Needed: More Pressure, More Diplomacy

John Prendergast Testifies to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

Prendergast argues before the Senate Banking Committee that increased pressure and diplomacy is the only way to end the genocide in Darfur.

Read the full testimony (pdf)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this esteemed committee, for the opportunity to share my views on the world’s hottest war and what the United States and international community can and should do to help end it.

The question our government—both our legislative and executive branches—is faced with today is whether applying further pressure through divestment and other instruments will help or hurt the international community’s efforts to end the crisis in Darfur. The administration contends—as it has since the beginning of the Khartoum regime’s genocidal counter-insurgency campaign in 2003—that further pressure will undermine existing diplomatic efforts. My colleagues and I would contend the opposite: that empirical evidence demonstrates that the ONLY way that the regime and the rebels will allow the U.N./AU hybrid force to deploy and the ONLY way a peace deal between the regime and rebels is possible is if multilateral, targeted pressures are INCREASED and combined with assertive and robust diplomacy.

Without coordinated multilateral pressure, the regime will continue to promote chaos as part of its genocidal divide-and-destroy strategy. Without serious consequences, rebel and government forces will continue to fight each other and attack civilian targets with impunity. Without a cost for obstruction, the regime and rogue rebel elements will not facilitate the full and unconditional deployment of the U.N./AU hybrid peacekeeping force. And without an internationally coordinated diplomatic surge, the government and rebels won’t take seriously efforts to revive the peace process.

After living, studying, and working in Sudan at various times for over two decades, and having negotiated directly with Sudan’s leadership and rebels during the Clinton administration, I can tell you that the regime and rebels no longer take our speeches and our threats seriously, and will continue to flout international will until there are specific and escalating costs to their actions. Divestment is an important tool in that required escalation.

I do not tell that to you on a whimsical hope that this behavior might be true. In these matters, I would much prefer to rely on empirical evidence. The preponderance of evidence shows that during the 18 years of its military rule, the regime in Khartoum has only responded to focused international and regional pressure. Four times the regime has reversed its position on a major policy issue, and each of those four times the change resulted from intensive diplomacy backed by serious pressure—two ingredients not consistently applied in the response to Darfur today. The four cases are:

  • The regime’s support for international terrorist organizations during the early to mid 1990s.
  • Its support for slave-raiding militias in southwestern Sudan throughout the 1990s.
  • Its prosecution of a war in southern Sudan that took 2 million Sudanese lives.
  • Its opposition to the deployment of the hybrid U.N./AU peacekeeping force.

Once the recent policy history is reviewed and the real lessons learned from the 18 deadly years this regime has been in power, the answers become clear and obvious. Continuing to ignore or defy these historical precedents may condemn hundreds of thousands of Darfurians to death.

The mission of ENOUGH, a joint initiative founded by the International Crisis Group and the Center for American Progress, is to end crimes against humanity in Darfur, northern Uganda and eastern Congo, and to prevent future mass atrocities wherever they may occur. For more information, visit www.enoughproject.org

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