Embassy Magazine on foreign policy has an article praising the Liberal Party for mentioning key issues such as Darfur in their platform but criticizing them for lacking substance.

As it stands now, the Liberal platform has this to say on Darfur:

In Sudan, the United Nations faces an historic test. January 2008 marked the deployment of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission to Darfur. If fully deployed, it will be the biggest peacekeeping mission in history. Canada has a duty to ensure this mission succeeds and a Liberal government will ensure Canada does its part. As a first step, a Liberal government would contribute resources to the mission so it can contract the tactical and heavy lift helicopters it needs.

Here at Stand, we are encouraged and excited to see the situation in Sudan mentioned in the party platform, especially in the context of proposing some sort of action. BUT…I cannot help but agree with the Embassy Magazine a bit.

While it’s great to see the Liberal Party commit to the peacekeeping mission in Darfur, this paragraph does not really inspire a lot of confidence in a new and compelling direction towards the situation. It promises to commit “resources” to the mission, but the current Canadian government is already the second largest voluntary contributor to the mission. It emphasizes the need for helicopters but doesn’t mention where those helicopters will come from.

Furthermore, in nine pages of foreign policy pledges, the Liberal Party never mentions the peace process in Darfur, or Sudan as a whole. This is extremely disappointing as, at the end of the day, the peacekeeping mission can only be as good as the peace agreement it is sent to support. Currently, there is no peace agreement, making the peacekeepers’s job extremely vague and difficult.

Without an inclusive peace agreement, the joint UN-AU peacekeeping force will not be able to effectively stop the killings, no matter how many helicopters they have (though a few would definitely help). The best form of support, therefore, a future Canadian government can give the mission is to vigorously and whole-heartedly support a comprehensive and inclusive peace process in unison with a committed group of other states. That would be a commitment that would drastically differ from the current government’s approach to the conflict.

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