October 2010

In this lesson students will:

  • Explore events in Sudan using multiple sources.
  • Develop media literacy skills and evaluate the effectiveness of different online resources.
  • Assess the argument over whether the Darfur conflict is a genocide.
  • Consider the international response to events in Sudan and assess possible consequences.


Reading – Darfur: Violence and the Media

Student Handouts

In the Classroom

  1. Introduction—Have students consider the previous night’s reading. You may wish to show students the short video “South Sudan Referendum” from In Focus. Ask students to consider the challenges in Darfur today. Why is the tension between northern and southern Sudan important? Why is there a conflict in Darfur? What factors are at the root of this conflict? What kind of violence is being perpetrated? By whom? What is the role of the international community in the conflict?
  2. Evaluating Online Resources—Distribute the “Online Resources” and “Evaluating Internet Sources” handouts. Divide the class into seven groups and assign each group the task of exploring one of the websites. Have one member of each group record their group’s responses to the questions.
  3. Sharing Conclusions—After the groups have completed the worksheet, invite them to share their conclusions. Were some websites more effective than others? Why? What types of sources were the most effective? Which websites had the most variety in their sources? Which had the least? Why might this be the case? Why might some organizations use certain types of sources? Do the websites have a particular point of view? Do the sources presented on the websites change the way students feel about Darfur? Why or why not?
  4. Assessing the Situation in Darfur—Have students consider what they know about Darfur. To help students understand the concept of genocide and the challenges of interpreting the Genocide Convention, there are a number of free videos available from Choices listed below.Do students think the conflict in Darfur is genocide? What might be the motivations for calling the conflict a genocide or not calling the conflict a genocide? How should the United States and the international community respond? By declaring the conflict a genocide, what is the United States obligated to do according to the Genocide Convention? Has it fulfilled that obligation? How might international involvement be affected by the upcoming referendum?What would be the consequences of different types of U.S. involvement? For people in the United States? For people in Darfur? For the international community? For the principles of the Genocide Convention?

Video—South Sudan Referendum


Susan Allee

Senior Political Affairs Officer, United Nations

When do human rights abuses become genocide? [2:25]

What is ethnic cleansing? [0:52]

What is the difference between genocide and ethnic cleansing? [1:08]


David Kennedy

Former Vice President for International Affairs, Brown University

What are the challenges of interpreting the Genocide Convention? [2:08]


Dennis Davis

High Court of South Africa

In 2009, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president. Why is this a challenge to human rights law? [Dennis Davis – 2:57]

Additional Online Resources

The following online resources are used in this lesson. Links are also provided in the handout “Online Resources”.

PBS—Who’s Who in Darfur: The Geopolitics of Tragedy
This PBS website features an interactive chart of the players in the Darfur conflict. The site includes PBS articles on Sudan, background and general information about the country (including oil), an interview with Amy Costello (reporter in Sudan), videos, resources addressing ‘conflict vs. genocide,’ and links to other useful websites, including a map of Sudan’s oil reserves. The website does not have current articles about the most recent developments.

U.S. State Department—Sudan
This site has links to press releases, speeches, reports, briefings relating to U.S. policy in Sudan, links to USAID Sudan website, and general information/fact sheets about Sudan.

BBC—Sudan: A Nation Divided
This site has a compilation of BBC articles since 2004 that relate to what is currently happening in both southern Sudan and Darfur. It includes some personal reports of people within the country, as well as pictures and videos of BBC news coverage from Sudan.

UN—Sudan Information Gateway
This site has links to UN articles and reports on Sudan, as well as academic articles giving background, detailed history, and general information on Sudan. There is information about UN humanitarian programs in Sudan and links to other media and related websites. There is also a good map on the homepage.

Miraya (Mirror) FM
This is the homepage of a radio station broadcast out of southern Sudan by the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). The site includes links to in-depth articles, short news briefs, and current radio reports in English and Arabic.

Amnesty International—Eyes on Darfur
This Amnesty International website provides detailed accounts of specific attacks in the Darfur region and suggests ways in which students can get involved to stop the violence. It includes satellite imagery and mapping of affected sites.

24 Hours for Darfur—Darfurian Voices
This NGO is dedicated to broadcasting the views of Darfurians on the conflict in their region. The website features video testimonials from people affected by the violence.

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