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The Darfur conflict has provoked a wide diversity of interpretations. In the West, there are many who, horrified by the images of suffering, believe it is a clear case of genocide and call for military intervention to end the conflict. The Sudanese government, however, maintains that is a case of insurrection and its military actions are simply the means of combating it. International pressure has not reached a conclusion. The conflict is now more complex than when hostilities broke out in April 2003: the initial political objectives have given way to inter-ethnic confrontation between dissident groups that fight each other with the same intensity as they battle the Khartoum government.

Darfur has become a sort of moral reference point for evaluating the international community's ethical posture. The reticence shown by the West seems to be the result of a conflict of interests. It is estimated that 2.5 million refugees are now living in camps, depend on humanitarian aid and cannot return to their homes. The same NGOs that work to feed them are now also targets of violence.

Natural resources, Islamic fundamentalism and military escalation: all these factors play a role. Is it genocide? Is it ethnic cleansing? Is it simply the first conflict caused by a lack of water provoked by global warming? What are the solutions?

The aim of this seminar is to bring together a group of highly-qualified people to analyse the context and causes of the conflict beyond the headlines. The question of why all this has happened in Darfur must be asked, as well as what can be done to repair the damage. Also important are the consequences all this will have for the Sudan as a whole and for the neighbouring region.

This debate, which will be held in parallel to the exhibition Mined lives: 10 years, forms a part of the CCCB's on-going concern for understanding the phenomenon of war, which began with the exhibition At war (2004). The meeting fits within the "Geography of forgotten crises” program, which began in 2007 with a debate on Somalia and Chechnya and whose purpose is to focus public attention on human dramas that affect thousands of people around the world.

Jamal Mahjoub, director






It is estimated that more than 5 million people have been displaced in the Sudan as a consequence of twenty years of conflict in the country, including the present situation in Darfur. The capital is changing due to the flow of refugees seeking secure shelter and a better life. The growth and demographic mixture in continuous evolution have made the city's population much more representative of the country as a whole. What does this mean for the balance of political and economic power? Will it lead to increased equality and changes allowing for conflict resolution, or will it deepen the schism?

Speaker: Munzoul Assal, associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Khartoum and specialist in forced migration


8.15 pm / BAD POLITICS

What are the reasons for civil society’s inability to take firm root in a country that began the last century with one some of the highest levels of education, female emancipation and political consciousness in Africa? Why has Sudan not been able to achieve stability or lasting peace? And what future does the country face if economic divisions and internal conflicts caused by new petroleum wealth cannot be resolved?

Speaker: Mansour Khalid, ex-minister and author of a dozen books on Sudanese history and politics

Moderator: Jamal Mahjoub, Anglo-Sudanese writer






Since it began, the Darfur conflict has provoked very strong reactions and attracted substantial media attention in comparison with previous conflicts on the African continent. In this session, two perspectives on the conflict will be presented. According to Mahmoud Mamdani's point of view, the Darfur conflict is a civil war situated at a crossroads of regional and global factors, among which is the dynamic of the "war on terror". With his experience as president of Médecins Sans Frontières, Jean-Hervé Bradol brings a realistic perspective of Western views of the Darfur case and the idea that the conflict be called a genocide.

Speakers: Mahmoud Mamdani, director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University and Herbert Lehman Professor of Anthropology

Jean-Hervé Bradol, president of Médecins Sans Frontières

Moderator: Rafael Vila San Juan, managing sub-director of the CCCB





7.30 pm / DARFUR NOW. Ted Braun. USA, 2007. 92’

This film depicts the conflict through the stories of six people involved in it in different ways: a girl from Darfur who takes up arms to fight; a young person from Los Angeles who works to raise consciousness about the conflict; the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague; the director of the World Food Programme in Darfur; a local sheikh and actor Don Cheadle.


9 pm / ALL ABOUT DARFUR. Taghred Elsanhouri. Sudan and United Kingdom, 2005. 82’

A young woman leaves England and returns to the Sudan to try to understand the conflict devastating her country: "I wanted to make a film that gave a voice to the people of Darfur, that did not represent them exclusively through their suffering but rendered homage to their dignity, strength and courage".

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