Anyone interested in the history of the Darfur advocacy movement and the dilemmas it has faced in trying to respond to mass atrocities in Sudan since 2003 should know about Bec Hamilton’s website and book project. She has embarked on an admirably open model of research which includes inviting people to pose questions to some of the folks she’s interviewing and then podcasting the audio when it’s available. She’s also doing the work journalists should have done long ago of putting in Freedom of Information Act requests to dig up the paper trail that helps explain how U.S. Darfur policy has been formulated since 2003. But mostly I’m just really interested in the question she poses about the distance between what the movement promised and what has in fact happened and what it all means:
On Darfur, one question that I needed to find an answer to was how to account for the mismatch between the efforts of a sustained and unprecedented citizen advocacy movement, and the situation on the ground in Darfur today. Only by taking the time to go ‘behind the scenes’ of policy formulation on Darfur, is it possible to tease out the channels through which policy has actually been made, and the ways in which citizen advocacy has and has not had an influence.
There’s been much finger-pointing among Darfur advocates about the best ways to help bring about an end to the conflict and provide justice and compensation for its victims; hopefully this treatment will help shed some light on the best way forward. Read Bec’s latest letter to her supporters here.