Understanding the new US Policy toward Sudan

During his presidential campaign, Obama stressed the importance of holding the government of Sudan accountable for its actions in Darfur and making the conflict in Sudan a priority. Since his election, however, the President has received criticism from many activists and lawmakers about his lack of a coherant plan to deal with the conflict in Sudan and the genocide in Darfur. On Monday, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton finally announced a new policy toward Sudan. According to the Washington Post, this new policy will “feature rewards and punishments for Sudanese leaders based on whether they meet benchmarks in three areas: Darfur, the north-south agreement and counterterrorism.”

To understand the significance of the new US policy towards Sudan, it is important to understand the history of the conflict between northern and southern Sudan, the context behind the more recent conflict in Darfur, and the key players both internally and externally. The May 2008 edition of the World Savvy Monitor on the situation in Sudan and the conflict in Darfur provides some useful analysis in each of these areas as well as an exploration of the challenges going forward.

Looking for ways to introduce your students to the situation in Sudan and discuss recent developments in US policy? Check out the following curriculum units on Sudan:

Understanding Sudan:  A teaching and learning resource
This site includes 5 teaching modules that strive to contextualize the conflict in Sudan by providing in depth background on various cultural, political, historical, and economic factors.  This site also includes extensive resource lists that include primary documents, analysis, news reports, and more.

CHOICES Program:  Violence in Darfur, Sudan
This lesson plan has students explore the violence in Sudan using multiple sources, and then evaluate the effectiveness of different online sources.  Students also analyze the debate over whether the violence in Sudan constitutes genocide and assess the international community’s response.  CHOICES also offers a curriculum unit entitled “Confronting Genocide: Never Again?” which traces the evolution of the international community’s response to genocide and examines how the US has responded to five cases of genocide.

Globalization101:  Darfur:  A Case Study
This lesson plan features a case study of the situation in Sudan.  Discussion questions appear at various points within the article, challenging students to more fully understand the issues.  The site also contains a list of internet resources that can be used for further study.

Facing History and Ourselves:  It’s About Time:  Responding to the Crisis in Darfur
Often students learn about events as historical moments with distinct beginning, middles and ends.  But, what happens when students have to confront a current event that has no end?  In this lesson, students will not only gain a better understanding of how the genocide in Darfur has unfolded over time, but they will also consider how our actions are shaped by the information we have at specific moments in time.

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