A United Nations report has stopped short of saying that the Sudanese government and its militia allies have carried out a genocide against non-Arab groups in Darfur but says war crimes have been committed.
A finding of genocide would have carried a legal obligation to act.
The report says that government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks which included "killing of civilians, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur". Rebel actions were also condemned.
It said those responsible should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Is the UN right or wrong to say the atrocities in Darfur is not genocide? A week after the Jewish Holocaust was remembered, is the world doing enough to stop the violence? How could the conflict be ended? Have you been affected personally by the violence in Darfur? Send us your comments.
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
I believe that the USA should stay far away from the Darfur Issue, let the African and the Islamic nations solve this issue, what ever the USA does will be unappreciated and mislabelled as bias against a Islamic Country
Vin Raj, NY, USA
Yes it is genocide? How many more people must be killed, how many more women must be raped and physically abused, how many more children must be maimed before the world, and particularly the UN, face their responsibility?
DorothÚe Gornard-Ngarambe, UK
This is simply a way for the Europeans to wipe their hands of the situation. If it were labelled genocide, the Europeans would be obliged to intervene. But the Europeans will never do so. Europeans talk a good game. But, when it comes time to do something, to act, to make the sacrifices that are required, there is no way on earth the Europeans would do so. There is no situation on the planet that Europeans will ever call genocide, no matter how bad. They simply are unwilling to do anything to help (Darfur, Rwanda, etc.).
Jim, Pittsburgh PA, USA
Where is the UN? They want to control world police action, but they remain impotent. As soon as some bullets fly, they pull out their troops and people because it's too dangerous. And the world wonders why the US does what it does?
Dave, Dallas, TX, USA
When we come to face with ghastly atrocities we are appalled and want to ask, But what happened to these people that they should have acted in this manner? I think if we continual to ask ourselves what happened in Sudan whether it is genocide or not - this is not an issue now. This is how we felt when we encountered the horrors of Dafur. When we should have been acting with a sense of moral outrage, we became bureaucratic and rigid. When we should have been naming the evil as genocide, we calculated what the implications of such a statement might have on our partners and friends and economic communities. We competed expensively and extensively for scare funds, outdoing one another in our efforts to promote our own agendas. The agenda of this so-called international community is unfettered humanitarianism, which has contributed greatly to Africa's current plight through ill-advised and questionable interference. Worse, it then turns its back when things get ugly and desperate.
Zachariah Mandara, Saskatoon, Canada
The UN is all of us not some alien force hiding somewhere - what are the critics doing to help in Darfur? Iraq was an illegal invasion by three democracies and a type of genocide has been carried out by us against the people of Iraq in the name of sanctions - now we bomb them. Now why isn't it genocide when we do it to other people?
Marilyn Shepherd, Adelaide, Australia
Genocide is the act of wiping out an entire race - that's its dictionary definition. You can stretch the point and say that trying to commit genocide is as bad as actually doing it (as the Nazis did) but you cannot label ethnic cleansing as genocide. Genocide sounds very newsworthy, but it is actually an extraordinarily difficult crime to commit and very seldom even attempted.
Iain Howe, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Who care what they call it! Fix it!
John, Ottawa, Canada
It makes me shake my head. The idea that UN sanctions will have any effect proves the definition of insane: doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result from the past results. How can reasonable people have any confidence in the UN... it is irrelevant and ineffectual at best.
At the worst the UN blocks solutions to any issue, except perhaps the occasional natural disaster. I suggest the UN stick to what it is best at... sanitation and making reports. Leave the peace to countries who care enough to act!
Karl, Toronto, Canada
The violence in Darfur needs to end or else it will go on for 22 years like the fighting in the south. However, if the UN or whoever intervenes are we/they ready to see some soldiers die. We weren't in Somalia or Rwanda. To make this stop someone may have to sacrifice something and sadly the rest of the world has not been willing to do that for the people of Africa.
I can only pray that the world will wake up and see it is wrong to abandon and entire continent. We are all guilt - the US, the EU, the UN, Asian nations, all of us have had a hand in the atrocities and poverty of Africa.
CW, Wilmington, NC, USA
I consider the US' assertion that what is happening in Darfur is genocide is totally biased and anti-Islamic. What the UN said should be accepted and seek a redress to the crisis there. The US should not be allowed to rule the world with iron fist.
Baba Bukae Habeeb, Maiduguri, Nigeria
We need to consider what would have happened if the UN had labelled Darfur genocide. The answer is, not a lot: Sanctions, possibly the creation of a no-fly area in parts of Sudan, and a few sanctimonious statements from world leaders. The sanctions would only exacerbate the crisis, the no-fly areas would heighten the civil war, and more people would die. The only solution is direct intervention, and that is unlikely - Sudan, after all, is poor.
Mike, London, UK
Why, oh, why is the UN messing around so much with this issue? Call it what you like but the UN needs to get out of their seats and send in a proper force to defend the innocents of this conflict who are dying by the thousands. Promise after promise has been broken to these poor people. Action now. Words later.
Glenn Wornell, Frankfurt, Germany
Instead of arguing about naming the crimes, the world should focus its attention on the roots of the causes. It is, as it has ever been before, poverty and dispute over land ownership which are the problem. Only the overall well being of all the people in that region will ensure peace and stability for everyone. Darfur is a typical case study of the problems facing the Africans from Angola to Ethiopia!
Srinivasan Toft, HumlebŠk, Denmark
To me it doesn't matter if it is genocide or a war crime situation, as long as things are done to stop it. Historians will tell what it was in due time. For the moment, I am appalled once more to see the UN and the US fight over words that hide politics (will the ICC be effectively in charge or a local court, will military forces be deployed, etc). The fact that they both recognise that something is wrong in Darfur but take time to discuss how it is named instead of taking - already due - immediate action, is simply sickening.
Maria, Athens, Greece
The reason which the UN uses to stop short of calling the atrocious acts of the Sudanese government is baseless. The UN reports lack of "intent" on the part of the Sudanese government to commit genocide. Can you really fail to see intent when only a certain type of people, from a particular region of the country, of a particular colour are the only ones targeted indiscriminately? It is sad that the UN is once again defending criminals.
Just like in Rwanda it was one ethnic group against another, in Sudan it is the northern Arab Muslim world cleansing the southern blacks. The El Bashir government is backing the Janjaweed militia and it is doing so actively by carpet bombing, supplying the militia with training and ammunition with no-one in the northern Arab dominated areas is subject to killings. Do they want another 6,000,000 deaths before they can be ashamed again?
David Nzaligo, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
I thought that the genocide by definition is more of an act of ethnic cleansing. Targeting one group of people. To be categorised as genocide, I would think that there would have to be the presence of these acts being committed against one group of people. If that is not occurring, I don't think that the term is valid in this case.
GG, Vancouver WA, USA
Once again, it seems all the world can muster is a cry for "someone to do something" in the face of atrocity. Small countries resign themselves to an inability to act. Perhaps if they formed a coalition with other concerned nations, some good could be done. Unfortunately, it is far easier to do nothing and hope that the USA will step in and shoulder the entire burden by itself.
Henri Paul, St Emilion, France
Last week the world ground to a halt to remember the day that Auschwitz was liberated 60 years ago. World leaders stood in the Polish snow with sombre looks on their faces making sure to capitalize on the photo opportunity gifted them.
Meanwhile, in Africa, genocide was occurring. The UN's declaration that genocide has not occurred in Darfur is shameful. It is a convenience that allows those pledged to protect those at risk from genocidal activity the luxury of condemning those responsible while doing little else. The problem has been dumped on the fledgling African Union, which hasn't the resources or the logistical capabilities to stop it.
I hate to say it, but if white people were suffering under the same circumstances, international protection would be a foregone conclusion. Thus, the inaction of the international community regarding the disaster in Darfur speaks volumes.
Matthew Good, Vancouver, Canada
Where is the rest of Africa? Why do they do nothing except criticize the developed countries when this problem is in their own front yard.
Jeremy, Atlanta, Georgia
Really what the UN has said about Darfur is the same thing it said when it refused to back the Iraq War. Its ok for third world dictatorships and kleptocracies to murder on vast scales, as long as they do it slowly. After all, Saddam butchered more than 300,000 of his own people and forcibly relocated a million more, but not a peep of protest from the UN. It should be disbanded immediately.
Zach Smith, Bloomington, IN, USA
People who criticise the UN should remember that in many areas, UN organisations do immensely valuable work. The reason why the UN falls short in times of conflict is because five members of the UN Security Council have the power of veto, an incredibly undemocratic concept. Thus, in most conflicts the UN is powerless to intervene because one of these five members has a vested interest.
For example, the UN was powerless to intervene when Saddam was gassing thousands of Iranians because Britain, America and France threatened to veto any resolution. Similarly, Russia and China will always veto resolutions on Chechnya and Taiwan respectively.
If Britons, Americans and French really want the UN to improve then they should pressure their governments to give up their veto. However, I suspect that some of the people on this board most critical of the UN are exactly the same people who believe their country has some sort of fundamental 'right' to have the power of veto - ironic, eh?
Even if the UN fell short calling the murders of innocent Sudanese genocide, it has stated that war crimes have been committed and those suspected of war crimes should be brought to justice through the ICC, so let us not be too hasty to judge the UN as ineffective or unwilling to act. What would make the UN ineffective is if certain members of the Security Council attempted to hamper efforts to bring the guilty to justice. Steve, UK (above) clearly identified both the problem and solution by suggesting that Security Council members relinquish their veto powers in favour of democracy and international cooperation.
Yes, the UN is right in its report. I agree with the UN. What has been running in Darfur is not genocide. It is rather an inner conflict that erupted with the help of outside powers who have illicit interests in such weakening conflicts. Of course the world is not doing enough to stop the violence.
The world family or the world community should but must do so many things. I think that helping Sudan with its social and economic development is the most important aspect to heal the wounds of its violence. I see that the violence can be ended through the long-term interference from the Arab states and UN.
Nabil Abdel Ahad Abdel Baky, Cairo, Egypt
When Rwanda happened, the US said they were "acts of genocide" not genocide itself. Now the UN too is playing with words. In a year when we marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz with vows of "never again" the sheer incompetence of the UN to deal with Darfur is a huge shame. In the light of Srebrenica, Rwanda and now Sudan it makes me wonder if we've learnt anything at all.
Antara Datta, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Apparently after the Balkans conflict in the 90s, the prosecutors changed the definition of genocide to allow war criminals to be tried on that charge, even though they only were responsible for thousands, rather than tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths. It is disappointing that the goalposts are moved as a political expedient in this way, and this time the opposite position has been taken to avoid a costly and risky intervention.
Dominic Sloane, Sheffield, UK
There does seem to be a fixation with the word "genocide", which has a very specific - arguably too specific - legal meaning. What's in a name anyway? There's still debate over whether events in Rwanda or Cambodia were genocide - but this debate did not help the victims at all. Technically, what is happening in Sudan may not be genocide. That does not mean we should ignore it.
MC, Glasgow, Scotland
Of course it's genocide but China and Russia would veto any action taken by the UN... and the US says it is Africa's problem. Hope the world court can handle this crime.
C Rainville, Victoria, BC, Canada
It is horrifying that still in today's world racism still exists to the extreme extent that a people would commit genocide on another. I think the UN is wrong. Killing a group of people because of their race is genocide! We have only just finished remembering about the Jews that suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
The UN is there to protect people. Although this hasn't affected me personally I would like to know why the world is so quick to react and help when nature is the cause of the disaster, but when it is a crisis such as this everyone is quick to turn their backs?
Mark Harshaw, Elgin, Scotland
To those who are calling what is going on in Darfur genocide: what proof do you have to support your claim? Are there any known mass graves in Darfur that you or any international organization have seen? How do you know 70,000 people have died? Have you been down there counting the bodies? Please stop this type of negative intervention in my country's internal affairs.
The Darfur conflict is getting on our nerves in Africa. The rebels and the government should stop killing innocent lives and bring peace. No western intervention will bring peace if the rebels, Janjaweed and the government don't stop fighting.
Ibrahim, Mubi, Nigeria
Beyond comments of mine or others on the Darfur conflict it seems realistic to respect the results of the UN's commission measures. Do not forget that the United Nations, in particular UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was among the first who criticized the conflict and took important steps to improve the situation along with the US.
Pooramiini-Mohammad, Hamadan, Iran
UN rules state that if genocide is being committed then they are obliged to take action. How convenient then that the report stops short of finding genocide. The UN has had more blood on its hands than any current government. Yet when any country wishes to take some action against such acts people despair if they don't wait for their go ahead. The UN have become just another place for failed diplomats to pick up a big pay-check and plenty of perks besides.
Yes it is genocide. But why aren't there a million people marching on the streets of London protesting against the UN for allowing 70,000 people to be murdered? Why isn't the French government taking the moral high ground on this issue? Why isn't the UN doing something forceful about it?
Charles, London, UK
The UN is useless. All it appears to be good for is conferences at five star hotels and pronouncements. The day China signed oil contracts with Sudan any chance of the UN doing anything vanished. This is certainly genocide. It is a chance for the EU to show it can do something. As usual noting but talk will come from this. France and Germany are impotent.
The US and UK are fully occupied. There will be no action taken by them. It's time for the rest of the world to take action for once.
FB, CA, US
It is genocide but the UN will not recognize this as it carries with it a requirement for the UN to act. Why won't the UN act? Because its members do not care about anyone in Africa. Europe cries buckets over the invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq and blames the US and UK for all of Iraq's problems.
Where are the great humanists Chirac and Schroeder with regard to Darfur? Where are the millions who took to the streets to protest over the Iraq war? Where is their conscience? Quite simply - they do not care because it is an African problem involving Blacks and because they cannot blame the US and UK for the problem. They are all hypocrites.
In the technical sense of the word no it is not genocide because genocide is "the deliberate annihilation of a group of people" and as it is discriminate attacks taking place it is therefore not. However the UN should intervene and stop all this bureaucracy slowing down the system.
Chris, England, UK
How long will the UN continue its act of sitting on the fence? Now I see clearly why Bush took a unilateral action to go to war in Iraq.
Thompson Yaduma Clifford, Seoul, South Korea
It has always been the same response when it comes to African problems. When will the United Nations Organisation and its officials realise that Africans shed red blood like other human beings?
Nshuti, Milton Keynes, England
And Europeans wonder why the American government and the American people have a hard time taking the UN seriously. Apparently for the UN, when it walks like a duck, flies like a duck and talks like a duck, it isn't a duck.
Jonathan Navia, Pittsburgh, PA
It is genocide though we Africans keep quiet. I am Tanzanian and I remember when President Bush went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq - Tanzanian Muslims took to the street in the name of Islam. But alas out of my friends no single Muslim has done the same in sympathy for those in Darfur.
Bart Silinge, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
While I agree that it is genocide... I also can't see what people expect the UN to do. Where would it get the troops for any action? The Arab states would obviously be reluctant. At the end of the Iraq war our military said it would not be ready for any conflict until October 2005 and that was before the current insurgency in Iraq.
The US is already having to extend tours of duty and call up reserves just to meet the requirements of Iraq. So if anything does happen it will simply be a repeat of the conflict in Somalia. It was wrong to call it anything other than genocide... but reality is a cruel mistress to the UN.
Daniel Jones, Wellingborough, UK
Sudan is unquestionably genocide. Rwanda was one, and Sudan is Rwanda in slow motion.
Ryan, Washington, DC
The UN has failed us again. This is now a lobby group. Is it possible it has outlived its use? It is now an obstacle, since AU and others look up to it to act.
A Gimei, Columbus, OH
It's not genocide, but ethnic cleansing as was seen in the Baltics. Did we act then... you bet. But we did so only because it was right next door. If this was happening closer to home there would be an outcry and immediate action. Unfortunately like all African nation mass murder events of the last 10 years we ignore it and turn a blind eye. Shame on our leaders.
Wayne Copeland, Coventry, England
How do you define genocide? A systematic taking of a peoples lives, for no other reason than difference? Darfur is genocide.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK
Once again the world has looked on whilst thousands of children woman and men have been slaughtered. How many times have all the countries in the world said this will never happen. This has been going on for over eighteen months that we know of. The British foreign minister went there to see for himself, Colin Powell went there, Kofi Annan went there. Every one has spoken about it yet no action has been taken. It is time for the UN to act with force.
Tony Davies, Mandurah, Australia
Of course it is! A specific group of people have been targeted for killing, rape and forced eviction from their homes. Unfortunately the UN will not act because it doesn't want to upset Arab countries again and because China and Russia (Security Council members) are more interested in economics than the lives of ordinary people. This doesn't bode well for a world in which China will soon be a superpower that matches or eclipses the USA.
Andrew Brown, Derby
Just when the UN could have taken a strong line and demonstrated its teeth to the post-Iraq war world, it backs off from enforcing a legal obligation to act on a technicality. What a weak example to set to the international community. Thousands more will now die as a result of their inaction and lack of strong leadership.
David Taylor, Hampton
Having read a few of the comments, one is compelled to ask, what is the UN's definition of genocide? As many of the comments rightly asked, how many people need to die (in the most horrendous of fashions) for the "g" word to be uttered? And does the manner of death contribute to the interpretation of the word?
Why is it we consider a natural disaster worthy of our aid and intervention on a unseen before scale in Asia, and yet allow this man made tragedy in Africa to go unchecked. Maybe it's because Darfur is not in holiday brochures?
A Caddick, Bristol, Avon
Clearly, the UN is afraid of its Arab UN member states, and is going to allow genocide to continue due to this fear. Shame on the UN, just disband it now.
Darfur is just a stone's throw away from the Rwandan genocide. This is the time for all of us to act (AU and UN alike) otherwise we are to blame if we let this continue.
Hankie Uluko, Kenya
No genocide has taken place in Darfur. I am a Sudanese citizen and I know the roots of the problem very well. The hostilities between Arabic and African tribes have been going on in Darfur for ages, both parties have conducted indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians not just the government militia.
Bara, Khartoum, Sudan
What good is the UN when all it seems to do is talk? Stop the talking and act. It does not matter to the people of Darfur what label is put on their grief and misery.
Karsan, Harrow, England
The UN's taken the easy route out of this problem. Killing all the men and raping all the women of an ethnic race (non-Arabs) with help from the government, whether it be funding, military hardware or simple relaxed policing, is, without doubt genocide.
Just because it doesn't tick all the boxes to be defined as "acts of genocidal intent" doesn't mean it's not happening. How can Britain and the world get so upset and donate so much to the tsunami appeal when atrocities such as this are deemed legal and fair in Africa every day?
Mark Smith, Hammersmith, London
Africa's great statesmen such as Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu are quick to criticise the West's every failing but are strangely silent whenever a problem is caused by fellow Africans. They were silent when millions died in Rwanda. They're silent about the conflicts in Liberia, Ivory Coast and the Congo, they're silent about Zimbabwe and they're silent about Darfur. If 70,000 dead isn't genocide then what is?
No it's wrong - you cannot make this issue less important. The UN is supposed to be the world's policeman but has failed yet again in its primary directive. It has never learnt its lessons and should now be consigned to history like the League of Nations. Let's have a proactive force for good for a change.
Andrew Moss, Brighton, England
Call it a massacre, call it a crime, call it anything but do something to end this tragedy.
Xrisa K, Athens, Greece
Oppression is a Weapon of Mass Destruction as is neglect, yet in the UN the facility to allow any large country or block the right to suppress a reality, for financial or political reasons, particularly as the rest of the world can clearly see as a genocidal process, only produces despair which eventually becomes the basis for aggressive acts often described as terrorism by the various political establishments.
The agenda is now set by the main political powers for Sudan, a process all too familiar to every normal God fearing individual on this planet. Greed is also a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Hey all you at the UN: "Let's call a spade a spade folks!"
This is not right. The question is it genocide or is it not wants to imply some legitimacy to the actions of the state, if it turned out that it is not genocide. At least one senses that in the overall coverage of the problem it is by the media. Are we so incompetent, weak or both that we see how horrible the situation is and yet are not doing enough? Crazy.
The deliberate and systematic murder of 70,000 people implies, to me at least, genocide. I wonder what quota has to be filled for the UN to class something as genocide? The death toll is still rising, would it be better to act now than to wait for another 70,000 to be murdered?
Philip Kanter, London
It would appear that due to the current tension between the West and Arab world due to the war in Iraq among other things, the UN has taken the decision to sit on the fence, rather than put themselves under a legal obligation to do anything about the obvious genocide that is taking place in Darfur. It is appalling that an organization set up to stop atrocities like this taking place and safe guard human life is obviously letting politics cloud their judgement.
Jayne Barnes, London
How bad does the situation have to get for the world to listen and take action?! The UN is there for a reason and it must fulfil its purpose, it must use its power of influence and authority. This is our world; we must work towards a better tomorrow. Talks of justice, freedom and equality are iterated, where is that justice, freedom and equality now? The world speaks of many things and acts on those of convenience. Humanity must be served justice!
Azita, Edmonton, Canada
Quote: "More than 70,000 people have been killed and two million more forced to flee their homes in Darfur since February 2003." I ask how can this not be deemed as genocide? It is time the UN stopped ignoring conflict and devastation in Africa, these people have the same rights as those of us not from this region. To not call this genocide is a disgrace and insult to all of those affected from this atrocity.
This report is bunk. It is meant to assuage some states who don't want economic interests (China) or ethnic concerns (a number of Arab countries) to cause tension with Sudan. A shameful display of selfishness. The ICC must take this matter up without delay.
Those who perpetrated the killings of Sudanese are as evil as any other group that systematically decimates a population. The motto of the Jewish Holocaust, so memorably recalled last week in Auschwitz, "never again", is not being followed. Let it be true for all peoples that genocidal attacks are a thing of memory only.
Murton Edelstein, Keyport, NJ, USA
Does it really matter what the title and type of the conflict are? People are dying that should be enough for the world to wake up and help these individuals.
Tricia, New Hampshire, USA
As usual, the UN is trying to be all things to all people and not upset anyone. The situation in Darfur is genocide, so the UN had better bite the bullet and get something done. This will no doubt upset some of the regional member nations, but also teach them that the rule of law applies. At the moment the UN is more like the League of Nations, but it does have teeth if it has the guts to use them.
Jim, Northants, England
If the Darfur genocide isn't genocide, than what is it? I would like to know how the countries each voted on this, as I believe this is politically motivated. Is this the new anti-Semitism? It makes me want to wretch!
Gerald Sobel, Santa Monica, CA, USA
Of course it's genocide. The UN had a perfect chance to set the precedent after the recent remembrance of the Auschwitz slaughter so fresh in people's minds. However, as there are no corporate interests in the region, it's clear to see why the UN fails to act. Yet again, Africa become the poor relations whereas Arab oil is more important than human tragedy.
Sarge, Birmingham, UK
How grave to do "acts with genocidal intent" have to be in order to be considered genocidal? Considering the Jewish Holocaust is so present in the news lately, the UN should take this opportunity to make a stance on its position regarding genocide.
Michelle, Paris, France
In a week where we have been remembering the terrible crimes committed at Auschwitz, the UN after months of debating decide that there was no genocide in Darfur. After months of sitting on their hands and talking very loudly as thousands were slaughtered they have finally reached a decision for their inaction.
After the terrible crimes committed in Darfur and Rwanda, where no military help was sent, yet billions was spent helping the Iraqis. One wonders if this is because the African life is valued at nothing as far as the UN and Europe are concerned. The UN should be ashamed of themselves.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that what is happening in Darfur is genocide. I think the UN is only trying to avoid taking stern actions.
Werner Brach, Thomasburg, Germany
Clearly "acts with genocidal intent" constitute genocide. The UN, according to its charter, must intervene. The UN should then work locally to create a tribunal. For multilateralism to work, many more must stand against racism, fascism, and genocide.
Chip Lambert, Charlotte, NC, USA