Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blame where blame’s due

Eric Reeves offers a misdirected argument on the UN and Darfur, sharply criticising Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The failures of the UN secretariat in responding to the Darfur catastrophe are among the many signs that the international body remains incapable of responding to crises that entail confronting sovereign nations engaged in genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
…almost 10 months after UN security council resolution 1706 authorised "rapid" deployment of a force of 22,500 civilian police and troops with a robust mandate to protect civilians and humanitarians in Darfur, a mere 200 UN technical personnel have been deployed…
And still the genocide continues, if with more chaotic violence and a fracturing of the rebel movement. Khartoum remains obdurate in its defiance…
In short, there is a highly embarrassing disconnect between the rhetoric of the UN secretariat, including the secretary general's various special envoys for Sudan, and the poverty of achievement in protecting millions of vulnerable Darfuris and acutely endangered humanitarian operations.

But what exactly is this “highly embarrassing disconnect”?* Is it between what Ban says and what he does? Hardly. The disconnection is between, on the one hand, what the Secretary-General has the power to say and do given what the Security Council has ruled, and on the other hand, what the Security Council can muster the will to make happen.

It’s pointless to shoot the secretariat because of mixed messages while the major powers are busy squabbling or not really caring. Tellingly, Reeves makes no suggestions on what Ban could do differently that would protect the Darfuris.

Reeves notes that desertification brought on by climate change is a mere aggravating factor within the context of the real problem: a cruel Sudanese government keen to foster and exploit ethnic hatred. This is true, and it is a pity that Ban has suggested otherwise. But while Reeves rightly makes sure the Khartoum regime doesn’t get off the hook, his focus on Ban serves only to take the pressure off the permanent five.

* Pedantry of the day: ‘disconnect’ is a verb; the noun is ‘disconnection’.


Timmo said...

Response to Pedantry:

According to, 'disconnect' is a noun. It means "unbridgeable disparity as from a failure in understanding". Check it out:


Tom Freeman said... Oh, come on, you can't trust anything you read on the internet.