Apparently, the latest must-have fashion accessory for Western countries is…a special envoy to Afghanistan. Now that the United States, Britain, France, and Germany have them, it seems that Canada needs one as well, for fear of being left behind in the race to wield influence on the world stage.
This begs the following question: why isn’t Canada considering the appointment of a special envoy to Darfur or even Sudan? We did, after all, have one, in the person of Senator Mobina Jaffer, who was Canada’s Special Envoy to the Peace Process in Sudan from 2002 to 2006. Why now, when the crisis in Darfur is entering its sixth year, has the momentum on this country seemed to fade in favour of the (it seems) more immediately relevant to our national interest? Perhaps a better question to ask would be how we can make Sudan and the ongoing genocide a national priority once again.
Sudanese President Bashir’s move to expel aid agencies from Sudan in response to the International Criminal Court’s issuing of a warrant for his arrest is a shining example of what a Canadian special envoy to the region could have brought to the table. The UN Security Council flailed about in search of a statement in response to the expulsion, ultimately failing to agree on one. A Canadian envoy could have added his or her voice to that of Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, to publicly speak out against Sudan’s move. A Canadian envoy could have put pressure on the Security Council to enact a strong response to the expulsion. With a special envoy to Sudan or Darfur, Canada would have been in a position to provide a coordinated response to the expulsion of humanitarian NGOs from Sudan. Without one, Canada was just flailing like the rest.