Res Publica's primary current project is www.AVAAZ.org, a global on-line community that already has over 3.5 million members, including citizens from every country on the planet.
In our inter-connected world, the actions of political leaders and corporations are having a profound impact on all of us. To match the power and reach of global leaders and borderless corporations, Avaaz.org members are building a powerful movement of citizens without borders. As citizens without borders, we might not have the resources of governments, corporations or the media, but working together we can bring together millions of people around the world and make global public opinion really count on major global issues like poverty, climate change, human rights and global security.
Using the latest technology, Avaaz.org empowers ordinary people from every corner of the globe to directly contact key global decision-makers, corporations and the media. By signing up to receive updates from Avaaz.org, members receive emails and text messages alerting them to new campaigns and opportunities to act online and offline, and to make a real difference on pressing global issues.
In 2004, Res Publica created www.DarfurGenocide.org, one of the world’s most visited Darfur websites. Also in 2004, students in the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School began engaging in Darfur research and advocacy. Three years later, Clinic students joined with Res Publica to found the Res Publica project, 24 Hours for Darfur, an online platform for Darfur education and advocacy. Res Publica continues to support a variety of advocacy efforts on the crisis in Darfur, including sponsorship of www.24hoursforDarfur.org.
24 Hours for Darfur’s initial product was a website that enables people to learn about the conflict and to send personal video messages to world leaders. Users can view short education videos, each featuring a Darfur expert addressing a specific aspect of the crisis. They can watch video testimonials from Darfurians and concerned citizens from around the world. In addition, users can record a personal video message right in their browser and send it, or any other video, directly to their political representatives.
Currently, 24 Hours for Darfur is undertaking a three year project called Darfurian Voices which will run until mid-2010. Darfurian Voices is a project to document and broadcast the views of Darfurian refugees in eastern Chad on the necessary conditions for a just peace. The project consists of two independent yet complementary components: (1) a representative random-sample survey, and (2) video testimonials.
During the first half of 2009, 24 Hours for Darfur sent a 35-person research team to eastern Chad to conduct the only systematic survey of Darfurians’ opinions on issues of peace, justice and reconciliation. The team conducted 2,200 interviews and recorded 150 hours of video footage in all 12 Darfurian refugee camps in Chad.
This Darfurian Voices public opinion research provides the only systematic data on Darfurian refugee’s views on issues of peace, justice, and reconciliation. Darfurian Voices footage is the most comprehensive video archive of Darfurian testimonials on prospects for the future.
During the first half of 2010, 24 Hours for Darfur will publish a survey report including detailed policy recommendations. A series of video products will also be produced. Both will be available in English and Arabic and will be disseminated as part of a high-level advocacy and education campaign. The survey report and video products will also be made available to advocacy and educational organizations, the general public and via a soon to be launched website, www.DarfurianVoices.org. Res Publica believes that this survey and video work, undertaken in concert, creates a powerful set of educational and advocacy tools, adding specificity and legitimacy to Darfur policy and activism.
Background to Res Publica’s Darfur work follows: After the Armenian genocide, the holocaust, and the Rwandan genocide, the world has allowed the unthinkable to happen again. Over the last 6 years between 180,000 and 400,000 black Darfurians have been systematically murdered by their government. The brutal Islamic/military junta that rules Sudan responded to Darfurian aspirations for democracy and good governance the same they have to similar movements in Southern, Eastern and Central Sudan: they bombed villages and hired local militias to ethnically cleanse the region. Small mercenary Arab tribes, called the “Janjaweed”, were armed and ordered to kill or drive out black African tribes.
In early 2004, at the height of the killing in Darfur, there was very little attention in the international community. In response, Res Publica sought to raise awareness of the tragedy, particularly in the United States, as the nation with the most influence in Sudan. We built the first Darfur focused website in the world at www.DarfurGenocide.org, and used it to bring news, information and opportunities to take action to over half a million visitors. We also worked with the Sudan Campaign to get high level personalities arrested in front of the Sudanese embassy, held a thousand person die-in in front of the White House, and partnered with True Majority to send a camera crew to Chad to broadcast live from Sudanese refugee camps onto CNN and MSNBC. In addition, we helped to organize a press conference on Darfur with Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power, and Clinton advisor John Prendergast. Through www.DarfurGenocide.org and our project www.FaithfulAmerica.org, we sent tens of thousands of messages to the US Congress.
By August 2004, international action was still slow, and we organized the first of two one day hunger strikes. Over 5,000 individuals participated in these fasts, including people from all 50 states of the US and 20 other countries.
By 2005, a great deal of awareness had been raised about Darfur, and the killing had slowed to a crawl as the Sudanese government worried about international attention and the decision of the International Criminal Court to investigate the killings. However, the Sudanese Government also saw an opportunity to push for a quick peace agreement with Darfurians that left its regime as strong as ever. We found that the Darfurian resistance movement, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), which had fought the government forces to a stalemate, was totally unprepared for the negotiating table and the media battle that awaited them. In addition, the lack of unity within the resistance movement was hurting the prospects for a just peace.
In response to these problems, a Res Publica team spent five weeks in Darfur and the region, getting to know the resistance movement better than almost anyone else in the international community. We wrote a report detailing who the movements are, what they want and what their demands are for a new Sudan. Many international policymakers found it helpful and it led to increased engagement between international groups and governments, and the Darfur resistance. We also worked with a wide range of groups and political leaders, mostly in the US, to get more attention to the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, and more support for a strong peace agreement that ensures that the horror of the previous years does not continue.
To help support these efforts, take action, or for more information visit www.DarfurGenocide.org.