Darfur and the Failure of the Responsibility to Protect
The article is a comprehensive and critical survey of the international response to the conflict in Darfur. The author argues that the responsibility to protect principle was not achieved in Darfur.
The author suggests that international response, particularly that of UNSC and the AU, consisted mostly by ad hoc steps rather than a systematic and strategic response to the conflict. He also notes the lack of harmony and coordination among the organs. For example, the Ndajema agreement (signed in April 2004) asks the Sudanese government to neutralize armed militia. But the UNSC Resolution 1556 of July 2004 asked the government to disarm the Janjaweed without clearly defining “disarmement” and “Janjaweed”.
Another significant decision regarding international intervention on Darfur was adopted by the USA in the early summer of 2005 that AMIS should be handed over to a UN peacekeeping force. It was argued that the UN would do a better job and the conversion of AU forces into UN forces worked in the past (i.e Burundi). The author also agrees with this argument and states that the AU had never handled a peace support operation of the size and complexity required for Darfur. He believes that had the AU, UN and Sudanese government agreed promptly on this proposal, it could have been timely and effective. But secretariats and security council members of both AU and UN were reluctant and the Sudanese government opposed.
De Waal argues that international intervention was not successful for a number of reasons. For him, the proposed UN forces had multiple goals and this multiplicity impeded a coherent strategy; some actions demanded the impossible or set unrealistic timeline; some of the already taken steps were not followed up. He also underlines the fact that when Khartoum government met one demand, another demand was put on the table. According to the author, this confused and inconsistent stand of the international community is one of the important factors behind the failure. The author also notes that the desired objectives from the UN troops were inflated and they did not match the available resources.
According to de Waal, throughout 2004-2006 the debate on international military presence focused on four main issues. First, whether the troops should be under the UN or the AU command. Second issue was the number of the troops and their capability. Third issue was the mandate of the troops. Fourth issue was the financing of the troops. He notes that the leading discussions did not include strategic purpose of the force and concept of operations. He also highlight that professional staff in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) exerted much effort for this. As a result, the inflated expectations caused much dismay in the DPKO. The author believes that three complimentary operations are central to Darfur’s security : ceasefire, disarmament and civilian protection. He discusses each of these operations, which are, he believes, insufficiently developed, in turn.
In conclusion, de Waal believes that responsibility to protect did not work in Darfur conflict. He attributes three reasons for this failure. First reason is inadequate conceptualization of the norm of responsibility to protect. Second, expectations from international military presence inflated and they did not meet the allocated resources. Finally, he believes that international advocacy groups were confused.