Aid v. Justice? The Complexities of Victims’ Needs in Darfur (Live Web Seminar 51)

February 27, 2013 - 9:30am - 11:00am
Onine, United States

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As the four-year anniversary of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) issuance of the arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir approaches, efforts to achieve accountability for crimes committed in Darfur continue. The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC has thus far issued arrest warrants or summonses for seven individuals for alleged crimes committed in Darfur. Additionally, in December 2012, Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, informed the United Nations Security Council that her office might pursue further investigations of individuals who may be responsible for attacks on civilians, attacks on the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and the disruption of the delivery of humanitarian relief.

Meanwhile, dire humanitarian conditions persist in Darfur. Recent tribal clashes in North Darfur have left thousands displaced and have prompted UNAMID to undertake a massive humanitarian relief operation. Furthermore, many humanitarian organizations in Sudan have experienced problems accessing beneficiaries due to interference by governmental or security actors. In this context, questions have arisen about the priority that victims place on accountability relative to the vast array of humanitarian issues that victims face. Such questions are particularly crucial given that President Bashir’s decision — in reaction to the ICC arrest warrant — to expel several international humanitarian organizations from Sudan has led some actors to perceive a tension between humanitarian and accountability efforts.


This live web seminar will bring together experts to examine victims’ experiences in Darfur and to ascertain how international actors can best untangle victims’ complex and sometimes conflicting needs. In particular, the seminar will focus on the following questions:

  • What importance do victims in Darfur attribute to accountability, especially given the prevalence of more immediate humanitarian concerns?
  • To what extent do victims perceive humanitarian and accountability efforts to exist in tension with one another?
  • What measures are likely to lead to accountability for violations of international law committed in Darfur?
  • Through what modes and methods can international actors best understand the complex needs of affected populations?


  • Andrew Cayley, UN Chief International Co-Prosecutor of the ECCC
  • Dr. Patrick Vinck, Director, Program on Vulnerable Populations at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI)

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The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) is a university-wide center involving multiple entities within the Harvard community that provide expertise in public health, medicine, social science, management, and other disciplines to promote evidence-based approaches to humanitarian assistance.