Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!
Print this page
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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived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
Region: East Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+
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:
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
Southern Sudanese organizations in Canada were planning
protest demonstrations across the country for Monday, February
21. For additional related news, see
Human Security in Sudan:
The Report of a Canadian Assessment Mission
Prepared for the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ottawa, January 2000
Executive Summary [excerpts]
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:
- independently investigate human rights violations,
specifically in reference to allegations of slavery and
slavery-like practices in Sudan, and
- 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
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. ...
[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
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
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
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
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
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
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. ...
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
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
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
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.