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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Sudan: Harker Report

Sudan: Harker Report
Date distributed (ymd): 000221
Document reposted by APIC

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Region: East Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains excerpts from the 20-page executive summary of the Canadian report "Human Security in Sudan" (the Harker report). The full report, including the executive summary, is available at the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site, in PDF format only: (English) (French).

Despite the strong conclusions of the report, following its release on February 14 the Canadian government announced it would not impose economic sanctions against Talisman, but instead would re-open its diplomatic representation in Sudan. The U.S. government simultaneously decided to bar U.S. financial dealings with the Sudan Greater Nile Oil Project (in which Talisman holds a 25% stake). However, the Washington measure does not apply to Talisman itself or to other partners, namely the China National Petroleum Corp. and Malaysia's Petronas.

Southern Sudanese organizations in Canada were planning protest demonstrations across the country for Monday, February 21. For additional related news, see,, and

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Human Security in Sudan:
The Report of a Canadian Assessment Mission Prepared for the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ottawa, January 2000

Executive Summary [excerpts]

1 Introduction

On October 26, 1999, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy and the Minister for International Co-operation, Maria Minna, announced several Canadian initiatives to bolster international efforts backing a negotiated settlement to the 43-year civil war in Sudan, including the announcement of an assessment mission to Sudan to examine allegations about human rights abuses, including the practice of slavery. ...

An Assessment Mission was agreed on, mandated to:

  1. independently investigate human rights violations, specifically in reference to allegations of slavery and slavery-like practices in Sudan, and
  2. to investigate and report on the alleged link between oil development and human rights violations, particularly in respect of the forced removal of populations around the oilfields and oil related development.

Human Rights and Slavery

Leonardo Franco [UN Special Rapporteur on Sudan] expressed the view that "the war and the pernicious strategies employed had also revived and exacerbated the problems of slavery in the Sudan", and was concerned about the plight of internally displaced persons, evidence that the war was being conducted in disregard of the principles of human rights, and the GOS bore the largest share of responsibility for violations. ...

Oil and The Exacerbation of Conflict

The October 26 Policy Statement on Sudan stressed that Canada is deeply concerned about reports of intense fighting in the regions of oil development, and that oil extraction may be contributing to the forced relocation of civilian populations residing in the vicinity of the oil fields in the interest of a more secure environment for oil extraction by the GOS and its partners, which include Talisman Energy Inc. ...

The October 26 Policy Statement declared that if it becomes evident that oil extraction is exacerbating the conflict in Sudan, or resulting in violations of human rights or humanitarian law, the Government of Canada may consider applying economic and trade restrictions. ...


The mission met in Khartoum, with GOS, opposition, human rights, civil society, and diplomatic representatives, as well as with displaced Southern Sudanese and the UN officials trying to help them. In addition, visits were made to oil pipeline sites north and south of Khartoum, and to Dilling, in the lower reaches of the Nuba Mountains. The mission spent three days at the Heglig operating base of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, GNPOC, and from this base visited a number of communities in the vicinity.

Locations in the south were also accessed from Lokichokkio, in northern Kenya, the operating base of Operation Lifeline Sudan. ...

2 Slavery or Abduction: A Distinction without a Difference?

The core allegation of slavery in Sudan is not any sensational claim, which can be criticized for inflation of numbers or ignorance of complexities. It is a matter of record. It is the continued assault on lives and liberty of the Dinka people of Bahr El Ghazal by Arab raiders, the murahleen first armed by the GOS in 1985 and figuring, one way or another, in the "war strategies" of the GOS today.

The central question to which the Assessment Mission turned was whether the GOS has been "sponsoring" these raids against the Dinka and others through the practice of "hiring" Baggara tribesmen, in effect the feared murahleen, as a protection force which takes its payment not in cash or kind from the GOS but as booty, the goods and people they can make off with.

Abhorrence of slavery is professed everywhere, including Sudan, where we were strongly told, and not just by the GOS, that slavery does not, and could not exist. ...

UNICEF now follows the practice of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and no longer uses the term Slavery, referring instead to Abduction. The contention over terminology is not simply one of semantics, but is an attempt by persons rejecting the term Slavery to blunt the allegations of its existence by raising instead the tribal practices of Nuer and Dinka, who have had a history of reciprocal raiding and abduction. Setting aside the debate over the word used to describe it, the Assessment Mission was concerned with the practice itself, and there is ample evidence that it is organized, and is accompanied by violence. And there is the end result: the wrongful use of a human being by another; one exercising "ownership" over another. ...

Some Conclusions

[The government's creation of The Committee on the Eradication of Abductions of Women and Children] is a first step, but so far an insufficent one, towards ending a practice, Abduction into a condition of being owned by another person, which must be stopped. At this time, perhaps 15,000 Sudanese women and children live in such a terrible status. The GOS, focusing on the visible absence of "classical Slave markets", bridles at the use of the term Slavery more than at the plight of these women and children, and for this absolute misplacement of moral indignation there can be no sympathy whatsoever. Certainly, all our sympathy is with the women and children and their devastated communities. ...

3 Internal Displacement and Forced Removals

Leonardo Franco has stated that up to 4.5 million people have been displaced in Sudan since the beginning of the current phase of civil war in 1983. ... The UNDP believes that as many as 1.5 million IDPs are now living around Khartoum, which is overwhelming the authorities. ...

Displacement and Oil

We were naturally interested in people moving, or being moved, because of oil development, which led us to travel outside Khartoum, once to the north, along part of the pipeline route to the new refinery being built mainly by Chinese contractors, and once to Dilling, in the Nuba Mountains, to the site of a pumping station on the pipeline. On each occasion, we were assured that local people who had to be moved because of the pipeline were given compensation.

We were also interested in the non-Arab peoples who lived near oil development, and we learned that in Khartoum there is a Pariang Association. Pariang, sometimes known as Faryang or even Panriang, was described to us by Talisman Energy Inc. as a Dinka village located on the eastern edge of the GNPOC concession.

The Pariang Association represents people, mainly Dinka, displaced from the Pariang area and now living in the camps for IDPs near Khartoum, camps such as Mayang. The major displacements, or what some have referred to as forced removals, for one part of Unity State, the Pariang area, coincided with the outbreak of factional fighting around the state capital, Bentiu, in May, 1999. ...

On 9 May 1999, a new offensive was launched from the Nuba Mountains and Pariang. Antonovs and helicopter gunships supported troops using armoured personnel carriers. Roads built by the oil companies enabled these to reach their destinations more easily than before. The village of Biem 1 was destroyed, and the burning of tukuls and theft of cattle ranged as far as Padit. Biem 2, which we visited, was badly damaged.

The offensive lasted almost two months, not the ten days mentioned by Leonardo Franco, who may have been thinking only of the use of ground troops,and the movement of these was stopped by the rains in June. The offensive was characterized by bombing runs and helicopter gunships flying low enough to kill people, and stop cultivation. From April to July 1999, the decline in population in Ruweng County seems to have been in the order of 50%. ...

It is difficult to avoid Leonardo Franco's conclusion that a "swath of scorched earth/cleared territory" is being created around the oilfields. ...

4 Oil and Conflict Examined

Talisman Energy Inc. is the largest independent oil and gas company in Canada, and perhaps the third or fourth largest in the world but the distinction of being the first foreign oil company to seek to capture oil in the Muglug Basin of southern Sudan goes to Chevron, which was granted a concession in 1975 and started drilling in 1977. ... The Canadian company, Arakis, entered the scene after Chevron withdrew following armed attacks against its facilities. ... Arakis was able to pick up the Chevron holdings for a small stake. But development required a much bigger stake, one which was revealed as being too big for Arakis: enter Talisman. On October 8, 1998, it completed the acquisition of Arakis Energy Corporation, thereby acquiring a 25% interest in the oil exploration and development project in Sudan being operated by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC).

Leonardo Franco gave attention to claims that "long-term efforts by the various governments of the Sudan to protect oil production have included a policy of forcible population displacement in order to clear oil-producing areas and transportation routes of southern civilians, who were suspected of supporting sabotage actions by the SPLA." ...

We certainly met Southerners who saw oil as the way forward for their people, but it has to be said that these were mostly in Khartoum, trying to give reality to the Khartoum Peace Agreement.

In the meantime, many Southerners believe, and told us on several occasions, that oil in Western Upper Nile is being extracted under the authority of a government which has no legitimacy; they insist that oil can be taken from the area only when the South is under the authority of a government they recognize. In fact, villagers, militia commanders, political figures all asked us: "Did the Canadian oil company ask our permission to take our oil, and sell it? Why is Canada, a rich country, taking our oil without our permission, and without any of benefit to us?"

The preponderance of Southern opinion we encountered was that Oil was hurting their people. ... Leonardo Franco's predecessor as Special Rapporteur, Gaspar Biro, has been quoted as saying that if the oil companies don't know what's going on,they're not looking over the fences of their compounds. ...

It is certainly fair to acknowledge that the durable civil war in Sudan is not fundamentally about oil, but oil has become a key factor. The IGAD Declaration of Principles, cited in the October 26 policy statement, gives a clear account of the key issues -- democracy, human rights, religion and state, and self-determination. But oil is now part of the war, and the Assessment Mission has had to ponder whether the current oil operations exacerbate this war, or advance the pursuit of peace.

The evidence we gathered, including the testimony of those directly involved directs us to conclude that oil is exacerbating conflict in Sudan. ...

We also learned, and have reported, that flights clearly linked to the oil war have been a regular feature of life at the Heglig airstrip, which is adjacent to the oil workers' compound. It is operated by the consortium, and Canadian chartered helicopters and fixed wing aircraft which use the strip have shared the facilities with helicopter gunships and Antonov bombers of the GOS. These have armed and re-fuelled at Heglig and from there attacked civilians. ...

Ordinary people in the South, even their leaders, can confuse Talisman, which operates north of the Bahr El Arab and Bahr El Ghazal rivers, with other oil companies such as IPC, which holds the concession, known as 5A, around which war is raging south of these rivers, but two things are certain. First, the gunships and Antonovs which have attacked villages south of the rivers flew to their targets from the Heglig airstrip in the Talisman concession. Second, it is a prominent perception of southern Sudanese that Talisman, "the Canadian oil firm", is in active collaboration with the GOS, economically, politically & militarily; it is also the perception of these southerners that the Government of Canada is either supportive of or indifferent to that collaboration. In short, they identify oil extraction not as of positive development but as a major grievance with a Canadian label and say it must be stopped.

The underlying reality is that there has been, and probably still is, major displacement of civilian populations related to oil extraction. Furthermore, Oil has become a major focus of the fighting. Worse, the oil operations in GOS-controlled territory are used, even if to a limited extent, and possibly without the knowledge or approval of the oil companies, to directly support GOS military operations. Talisman has now informed us that these are "defensive purposes", and latest reports indicate that, in any event, the GOS denies the facilities were used for military purposes. Which sounds like a state in and of denial. We can only conclude that Sudan is a place of extraordinary suffering and continuing human rights violations, even though some forward progress can be recorded, and the oil operations in which a Canadian company is involved add more suffering.

5 Is there a way forward?

A Cease-fire Now

The dry season is arriving in South Sudan, and with it, fears of renewed ground fighting. Every effort should be made to achieve a cease-fire right now in Western Upper Nile. ...

Oil Money

There are only two ways of neutralizing the negative impact of oil. One is to halt production until real peace is attained; the other is to set GOS oil revenues aside for use when such a peace is in place.It is difficult to imagine a cease-fire while oil extraction continues,and almost impossible to do so if revenues keep flowing to the GNPOC partners and the GOS as currently arranged. The "trust fund" proposal warrants first moved by the NSCC warrants careful consideration, and Canada should engage the parties in South Sudan in discussions of the conditions necessary for them to consider the proposal. Talisman should make it clear that it acknowledges the destructive impact of oil extraction and will work towards a trust fund arrangement acceptable to the southern parties.

Certainly, while we heard that the new constitution provides for the equitable, and peaceful-use, sharing of oil revenues, many people have asked why should the GOS be trusted, and they were not allayed in their suspicions by any reference to the International Monetary Fund.

We recommend that Canada provides assistance in the fields of forensic accounting and auditing to make workable any sharing scheme which can win tentative approval in North and South Sudan, and that it offer to play a full part in maintaining any temporary "trust fund" answer to the use of oil revenues during a cease-fire as recommended above.

A Step-by-Step Approach

It is clear that many Canadians, not to mention Sudanese, want Talisman either out of Sudan now or at least to have halted production of oil. But we have been reluctant to advocate immediate application of the Special Economic Measures Act because of our strong desire to have Talisman meet its responsibilities in full, not be allowed to slip away from them.

There is a measured approach requiring action by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and in no way precluding his application of SEMA. He could, in a public statement expressing grave concern about Sudan and the mounting evidence that Canadian oil extraction activity is exacerbating the Sudan crisis, announce that certain exports to Sudan will be subjected to scrutiny under the Export and Import Controls Act. If Talisman's operations in Sudan are not brought to comply with human rights and humanitarian law, consideration should be given to placing Sudan on the Area Control List.

The ACL's not an instrument for applying general economic sanctions.It is a focussed instrument by which Canada is able to apply selective trade restrictions in support of specific objectives.

Placing certain exports under Export Controls List scrutiny, and, if necessary, putting a country on the ACL, would provide Canada with leverage over Talisman to encourage monitored compliance with the ethical approach the company says it adheres to.

Meanwhile, Monitoring Must Go On

Talisman has yet to acknowledge that human rights violations have occurred which can be related to oil operations, and it has, at various times, maintained that it would have found evidence of these were it to be found. ...

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen international policy debates around African issues, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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