Save Darfur. It’s a concept that sends people running to action, willing to volunteer time and money to do what it takes to save the people of Darfur from rape, murder and displacement. We have taken action, we have sent the messages to world leaders, we have raised the issue in our communities and we […]
Save Darfur. It’s a concept that sends people running to action, willing to volunteer time and money to do what it takes to save the people of Darfur from rape, murder and displacement. We have taken action, we have sent the messages to world leaders, we have raised the issue in our communities and we have built a movement more than a million strong. So why haven’t we yet saved Darfur?
At times, the victories of this movement seem few and far between. The violence continues and the peacekeeping force has yet to be deployed. The problems are deep and complex.
But amid the frustration, there are real victories. There are triumphs that are difficult to gauge, such as the impact of country-wide awareness of the genocide or the personal impression left on someone after taking action to help another person half way around the world. These small victories are often hard to recognize or even pin down. But sometimes, we can see them.
Last month, the Bush administration implemented the final provision of a law that was passed in 2007, the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act. The act authorizes states to divest from companies that help to fund the genocide and to ban contracts with such companies. It also prohibits such companies from receiving federal contracts.
A number of organizations and countless individuals worked hard for more than a year to pass the law, and we stuck with the process to make sure it makes a difference.
The good news today is that any company helping to fund the genocide will no longer be able to work with the federal government. Activists made phone calls and wrote letters and organizations came together to demand full and complete implementation. After months of intense advocacy, the administration put out the ruling in June, and the contract ban went into effect.
As a result of this law and divestment efforts around the country, companies have changed the way they operate in Sudan. They have taken political, humanitarian and operational steps to make sure their business in Sudan helps people instead of hurting them.
When the federal law was introduced, several companies quickly engaged on the issue. They held high level meetings with the Sudanese foreign finance minister, started using oil drilling equipment to drill water wells for refugee camps and froze business operations until the genocide ends. At least eleven companies either left Sudan or significantly modified their behavior in the country. The federal bill continues to spur such company reform today.
The Darfur genocide is complex – it is not a problem with a single solution or victory. It is a crisis that requires our ongoing attention, our continued efforts and our sustained resolution to stick with it until we see the big results. It requires our efforts on the small victories, such as the passage of the 25th state divestment bill this year or an awareness fundraiser at your local middle school.
These small efforts do yield results. When the twelfth company suspends its operations until the genocide ends or sits down in a room with the Sudanese finance minister, it will be in part because an activist picked up her phone to call her Senator.
The solution is not simple, but the effort is. Save Darfur. There is likely not one answer, one victory or one solution to end the genocide in Darfur. There are, however, thousands of people working to stop it. And one step at a time, one effort at a time, one seemingly small act of conscience at a time, we are making a difference. We are doing the only thing we can do – our part to build a long and lasting peace in Sudan.
To help build the economic pressure on the Sudanese government to end genocide , please visit www.divestfordarfur.org.
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