A group of Swarthmore College students led by Mark Hanis and Andrew Sniderman has begun raising funds to purchase supplies for the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Darfur. Why? To end the genocide. Isn't this something the governments of the world are supposed to do? Of course. But they're not. And so those who believe that the international community has an obligation to take action against genocide are forced to sell raffle tickets and hold bake sales to buy walkie-talkies and flak jackets for peacekeepers.
A couple of months ago, Sniderman explained an important part of what the Genocide Intervention Fund (GIF) is all about in an op-ed published in Swarthmore's campus newspaper:
To be sure, private citizens cannot provide the requisite financing to field an entire peacekeeping mission. That is why the GIF hopes to leverage its financial contributions into a powerful lobbying tool to pressure governments to pursue a comprehensive action plan to end the genocide in Darfur. The GIF seeks to strengthen and catalyze government and U.N. action, not replace it.
There are, of course, many problems inherent in private funding of military operations as this recent comment in the Boston Globe points out. Nonetheless, this effort is primarily about "naming and shaming." The Genocide Intervention Fund seeks to make people aware of what Sudan's government is doing and what our government is not doing.