New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof posted two interesting pieces this weekend – an op-ed column and a blog – about the Obama administration’s policy (or lack of coherent policy) on Sudan. While Human Rights First shares Kristof’s concern about “signs that Bashir is funneling arms to disgruntled factions in the south, to foment civil war there,” our concern also encompasses the outside actors that funnel arms to Bashir, despite a United Nations arms embargo on Darfur, the clear signs that Bashir has used these arms to commit atrocities, and states’ obligation to prevent genocide, as discussed in the International Court of Justice’s opinion in the so-called genocide case.
A United Nations monitoring group has reported several times over that China, Russia, and several other countries are providing to Bashir’s government weapons that end up in Darfur. Other countries and commercial actors provide a host of other goods and services – from jet fuel to sophisticated telecommunications systems – without which atrocities committed in Darfur would be impossible. Mr. Kristof calls for the U.S. government “to work much more with Egypt, China and other countries to get them all engaged in spotlighting the Sudan negotiations and the referendum process.” But stopping there would be inadequate. If the U.S. government wishes to avoid further atrocities in South Sudan, it should not only work with these countries to highlight the danger, but also put pressure on these third-party enablers of mass atrocities to stop sustaining Bashir’s activities.