John Danforth, former U.S. Senator, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and U.S. envoy to Sudan, recently urged the Obama administration to very quickly appoint a special envoy to Sudan.
Danforth encouraged President Obama to act quickly in Sudan, where the historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement (which Danforth himself played a key role in negotiating) is in danger of collapsing, and the Darfur conflict is at a crucial juncture. To quote Danforth: “The U.S. must again be a catalyst, encouraging help from China, which is Sudan’s largest trading partner, Kenya, and other countries that would be hurt by a new war [between Northern and Southern Sudan].”
The pledges made by President Obama and his top foreign policy officials to end the Darfur genocide have been strong and consistent. However, astute bloggers at UN Dispatch and Change.org have noted that the urgency of the new administration’s rhetoric has not yet been reflected in the sort of immediate actions (read: appointing special envoys) that Obama has already taken to address other hot conflicts, such as those in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
President Obama is about to face a big test on Sudan policy (read: a likely International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Sudan’s president). Danforth is right in asserting that the best way for the Obama administration to make clear its intent to take a hard line with Khartoum is to appoint a high-level envoy to take ownership of Sudan policy and responsibility for ending the genocide.