I had a long argument once with a friend concerning the US involvement in Iraq. The specific point of contention was the international policing done by the US, and I argued against it reasoning, among others, that such tasks are better left to the UN. My favoring of the UN was countered by the argument that the UN had been ineffective in Darfur and it was up to the more powerful nations to take on this role. I must confess, ashamedly so, that I was not well aware of the specific details of the crisis in Darfur, let alone the role of the UN (or lack of it) in that region, until watching the Frontline documentary, On Our Watch, yesterday

If the United Nations could die of shame it would have been dead years ago.      

The above line (attributed to Tom Stoppard ) cited within the first few minutes of the documentary  sums up the consequences of UN inaction in Darfur. In my opinion, this inability highlights the apathy of its constituent member states, some more than others, and consequently our own individual apathy to what happens in a part of the world that appears to be of little consequence to our own lives, economically or otherwise. 4 years and 21 UN resolutions later, lack of concrete UN action has led to 200,000+ dead, not to mention other atrocities perpetrated on the affected people. 

There was one more thing I was not aware about – The Genocide Olympics, as the 2008 Beijing Olympic games have come to be referred by activists highlighting the genocide in Darfur. This was done to  draw attention to China’s support for the Sudan government that has been held responsible for the civilian killings in Darfur. It helps to know that even where nations fail as a collective, individuals can still make a difference.