This past week, our friends over at the ENOUGH Project released a new strategy paper on the challenges facing Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the 20-year civil war between northern and southern Sudan. With important milestones approaching (including all-Sudan elections in 2009 and a referendum on southern secession in 2011), both sides arming in preparation for renewed hostilities, and the wild card ICC arrest warrant for President Bashir expected any day, the agreement stands at critical juncture. The paper argues (and we agree!) that ensuring the success of the CPA is critical for achieving long-term peace throughout Sudan, including in Darfur.
As news of the escalating fighting in Darfur keeps coming in, we must continually remind ourselves that the conflict in Darfur is not occurring in isolation. In discussing the history of the CPA and the causes of the war it ended, ENOUGH writes:
Scorched earth tactics and divide-and-conquest strategies created a massive humanitarian catastrophe where famine was an instrument of war and civilians became either expendable pawns or heavily armed proxies. The government’s pursuit of a radical Islamic and overtly racist political agenda were major catalyst for the conflict, but the underlying cause lay in the concentration of power and privilege among a narrow stratum of northern elites who viewed the state as a means to extract resource and accumulate control over the sprawling state’s resource-rich periphery.
Sound familiar? That’s because these same forces lie at the root of the conflict in Darfur. If the CPA, which attempts to address these recurring “center vs. periphery” issues in a comprehensive way, is allowed to fail, achieving anything close to long term peace and security in Darfur will be exceedingly difficult.
The support of the international community is essential to salvaging the CPA, and the Obama administration should take a leading role. If the events in Sudan over the past decade have taught us anything (and let’s hope they have), it’s that:
1) The United States can make major contributions to peace efforts in Sudan. With a full-time diplomatic team in the region, the U.S. played a central role in brokering the CPA. The same level of commitment from the U.S. and our multilateral partners could help the CPA’s chances for success and help bring lasting peace to Darfur.
2) Piecemeal diplomacy won’t work. After the signing of the CPA, the international community turned its focus away from the agreement’s implementation. The Bush administration in particular, according to ENOUGH “was unable to harmonize competing objectives in Sudan: implementing the CPA, managing the genocide in Darfur, and maintaining its close ties with the Sudanese government on intelligence sharing and counterterrorism.”Now, as the agreement threatens to crumble, the results of this uncoordinated approach are becoming increasingly apparent.
That’s why we’re asking the Obama administration to adopt a comprehensive diplomatic strategy that encompasses the whole of Sudan. Revitalizing U.S. support for the CPA is a vital component of any such strategy. For starters, we’ve been calling on Secretary Clinton to immediately appoint a high-level special envoy to Sudan, with two deputies: one to focus on Darfur and another to focus on North-South issues and the CPA. The ENOUGH report provides a number of additional recommendations for the administration to ensure the success of the CPA in the coming critical months.