Darfur’s New Security Reality
Africa Report N°134
26 Nov 2007
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The Darfur conflict has changed radically in the past year and not for the better. While there are many fewer deaths than during the high period of fighting in 2003-2004, it has mutated, the parties have splintered, and the confrontations have multiplied. Violence is again increasing, access for humanitarian agencies is decreasing, international peacekeeping is not yet effective and a political settlement remains far off. The strategy the African Union (AU)/UN mediation has been following cannot cope with this new reality and needs to be revised. After a highly publicised opening ceremony in Sirte, Libya, on 27 October 2007, the new peace talks have been put on hold. The mediation should use this opportunity to reformulate the process, broadening participation and addressing all the conflict’s root causes.
The May 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) is a failure, too limited in scope and signatories. Those who signed – the government and a few rebel factions – have hurt the peace process. The ruling party in Khartoum, the National Congress Party (NCP), is pursuing destructive policies in Darfur, while at the same time resisting key provisions in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the North-South war, thus triggering a crisis in that process. They are meant to ensure its survival in 2009 elections, not end the conflict, and they are jeopardising Sudan’s peacemaking architecture. The NCP wants Darfur in chaos to limit the room for an opposition to emerge, while resettling key allies on cleared land and defying Security Council resolutions by integrating its Janjaweed irregulars into official security structures instead of disarming them.
Rebel DPA signatories, particularly the Sudan Liberation Army faction of Minni Minawi (SLA/MM), have been responsible for attacks on civilians, humanitarians, the AU mission (AMIS) and some of the violence in the internally displaced person (IDP) camps. Their leaders have been given government jobs and land and, as ardent supporters of the status quo and without a clearly defined role in the new negotiations, are potential spoilers. Rebel movements that did not sign have further splintered and only just begun tentative steps toward reunifying their ranks. Many have boycotted the talks and increased military action. As they divide along tribal lines, their messages become more fragmented and less representative of constituencies they claim to speak for.
The IDP camps are increasingly violent, with residents manipulated by all sides while Khartoum also tries to force them to return to unsafe areas. Inter-Arab dissension has added new volatility to the situation on the ground. Some tribes are trying to solidify land claims before the UN/AU hybrid peacekeeping operation in Darfur (UNAMID) arrives. This has led to fighting with other Arab tribes, which have realised the NCP is not a reliable guarantor of their long-term interests and have started to take protection into their own hands. There is now a high risk of an Arab insurgency, as well as potential for alliances with the predominantly non-Arab rebel groups. A spillover of the conflict into Kordofan has also started.
The new realities emphasise the necessity of broadening participation in the peace talks to include the full range of actors and constituencies involved in the conflict, including its primary victims, such as women, but also Arab tribes. Incorporating broader and more representative voices can help remedy the uneven weight the process now gives the NCP and rebel factions. Core issues that drive the conflict, among them land tenure and use, including grazing rights, and the role and reform of local government and administrative structures, were not addressed in the DPA but left to the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation process that was supposed to follow the negotiations. They need to be on the agenda of the new negotiations if an eventual agreement is to gain the wide support the DPA has lacked.
UNAMID is unlikely to be fully operational until well into 2008, so it is important to complete the delivery of promised aid packages to AMIS quickly so that it can resume more active peacekeeping. When it is on the ground, UNAMID must build upon lessons learned from its predecessor, including to be more pro-active in protecting civilians and responding to ceasefire violations. Its leadership should also engage actively in the peace talks so as to ensure coherence between what is agreed and its capabilities. The international community must give it more support than it did AMIS, including strong responses, with sanctions as necessary, to further non-compliance by any party, as well as to actions that obstruct the peace process or violate international humanitarian law.
1. Return to Darfur for further consultations that bring in all constituencies on core issues such as land tenure, grazing rights, the Native Administration and cessation of hostilities, and seek to identify individuals to represent the interests of those constituencies at the peace talks, with specific attention to the representation of women.
2. Give the rebels participating in the SPLM-hosted Juba conference time to unify and create a common platform and joint negotiation strategy and to identify representatives before resuming peace talks, and encourage absent factions to take part in the Juba conference.
3. Prioritise a new ceasefire agreement when negotiations resume, including a commission inclusive of all its signatories, DPA signatories and adherents and AMIS/UNAMID, and supported as necessary by international guarantors of the peace process, which operates at two levels:
a) decision-making, to oversee implementation and support actions against violators; and
b) working, to monitor violations and investigate and report conclusions to the decision-making level for action.
4. Ensure that UNAMID military and political leadership participate in the negotiations so as to ensure coherence between what is agreed upon and UNAMID’s mandate, capabilities, planning and concept of operations.
5. Prevent DPA signatories and adherents from becoming spoilers by including them in the negotiations and ensuring that they are appropriately represented in any future power-sharing arrangements.
6. Mobilise regional and other international partners to press the negotiating parties to make goodwill gestures to prove commitment to the talks and improve the environment for agreement, namely:
a) in the case of the NCP: cease all attacks by the army and other security entities on civilians and IDP camps and arms distribution to tribal militias; appoint more neutral figures as governors of the three Darfur states; halt and reverse occupation of cleared land and post-DPA creation of new administrative localities; support the AU/UN mediation team’s efforts to conduct further consultations by allowing unhindered access in Darfur and not interfering in supervision and organisation of meetings; and cease immediately all violations and recommit to the full implementation of the “Joint Communiqué” signed with the UN on the facilitation of humanitarian activities; and
b) in the case of the DPA non-signatories: declare and respect an immediate cessation of hostilities and cease arms distributions to IDPs; give full cooperation and protection to humanitarian operations in their respective areas; and cooperate fully with SPLM efforts to create a common platform among the movements.
7. Support the AU/UN mediation team by pressing the government of Sudan and the DPA non-signatories to implement the above goodwill gestures and consult with the SPLM on how to complement, and not compete with, its efforts to produce unity among the DPA non-signatories.
8. Agree immediately to the UNAMID force make-up, including non-African troops as necessary, make appropriate land available, allow access and improvements to airstrips and grant UNAMID unrestricted access to Sudanese airspace.
9. Create a coordination structure between state security committees and UNAMID to prevent the escalation of local conflicts and promote their speedy resolution.
10. Resume patrolling and prioritise protection of IDP camps, humanitarian assistance and key transportation routes, including by working with all parties to set up up demilitarised zones around camps and humanitarian supply routes, as called for in the DPA.
11. Ensure that AMIS is reinforced as quickly as possible via the light and heavy support packages and prioritise the rapid deployment of UNAMID.
12. Recommend to all Sudan (UNMIS, UNAMID) and Central African Republic/Chad (MINURCAT, EUFOR) peacekeeping missions a joint coordination and information exchange mechanism to maximise their protection of civilians and improve their capacities to deal with cross-border threats.
13. Apply punitive measures, including authorised sanctions, to any party obstructing the negotiations, UNAMID deployment or the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), or violating the arms embargo or international humanitarian law.
14. Provide, together with states party to the Rome Statute of the ICC and others, full and effective support to the Court to continue its investigations and prosecutions in Darfur and increase pressure on Sudan to cooperate with the Court and turn over the two individuals for whom arrest warrants have been issued thus far.
Nairobi/Brussels, 26 November 2007