Can George Clooney's surveillance system help curb conflict in Sudan?
Even if southern Sudan successfully secedes from the north and becomes the world's newest nation, it won't be an easy road ahead for the south, which lacks fundamental resources to sustain itself. "Southern Sudan, emerging from 20 years of civil war that cost 2 million lives, is one of the least developed regions in the world, and yet it is likely to become the newest country on the planet," wrote Anna Husarska, senior policy advisor at the International Rescue Committee, in an Op-Ed last week.
"Further, millions of southern Sudanese were displaced by the war, and many are now returning to find nothing standing. Juba may be a boom town these days, but during my few days traveling in the countryside, I saw abject poverty: broken water pumps or no water sources, roads barely usable or nonexistent, and destitute people unsure how they will feed themselves after this year's sorghum crop was eaten by locusts."
There's also the question of whether the new country would enjoy peace, especially in consideration of its land sitting on something the north wants: oil. "Some 80% of the country's lucrative oil reserves are in the south, and the north, as might be expected, is not eager to give up the revenue they bring in," the board said in a December editorial. "At the moment, all the oil is exported via pipelines that run through the north, and revenue is split between north and south. It's time to negotiate a post-referendum arrangement that will divide revenue fairly and in a manner that avoids triggering renewed conflict."
To prevent conflict, George Clooney has helped develop a system he knows all too well -- surveillance, although he's calling it The Satellite Sentinel Project. On Sunday's "GPS," (video above) Clooney told Fareed Zakaria that people act different when they know they're being filmed. He also told the Los Angeles Times, "I thought, if that's the way it is and they're gonna be able to Google my house, then people who are committing war crimes, specifically the government of Sudan, should be able to enjoy the same level of celebrity that I do. These people are public figures, and we're gonna take their pictures." If that's not enough to curb violence, the hope is that satellite images documenting the violence would motivate the likes of the United Nations to step in and help.
The Sudanese vote Monday, but their fate won't be revealed until February.
-- Alexandra Le Tellier
Top photo: Thousands line up to vote on the independence referendum in the southern Sudanese city of Juba. Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images. Bottom photo: George Clooney. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press