Martin to UN: Action needed in Sudan

09.22.04

In PM Paul Martin’s first address to the United Nation, he blasted the world’s inaction on Sudan and called for more rapid international action there, and in other countries in crisis:

“The Security Council has been bogged down in debating the issue,” said Martin, who pledged $20 million Cdn to assist the African Union in its drive to quell fighting between government-backed militias and rebel groups.

“While the international community struggles with definitions, the people of Darfur struggle with disaster. They are hungry, they are homeless, they are sick and many have been driven out of their own country. Tens of thousands have been murdered, raped and assaulted,” told the gathering.

“Our common humanity should be a powerful enough argument and that is precisely what is missing. Put simply, there is still no explicit provision in international law for intervention on humanitarian grounds.”

Martin also admitted that intervention in Sudan is too little, too late:

“We should have intervened last June when Canada called for it,” said Martin, who acknowledged progress had been made with a UN Security Council resolution last weekend that threatens sanctions if violence continues in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

“It’s been a long time in coming, far too long in coming,” he said.

We could argue that Canada’s aid is also too little, too late. But realistically, there’s very little our overextended military could do.

Martin has been relatively invisible on the international scene since taking office last December. This is his first effort to try to take a leadership role, in the spirit of Canada’s past reputation. And certainly, the crisis in Darfur needs more attention to be called to it – from a country other than the US, which has very little credibility right now thanks to the Iraq situation, the election, and general anti-Americanism.

Canada’s call to action is a step in the right direction, and I think Paul Martin deserves props for his speech today and his call to action. Unfortunately, the United Nations he is addressing is one that’s hell-bent on inaction.

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