Statement On the Appointment of Donald Booth, Special Envoy for Sudan
The Darfur Women Action Group does not approve of the appointment of Donald Booth as the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan. We are wholly disappointed by his tenure as Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan under the Obama administration, and sincerely question his ability to produce tangible results for the U.S. government or the people of Sudan.
Booth is a career diplomat. It is not doubted that he is well-respected in Washington, and well-traveled on the continent of Africa. We refuse, however, to compromise the right we have for competency in our diplomats for that of seniority or ‘experience.’ We believe a new appointment––a fresh diplomatic face––with a less tumultuous past is necessary.
Donald Booth led the effort to “pave a road toward…normalization of U.S.-Sudan relations,” as he stated in a 2014 Atlantic Council meeting. Booth wanted to forge a relationship with Sudan on a “restoration of a relationship based on mutual understanding and shared interests.” The Darfur Women Action Group cannot fathom how the US can possibly maintain a ‘mutual understanding’ with a regime actively committing genocide. Booth, however, still perceived this relationship as peaceful. Booth was complacent; he failed to defend American values: protecting fundamental liberties and rights.
Under Ambassador Booth’s leadership, the people of Sudan have lost faith in America, its ability to broker peace. The Trump Administration has the opportunity to contribute to lasting peace in Sudan, but only if they can appoint a diplomat with the conviction and motivation to affect real change.
Not only did Booth want to normalize relations with a murderous regime, he actively neglected those being murdered. During his initial fact-finding missions to North and Central Darfur in 2016, Booth was silent. Booth failed to put forth any statements regarding the atrocities committed. We cannot trust him to speak up now. Internally displaced individuals who talked to Booth during his visits were quickly arrested afterward by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service Forces without any prevail by Booth to grant them release or protection. His appointment will once again silence those who have been suffering in Darfur for 17 years.
For years the American public and policymakers have protested the longstanding crises in Darfur and consistently called for U.S. leadership in holding Sudan accountable. Similarly, in the recent weeks, they mobilized again in support of the people of Sudan demanding effective U.S. policy that will put the halt to the suffering and pave the way for peace, something that Both has repeatedly failed to deliver upon.
The people of Sudan have suffered long enough. Rather than appointing someone with a history of overlooking violations of human rights in the country, we urge the United States to select a diplomat not simply of expertise, but of passion, of a deep understanding of Sudan and its relations.