The Perils and Promise of Mass Action Against Genocide in Africa

Following the genocide in Rwanda, many activists in the West resolved never to let such crimes happen again. And when evidence of mass atrocities began to filter out of Darfur a decade later, they acted. The movement they built to save Darfur brought together seasoned human-rights activists, celebrities, politicians, and thousands of ordinary citizens who had had never before been active in a movement to change the foreign policy of their governments.

In her book Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide (Palgrave Macmillan), human rights lawyer and former Open Society fellow Rebecca Hamilton takes an honest and unsentimental look at the movement for Darfur and  the consequences—intended and otherwise—that arose from public action to stop genocide in Sudan.

Hamilton and a panel of experts discuss the lessons of the Darfur movement and ask if mass action can ever be effective in stopping crimes against humanity. They examine the movement's considerable successes, as well as the missteps that diminished its effectiveness.

The panel also assesses the legacy of Darfur for Sudan—and for all of Africa—in the wake of the January 2011 referendum, which will ultimately divide Sudan into two separate nations.


  • Rebecca Hamilton, human rights lawyer and author of Fighting for Darfur
  • Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah, physician and professor of Medicine at el-Fasher University in Darfur; founder of the Amel Center, a network of medical personnel who provide care on the ground in Darfur
  • Jehanne Henry, Sudan researcher for Human Rights Watch
  • Fabienne Hara, vice president (multilateral affairs), International Crisis Group

The event is moderated by Jerry Fowler, senior policy analyst at the Open Society Policy Center.

Date: February 8, 2011
Time: 5:307:30 p.m.

OSI-New York

Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah, Jerry Fowler, Rebecca Hamilton, Fabienne Hara, and Jehanne Henry