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Fighting for Darfur

Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide

Author: Rebecca Hamilton, Preface by Mia Farrow

Fighting for Darfur

Fighting for Darfur



About This Book

Around the world, millions of people have added their voices to protest marches and demonstrations because they believe that, together, they can make a difference. When we failed to stop the genocide...

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Around the world, millions of people have added their voices to protest marches and demonstrations because they believe that, together, they can make a difference. When we failed to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, we promised to never let such a thing happen again. But nine years later, as news began to trickle out of killings in western Sudan, an area known as Darfur, the international community again faced the problem of how the United Nations and the United States government could respond to mass atrocity.

Rebecca Hamilton passionately narrates the six-year grassroots campaign to draw global attention to the plight of Darfur's people. From college students who galvanized entire university campuses in the belief that their outcry could save millions of Darfuris still at risk, to celebrities such as Mia Farrow, who spurred politicians to act, to Steven Spielberg, who boycotted the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Hamilton details how advocacy for Darfur was an exuberant, multibillion-dollar effort. She then does what no one has done to date: she takes us into the corridors of power and the camps of Darfur, and reveals the impact of ordinary people's fierce determination to uphold the mantra of "never again." Fighting for Darfur weaves a gripping story that both dramatizes our moral dilemma and shows the promise and perils of citizen engagement in a new era of global compassion.

Imprint Publisher

St. Martin's Press



In The News

“Rebecca Hamilton has catalogued - realistically, soberingly, and most impressively - the successes and shortcomings of the Darfur advocacy movement from its inception to the present. Her work highlights the challenges for citizens and policymakers alike of adapting their actions to mass atrocities less overtly clear than a Holocaust or Rwanda. But above all Hamilton is the model of an 'upstander,' one whom raises her voice and acts when people - whether near or far, Western or African - are most in need of help.” —LGen. the Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire, (Ret'd), Senator

“A masterful feat of original research and reporting, Fighting for Darfur is an authoritative account of the impact of the first sustained citizens' movement against genocide. With Hamilton's fierce determination to get beyond self-congratulatory slogans and taken-for-granted assumptions about what is required to save lives at risk, she provides insights that will be invaluable for concerned citizens, human rights advocates and policymakers alike for years and years to come. Essential reading for anyone who wants to help build a better world.” —Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines

“The lack of political will to act is the bottleneck where the best intentions of the international community to stop genocide get stuck. Political will is never there spontaneously; it has to be created, nurtured and transformed into action by the concerted and committed efforts of citizens confronting their governments with their own stated values and ideals. Rebecca Hamilton's brilliant case study of the efforts to stop the carnage in Darfur and of its limitations combines passion and intelligence to offer a valuable blueprint for a "movement of conscience" to protect the next population at risk of genocide.” —Juan E. Méndez, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide (2004-2007)

“Moving between American college campuses, the halls of the UN and African Union, the policy battles within Washington DC, the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and Darfur itself, "Fighting for Darfur" is a vivid account of how a vicious conflict in a forgotten part of Africa came to define an international movement to stop mass atrocity. Herself one of the earliest and most influential of Darfur activists, Rebecca Hamilton's book poses tough questions for Darfur advocacy movement and the ambition of a global citizens' movement against genocide, which it has spawned.” —Alex de Waal, author of Darfur

Fighting for Darfur is the story of a citizens campaign designed to move governments to save millions of lives in Sudan. It is written by a courageous and resourceful human rights activist who was one of the central players in launching that endeavor. Rebecca Hamilton commendably maintains a measured sense of political realism while still inspiring and encouraging citizens in democracies to fight for the rights of those who are suffering in oppressive societies. A compelling read.” —Justice Richard Goldstone, author of For Humanity

“Bec Hamilton, an intrepid reporter and researcher, has collected and analyzed an impressive amount of original material about one of the least understood foreign policy stories of the past decade: how the world failed to prevent genocide in Darfur. She shrewdly assesses the role of all the major actors including the Sudanese government, the international community and, most of all, the new citizens movement that pressured officials to stop the killing. Hamilton's account will be of great interest to anyone who wants to know how his or her voice can make a difference.” —Mike Abramowitz, director of the genocide prevention program, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

“Rebecca Hamilton captures brilliantly the passion and commitment of the Save Darfur movement, but is also cool and clear-headed about what went wrong. She is especially strong on the ever-present risk for any mass campaign organization of over-simplifying multi-dimensional and ever-changing situations. Complex solutions for complex problems don't make good bumper stickers, and getting what you wish for doesn't always address the real issues. This is ‘lessons learned' writing at its best, compelling reading for policymakers, community activists and anyone anywhere ashamed at our inability to stop mass atrocity crimes, and determined to make the now almost universally accepted responsibility to protect principle a universal reality on the ground.” —Gareth Evans, author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All

“Is mass revulsion to mass atrocities sufficient to change American foreign policy? Fighting for Darfur tells you why ‘It ain't that simple' in a multipolar world with a divided US government. A gripping personal and societal tally of lessons for advocates about how to do better the next time that we face a ‘never-again' crisis.” —Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor of Political Science, the CUNY Graduate Center, and author of What's Wrong with the United Nations and How To Fix It

“Rebecca Hamilton's book is the authoritative account of the world's response since 2003 to mass atrocities in Darfur – and why the best intentions of grassroots activists, U.S. government officials, the United Nations, other international actors and the news media have fallen so short. It is a story of missed opportunities and unintended consequences. It is also a timely call for more realistic and more effective approaches – by policy makers and citizen activists alike--as Sudan enters a turbulent transition that threatens the people of Darfur and beyond.” —Jon Sawyer, Executive Director, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

“Rebecca Hamilton offers a compelling and sober assessment of advocacy networks' efforts to stop genocide in Sudan. This highly readable birds-eye account should be required reading for students and practitioners of public policy.” —Graham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Professor of Government at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government

About the Creators

Fighting for Darfur

Fighting for Darfur