About Denise Bell

Denise Bell is the former Darfur Campaigner at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). She worked on issues of security, humanitarian access, and international justice in Amnesty's campaign to end the conflict in Darfur. Her work also covered violence against women and girls in conflict zones, refugees and IDPs, and economic activism. Previously, she was a Sudan Country Specialist for the organization. Denise was instrumental in creating AIUSA's economic activism campaign on Sudan and also developed Amnesty's new human rights exhibition on Darfur, "Displaced." Denise came to Amnesty from Behind the Book, a grassroots literacy nonprofit serving low-income youth in NYC public schools; as Director of Development, she was a founding partner of the organization. Denise earned a B.A. in History and English from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in History from the University of Cambridge. She left a Ph.D. program in History at Northwestern University to pursue a career in human rights.
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(Trying to) block out the world

On Thursday, March 12th, Amnesty USA posted a new web action aimed at getting Sudan to reinstate the operations of 13 international humanitarian aid agencies that were kicked out of Sudan and 3 domestic agencies that were shut down after the International Criminal cort issued an arrst warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.  The action targets the UN Missions of the African Union and League of Arab States and the Sudanese Embassy in the U.S.  

On Friday, calls from activists started pouring in, all with the same complaint: their emails to all three targets were being returned as “undeliverable”.   It would seem that facing a deluge of emails, the targets blocked their accounts from receiving incoming messages. So, now, Amnesty is asking activists to fax messages to these three targets urging them to persuade Sudan to rescind its orders.

The very people who ought to be looking out for the victims of the conflict in Darfur are trying to block words from reaching them that urge the continuance of life-saving support for millions of vulnerable men, women, and children.  Just as Sudan would pull the plug on this life-support system, people who could persuade Sudanese authorities to reinstate these 16 key aid groups are plugging their ears to the world’s outrage and urgent plea for help.

Justice for Darfur

In the next few weeks, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected to hand down its decision about indicting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.  Organizations such as the African Union and the Arab League are lobbying the UN Security Council to implement Article 16 of the Rome Statute, which would suspend any deliberations on the case against Bashir for a year with the possibility of an annual renewal.


We need to be wary of using the possibility of International Criminal Court indictments as a carrot and stick in seeking to end the conflict in Darfur.  Deferring the case of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir sets up a catastrophic precedent whereby politics dictates the course of justice.  Amnesty International has advocated against such interference in the ICC from the court’s inception.


More importantly, we must not forget what Darfuris directly affected by nearly six years of state-sponsored terror want – justice.  Tens of thousands of Darfuris have signed petitions asking that the case against Bashir not be deferred.  We must listen to them.