Monday, December 19, 2005

I wrote about justice in Darfur last week - the type that the special Sudanese courts in places like El Fasher are trying to dole out (ie not much) and the type that the International Criminal Court will one day be passing on those who are ultimately responsible for crimes in the region (hopefully a lot more).

And while those who are following the international news remain cautiously optimistic about the ICC's ability to bring some justice to Darfur, I feel I should also point out that the people in the camps tend to be less interested in the "big picture" justice.

They may loathe President Bashir or Vice President Taha, but will almost invariable feel more strongly and more passionately about the individuals and tribes whom they watched as they burned down their villages and beat their family members to death.

To them, justice is all about blood money and tribal processes.

Women often tell me that they are expecting some sort of compensation for their murdered husbands. Justice, to them, means paying for lost lives, lost lands, lost livestock.

It also means following traditional tribal reconciliation mechanisms that genuinely involve the leaders of the victims and the leaders of those who carried out the attacks on the villages.

Unfortunaly, the few tribal reconciliations that have already taken place in Darfur have been completely dominated by government stooges and made no genuine efforts to involve the people in the camps.

Clearly, bringing justice to Darfur will entail a lot more than just getting the ICC to start investigating and handing out indictments - and after some of conversations I had in the camps this week, I felt it was important to point out that the developments on the ground will be at least as important as those taking place in The Hague or Khartoum.


At , Blogger tears said...

aid workers are the real heros, I want to throw a big homecoming parade in your honor whenever you return home.

there should be a stamp dedicated your work.

Someone should publish your writings in a book.

We need to hook you up with a decent fellow worthy of you as well.

At , Blogger tears said...

p.s. Nicholas Kristof again writes another op/ed for Darfur. Is he the only media person with a conciousness?

At , Blogger Nate said...

Just wanted to say that I have been reading for a while now and that I find your writing amazing. Reading your site has inspired me to join the Peace Corps, or any aid organization for that matter, in order to repay the world and help those who need it.

At , Blogger InKhartoum said...

Dear Nate and Tears, please focus your overwhelming gratitude for our tireless march against poverty in possibly the most effective way you can;

1) Elect (when you have reached the age of majority) a Democrat for President and

2) Lobby your Senator, Congressman etc to abolish harmful US trade and environmental policies (among others)

For it is these (not only in the US, the Europeans are guilty too) that keep so many hundreds of millions of people earning effectively nothing, enjoying a life expectancy some 50% less than yours and mine, as low as 33 in Zimbabwe now; then there is the disease, hardship etc.

At , Blogger Ruth said...

Thanks for your posts. Your blog keeps me from forgetting to work -- bugging my senator, doing what I can, getting other people to read your blog and DO something. I'm a rabbinical student who needs to remember that there's work to do outside my studies (after all, if they do not lead to action in the world, they are worse than useless.)

My son has plans for aid work after he finishes school, and your blog has given me a window on what that life is like. I really appreciate that.

At , Blogger Hamish said...

Great blog! Thanks for reminding us of the importance of lobbying pollies and flooding the media. I'd love to hear some more specific day to day experiences.

At , Blogger Sliding Doors said...

A fascinating and enlightening read. Thankyou for your honesty. My confession is that I was a western military adviser to the AU back in late 04. Many of the things you predict we could see coming then, but the drivers were not practical reality but politics. US election politics in particular. I feel a sense of frustration that we were not able to support the good people in Addis to the best of our ability. Now I am researching the role of war crimes trials in conflict and post-conflict situations in Africa. Thankyou for your insights from the camps which chime with research from elsewhere. Sadly, I am not sure whether darfur is truly yet post-conflict or if anyone in the West really cares. Good Luck and keep smiling!

At , Blogger Pittman said...

Rob Rogers from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published his editorial cartoon on Darfur today.

The web address is as below.

At , Blogger anonymous said...

the problem with bringing about worthwhile change in this world is that we all seem to have 'the right answer'.

and just so that the cosmos gets the last laugh, these ultimate solutions tend to conflict with each other.

quite a bind, isn't it?

how do you bring about change? by force? the US has plenty, and those intrepid uniformed souls out there fighting any and all nebulous wars are trying to do just that. trying to make a difference. although i'm not sure if anyone outside of the military families knows or cares.

do you do it through politicking? i'm sure we could ALL talk about politics and NEVER get anywhere. and look out if you're american discussing politics outside of the US.

the icc? the UN? puleeeze. with all these egregious human rights violating countries 'running amock' and NO valid global police force (outside of the US's military) worth a damn. of course, the US is in that most enviable of positions. we're either damned if we intervene or we're damned if we DON'T intervene. i just read about this pakistani man who slaughtered his four daughters (ages from 5-18) because he wanted to make sure that they would never commit adultery. chances are he's going to get off with a warning...just like the OTHER 256 men who did the same monstrous act this year alone in pakistan. where's the UN? hello icc? anyone?

the only difference makers seem to be those on the 'front lines' either fighting (such as the brave men and women in uniform) or those stalwart aid workers situated out there in the grimmest of situations.


and with no one to date.

and just when you thought it couldn't get worse.

At , Blogger R2K said...

I just found this page... Very interesting perspective... I guess being so far away, I really had no idea what life was like for you.

Bono is Brian Peppers!

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