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If you cant say it clearly, you dont understand it yourself

Amnesty, as part of a movement of millions of people around the world, has been campaigning for action to end the brutal killing and rape in Darfur for more than three years now, and frankly it has been difficult to understand why the international community has not done more.

Yesterday I listened to a radio documentary (listen to it here) about how people in Southern Sudan are trying to build a lasting peace after more than 20 years of a separate but just as bloody civil war there. The peace is precarious and very dependent on continuing international support if it is to last.

But the journalist commented towards the end that of all things, the very attention that Darfur is commanding on the international stage is making it harder to maintain diplomatic interest in and aid support for South Sudan.

I though this is just too sad were basically saying that the international attention span cant deal with two problems in one country. There isnt room in the news or political agenda for the analysis of and attention to several complex problems in one place.

It reminds me something the philosopher John Searle said, If you cant say it clearly, you dont understand it yourself. News organisations and politicians cant communicate multiple and complex problems clearly, often because there isnt the resource to do so. The result is a continuing lack of understanding which then leads to a lack of resolve to end suffering.

What news organisations do have time for at the moment is some naval-gazing about the tricks used in TV news such as Noddys. All of us here in Amnestys press office have had to do many of these for British TV news outlets when giving interviews about human rights stories of the day.

Ive always found it a bit absurd to have to walk up and down the stairs of Millbank to provide a bit of footage which the journalist can run while he or she does their intro voice-over. But thats nothing like as absurd as saying we cant look at more than one life and death human rights story in one country.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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