Since 2003, the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan has worsened and shows no signs of improvement. More than 2 million people have been displaced by the violence and some 450,000 have lost their lives. Although Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir initially agreed to a joint African Union-UN force in Darfur, he has recently written to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, arguing that such a hybrid force violates the Darfur peace agreement. In spite of the expressed commitment of the UN World Summit two years ago to take timely action to prevent genocide, the international community has, so far, failed to exercise its responsibility to protect the people of Darfur.
On April 5, the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement hosted a discussion to examine the relationship between global public opinion and policy options for Darfur. Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes and editor of WorldPublicOpinion.org, released the findings of a new global public opinion survey, conducted in partnership with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, on whether the United Nations has a general responsibility to protect in the case of genocide and what its rights and obligations are in regard to Darfur. Susan Rice, senior fellow, Brookings Institution and Gayle Smith, senior fellow, Center for American Progress, commented on current policy options and the gap between public opinion and political action. Elizabeth Ferris, senior fellow and co-director of the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, moderated the discussion.