QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
BRIDGET CONLEY: Thank you. If you have a question, please come down to the front; we have a microphone situated up here, and we welcome your questions. I will start. I first have a question for Donatella. You were specifically talking about the lack of television coverage, in particular, of Darfur. There has been a groundswell of interest in Darfur, maybe not as great as some other stories in the world, but pretty high for an African story and it has continued. A major difference from Rwanda is how long it has been spread out. It has been going on since 2003 really -- 2002 early warnings -- through to today. How does that groundswell of interest influence what the media will or will not cover, or does it have any influence at all?
DONATELLA LORCH: Let us compare it, first, with whether there was a groundswell of interest with Rwanda. The situation on the ground in Africa when Rwanda happened was that we had just gone through two years of very intense coverage of Somalia. Then it had been followed by very intense coverage on the massacres in Burundi. At that point it was almost like, (not to sound cynical about it), “Oh my God,” and we thought, “another massacre.” That was our first thought when we were sent up to Rwanda: another African massacre.
Darfur comes at a different time. One, it comes at a time when there has been a lot of reflection on Rwanda, and Rwanda had been elevated much higher, now acknowledged as a genocide. It also comes at a time, at least beginning pre-Tsunami and pre-Iraq crisis. It comes at a time when it could have been focused on as a major African story and as a major world story. There were not a lot of distracting events. Once you get your fingers on it, even if distracting events happen around you, there is that tempo that keeps up, and that reporters will keep on pushing their editors. Another thing is that you can be a reporter, and you can want to cover a story as much as you really, really want to, but you cannot go unless your editor gives you the green light. You cannot go unless your editor decides that he has the budget to cover it, and that it is a worthwhile story. Then once you are there, how many stories does your editor want out of that location once you have gotten there?
When I was based in Nairobi and I would pitch a story in Uganda or in Ethiopia, I had to justify my airfare and my hotel. In a week, I had to come up with at least three story ideas. When I went to Somalia, I would go there for six weeks. When you go to Darfur you have to justify the expense for going there, and it comes at a time that your editor has to decide whether he has the room -- whether on air or in a newspaper -- to put the story in there.
There have been cases like Time or Newsweek, where tens of thousands of dollars will be spent to send a reporter to Africa. As a matter of fact for the tenth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, as an example, Newsweek sent a reporter and a photographer there for two weeks, and they spent a lot of money, a lot of money, on that story. I do not even believe it ran in the domestic edition of the magazine. I believe it ran only in the overseas edition. When it comes down to it, even if the editor feels that the story should go in on the week that it is supposed to run or the week after that, there might just not be room in the magazine, newspaper, or space on air for it.
BRIDGET CONLEY: To follow up, do you think this groundswell here will help keep it alive in some ways?
DONATELLA LORCH: I am amazed by the groundswell. I think this is the only way to go at this point in time. When Rwanda happened, there was nothing like this, and this is the only way; it has to be from the grassroots up. It has to be, since the networks, more than the newspapers, rely so much on focus groups. There has to be interest from the United States for people who want this story covered. That is the only way that you will keep it alive. I say that because Iraq is going to be so much at the forefront of the news.
QUESTION: Hi, I am Miriam. I might detract a bit from Rwanda and Sudan because I just got back from Bosnia myself. I read a lot of reports about the Bosnian genocide, and what came up a lot was that there were resources there, unlike in Rwanda. The United Nations was involved, the OSC and other organizations, but nonetheless, there was no clear communication. Nothing was done; a lot of counterproductive work was being done. Recently I heard Kofi Annan on the news speaking about a reform at the United Nations -- or potential reform -- do you think anything will come of it? I am very skeptical.
QUESTION: My question relates to both Rwanda and the Sudan. While I am sympathetic to your statements about the United States needing to take responsibility and take action 10 years ago, and then again today, we are not the only country in the G8 and in NATO and in the Security Council. Why is it that all these other nations who potentially have the resources at hand (and are not pretending to fight wars and do bad things in the rest of the world), cannot take a stand and do something about genocide? It is a global problem, not just an American problem.
QUESTION: I want to make two short statements before my question. First of all, I am very excited and happy to see so many young people this afternoon here. I am hoping that that is a result of the Rwanda shock that so many people -- young people -- are spending their afternoon here. I want to thank all the young people who are involved. Donatella, I must tell you I have a collection of and have read all your stories from 1994. I would like to congratulate the media on the coverage of Darfur compared to Rwanda. I think the media are one section of our society that has done an amazing job in learning lessons from Rwanda. Darfur has been covered extensively, and that leads me to my question, and it is a question to the two of you, but also to the audience. I would like Amnesty International to start an initiative or a program called, “What Works,” instead of early warning and prevention. At this time, it is important for human rights groups, private citizens like us, and the media, to brainstorm and come up with what works to stop genocide. I think had Clinton known that you can call it genocide and still not act, he would not have been so worried about apologizing to Rwandans and so forth. I am very cynical because of Rwanda, and I do not believe that human rights organizations can stop genocide. We have to come up with a network of people -- maybe it takes money -- that works to stop genocide.
BRIDGET CONLEY: Thank you, Louise. I think we will take a pause now so that we can respond to these first three questions. The first one was sort of a response to Bosnia, and for those of you who have not heard, we are also coming on the 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica, where 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were murdered. The main portion of the question, though, was how you feel about the prospects of United Nations reform, particularly in the aspect of protecting civilians.
DONATELLA LORCH: The United Nations does a remarkable job around the world, at one level. On the other level, it is just a larger image of what any government is. Multiply it by all its members. Look at the United States government; they do not exactly talk to each other. How often has the CIA not talked to the FBI, and to the DoD and to the White House? “Oops! We forgot about that. Were those planes coming in our direction or not?” You multiply that in the United Nations system, and you are presented with a massive amount of bureaucracy. Now is it capable of reform? It is admirable that they want to reform it, but the way they want to reform it, they themselves admit, will take at least ten years to come about. That is if they move on schedule. It is still a long way for it to be a fluid working bureaucracy. That said, where do we have a fluid working government? You can take the United States government as an example to that.
ARIELA BLÄTTER: Obviously I support the reform of the United Nations, other than just the navel-gazing part of it, but it is ironic, we are not talking about bringing someone in who does not want to see the United Nations under the auspices. Currently we are looking at someone who says they want to reform the United Nations, like Bolton. That discussion is very interesting. I am not so sure about that approach to reforming the United Nations. The lawyer in me looks at the agencies of the United Nations in terms of the positive element, the sort of International Criminal Court, The Permanent Courts of Justice, et cetera, even the ad hoc tribunals, which have been pretty controversial. Looking at the sort of agencies that are the extension of the talking heads always leaves me with pride and the feeling that something is actually being accomplished.
DONATELLA LORCH: We have agencies that respond to the natural disasters, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, the World Food Program. We could not exist without these agencies. The United Nations is an amalgam of the countries that it represents, and no more so than United Nations missions in Africa. That is the real sad part. The United Nations missions, military missions, peace keeping missions, are a creation of what governments want to give, and the United States is rarely part of them. The Senegalese, Nigerians, Bangladeshis, Indians, and Pakistanis bear the brunt of these missions. Their soldiers show up with barely the clothes on their backs in some cases, with no weapons or food. Often, as you will notice, the United States is not willing to send troops, but is willing to send logistical support to United Nations missions. In other words we will fly them in and out, provide food for them, provide weapons that they then can bring back home when they leave. The United Nations is a mirror of all the countries that are part of it.
BRIDGET CONLEY: That response partially addressed the second question as well: Why does the United States shoulders so much of the burden? What you were just saying is that, in fact we do not. We rely on other allies for peacekeeping troops. Could either of you talk about the role of the United States leadership in terms of responding to Darfur, Rwanda, or other humanitarian crises.
DONATELLA LORCH: I am so cynical.
ARIELA BLÄTTER: I am not that far behind you. I would back up for a second and focus on the question about the G8, and using the timeframe of the G8 now to talk about whether we are focused too much on the United States. Does the United States share all this burden, and United States leadership; I would take it all the same. In terms of a bit of marketing, I clearly only used United States examples for this audience, but I am bursting with them. I can talk about the role of the Belgians, the role of the French in this situation, the positive and the negative. I can talk about all the countries that are best placed. The United Kingdom was right there with the United States in terms of encouraging the United Nations Security Council to not use the term genocide.
There are positives and negatives in all these countries. We are speaking to the converted here. We all know that the United States needs to make some changes, and we also know that the United States is heavily resourced. When you are looking at a situation in terms of looking for donor governments to cough up funds, the United States tends to have an expectation of providing the most funds, and a very poor showing of contributing to the amount for which it has been asked. I do not know whether that the actual asking price is out of whack, but I do know that in comparison to other nations, the United States tends to give a much smaller percentage of what it is asked for by the United Nations.
DONATELLA LORCH: They are disgracefully far behind on the poverty index. The rest of the developed world gives way more than the United States to poor countries.
BRIDGET CONLEY: The third question started with congratulations or at least thanks to media for how they have covered Darfur. I wonder though, if we could get to some of the subtleties in the coverage. You mentioned that in Rwanda a lot of the conflict was described at the time as tribal or ancient ethnic hatreds, which has not been as much the case in Darfur. The one thing, however, and I think you already hit this, was that television has been noticeably shy on reporting on Darfur. I wonder if you could expand those, Donatella, and then maybe Ariela could take the second half of that question, which is what works.
DONATELLA LORCH: When I first started to move from print after ten years as a print journalist, and I moved as a correspondent to NBC, I remember I was handed over to a producer who was going to teach me how to do television. I had written this great text, we were going to do a story, and he read the text, and he said, “Well, this is worthless.” I said, “Why, look at these great lines,” and he said, “What is your opening picture? You do not have a single shot for half your piece. You do not have a piece unless you have a good opening picture. What is your opening shot?” If you are going to make it -- at least for American Television, even more so than the standard bearing of the BBC -- you have to have a sexy picture.
I remember when I did Rwanda, and at the beginning of Kosovo, the producer in New York told me, “We do not want any bodies because we do not want anyone to upchuck over their Cheerios in the morning.” How often have you seen major, serious news on The Today Show? We certainly know a lot about Michael Jackson. I heard that his mother was interviewed on an exclusive this morning. I missed it.
Compare that with trying to get Darfur on television. It costs a lot to move a television crew. You are talking about 5,000 pounds of excess baggage that have to travel business class to get on three different sets of flights to get from the United States, to Europe, or from Europe to get to Africa, to Chad, to get into Darfur. It is a huge amount of money that they have to invest for a three-minute piece, unless you have Nightline. The great shows like Nightline are soon to be deceased. The way American television is going right now, there is less and less of a push towards serious news, or long-term pieces such as was done at Nightline.
Now, what works? I do not think that there is a solution to have a grand plan for what works in stopping genocide. I think it has to be done in increments in all different types of professions, and at all different levels of civil society. There are all these think tanks here in Washington to prevent this, prevent that, and I think it is grand to bring all these people together in a room and say we will prevent the next genocide. What we do, for example, is take American journalists on an overseas fellowship; it is like the Peace Corps of Journalism. We have Americans, Canadians, and British. We send them overseas to train local journalists in developing countries or in countries that are just starting to democratize.
We worked extensively in Africa, and you have to think that one of the genocide promoters in Rwanda was the radio. The radio told people, “We have to kill the cockroaches. Your job is half done; your grave is half-full.” Training journalists, giving them a sense of self and empowerment is, teaching them what fact-based journalism is about and not to regurgitate press releases from the government, is a small little step in that small little corner of trying to work towards informing people on the ground in that country. It is our small little piece, and it is always this, a small little piece of what Amnesty does. You bring that all together as a mosaic and that is how you can hope to prevent genocide.
ARIELA BLÄTTER: What works? The $64,000 question.
BRIDGET CONLEY: You work. Only $64,000? It is less than that.
ARIELA BLÄTTER: Million dollar, I have to update that.
BRIDGET CONLEY: I think not only what works, but how can we better understand what works and convey that information?
ARIELA BLÄTTER: I am going to try to be positive. There are some things that work. There are a lot of negative parts, but I am trying to be positive. International pressure works. They used to call human rights the shame factor. I still firmly believe in that, and that takes all sorts of forms.
Cease-fire monitors are shame factors. I do not think belligerents are going to be as eager to pick up their guns, either knowing or not knowing the Geneva conventions, that there is simply somebody watching. I think one hundred troops in Rwanda can make a difference. I think cease-fire monitors can make an impact. I think the African Union can make an impact in this situation of Darfur. Sending in major diplomatic officials from world governments helps. I have not seen Secretary of State Rice go in a long time. It has been 140-some days since President Bush has actually said the word Darfur in a significant way. There are other countries that need to have equal internal audits about their role in past genocides, and what is going on right now. I think diplomats can work, the International Criminal Court works, and we have an interesting step with the United States not agreeing to the court, but not standing in its way on referring the case on Darfur. Universal Jurisdiction works; it is an astounding idea. The fact that anywhere, in any courtroom whether the United States adopts international human rights standards or not, in lots of different places in the world, you can prosecute torture, genocide, and core crimes in a regular old court. You can do that, and you are required to do it. We have seen it in the Pinochet case, and we have no idea where that is going to move forward, or how that is going to develop. I think joining Amnesty works. I have to say that one.
Being an Amnesty member before I became a staff member was important because I did not want to join or work for just a United States-based organization. That is fine and dandy, but we have 1.2 million activists worldwide, and we are not just focused on the United States. I want to stand with the global world in terms of trying to make an impact. That is something that I think can make a difference.
The other thing to note is sometimes it is just plain hard to see where we have made an impact and when we have prevented genocide. In the case of early warning, one of the best examples is Macedonia, which is also a little bit controversial, because it is hard to say what we prevented. There are many cases where our work is preventing things. What we see is a lot of our failures, where things have progressed, and the killings have occurred. Macedonia, however, is an example of an early intervention, in terms of civil society, and the United Nations, and a whole bunch of others in looking at the Balkans. We can use those examples to say, “Let us devote our resources.” We may not be able to say at the bottom line, “We can prove that we did something, but nothing actually happened, is that not worth something?”
BRIDGET CONLEY: President Bush has not mentioned Osama Bin Laden in a long time either.
ARIELA BLÄTTER: No, he says he is not worried about where he is.
BRIDGET CONLEY: Oh, okay.
ARIELA BLÄTTER: A lot of the things that you have brought up have worked in some cases and not worked in others. I assume the cumulative effect, indicting people, naming names, did not work in Bosnia. I have heard some reports that it is working in Darfur, with people who might consider themselves to be potentially on the list.
One of the benefits of having the new office in the United Nations., of the special advisor on preventing genocide, or the role that the crisis preparedness and response mechanism plays in Amnesty, or the Committee on Conscience is that many others have this mechanism. It is thinking about the common areas of crisis and trying to create a strategy that can be applied for each and every situation. A lot of people are regionally specialized, or they say, “What is happening in my country is not happening elsewhere.” Stepping out of that and looking at the situation is important, as is understanding that while you can pick common areas, you can say there are internally displaced in every crisis. You can say there is political instability, human rights abuses, et cetera. You still have to create an absolute unique strategy for every country.
I know I am saying opposite things, but you still have to delve into the history of a country and understand the unique instability. I was rereading Dallaire’s memoirs, and he talked about how nobody briefed him on what was going on between the Hutus and the Tutsis, which had been going on for generations. He had his Michelin map and a copy of the Arusha Peace Accords, but nobody thought to tell him that there were some ethnic problems going on. Maybe he would have potentially pushed harder on the onset, or maybe that was impossible, but it is looking at the situation and our education for what happens in every crisis, and then applying that to the specific country and trying to create a strategy for each country.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. I am from the ADL and CCNY. You mentioned unique instability, different areas. When there genocide is happening, you have to know exactly what is happening before you can get involved. In Sudan, it seems that it is not really a religious problem. Is it more ethnic? What do you think is the real root and essence of the problem in Sudan?
My second question is that we are all here today and I am assuming we are here because we are interested and want to get involved. What do you think is needed in Darfur, Sudan right now? What can we do, especially as young people who seem to be interested? I am a bit of a cynic myself because I have just returned from the Middle East. We all pledged “Never again.” We are here at the United States Memorial to the Holocaust saying that this is never going to happen again. What can we do to make a difference and to get involved? It is happening, so what are we going to do to stop it?
QUESTION: Ariela, you were talking about genocide and the acts under it. Were you saying that all the acts under the definition of genocide have to occur for it to be known or labeled as genocide? Also, what is the difference between genocide and hate crimes, and where is the line drawn between the two?
QUESTION: You discussed preventative measures, intervention. What do you do during the rebuilding process? Can you comment on bringing the society back together and having neighbors live next to each other?
BRIDGET CONLEY: The first question was if we could get a better understanding of the nature of the conflict in Sudan, and then what is needed to improve the situation in Darfur, and how specifically can young people help on that front?
ARIELA BLÄTTER: I think it was a question of the root of the problem, whether it was ethnic, basically clarifying what I said. This has been the root of the challenge for defining it as genocide. As I said, there are definitely distinct ethnic groups according to the letter of the law in Darfur, which was a problem in Rwanda. That does not mean that what is happening is necessarily an ethnic conflict, to meet that same definition. You have a situation where you definitely have distinct ethnic groups, and you definitely have some ethnic clashes happening in Darfur, but the question for the Commission of Inquiry was whether or not the preponderance of individual crimes or hate crimes were happening with an intent to annihilate an ethnic population
I am going to back up for a second. There is something interesting about genocide which I did not say. You can commit one act in a situation, and it would be genocide. Oftentimes people think that it has to be thousands or hundreds of thousands of actions. One will do it, as long as that individual action was committed with the intent to annihilate the entire population in part of a systematic policy by government. There has to be some other contextual things, but the way that the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, in my opinion, is looking at this, is kind of mathematical. There were not enough of those cases where they found that the right intent was there for them to be able to say, “Yes, this is happening with the intent to annihilate the ethnic group.”
The other thing to note is, none of the crimes -- Genocide is considered to be the crime of all crimes -- technically speaking, are ranked. All the crimes have the same maximum penalty --crime against humanity, war crime, etc. -- the maximum penalty you can have is life imprisonment under the General United Nations Legal System. Technically speaking, a crime against humanity is just as egregious as genocide. The crime against humanity includes some things that genocide does not: In Bosnia and to some degree in Rwanda, there is the forced impregnation factor. That is something that is starting to come into the genocide definition, but which is definitely accounted for in the crime against humanity.
All criminal law is based on the same principle; it is the act and the intent. In domestic law you have what is called a hate crime, which has that intent level. You commit a crime with the intent to hurt somebody because of their ethnic affiliation, their race, or their identification with a group. It is the same thing on the international level. I use the term, “crime against humanity,” but hate crime usually refers to the domestic jurisdiction only. It happens on the national level. It is a way of giving a crime more of a punishment or sentencing. On the international level, it is the difference between a crime against humanity, where you do not have to have that intent to annihilate one member of that group, and genocide, in which you do. It is the lawyer in me; you will have to forgive me.
DONATELLA LORCH: I do not think we should only look at the process of rebuilding after genocide, but the process of rebuilding after a civil war, or after a natural disaster. It is the trickiest part of what has happened. When you look at the Tsunami, Rwanda or Darfur, the world cares for the first fifteen minutes. Out goes the money, out goes the media attention; it is on the television screen at night for a very brief moment. Look at the amount of money that went to the Tsunami victims. It was amazing. I was floored by it. If only they had given some of that money to Africa, or to help rebuild post-conflict in Congo, or elsewhere. When the attention goes away, then everything bogs down, and that is the most sensitive, most important moment of rebuilding a society and that is not only for genocide, it is after any civil war.
There are certain basic building blocks. One, you have to keep the international attention in terms of money and projects coming into that area of the world. You have to make sure that there is a justice system in place, and that was a huge issue for Rwanda. Even eleven years after the genocide, it has not been totally resolved. You have to bring justice. Without justice, you cannot have peace. You have to maintain international pressure. You have to maintain international donations, which are like talking to the wind at times, because during emergency sessions everyone is willing to pledge, but when it comes right down to the wire, are they willing to give? That is very different.
If you want peace in a country, you have to make sure you do not have inflammatory media. One of the reasons that there were so many problems, and I take Burundi as an example, is in the first Clinton administration, there was this great desire to spread democracy everywhere, to anoint democracy in every African country. They may have been a dictatorship or a single-party government for the past thirty years, but now tomorrow, they are democratic, and because of that you can have as many newspapers as you want.
In Burundi, it happened in the space of six months. No one knew what it meant to be democratic, so everyone decided to publish their own rag under no rules. On one front page there was the fact that the Americans were going to invade in a submarine through Lake Tanganyika. Nice hippos, but I do not think that there are too many American submarines there. The fact that there was no control, no background, no knowledge of how to bring across news, it spread like wildfire; it served as a wildfire for ethnic hate. The media have that responsibility. If you want to help rebuild in a post-genocidal situation or a post-civil war situation, you have to have strong media, a strong justice system, and strong international support.
QUESTION: What can young people do?
BRIDGET CONLEY: Stay young. We have done a few things at the museum, and my colleague, Lisa Rogoff, who is here, has been spearheading our efforts with university students to try to get people more engaged. If nothing else, to spread the word, to stay informed themselves, to try to be in touch with their media. If you think your media are doing a good job covering this, tell them. If they are not, tell them that as well. Also, speak to your representatives. We do, for all intents and purposes, live in a democracy, which means that apparently we are ruled by the people for the people. Engage in that. The system is set up to be responsive to at least a certain extent.
Those are some of the things that we are doing to try to help foster people to not only be informed themselves, but to also help spread what they known to larger communities. If you think of your one self sending one letter, it can be very frustrating and feel very meaningless, but if you understand that you are part of one person, multiplied exponentially, then you can see that it is not simply one voice here, but a rising tide. A movement can influence the media, respond to the human rights groups and engage them increasingly, and support them. A movement can also influence our government. We have resources available on our website. There are lots of student activities.
DONATELLA LORCH: You have one great gift, which is you have energy. As you grow older, you will notice that you will become so assaulted by life in general, and by building your life and your career. This is your time where you can really make a difference. You do not have ties with immense amounts of family around you to worry about. You can go out and draw your friends together. You can go -- whether it is here in the United States or volunteering or working overseas -- and bring back the knowledge that you have and expand the knowledge of your friends. That is the most important thing. I used to go to parties in New York City, after Rwanda, and you would think that since New York City is a pretty cosmopolitan place that they would know where Africa is at least. They would be totally uninterested after five minutes. “Oh Rwanda, oh there were people killed there, okay, but have you seen the latest thing you can get at Sacks Fifth Avenue?” I look at the way young people now are focused. This is such a material world that we live in that it is a question of stepping a bit away from that, and trying to bring your friends and get involved in programs such as this, and in working overseas and working here.
ARIELA BLÄTTER: The other thing is not simply what you can do to change others, but to make a commitment yourself: “Not on my watch,” was for Clinton, but make that something that is personally meaningful.
How many of you are college students? Have you ever seen MTV University? It did not exist when I was in college.
BRIDGET CONLEY: MTV did not exist when I was in college.
ARIELA BLÄTTER: We have this partnership that I know that the Committee on Conscience also has with MTV University. If you do tend to go on their websites, or see their transmissions, all of our actions are cross-listed with MTV University.
Some practical things: Pictures speak a thousand words. On Amnesty’s website we have forty slides of pictures from Darfur and testimonies from the ground, which you can download. It costs $40, you can print it at Kinko’s, and you can set it up at your universities. We have a whole tool kit on activism. You can get a speaker from the Darfurian community by contacting Amnesty. There are many people on the list, we can come and talk with you, and I am available to talk about that afterwards.
The Darfur Accountability Act is currently in the Senate, which is something else to talk to your representatives about, push them on, annoy the administration, call the White House line -- I love doing this one -- and tell them you want Bush to talk about Darfur. Call Secretary of State Rice’s office and ask her why she has not been to Darfur personally, and ask when Darfur is going to become a priority for the administration again.
There is also a “stop violence against women” campaign in Amnesty, which is focusing on the need for a crime of rape. In International Law, many of you might not know, rape is still not a crime. It is always brought in as part of another crime, as in torture or genocide. The International Criminal Court needs to focus on the specific crimes going on against women in Darfur, and all that is happening through the “stop violence against women” campaign.
Right outside the door are the postcards, which you can pick up and take with you. I need you guys to actually go to all the independent music stores and bookstores where they have postcards up and you can take free postcards. We no longer have a contract where they will put those postcards up for us. So if you take those postcards and go to each store that you can think of and ask them to put them up, then those people who do not know anything about Darfur will pick up the materials, will send those postcards, and get the message out.
BRIDGET CONLEY: We have postcards too, so if you see the museum ones, please spread the word. We are a little tight on time. We will take these three questions and make the answers more concise, but hopefully just as informative.
QUESTION: This is in relation to what works and what not, what we were talking about earlier. I am wondering if you realistically believe the African Union can be and will be strengthened by the end of the year. I feel like the United States is hiding behind the African Union right now. We need to realize that genocide is not an African problem; this is a problem about humanity, and it is an international problem. How you would feel about advocating a Chapter 7 United Nations mandate, as far as an international intervention?
QUESTION: We have concentrated on the two egregious acts in both Rwanda and Sudan. Are there any common threads that you could see coming out of the Holocaust or Bosnia as well?
QUESTION: I was just curious if you felt that the governing bodies had given any thought to putting a commander in such situations as this, and giving them a freer hand to act on their own, rather than having to wait for decisions to be made through the long process of bureaucracy thousands of miles away?
BRIDGET CONLEY: The first question was in regards to the African Union. Can and will it be strengthened? Do you have an opinion about giving it Chapter 7, which would be peace-making authority?
DONATELLA LORCH: You have to define what it means to strengthen the African Union. You used the expression, “hiding behind the A.U. troops.” My God! There is only a handful out there, basically. Darfur is huge. When you send in just 100, 200, 300, 400 troops, they are not going to make a difference. What does it mean to strengthen? Does it mean to send in 5,000, 20,000, 30,000 troops? I do not think the African Union is capable of sending 30,000 troops somewhere right now. It does not have the manpower. It may have the physical manpower, but not the weapons to arm the manpower.
In terms of Chapter 7, that is my big question about Darfur. Everyone says to intervene, but how do you intervene? Do you have Chapter 7? Do you bring in tanks, helicopters? Chad is going to let you bring that in, and Khartoum is going to let you bring that in? So you are just going to airdrop them into the areas of Western Darfur, and who is going to pay for it? The only country that literally has the capability to do that is the United States, to bring in tanks, and helicopters, and airlifting. Certainly not the African Union. I do not think Chapter 7 is a reality or a possibility at this point in time.
ARIELA BLÄTTER: In the interest of time I will say, yes, the African Union can be strengthened. No, but side-stepping because of practicalities; I cannot really engage in the Chapter 7 discussion, because, as I said, I just cannot see it being possible. The political will not being there, a dedicated United Nations peacekeeping mission under a Chapter 7 mandate, I just do not see as a possibility.
BRIDGET CONLEY: Maybe we should jump then to the third question. We will come back to the second about essentially the rules of engagement, and why military forces on the ground for these international troops do not have more latitude in deciding how they will respond.
DONATELLA LORCH: I think any military has a system of accountability from the lower ranks up, and the upper ranks higher up than that, and when you bring something together like a United Nations peacekeeping force. You bring again as we talked about the United Nations -- all these countries coming together to create one force -- that there are incredible bureaucratic levels of accountability there, and there is never going to be the situation where they are going to say, “Feel free to do whatever you feel like doing,” because the Canadians may do one thing, and then the Americans or the French will scream bloody murder, “How come the Canadians did that and did not consult with us?” The United Nations is a group of countries. They all feel they all have a say in what goes on; that is why they have constantly go back and forth for approval to United Nations headquarters.
BRIDGET CONLEY: The final question: What common threads can we finally sort of pull out from this discussion, about commonalities between the Holocaust, Rwanda, and Darfur? I think this is essentially the question of: What is genocide?
ARIELA BLÄTTER: All of these cases are the ability for one individual or group of individuals to literally dehumanize someone. It is about whether the victim was part of an ethnic group, or a national, or a socially recognized group. It is the ability to look at someone and say, “You are not human, you are not worthy of being here, and I am going to annihilate you.” Honestly, I do not have an answer for why that happens, but it does happen. I know Samantha Power gave testimony in Congress. That talk was the same thing looking at Rwanda, and she said, “I hope in ten years you are not here asking me to say ‘looking back ten years later at Darfur.’” We are constantly saying “Never forget” about the Holocaust. I hope you get to the root of why humankind has the ability to dehumanize each other, and we really look at the developing human rights law standard as at least an aspiration for how we should treat each other.
DONATELLA LORCH: I remember what Dallaire said at the end of the film: “When it comes right down to it, there is no one human being that is more human than another human being.”
BRIDGET CONLEY: Thank you. I will just briefly invite everyone to join us for our next event on July 11th, on Srebrenica. We will be opening a new display just down the hallway, and will have a discussion beforehand. On July 20th we will be having a roundtable discussion on the African Union, which may be of great interest given some of the questions. Thank you for coming, and please join me in thanking our panelists.