Although relatively unknown to the outside world, dwarfed by the ongoing conflict in Darfur and overshadowed by the expectations of the new state of South Sudan, there are many who believe that genocide is occurring in South Kordofan. The conflict there is often referred to as "genocide by attrition". This would seem an apt description for the relentless and exhaustive assaults which have been waged against the regions residents, some directly sanctioned by the state and carried out by state agents, others occurring as an indirect consequence of the states policies.
But Genocide is a term which is used far too commonly; genocide is the most heinous of crimes- the attempt to erase or eradicate an entire race of people. The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the crime of Genocide (December 1948) defines genocide as "any number of acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group," Therefore, conflict or violence based on ethnicity does not always qualify as genocide as there is no ulterior plan to eradicate the targeted racial group; however, the convention specifically refers to "in whole or in part", which complicates the issue somewhat.
The Sudanese government may not be attempting to eradicate the entire Nuba people (by whom we refer to all residents of the Nuba Mountain region, including those who don't specifically identify themselves as being ethnically Nuba) but a case can certainly be made that their actions are commited with the intent of destroying "in part" the Nuba ethnicity. The motive behind this is to gain control of the abundence of natural resources which South Kordofan possesses.
In the coming weeks, we will be discussing the conflict in South Kordofan, debating if it is a genocide or indeed, discussing if labeling it as such even matters. Check back here regularly to keep up with the debate!