IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsThe Complexities of Bringing Peace to Darfur

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Complexities of Bringing Peace to Darfur

At a panel discussion on the African Union's 's peacemaking efforts in Darfur, panelist Seth Appiah-Mensah likened the actions taken by the AU to "a baby taking its first steps."

"If you look at a child when he starts the first steps, and the parent, they understand that this child is going to make mistakes," said Mr. Appiah-Mensah, former sector commander and military adviser to the head of mission, African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). "But the parents do not just criticize or chastise—they encourage."

Mr. Appiah-Mensah also said that the AU deserves credit for having the courage to act in Darfur like "any landlord would do if your home was on fire... you do not wait for the fire brigade to come; you deal with the fire with whatever is at your disposal. And I feel that's what the AU did. Whether it was enough or not is another question, but they acted responsibly."

IPI’s panel discussion "Dilemmas of Regional Peacemaking: The African Union in Darfur" provided no shortage of accounts of mistakes. Mr. Appiah-Mensah recounted "the sad day of a commander" in which he watched helplessly from a helicopter as Janjaweed militia members killed abductees whose release he was trying to negotiate. Mr. Appiah-Mensah said that the killings were initiated by a Sudanese government employee who was present during a briefing meeting.

"It was announced at the morning briefing that a helicopter would be dispatched to Kabkabiya, that's to me, to go and do this negotiation,” said Mr. Appiah-Mensah. “So the government of Sudan guy who was there, he just took his phone and called in wherever we were going, that we are coming, and the abductees would be there with the SLA commander. And when we arrived, guess what happened? I was in the helicopter, watching live, the slaughtering of those guys."

"It was obvious that the government of Sudan preferred the AU because it was a more benign option due to political and other constraints,” said panelist A. Sarjoh Bah. “Politically, Khartoum calculated that the AU would be less assertive, as it ran the risk of alienating some its members if it was deemed to be too assertive."

"How the AU deals with the potential for its members and the international community to hide behind it, as is currently the case in Somalia, will determine the success of its peacemaking endeavors in the future," added Dr. Bah, who is a senior fellow at NYU’s Center for International Cooperation.

In response to a question from a representative from the Sudanese Mission to the UN about the role of the international community, Sam Ibok, a panelist and former leader of the AU mediation team on Darfur, said, "I think when you ask the question, what is the role of the international community, you should also ask the counter question: What is the role of the Sudanese government? What is the role of the Sudanese themselves? We cannot continuously blame others for the problems we have ourselves generated.”

The panel discussion was held on March 17, 2010 and was moderated by Ambassador John Hirsch, Senior Adviser at IPI.

Read transcript of panel discussion

The Global Observatory

India-US Cooperation Grows With Obama Visit
The visit is particularly important for efforts related to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Key Global Events to Watch in January
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2015: Ten Multilateral Events to Watch This Year
A list of ten events that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2015, compiled by IPI’s Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

January 20, 2015
Mongolian Foreign Policy Between ''Two Giants''
On January 20, Mongolia’s new Foreign Minister Purevsuren Lundeg visited the IPI Vienna office and gave an informal briefing on Mongolia’s contemporary foreign policy priorities and challenges.

January 20, 2015
Dutch FM Koenders: ''The Security Council Has to Change''
Speaking to an overflow IPI audience on January 20th, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders acknowledged how far the United Nations has come since its inception 70 years ago but said that the organization still “has a lot of growing up to do.”

December 15, 2014
Fathi: Iran and the Struggle Between Hardliners and Reformers
Discussing her new book The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran at IPI on December 15th, author Nazila Fathi said that 35 years after the revolution, Iran is divided between hardliners and a large moderate middle class, but admitted that it is still unclear which of the two sides will gain the upper hand.

View More