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10 December 2010
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Why Sudan?
 
Whether in Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire or Haiti, the world has witnessed just how quickly post election tensions can rise, resulting at times in grave violations of human rights. In one month, the Southern Sudanese people will vote on whether to secede from Sudan and form a new country. Many experts fear that the unfolding of the referendum and post-referendum issues (border limitation, citizenship, wealth and power-sharing) could spark large-scale violence. Worst, there are concerns that the UN, AU and other actors may not have contingency plans or the capability to protect civilian populations. Meanwhile in Darfur, violence against civilians is again on the rise, humanitarian aid is still blocked, and violations of human rights continue in a climate of impunity.
 
This year’s human rights day, we focus on Sudan and on making the prevention of violence and the protection of populations a priority, as stipulated under the Responsibility to Protect framework. Please find below a special listserv on the situation in Sudan, the context around the referenda, remaining issues and key resources from civil society.
 
In this issue:
 
 
 
 
 
       a. Negotiating Sudan’s North-South Future
       b. Sudan: regional perspectives on the prospect of southern independence
 
       Sudan: Fulfilling the Responsibility to Protect
 
        a. Sudan 30 days before the referendum, "the danger of war as high as ever!”  
        b. Sudan before the elections - prevention is needed for new outbreaks of violence
        c. Referendum 2011 - Sudan at the Crossroads
 
       Letter to the Members of the African Union Peace and Security Council
 
       Time running out on Sudan as Security Council visits
 
       Preventing Violence and Statelessness as Referendum Approaches
 
       Sudan Peace Watch
 

 
 
Sudan has suffered considerable human loss for almost three decades. The Second Sudanese civil war (1983-2003) pitted the Sudanese Government based in Khartoum against rebel groups, such as the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement (SPLM) based in the South. Since 1983, violence between the North and South has resulted in over 4 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Southern Sudan, a half million refugees and 1.5 million dead, mostly civilians.
 
Peace talks between warring parties began in 2002 to put an end to one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. On 9 January 2005, under the leadership of the African Union (AU), the US-UK-Norway Troika and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of President Omar al-Bashir and the SPLM finally signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA provides guidelines for a smooth democratic transition, makes provisions for the April 2010 presidential elections, as well as protocols on wealth and power-sharing issues. It also contains peace settlements regarding Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states located along the border.
 
Most importantly, the CPA grants southern Sudanese the right to vote in two referenda on self-determination to be held in southern Sudan and Abyei on 9 January 2009.The first referendum will decide upon southern secession from the north, thus creating the newest African nation. The second referendum will decide whether Abyei will remain in northern Sudan or become part of southern Sudan. Until the referendum takes place, the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) will remain autonomous, but still part of Sudan.
 
 
The situation in Sudan remains extremely unstable. The fragile equilibrium and feeble attempts at democratic transition could shift anytime, plunging the country into violence that could lead to heinous human rights violations including crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide.
 
The April 2010 elections showed numerous procedural flaws and rights violations as Human Rights Watch explained in a 29 June report. Those elections, it said, “raised the specter of growing instability in such states as Central Equatorial, Jonglei, Unity and Western Bahr el Ghazal, and they have set a worrying precedent for Southern Sudan’s forthcoming referendum on self-determination”. As reported in the media and by civil society groups, the escalation of tension in Darfur since the beginning of 2010 and the increased militarization of Northern and Southern Sudanese armies have contributed to a general feeling of instability and suspicion.
 
In addition, the chronically delayed preparations and the political disagreements around the referenda have increased fears of social unrest and violence in Sudan, and are already causing waves of refugees fleeing Sudan to neighboring countries. About 2 million South Sudanese live in the North while a smaller number of North Sudanese live in the South. These populations constitute large sections of vulnerable civilians likely to be targeted by governmental troops and rebel groups, especially in the aftermath of the referenda in the eventuality of massive cross-border population movements.
 
Vulnerable populations such as IDPs in Darfur and South Sudan are constantly attacked by rebel groups and sometimes harassed by the government. The conflict in Darfur has caused 2.7 million IDPs and killed up to 300, 000 civilians since 2003, and President Omar al-Bashir is now under international arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide. Women have constantly been the victims of widespread sexual violence and torture, and as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted in addressing the UN Security Council on 16 November, women must be more significantly protected, involved in peace processes, and those responsible for sexual violence must be held accountable for their crimes.
 
 
As highlighted in some of the NGO reports listed below, some of the important problems that remain in the lead-up to the referenda include the following:
 
  • Outstanding political issues remain unaddressed. Questions of citizenship and statelessness, wealth sharing (especially oil and minerals), national debt sharing and border demarcations are still being debated. Much remains to be decided, even as talks between officials of both NCP and SPLM were held on 8 November resulting with an agreement entitled “Framework for Resolving Outstanding Issues Relating to the Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Future Relations of North and South Sudan".
  • The UN Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division (UNIRED) has actively and consistently tried to provide technical support such as handing out 3,000 registration kits in southern Sudan and training 11, 000 referendum center staff. Many logistical problems delayed voter identification and registration procedures, impeding proper preparation for timely, fair and transparent referenda. Despite notable progress for the voter registration process in South Sudan, no agreement has been reached regarding who would be eligible to vote in Abyei, making the referenda in Abyei very unlikely to be held in January 2010.
  • A Referendum Commission for Abyei that would speed up such procedures has not been set up yet. The parties met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the auspices of IGAD, in an attempt to find agreement on border demarcation and how to set up the Referendum Commission for Abyei. However, in mid-October, Chairperson of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki announced the meeting was “indefinitely postponed” as the NCP and SPLM delegations failed to reach consensus.  
  • On a daily basis, humanitarian workers encounter restricted access to volatile areas especially in Darfur and southern Sudan. On 5 November, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator deplored the poor security conditions of aid workers in southern Sudan, which have hampered the proper delivery of humanitarian assistance. On 16 November, Ban Ki-moon urged the Security Council to support the humanitarian community’s “contingency plan to provide timely assistance in the event of referendum-related violence.” 
  • In terms of immediate civilian protection measures, UNMIS and UNAMID have had difficulties on the ground to properly implement their mandates. Both missions have been under constant threat of attacks while rebel groups and Sudanese governments keep restricting access to peacekeepers as well as humanitarian personnel. On the other hand UNAMID, despite having reached full capacity, still lacks logistical support such as surveillance units and helicopters. On 16 November, the Security Council presidential statement emphasized the need to provide support to both missions and called on “all parties to protect civilians and maintain full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers to the population in need of assistance.” 
  • Civilian populations of Western and Southern Darfur face great risks of mass atrocities in part because the international community seeks to facilitate solutions to one conflict at the exclusion of addressing the other, as exemplified by the CPA. The UN Security Council on 16 November stressed the urgent need to support the Doha Peace talks for Darfur. The situation clearly deteriorated since the beginning of 2010 and the peace negotiations have stalled while possible settlements lack broad-based commitments and political will. If the international community and warring parties do not demonstrate strong commitment and pressure to resolving the Darfur conflict, more civilians will die. 
  • Populations of Central and Western Equatorial need enhanced protection as they are the target of the Ugandan-based Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that continues to commit “massacres, abductions, rapes and mutilations” hence displacing thousands and killing many more. 
  • The disputed border areas of Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan and Abyei remain unstable, counting hundreds of thousands of IDPs. They are particularly exposed populations located on the border, which is still not clearly defined by signatories of the CPA. 
 
 
1. Negotiating Sudan’s North-South Future
23 November 2010
 
This briefing on the situation of Sudan highlights the final stages of the preparations for the referenda, including progress on voter registration. The report reflects on the lingering disagreements that have plagued negotiations on post-referendum issues such as “citizenship and nationality, natural resource management (oil and water), currency, assets and liabilities, security and international treaties”.
 
Overview
 
Sudan’s fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is entering its final phase, and a critical vote on Southern self-determination looms, but foundations for a constructive post referendum relationship are yet to be laid. (…) Many in Sudan and abroad are focused on ensuring the referendum exercise takes place on 9 January as planned. But simultaneously pursuing agreement on the broader post- referendum agenda is not only critical for a peaceful transition and long-term regional stability, but may also serve the more immediate objective of clearing the path for a mutually accepted referendum (…)
 
(…) Details of all the post-referendum arrangements cannot, and need not, be negotiated before the vote. But the absence of a basic blueprint for the post- 2011 relationship between North and South contributes to uncertainties about the political and economic future of each, risks the referendum being viewed as a zero-sum game and thus sustains fears about the smooth conduct of the exercise and acceptance of its result (…)
 
(…) [E]fforts have intensified to achieve a framework agreement that addresses, in concrete terms, those post- referendum issues that will have an immediate impact on the population. Such an agreement should also ensure that a mechanism is firmly in place so that negotiations can continue beyond January – up to (and possibly beyond) July 2011, the date on which both the CPA expires, and the South might expect to attain independence, if it votes for secession, as expected (…)
 
(…) Given the political brinkmanship that has long characterised Sudan’s North-
South politics, it is conceivable that the parties might continue to circle fruitlessly before attempting to strike a grand bargain at the last moment. Such high-stakes gambling risks instability in Sudan and the region, and should be discouraged.
 
As voter registration for the referendum is now underway, the chances for spoilers to derail the exercise are diminishing fast. Some National Congress Party (NCP) officials have shown signs that they may be increasingly resigned to the reality of partition, but the ruling party could still contest the results on technical grounds or withhold its recognition of an independent South (…)
 
Southern Sudan’s right to self-determination is guaranteed by the CPA, and efforts must continue to ensure smooth conduct of the 9 January poll. But progress now toward a series of win-win arrangements could also remove obstacles to the referendum and temper the potential impact of its result.
 
 
2. Sudan: Defining the North-South border
September 2010
 
The following policy brief concentrates on border demarcation issues that have deeply divided leaders of the GoS and GoSS. What is often referred as “post-referendum” issues such as oil-revenue sharing, citizenship and border demarcations have been the subjects of intricate, protracted negotiations between the NCP and SPLM. Demarcation issues however, have not. ICG has issued a number of practical recommendations aimed at avoiding conflict and finding adequate solutions to create a “soft” border allowing citizens to cross it for economic purposes (grazing, trade etc).
 
Overview
 
(…) The undefined boundary has hindered CPA implementation, fuelled mistrust between its signatories and, most recently, contributed to heightened anxiety and insecurity along the border. The governments in Khartoum and Juba alike rely heavily on oil revenues that derive primarily from the borderlands. The concentration of resources there has amplified the political and economic dimensions of an already contentious task. Both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have exhibited an aggressive military posture in some border areas. Also, many of the country’s transboundary populations – some of whom represent significant political constituencies – fear possible secession of the South could result in a hardening of the boundary and a threat to their livelihood (…)
 
(…) The NCP and SPLM, in concert with the UN and international partners, should: 
  • Recognise that resolution of the outstanding border disputes is no longer a technical issue, but a political one. As such, the national presidency – possibly through the recently established joint committee headed by Pagan Amum (SPLM) and Salah Gosh (NCP) – should assume full responsibility for achieving a solution (…) 
  • Establish a sensitisation and feedback mechanism to allow border communities to contribute advice and ideas directly to negotiations on cross-border arrangements (…)
  • Design one or more complementary border-monitoring mechanisms to support a soft and stable boundary, ensure the rights and responsibilities of border populations, and possibly monitor population movements and new security arrangements (…)
 
Sudan: Fulfilling the Responsibility to Protect
6 October 2010
 
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect has issued a policy brief highlighting the imminent danger of mass atrocities against civilians that may occur in the lead up and the aftermath of the January 2011 referenda. The brief specifically provides an analysis of the different regions of Sudan, of the populations which are at risk of mass violence, including the border areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei, and Equatorial regions.
 
The brief also sheds light on the international community’s Responsibility to Protect those vulnerable populations from crimes against humanity and war crimes as well as the difficulties on the ground for humanitarian workers and peacekeepers to maintain security, provide help and promote prevention.
 
In addition, the last part of the report contains recommendations to the international community including: 
  • Coordinating efforts among the CPA guarantors to prevent mass atrocities,
  • Engaging in diplomatic support to facilitate negotiations between the GoS and GoSS on political issues such as oil-sharing, and border demarcation,
  • Both GoS and GoSS must adopt clear policy lines on citizenship,
  • Establishing an Abyei Referendum Commission,
  • Calling on UNAMID and UNMIS to give importance to their protection of civilian mandates. 
 
a. Sudan 30 days before the referendum, "the danger of war as high as ever!” 9 December  
b. Sudan before the elections - prevention is needed for new outbreaks of violence, 19 October  
c. Referendum 2011 - Sudan at the Crossroads, 18 October  
 
(Unofficial ICRtoP translation)
 
On 9 December, Genocide Alert (also ICRtoP member) issued an article (in German) entitled Sudan 30 days before the referendum, the danger of war as high as ever. The article expressed deep fears of a renewed civil war between the North and South. Genocide Alert chairman, Robert Schütte said: “The danger of war has never been as high as today. Both sides are armed to the teeth. It is feared that hundreds of thousands of people will lose their lives if the North wants to prevent a secession of the South by force”. In order to draw attention on the upcoming risks of mass atrocities, Genocide Alert has begun, exactly a month before the deadline, a new awareness campaign called Sudan Alarm! Robert Schütte has urged the EU, the German government and the international community at large to take decisive action to “prevent a disaster”.
 
On 18 and 19 October, Genocide Alert published two articles (‘Sudan before the elections –Prevention needed against new outbreaks of violence and ‘Referendum 2011—Sudan at the Crossroads, available in German). They assess the risks for Sudanese civilians as the referenda approaches. Concern was voiced over the GoS’ unclear intentions, and its possible refusal to recognize cessesion of the South. A series of recommendations were put forward to increase the ability of UNMIS and UNAMID to better implement their mandate and protect civilians against mass atrocities. Genocide Alert also expressed disappointment with the international community for ignoring the gravity of the situation on the ground. It is thus strongly recommend in the articles for the US and the EU, and more specifically for Germany, to take significant steps to enhance civilian protection by using all diplomatic means to avoid escalating tension between the North and the South and facilitate peaceful negotiations on disputed political issues.
 
Letter to the Members of the African Union Peace and Security Council
20 July 2010
 
On behalf of a coalition of African advocates, Dismas Nkunda, co-chair of the Darfur Consortium, co-director of IRRI and ICRtoP Steering Committee member has addressed a letter to the AU Peace and Security Council. It calls on the AU to “ensure that UNAMID is given the tools and political support required to effectively implement its protection mandate”. The letter reveals numerous logistical inconsistencies preventing UNAMID from effectively implementing its mandate as well as a worrying deteriorating situation in Darfur. Indeed, “In addition to the deteriorating security environment for civilians, humanitarian workers and UNAMID personnel are facing increased dangers. The threat of kidnapping has restricted travel outside of state capitals and there are numerous incidents of national and international staff being assaulted or facing gunfire”. Also hampering UNAMID’s work are the lack of technical support, the slow deployment of remaining troops, flight restrictions over South Darfur and political stalemate.
 
More specifically, the letter asks the African Union to help UNAMID enforce its February 2010 Darfur Protection Strategy. In this framework, the AU and UNAMID should focus primarily on: freedom of movement, protection of civilians, humanitarian access, sufficient training and equipment of personnel, human rights obligations and emergency law.
 
 
Time running out on Sudan as Security Council visits
6 October 2010
 
In this article, written in the wake of the UNSC visit to Sudan, Oxfam International stresses that the protection of populations should be as a priority on the agenda of the UN and the international community. Oxfam stresses the need for faster preparations for the referenda and for a resolution to the political disagreement on post-referendum issues to avoid renewed mass violence.
 
Oxfam calls on the UNSC to provide political and technical support to UNMIS as it is getting “extremely concerned about threats to civilians as tensions rise around the referendum period” thus drawing attention to the “188,000 southern Sudanese [that] have already fled their homes due to violence this year”.
 
 
Sudan: Preventing Violence and Statelessness as Referendum Approaches
29 June 2010
 
Refugees International issued a field report on Sudan that emphasizes on the consequences that the referendum outcomes could have on the population. RI expressed concern over vulnerable populations such as IDPs in camps in the Khartoum area, Southerners living in the North as well as Northerners living in the South. These populations need to be included in the priorities of UN peacekeeping missions’ contingency plans while international actors such as the Troika and IGAD should work in coordination for the protections of targeted civilians prone to statelessness. Those legal protections should follow certain guidelines such as: 
  • “Choice: To the extent possible people should be able to choose their nationality and not have their current nationality stripped from them against their will (…)
  • Sufficient time to make a free and informed decision: Neither side should engage in or permit forced expulsion (…)
  • Non-discrimination: If people have significant ties to either the north or south, they should not be excluded from accessing citizenship on ethnic, religious or political grounds (…)
  • Commitment to protecting people from statelessness: While the citizenship negotiations are ongoing, both parties should offer reassurance by expressing their commitment to avoiding statelessness” (…) 
 
Sudan Peace Watch
4 November 2010
 
Intensive diplomatic efforts continued around the final steps in Sudan’s peace agreement and on North-South arrangements should Sudan choose to split into two, facilitated by African Union High-Level Implementation Panel Chair Thabo Mbeki and with major U.S. involvement. Meanwhile the preparations for the Southern self-determination referendum face daunting logistical challenges. Even as the Sudanese Presidency issued a joint statement declaring “there will be no war,” the parties traded accusations of violating the peace agreement along the North-South border. While the South works on unifying dissident elements in advance of the referendum, reports of human rights abuses aimed at Darfuri activists in Khartoum as well as the closure of the Radio Dabanga offices, are highly concerning. 
 
Here are the key developments covered in this issue:
 
The devil is in the technical details for the southern referendum: Registration materials have arrived in both Khartoum and Juba, with just over two weeks left before voter registration is supposed to begin. But, many other procedural issues remain unresolved and cannot begin without proper funding and political will.
 
Abyei negotiations broaden to include all outstanding CPA issues and post-referendum arrangements: The resumption of Addis talks was postponed, but A.U. and U.S. officials continue to talk to Sudanese representatives to push the two parties toward a grand bargain that will involve trade-offs between the status of Abyei, oil-sharing arrangements, and border disputes, among other issues.
 
Concerns over conditions in Darfur continue: Human rights violations and low-level violence continue to plague the people of the region while negotiations between the Liberty and Justice Movement and the government of Sudan continue in Doha. The U.N. Security Council turned its attention to Darfur recently, first with a high-level visit, then with diplomatic engagement in response to ongoing concerns about the evolving human rights and humanitarian situation in the region (…)
 
 
Thanks to Stephanie Perazzone for compiling this listserv. 
 
 
 

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