The situation surrounding Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir should be referred to as our world’s double standard. While G8 nations hunt ruthless autocrats in Europe and Asia, war-torn nations of our world’s forgotten continent are treated like unwanted pests.
Al-Bashir is widely regarded as the mastermind behind the attempts to eliminate tribes in the Darfur regions of western Sudan. He is accused, by the ICC (International Criminal Court), of raping and murdering countless men, women and children, as well as displacing nearly 2.5 million African residents.
Now I’m not implying the pursuit of dictators in Asia and Europe meaningless, it isn’t, it just seems as though the collective vision of our world’s developed nations encompasses everyone and everything except Africa. It is odd a continent that holds almost 15% of the world’s population can be as overlooked as Africa has been. Africa only gets a minimal amount of press, often only after problems have been going on for some time, e.g. Zimbabwe’s elections and Darfur’s deaths.
The world has been presented with a perfect way to eliminate the divide—to act on the arrest warrant recently issued by the ICC for the Sudanese president on charges of genocide, murder and crimes against humanity. The ICC however has no police force which leaves it up to one (or more) of the 106 countries that comprise the court to infiltrate the presidential palace in Khartoum and forcefully apprehend al-Bashir; he obviously won’t come peacefully and his palace is as heavily guarded as possible.
Breaking into the presidential residence in Sudan isn’t exactly an attractive solution to any government, something that forms the basis of this double standard. G8 countries will help those in their proximity; maybe to make sure that death and destruction doesn’t migrate over to their side of the border. The same nations will avoid at all costs helping those in which they hold no financial or physical investment, even if the ruler of the nation is a merciless dictator. What is sad is that as developed countries, these governments should be obligated to help the less fortunate. As rulers of the world, G8 countries should recognize this obligation and act on it for the betterment of humanity.
What makes matters even worse is that al-Bashir has chosen to ignore these charges; it’s almost too easy to imagine him chuckling in his heavily guarded presidential palace in Khartoum, the corpses of thousands of citizens not bearing any weight on his conscience.
It is troubling that a man who is, more likely than not, responsible for displacing almost 2.5 million citizens can be allowed to remain in power.
The ICC’s ruling is the first of its kind and undoubtedly a step in the right direction but what remains to be seen is if the warrant will be honoured by the nations that back the tribunal, and whether or not they will find the situation dire enough to prevent the deaths of thousands more. The only problem—the spotlight is no longer on Darfur and Sudan.
Our world, as it always has, places a spotlight on what it views as the most important issues of the time. Currently the spotlight is on the United States, the Middle East and the crises that affect them both: the U.S. is trying to prevent a recession, save a withering economy and dumb-down the debt for 2009, while the Mideast is being torn apart by war, death and terrorism, ironically worsened by the actions of the former country trying to “do its part.”
The conflict in Darfur garnered the coveted spotlight for a while, educating many but not driving enough to take action. G8 leaders took some well-thought out measures to improve the situation, but failed to create an arms embargo to prevent more weapons from entering the western Sudan region.
This allowed the conflict in Darfur to worsen and now that it has, the countries that allowed terror to rule refuse to capture its kingpin.