Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (III): The Limits of Darfur’s Peace Process
27 Jan 2014
If Darfur is to have durable peace, all parties to the country’s multiple conflicts need to develop a more holistic means of addressing both local conflicts and nationwide grievances.
“It is time Sudan and its partners abandoned piecemeal approaches in favour of a comprehensive national dialogue and inclusive talks”.
EJ Hogendoorn, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Deputy Director
In The Limits of Darfur’s Peace Process, the third report in its Sudan’s Spreading Conflict series on the violence besetting the country’s peripheries, the International Crisis Group analyses Darfur and the contradiction between the piecemeal and comprehensive approaches to the decade-old war. The region is increasingly off the international radar, even though a spike in violence displaced nearly half a million additional people in 2013. The 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) has not been implemented, and the main insurgent groups have allied and assert an increasingly national agenda.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
- The roots of the long conflict in Darfur are similar to those of the civil wars that Sudan’s other peripheries have experienced – notably, unequal relations with the centre.
- The DDPD remains largely unimplemented because it was rejected by the main rebel factions, who instead joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, forming the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance. The government’s major financial commitments to Darfur’s reconstruction and development were not honoured, due in part to the economic crisis following the separation of South Sudan.
- International players (including the UN and African Union) lack a coherent vision of how to solve Darfur and Sudan’s other conflicts. They need to take into account the new SRF alliance and its increasingly national agenda.
- Many international players have continued to support both the piecemeal DDPD and a national solution to all Sudan crises. The contradiction between the two approaches can be solved only by separating local provisions from national ones. By transferring the latter to a nationwide, comprehensive process, the DDPD could more effectively contribute to the reconstruction of Darfur, including its social fabric. It could also serve as one of the bases for a national dialogue that would include the ruling National Congress Party, the armed and unarmed opposition and civil society.
“Sudanese and international players alike are divided on a crucial choice: keep negotiating on Darfur and other conflicts separately, or adopt a national approach to solve all at once”, says Jérôme Tubiana, Senior Sudan Analyst. “In Darfur, the rebel movements’ main leaders have always claimed some national agenda and a commitment to national unity. This provides an opportunity to include Sudan’s most populous region in a nationwide process”.
“Darfur has alternated for a decade between being a headline conflict and a forgotten one. Horrific violence and displacement continue”, says EJ Hogendoorn, Africa Program Deputy Director. “It is time Sudan and its partners abandoned piecemeal approaches in favour of a comprehensive national dialogue and inclusive talks. At stake is no less than the end of decades of chronic conflict – and perhaps Sudan’s unity”.