Publication Details

Mayersen, D. and Galloway, T. (2012). Responding to Genocide: Australian Parliamentary Discussions about the Crisis in Darfur. The African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific 35th Conference: Africa: People, Places and Spaces (pp. 1-8). Australia: AFSAAP.


‘Australia’s response [to the crisis in Darfur] has been slow, it has been hesitant, and, I regret to say, it has been inadequate’, remarked Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd in February 2005 (House of Representatives Hansard: 47). Since 2003, genocide in Darfur has claimed more than 300,000 lives, with 2.6 million more displaced by the conflict (Degomme and Guha-Sapir 2010: 294-300; Reeves 2012). The international response to the crisis has been slow and lacklustre, and while the intensity of the conflict has fluctuated in the past nine years, the situation remains dire. The Australian government’s policy response to the genocide has essentially mirrored the weak international response. Australia has made some diplomatic representations about the genocide, and provided humanitarian aid. Overall, however, the genocide has not engaged the attention of many politicians, and nor has Australia’s policy response aligned with our strong commitment to genocide prevention generally. This paper will delve into the factors that shaped this policy response. As the crisis has unfolded, it has been the subject of substantial discussion within the Australian parliament. This paper will explore the central themes within Australian parliamentary discussion of the genocide in Darfur, and examine how this discussion evolved over time. It will also place the discussion within the wider context of Australia’s place and obligations within the international community, and the international response to the genocide in Darfur. Finally, it will probe the factors that contributed to the relatively muted Australian response to this genocide.