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International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
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The Canadian Press
08 October 2007

When most of the world looked away during the massacre of almost a million people in Rwanda in 1994, the United Nations vowed "never again."

() A new documentary by longtime CBC producer Neil Docherty, "Darfur: On Our Watch," is a disturbing look not just at the tragedy of Darfur but the utter failure of the UN, once again, to do anything meaningful to stop genocide. This time it's in an arid region of western Sudan, tense with tribal rivalries.

"The United Nations has been reduced to pandering and begging for the UN peacekeeping force because there is no precedent for the UN to enter a country without the consent of the government," Farrow, a tireless Darfur activist, says during the gripping documentary airing Thursday on CBC-TV.

() In a telephone interview from her Manhattan home, Farrow lauded Canada for pushing the United Nations, in the wake of Rwanda, to accept a "responsibility to protect" citizens from genocide and ethnic cleansing at the hands of their own governments - a provision that was meant to pave the way for UN military intervention to stop such carnage.

But it's largely lip service, she added.

"It's fine, the responsibility to protect - it was sponsored by Canada and they are fine, fine words. But there's no provision in there to act on it; we're not seeing that. I, for one, would like to see something wedged into responsibility to protect that would provide for meaningful protection to vulnerable populations that are in the midst of atrocities of the kind we're seeing in Darfur."

() Docherty's documentary, Farrow says, is powerful in its indictment of the United Nations and its inaction on Darfur.

"He's rightly focused on the failure of the United Nations and the member states to fulfil its obligations, its responsibility to protect," she said.

() "It's a call to conscience for all of us within the international so-called community."

And it's a call that is finally being heard, she notes.

"People generally are more aware. The civic response to the Darfur tragedy and suffering, I think, has been greater than any since apartheid, so in that sense it's encouraging," Farrow says.

Retired Canadian general Romeo Dallaire is seen in the documentary, heartened that there is so much public awareness about the situation in Darfur.

"The debate that goes on now for Darfur is significant," says Dallaire, who tried frantically to stop the genocide in Rwanda when he headed up the UN peacekeeping force there in 1994. "There was nothing of that in Rwanda, absolutely nothing." ()

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