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UN Watch in Action

UN Watch holds NGO Activist Summit on Darfur

Geneva, Mar. 28, 2007  —  UN Watch hosted a panel of distinguished speakers, including a Darfur survivor and a UN expert, at its Activist Summit on Darfur today at the UN Office in Geneva.  The summit took place two days before the UN Human Rights Council votes on a resolution about Darfur.

     (L-R) Colum Murphy, Hillel Neuer, Paul Hunt, Gibreil Hamid, and Joyce Jacobs.
The full panel of speakers included: Gibreil I. M. Hamid, survivor of the violence in Darfur and director of the Darfur Peace and Development Center in Zurich; Professor Paul Hunt, UN expert on the right to health; Professor Colum Murphy, president of the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations; Joyce Jacobs, Chair of the Darfur Relief section of the American Jewish Committee Palm Beach Chapter; and Elizabeth Cassidy, Assistant Executive Director of UN Watch.   UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer moderated the summit.

     UN expert Paul Hunt.

The panelists offered a wealth of insight, from Mr. Hamid's horrifying description of the Janjaweed raid that killed 60 members of his family, to Ms. Jacobs' tips on ways each person can be an activist.  Professor Hunt spoke out strongly against the Council member states that, as allies of Sudan, have blocked effective action to end the government-supported violence.

     Gibreil Hamid (left) and Joyce Jacobs.
Professor Murphy, who was a key UN negotiator in Bosnia, emphasized that only the Sudanese government can end the Darfur nightmare, but it will only do so when it sees that the appeasement from the international community has ended.  Unfortunately, as Ms. Cassidy explained in her speech about the draft resolutions being considered by the Council, appeasement will continue to be the policy from the UN's highest human rights body.

As a reminder of Sudan's determination to deny responsibility, Sudanese government representatives attended the summit in large numbers, including several "non-governmental" organizations whose "questions" were in reality full-throated justifications for Sudan's murderous policies.  One such organization argued against discussing Darfur at all, and another distributed propaganda depicting the smiling children of Darfur, suggesting that the situation is not actually so bad.

     Sudan's government propaganda showing happy Darfur children.

The government's intimidation efforts failed to stop the summit from strengthening the voices fighting for effective UN action on Darfur.  Several NGO representatives in attendance hailed the summit for bringing them all together at a key moment for the UN.  As Mr. Hamid wrote following the summit: "I am very glad to have this chance to thank you once again by the name of all Darfurians for the great job that you did.  I really appreciate also the panelists; it was not an easy job for all of us, but at the end we succeeded."

     More than 100 ambassadors, UN officials, and NGO representatives attended the summit.