ONE'S first reaction on reading that the European Union has decided that the situation in Darfur, Sudan, does not amount to genocide, is to say, Typical bloody Brussels. Thousands have been evicted, hundreds have been raped, thousands are without food and suffering from debilitating illnesses, while the bureaucrats sit round a table to decide which best describes what is happening! But stay a while. The word genocide is written into many charters and treaties as a trigger for individual nations or the international community as a whole to be able to take certain drastic actions, for instance the use of military force to bring the genocide to an end. This applies to the United Nations and to the European Union and it is therefore important to know whether any contemplated action can be justified as lawful. Although a lot of publicity was given to a vote by the US House of Representatives to describe the Sudan government's actions as genocide, this lead has not been followed by the White House or, perhaps more pertinently, by the African Union or such respected organisations as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
It is, of course, sickening to pick at words in this way while people are suffering and dying. But in the case of Darfur no military intervention could possibly bring about a solution unless it were undertaken on a huge scale. For this to happen, a clear legal recognition that a state of genocide exists would be necessary. In the circumstances, threfore, the best hope for Darfur lies in a triple approach: intervention by an African Union peacekeeping force, accepted by Khartoum; implementation of the conditions of the UN Security Council resolution passed two weks ago; and a massively expanded humanitarian relief operat