..] But if George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and Hu Jintao twiddle their thumbs, then more power to the freelancers.

Mr. Richardson worked out a joint statement in which Sudan agreed to a 60-day cease-fire to allow peace talks to resume, provided the Darfur rebels go along as well. Mr. Bashir also agreed that Sudan would prosecute rapes and stop painting its military aircraft to look as if they belong to the U.N.
The power of people to lead the way in the disturbing absence of the moral voice of government leadership is well expressed by Mr. Kristof:
Ken Bacon, who heads Refugees International and accompanied Mr. Richardson, said of President Bashir: “One thing that was very clear was that the Save Darfur movement has gotten under his skin. The vilification of the Khartoum regime in columns and editorials and ads is making a difference.”

So cherish this historical moment. The long record of genocide is one overwhelmingly of acquiescence, but this time ordinary citizens are trying to write a different ending.