THE BLOG

The Genocide in Darfur Is Over

Interesting developments at Save Darfur. Robert B. Lawrence, director of policy and government relations at the Save Darfur Coalition, has railed against commentators who accuse the lobby group of being stuck in the past and not helping the cause of millions of Darfuris stuck in miserable aid camps. He argues that the coalition has actually moved a long way in adapting to the unfolding crisis by developing a campaign that takes account of nuance and complexity on the ground.

This argument has held little water in the past, as the coalition stuck to misguided calls for International Criminal Court arrest warrants and pursued the deployment of peacekeepers at the expense of a negotiated peace. Such policies were the outcome of an apocolyptic analysis that bore little relation to what was happening on the ground - as I have argued in my book, Saving Darfur.

But now, could things - beyond the rhetoric - actually be changing?

I recently pointed out that members of Save Darfur had finally made it to Darfur where they found a distinct absence of genocide, or even war. Now it seems their press releases have been changed.

BEFORE
February 22, 2010

The Save Darfur Coalition - an alliance of more than 180 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations - raises public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and mobilizes a unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of people throughout the Darfur region.

AFTER
March 18, 2010

The Save Darfur Coalition - an alliance of more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations - raises public awareness about the ongoing crisis in Darfur and mobilizes a unified response to promote peace throughout the Darfur region and all of Sudan

The debate on whether or not the humanitarian crisis in Darfur constitutes a genocide has gone on for years. Does it matter? Atrocities have been committed and the world should act. Maybe the genocide debate is a sideshow.

But well done Save Darfur. This is not just a question of semantics. The hysterical attitude of the Darfur movement and its apocalyptic language has pushed us towards ill-considered interventions that have done little to address the underlying causes of Darfur's multilayered crisis. Now that its leaders have made it to Darfur it seems they have a more realistic view of what is happening. Dropping the word genocide is the first step to a more mature debate.