Jerry Fowler


US Secretary of State Colin Powell determined that genocide as defined in the UN Genocide Convention had occurred in Darfur, but he disclaimed any new obligations as a result of that determination. Under the permissive provisions of Article 8 of the convention, he called upon the UN Security Council to investigate whether genocide or other crimes were being committed, with a view to accountability. The subsequent investigation by a UN Commission of Inquiry concluded, on rather dubious grounds, that the Sudanese government was not responsible for genocide but recommended referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court for purposes of accountability; ironically, the opposite conclusions of Powell and the UN Commission produced the same result: a call for steps toward accountability. A further irony is that the UN Convention, although articulating an international condemnation of the crime of genocide, compels nothing more. The attempts at the September 2005 World Summit to obtain recognition of an international responsibility to protect underscored the fundamental reality that nations will not act decisively to confront genocide and other massive human rights abuses out of a sense of legal obligation, but only as a matter of political and practical necessity.