Neglecting Darfur

Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, blogging from the World Economic Forum in Davos:

Irene_khan In true WEF style, a galaxy of stars – from Blair to Bono and Bill Gates, from Thabo Mbeki, the President of South Africa, to Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, the President of Liberia and the first woman head of state in Africa – sat around the table, with lesser luminaries like Paul Wolfowitz, the President of the World Bank, and Joseph Stiglitz, the award-winning economist in the row, directly behind them.

The subject was “Delivering on the Promise of Africa”. While everyone agreed that the promise was being marred by crippling debt, rampant corruption, weak commitment by both western and African leaders and the lack of capacity in Africa, the round table exuded a sense of optimism and hope for the future.

It was an inspiring debate. The two African Presidents and the African NGO representative emphasised the leadership and participation of Africans themselves.

Bono called Africa “an adventure and an opportunity”; for Blair, it was a “strategic interest”. Ogata believed that it was possible to have an African miracle.

It was left to Ogata, the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to remind all of us that Africa must be made refugee-free and that the carnage in Darfur must be stopped.

It was the first time that anyone had mentioned Darfur in Davos. A human rights and humanitarian catastrophe – that has left millions displaced, killed, raped with impunity – is nowhere to be found on the agenda of WEF. Business leaders see no commercial interest in that part of Sudan. Political leaders would prefer not to be reminded of the limits of their own impotence.

More here.