Ismail grew up in Darfur, which is in western Sudan, but fled the country after Bashir's military coup in 1989. He's been an outspoken critic of Sudan's government since then. He says when it comes to Darfur, Bashir manages to do just enough to keep the pressure off, while the conflict, now in its 12th year, rages on.

"The government of Sudan is still denying, still using its tactics of military solution of this crisis, after all these years, they never learned that crime doesn't pay and they have to find a settlement to this war," he said. The U.N. mission is costing $1.2 billion a year, but has done little to prevent abuses in the region. "Yes, it is ineffective," Ismail said. "It is important, but ineffective." The U.N. Security Council recently voted to extend the mandate for that U.N. mission for another year. Even that step took a lot of behind the scenes work from the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power.

"We have seen more violent displacement of people in Darfur this last year than in 10 years," she said recently. "Ten years ago, however, Darfur enjoyed a perch at the top of the international peace and security agenda. Today, the suffering of the people of Darfur has become less visible. Our attention has been diverted."