news analysis advocacy
tips on searching

Search AfricaFocus and 9 Partner Sites



Visit the AfricaFocus
Country Pages

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central Afr. Rep.
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Côte d'Ivoire
Equatorial Guinea
São Tomé
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Sudan
Western Sahara

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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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: Peace Process Sudan: Peace Process
Date distributed (ymd): 020408
Document reposted by Africa Action

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: East Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+


This posting contains two recent documents from the International Crisis Group (ICG) advocating a revitalized peace process in Sudan, with significant international engagement. The first is the executive summary of a short report released last week; the second the introduction to a book-length report released in January. Both reports are available in full on the ICG web site at:

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Africa Action Note to Readers

Those of you who already contribute to Africa Action should have received or be receiving in the mail Africa Action's Special Report for 2001, along with a request for your continued support this year. Among other topics, the report covers the merger and our campaign for Africa's Right to Health. It notes our extensive outreach, both through mainstream media and through our own media outlets such as this list and our web site
( Thanks to those whose sites link to ours, including many of you, our web site now ranks in the top 10 out of approximately 15 million sites in a search for "Africa" on the popular Google search engine.

For those of you who value this information and our other work but have not yet made a contribution to Africa Action, please read the latest letter from Salih Booker on our site at, follow the links to the new report, and make a contribution on-line or print out a contribution form to mail in.

Capturing the Moment: Sudan's Peace Process in the Balance

International Crisis Group

Khartoum/Nairobi/Brussels, 3 April 2002


Sudan's window of opportunity threatens to become a missed opportunity if the peace process is not revitalised in the near future. Escalation of fighting around the oil fields, increasing use by the government of helicopter gunships against civilian as well as military targets, and indecision surrounding the nature of wider international engagement all put at risk Sudan's best chance for peace since the latest phase of civil war began nearly nineteen years ago. The parties continue to signal that they are ready to negotiate seriously. The international community, and in particular the United States, must seize this opportunity to revitalise the peace process before the two sides re-commit themselves to resolving Africa's longest conflict on the battlefield.

A government helicopter gunship attack which resulted in the killing of at least two dozen women and children lined up to receive food in the remote southern village of Bieh highlighted yet again the war's terrible cost. The tragedy, however, served as an impetus for progress on one of U.S. Special Peace Envoy John Danforth's proposed humanitarian confidence-building tests a protocol focused on the protection of civilians. Widespread condemnation from human rights organisations, relief agencies, the UN, and the international community forced Khartoum to accept international monitors for the agreement on the protection of civilians, which both parties had signed by late March 2002. The incident also accelerated implementation of one of his other key agreements: a local cease-fire in the Nuba Mountains. The parties' willingness to accept all four of Danforth's tests clears the way for the U.S., United Kingdom and Norway to work as an informal "troika" with regional states in an effort to move beyond the Danforth initiative to a more serious negotiating process that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict.

A series of agreements reached between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and other groups in both the North and South indicate that the opposition to the government has grown more united during the past few months. Most significantly, the SPLA reached an understanding with the Sudan People's Democratic Front (SPDF) that ended a damaging decade-long split and resulted in the return of a number of key Nuer commanders. This has increased the SPLA's ability to attack oil infrastructure but has led in turn to a major government offensive to secure areas of oil production and exploration. The SPLA also merged with the northern-based Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF) and concluded political agreements with former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi's Umma Party and Hassan al-Turabi's Popular National Congress (PNC) party.

As Senator Danforth prepares to make his final recommendation to U.S. President George Bush, the implications, both positive and negative, of his initiative should be understood fully. The cease-fire in the Nuba Mountains has alleviated the terrible suffering the Nuba people have endured in the past decade. In addition, it has enhanced the warring parties' perception of the U.S. as a crucial mediator and raised hopes for a larger, more comprehensive peace. However, the cease-fire in the Nuba Mountains has also allowed the opposing parties to divert their forces to the oil fields, leading to an increase in civilian suffering in western Upper Nile. Furthermore, Danforth's strict adherence to humanitarian tests has exposed an unwillingness to shed reprehensible war tactics, particularly on the part of the government, whose comparative advantage on the battlefield is rooted in the use of helicopter gunships and high altitude bombing. But it has not extracted a better understanding of the adversaries' commitment to a viable peace process.

An international retreat from the peace process would represent capitulation to hard-line elements in Khartoum that are opposed to a settlement. International efforts to construct a meaningful process and achieve a comprehensive agreement should instead intensify. That represents the most realistic hope for addressing the human rights crisis at its roots as well as facilitating a democratic transition in Sudan.

This report recommends and provides a blueprint for such intensified efforts by the informal troika (U.S., UK, and Norway), working with the key regional actors (Kenya and Egypt), to point an alternative way forward that is consistent with the new global emphasis on a partnership between Africa and the broader international community.



1. Secure the agreement of the key regional heads of state, particularly President Moi of Kenya, and work closely with the IGAD countries and Egypt to construct a partnership approach to negotiations, based on the Declaration of Principles and the Egyptian-Libyan Joint Initiative principles.

2. Appoint a full-time envoy to represent the troika and work in cooperation with an IGAD counterpart to coordinate and conduct negotiations.

3. Support and finance a technical team to provide inputs to negotiators on legal, security, and other matters.

4. Designate high-level representatives to participate in an international contact group to coordinate negotiating strategy.

5. Work for the creation of a wider group of countries and multilateral organisations to coordinate the creation of incentives and pressures and their deployment with the opposing sides to the conflict.

6. Pave the way for a future democratic transition by increasing assistance to democratic structures and institutions, supporting implementation of inter-communal peace agreements, building the capacity of civil administration in opposition controlled areas, and bolstering civil society organisations, independent media, and professional associations in Khartoum and other parts of the country.


7. Work with the troika to establish a partnership approach to the peace process.

8. Give the current IGAD Special Envoy full-time status, and ensure that he frequently consults and reports to IGAD capitals.

9. Expand participation in negotiations to include not only the government of Sudan and the SPLA, but also Northern entities such as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Umma Party, and create a channel for the views of civil society to be heard as well.

10. Designate a high-level representative to participate in an international contact group to coordinate negotiating strategy.


11. Work with the troika countries and Kenya to create a meaningful contact group that will coordinate negotiating strategy.

12. Lend support to the unified mediation process.

God, Oil and Country: Changing the Logic of War in Sudan

Brussels, 10 January 2002

The International Crisis Group (ICG) works to prevent and contain deadly conflict through a unique combination of field-based analysis, policy prescription and high-level advocacy. Few countries are more deserving of such attention than Sudan, where the scale of human suffering has been mind numbing, and where the ongoing civil war continues to severely disrupt regional stability and desperately inhibit development. ICG launched a Sudan project in 2001 because we felt the country was at a crossroads, and that now was the time when concentrated attention by the international community could make a decisive difference.

As this report shows, a small window for peace has opened. The reasons for this include the shock effect of the 11 September terror attacks in the United States (U.S.) and their aftermath on policy debates within the Khartoum government; the military calculations of the government and its main opposition, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) insurgency; a difficult economic situation; and the increasing desire of the Khartoum authorities to escape international isolation and enjoy their new oil wealth. Importantly also, the U.S. government, by appointing distinguished former Senator John Danforth as Special Envoy, is showing some willingness to become more engaged.

Progress, nonetheless, will not be easy. This report makes clear that the Sudan situation is far more complex than normally portrayed in the media, or by advocates of particular causes. It is a struggle, to be sure, between a northern government that is largely Arab and Muslim and a southern insurgency that is largely black and significantly Christian , but it is also increasingly a contest between a non-democratic centre and hitherto peripheral groups from all parts of the country. It is a contest over oil and other natural resources , but also one about ideologies, including the degree to which a government's radical Islamist agenda can be moderated and a rebel movement's authoritarianism can embrace civilian democracy.

The Sudanese government faces stark choices, brought into sharp relief since 11 September. It can build on the progress that has been made on counter - terrorism and commit itself to negotiate peace seriously. Or it can try to pocket the goodwill it has gained and intensify the war while remaining shackled to the ideology that was the inspiration of its 1989 coup.

The Sudanese opposition faces difficult choices and challenges of its own . The SPLA can remain a relatively limited rebel group, with a restricted geographic base and a low-risk minimalist partnership with its allies in the National Democratic Alliance, including a number of northern political parties. Or it can deepen its commitment to a hearts and minds campaign in the south and its cooperation with National Democratic Alliance partners around a credible peace agenda.

Among the main conclusions we reach, and recommendations we advance, are these:

  1. A comprehensive peace may be possible but only if the international community for the first time makes its achievement a significant objective, and commits the necessary political and diplomatic resources;

  2. There will be no success if the parties can continue to play one initiative off against another, which means the major existing efforts -the Egyptian - Libyan Joint Initiative , and that led by Kenya in the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) - must either be unified or a single new peace process created;

  3. A unified peace process should be built around the vital element of IGAD's Declaration of Principles, namely self-determination, recognising all the room this leaves for creative negotiation on context, detail and timing;

  4. A unified peace process needs to be energised from outside: the ideal team to coordinate both incentives and pressures for the parties to negotiate seriously would include the U.S., indispensably, and key Europeans - ideally the UK representing the European Union (EU) joined by Norway - with a meaningful degree of buy-in from key neighbours and other concerned states such as China, Malaysia and Canada;

  5. Concerned members of the international community should pursue vigorously and concurrently four major interests in Sudan: stopping the war, laying the ground - work for democracy, protecting human rights and winning cooperation in the fight against terrorism; and,

  6. The top priority should be a comprehensive peace, grounded in the restoration of democracy, which is the circumstance most likely to bring both fundamental human rights improvements and guarantees against backsliding on terrorism .

ICG developed this report , as always, through extensive fieldwork. The primary author, Africa Program Co-Director John Prendergast, made three trips between June and November 2001 and conducted many scores of interviews in Sudan - both Khartoum and wa r - t orn areas of the south - as well as in Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Europe and North America. Many others on the ICG team helped with writing and production, including Mirna Galic, Regina Dubey, Philip Roessler, and Macgregor Duncan. ICG Senior Adviser John Norris played a major role in the editing process, supported by ICG Vice President (Programs) Jon Greenwald and, at the production stage , by Research Analyst Theodora Adekunle and Francesca Lawe-Davies. I thank them all for invaluable contributions. This book-length report is not the ICG's last word on Sudan. It will be followed by a series of further, shorter, field-based reports as we stay engaged with future developments . We hope very much that an end to Sudan's agony is near, and that this report will help the international Policy community to accelerate that process.

Gareth Evans President

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

URL for this file: