The time to act is now
by Julie Folk
The United Nations cannot wait any longer
By calling for reforms in his recent speech to the United Nations regarding the situation in Sudan, Paul Martin has said what should have been done a long time ago. Now it’s time to put his words into action. As the United Nations deliberates what their next action should be, the people of Sudan are going through genocide.
The Sudanese government is facing the increasingly daunting task of trying to contain the Arab militia group Janjaweed, who have been burning, raping, and killing people of the Darfur region in Sudan. The United Nations has been looking into the issue, deciding whether the crisis is “a threat to international peace and security” or genocide, for either would call for the international law of intervention.
In his recent speech to the United Nations, Paul Martin stated that “while the international community struggles with definitions, the people of Darfur continue to suffer.” The African Union is prepared to lead intervention in the crisis. And by offering $20 million towards the effort, Canada has called upon other countries around the world to join in the endeavor.
Although a ceasefire has been called, there are still some hostilities that remain. The Sudanese government trivializes the crisis. Sudan’s social affairs minister, Habib Makhtoun, told reporters, “The conflict is a problem of tribal clashes and bandits. The government is investigating attacks as they occur, and arresting culprits when it can.” If 50,000 deaths and a million displaced people is a simple tribal clash, our world has greater problems than we previously thought.
While calling for intervention in the Sudan crisis, Paul Martin also expressed his desires to reform the entire United Nations organization. In his speech to the United Nations, Martin brought forward five points he believes need to be improved within the institution.
His first point, and most important to the crisis in Sudan, is the need for the United Nations to concern itself with “the responsibility to protect the need to develop the rules and political will that would allow the international community to intervene in countries to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.” After World War II, the United Nations was set up to protect various countries around the world and provide help to those in need. The genocide committed by Hitler and the Nazis taught us a lesson that still rings true today: we can’t sit back and watch atrocities be committed in other countries, even if they don’t affect us directly. Yet here we are, sitting back and slowly deliberating while yet another genocide is taking place.
In his speech, Paul Martin also discussed the need to destroy weapons of mass destruction, respect all human beings and their rights and to build both infrastructure and public institutions in countries around the world.
His fifth and final point was that we have to look at our responsibility in the future. We must learn from our history not to make the same mistakes. This means stopping genocide, or intervening in a country unable to effectively govern itself. Preservation of humanity should be the focus of our world, coming before any other issue. Paul Martin put it best when he said, “The United Nations is our moral conscience. The time has come for us to act.”