Darfur’s Fragile Peace Agreement
Darfur’s Fragile Peace Agreement
Table of Contents
  1. Overview
Special Episode: Sudan at War
Special Episode: Sudan at War
Briefing / Africa 3 minutes

Darfur’s Fragile Peace Agreement

The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed under African Union (AU) auspices on 5 May 2006 between Sudan’s government and the faction of the insurgent Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Arkou Minawi (SLA/MM) is a first step toward ending the violence but strong, coordinated action is needed if it is to take hold.

I. Overview

The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed under African Union (AU) auspices on 5 May 2006 between Sudan’s government and the faction of the insurgent Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Arkou Minawi (SLA/MM) is a first step toward ending the violence but strong, coordinated action is needed if it is to take hold. The document has serious flaws, and two of the three rebel delegations did not accept it. Fighting between rebel and government forces is down somewhat but violence is worse in some areas due to clashes between SLA factions, banditry, and inter-tribal feuds, while the Chad border remains volatile. If the DPA is not to leave Darfur more fragmented and conflict-prone than before, the international community must rapidly take practical measures to shore up its security provisions, improve prospects for the displaced to return home, bring in the holdouts and rapidly deploy a robust UN peacekeeping force with Chapter VII authority.

Two parties to the negotiations in Abuja – the SLA faction of Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur (SLA/AW) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) – have refused to sign. Abdel Wahid demands more direct SLA participation in implementation of security arrangements and is also dissatisfied with the DPA’s provisions for political representation and a victim’s compensation fund. JEM maintains that the protocols on power and wealth sharing do not adequately address the conflict’s root causes: the structural inequities between Sudan’s centre and its periphery that led to the rebellion in 2003. Indeed, the DPA has accelerated the break-up of the insurgency into smaller blocs along loose ethnic lines.

Broadening buy-in and implementation of the security protocols will either make or break the peace in the short term. Maximum use needs to be made of the opportunity provided by the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation, a communal reconciliation process prescribed by the DPA, to get acceptance of the agreement from segments of the population that were not represented in Abuja. Women’s full participation will be important.

Security will not improve, however, unless Khartoum disarms its proxy Janjaweed forces, a commitment it has already broken on five occasions. Though there are formal guarantors to the agreement and provisions in the security arrangements designed to help reinforce it, the DPA offers no effective guarantees on implementation[fn]Sentence amended 28 June 2006
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. The AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) is already overstretched and lacks the capacity to perform the additional monitoring and verification duties now asked of it. The DPA also does not address the takeover of peacekeeping operations by the UN, which is daily becoming more necessary. Khartoum continues to obstruct and delay the planning process for that UN mission. If AMIS and then UN peacekeepers must ask the government’s permission at every step, they will not be able to create the confidence refugees and displaced persons (IDPs) need to go home.

Current scenarios envisage a further six to nine months before the UN force is deployed. Many policymakers recognise that is unacceptably slow, because it means more deaths and no refugee and IDP returns, but have been reluctant to suggest more effective alternatives. The following steps are urgently required:

  • The Security Council should apply sanctions that target any side, including the government, that violates the ceasefire or attacks civilians, peacekeepers, or humanitarian operations.
     
  • The AU should spare no effort to widen acceptance of the DPA by all stakeholders, including by maintaining the dialogue with the SLA/Abdel Wahid faction and seeking further compromises on power and wealth-sharing issues, and its international partners, including the U.S. and the European Union (EU), should provide the political and financial backing that is needed for a successful Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation.
     
  • The UN and other international partners should assist the AU in immediately strengthening AMIS by providing resources, logistical support and technical expertise, and troop contributing countries in Africa should bring the force up to its authorised ceiling, so it can better carry out its current mandate as well as the additional tasks in the DPA.
     
  • The Security Council should authorise deployment of a robust UN force, starting with a rapid reaction component, to take over from AMIS by 1 October 2006, with a clear Chapter VII mandate to use all necessary means to protect civilians and assist in the implementation of the DPA, including to act militarily as necessary to contain or neutralise Janjaweed, rebel and hard-line government spoilers.
     
  • The EU and NATO should work with the UN and the AU to ensure that the peacekeeping force has the capability to react rapidly to ceasefire violations or provocations by any party, and countries with advanced military capabilities should detail senior officers to the headquarters of the peacekeeping force to bolster its professionalism.

Nairobi/Brussels, 20 June 2006

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