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Open Letter to the Friends of Sudan
Open Letter to the Friends of Sudan
Peacekeeping troops from China, deployed by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), patrol outside the premises of the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Juba, South Sudan, on 4 October 2016. AFP/Albert Gonzalez Farran
Report 288 / Africa

中国在南苏丹的外交政策尝试

中国长期以来抵制对他国事务的干预,但正在南苏丹前所未有地尝试和平缔造者的角色。中国带来了独特的影响力,但也受制于经验与专业知识的不足及地面人员的短缺。这一尝试可能预示着中国的全球角色将更为主动,不过其对冲突的干预仍会因自我利益保护和风险规避而趋于谨慎。

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随着中国的足迹在全球不断延伸,其长期以来采取的不干涉他国内政的外交原则也在不断演变。随着其海外投资和业务联系不断变广加深,中国公民、经济利益和国际声誉所面临的威胁也日益加剧,中国因此不得不直面其传统的“不插手”外交立场的固有局限性。中国做出的逐步调整将深刻定义其在国际舞台的角色。其最引人注目的外交尝试在非洲大陆,而南苏丹是焦点。中国的行动一方面以保护中国公民和国家经济利益为目标,另一方面推动停战、促进人道主义救援。南苏丹因此成为中国采取更主动的国际角色的一个试点。

在此之前,中国曾尝试加深介入苏丹事务,但主要迫于国际舆论的压力。中国长期支持苏丹,因此苏丹政府对达尔富尔叛乱的血腥镇压为中国招致强烈的国际批评,甚至引发了抵制2008年北京奥运会的呼吁。中国因此利用对苏丹政府的影响和在联合国安理会的地位,协助确保苏丹接受联合国于2008年在达尔富尔部署维和部队。2012年,利比亚爆发内战,中国政府成功转移当地公民,此举一方面在国内激发了强烈的民族自豪感,另一方面也提高了中国人和投资者对政府的国际影响力的期望。在这两次事件中,中国拉伸了其传统外交原则的界限,表明当其利益受到威胁时,中国越来越愿意采取主动行动。

当2013年末南苏丹爆发内战时,主张对不干涉内政政策作出更灵活解释的这一派中国决策者们看到了机会,可以尝试用新方法来保护中国的国家利益。在这一过程中起作用的有以下几个因素:国有企业——中国石油天然气总公司在海外有巨额投资,这决定了它的角色既是经济伙伴也是政治参与者;同时,中国与战争调停者和西方大国等其他各方的利益不谋而合,大家共同寻求冲突的结束。通过与西方各国以及负责协调南苏丹和平进程的非洲之角区域性组织——东非政府间发展组织 (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development---IGAD,伊加特)联手合作,中国的决策者相信,自己能够在维护声誉的同时,做出建设性的干预举措。

中国在南苏丹迈出了超越其传统外交政策的重要一步:即便大体上遵守不干涉他国内政的原则,中国仍旧可以利用其影响力,使交战各方回到谈判桌上,弥合西方大国和南苏丹领导人之间的分歧。中国参与在埃塞俄比亚举行的和平会谈进程,在苏丹召开参战派系之间的谨慎会谈,策划联合国安理会的行动,向联合国南苏丹维和行动(UNMISS)派遣维和部队,并加入了2015年8月和平协议的监督机构。

总之,中国仍旧可能反对干涉他国内政,但该外交政策的定义变得更富有弹性空间。中国继续划清界限,拒绝对他国内政事务进行干预;反对政权更迭或单方面军事干预;认为表达尊重,而不是施加压力或惩罚,才是促进合作、改善治理的良方。因为自己是制裁的受害者,也饱受公开批评,所以中国更倾向于通过谨慎的说服工作来解决问题。但当内部冲突跨越国界,威胁到地区安全和稳定,或是造成了大规模的人道主义危机,同时在得到区域和地方当局以及联合国许可时,中国的直接干预行动就变得合理化了。在这些情况下,中国更倾向于支持政治对话,而不是将结果直接强加给谈判各方,除非中国公民或海外投资的安全受到了威胁。

我们很好理解为什么中国在外交政策的转变上采取试探性的步伐。中国知道自己在国际和平与安全努力的领域刚刚崭露头角,特别是通过多边机构展开外交努力方面尚属新手,因而格外注意避免过界行为。中国积极地学习自身的过往经验,同时还借鉴其他潜在和平缔造者的成功和失误。中国外交队伍的人员和培训尚不完备,但中国巨大的经济和政治实力意味着,无论是在南苏丹或其他地方,一旦中国介入,无可避免地会带来传统调解努力无法达到的影响力。

尽管合作方式迥异,但迄今为止在南苏丹的合作使中国、西方国家、其非洲合作伙伴以及南苏丹人民都受益匪浅。各方应该继续贯彻这种合作。现在是南苏丹和平进程的关键时刻,也是中国尝试崭露新角色的重要关口。两者兼顾,互利共赢,至关重要。

北京/内罗毕/朱巴/布鲁塞尔, 2017年7月10日

Open Letter / Africa

Open Letter to the Friends of Sudan

While Sudan has embarked on a path toward democratic and accountable government, economic fragility threatens to derail its transition. The Friends of Sudan should bolster the civilian-led administration with urgently-needed financial support and call for an African Union envoy to help keep the transition on track.

Dear Friends of Sudan,

Sudan’s transition hangs in the balance. The country has taken remarkable steps away from authoritarian rule over the last year. A peaceful, diverse and sustained protest movement paved the way for the 11 April ouster of Omar al-Bashir, one of the region’s most entrenched autocrats. The appointment in August of a transitional government tasked with steering Sudan toward a more democratic and civilian-led order stirred hope among many Sudanese. Yet threats to this transition are manifold: the civilians in the transitional administration share power with generals who do not necessarily have the same commitment to reform; a divided and factionalised security sector holds disproportionate sway over the economy; and the same economic pressures that brought down Bashir have intensified while the opposition movement and the street maintain high expectations that political change will bring relief. Meanwhile, some members of the former regime are seeking to reverse the gains made by the protestors and to regain control in Khartoum.

Sudan cannot address this formidable set of challenges on its own. The transitional administration led by the widely-respected economist, Abdalla Hamdok, requires urgent financial, technical and diplomatic support if it is to keep the transition on track, deliver the economic revival that the Sudanese people are counting on, bring peace to the country’s war-ravaged peripheries, and overhaul the country’s constitution ahead of the planned elections that, in 2022, are intended to complete Sudan’s shift to a democratically elected and fully civilian government.

The new authorities have already implemented a number of changes designed to begin undoing the Bashir regime’s ruinous legacy. Hamdok’s administration has moved to recover assets and funds from figures associated with the old regime. In a sign the new prime minister is serious about reckoning with the previous regime’s misdeeds and bringing change to the economy, his government on 10 November froze the accounts of 40 individuals and companies associated with Bashir, including members of the deposed strongman’s family. On 29 November, Hamdok also announced the repeal of an unpopular public order law that had given the police far-reaching powers to arrest and flog individuals and that had been widely used for the repression of women, who played a major role in the protest movement.

The transitional administration has also advanced women’s political participation through the appointment of women to several powerful positions in the transitional government. For the first time, Sudan has a female chief justice and foreign minister and the Sovereign Council overseeing the transition includes a Coptic woman jointly nominated by the military and opposition.

While Sudan’s moves toward new national and local leadership that more fully represents all of its people are both profound and welcome, as are the transitional administration’s first steps in the direction of reform, it is hard to overstate the magnitude of the challenges that lie ahead for Hamdok and his civilian allies. These leaders bear the outsize hopes and expectations of a public that desperately seeks an economic lifeline after years of brutal kleptocratic rule. As they struggle to keep the reins of government away from a politically and economically powerful security sector, it will be critical to demonstrate that the transition is already producing palpable benefits for the Sudanese people. Should the transitional government fail to deliver these dividends, it could be challenged by the same hungry and frustrated street that mobilised thousands to oust Bashir. Powerful military actors appear eager for such a crisis to unfold, as they might see it as justification for a full blown takeover by the security sector. The result could be escalating violence that would destabilise both Sudan and the wider region.

Against this backdrop, Hamdok has reached out to international donors for an assistance package of $10 billion. These funds would give his administration momentum to press forward with the transition to full civilian governance. In particular, the funds would help ensure he can keep the wheels of government turning while also rebuilding a much needed social safety net for the Sudanese people; this will be especially important when the government faces the economic imperative of eventually lifting subsidies on key staple commodities. The funds would also help Sudan’s civilian leadership begin building the political strength that will be required to take on the most challenging and politically sensitive issues that it faces—such as disentangling the generals from the country’s economy and placing the fractured and unaccountable military and paramilitary apparatus under a single chain of command – battles that it is not yet ready to fight.

The Friends of Sudan can help make Sudan’s transition a success. Comprising African powers, Western donors and long-time partners of Khartoum from the Gulf region, your financial muscle and political ties give you exceptional influence. Your group has already played a valuable role by coming together to present a cohesive front in support of the transition, including by encouraging the parties to endorse the August transitional agreement that installed the current administration. On this fifth meeting of the group – and the first held in Khartoum – Crisis Group calls upon all members to commit to a course of action that is commensurate with the urgency of this once-in-a-generation chance to steer Sudan toward durable stability. Specifically, Crisis Group urges the Friends of Sudan to coordinate closely in taking the following steps:

  • As a matter of top priority, the Friends of Sudan should immediately coordinate available economic support for Sudan’s transition, working with the Sudan International Partners’ Forum on the ground in Khartoum to strategically identify and deliver projects that have near-term benefits for the people of Sudan. The Prime Minister would be strengthened politically by demonstrating that he is delivering on the promise of the transition. If deployed quickly, this coordinated support could fund these projects as well as supporting emergency economic relief to increasingly impatient urban populations. This support should ensure that a sizeable portion of funds reach beyond Khartoum and into Sudan’s provinces and peripheries, where humanitarian assistance is also badly needed; these regions were previously neglected or systematically deprived of resources during the previous government and have been largely overlooked in the transition to date.
     
  • With an eye toward the period beginning in mid-2020 and leading up to 2022 elections, the Friends of Sudan should step up preparations to establish a multi-donor trust fund (MDTF) for Sudan to be managed by the World Bank. Funding under the MDTF should be allocated in coordination with the Sudanese Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to develop and boost industries, support economic diversification away from extractives and reinvigorate agriculture, all of which would help spur employment. Although many of the governments constituting the Friends of Sudan have given generously to the Sudanese people for decades during the course of the previous regime, the country’s economic reconstruction will require continued large-scale support over a sustained period.

    Some governments may be reluctant to provide medium-term funding until the transition is further along, and risks have abated. This would be a mistake: the country’s needs are too great, and the transition too fragile for a wait-and-see approach. Simply put, withholding support greatly accentuates the risk that the civilian-led administration will fail. A possible way forward that might allow donors to address some of their concerns would be to link a portion of the medium-term support to progress in preparing for elections and other benchmarks in the civilian transition process. The prospect of disbursing funds into a World Bank-managed MDTF – with the structure, transparency, and accountability this would afford – should also reassure donors rightly concerned about graft and waste.
     
  • The Friends of Sudan should work together to press the U.S. – itself part of the group – to rescind its out-dated designation of Sudan as State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST). Beyond providing comfort to international investors eager to re-engage with Sudan and removing a major obstacle to debt relief on some $60 billion owed to creditors, rescission of the SST designation would provide a political boost to the transitional government and thereby strengthen Hamdok in relation to the security forces. By contrast, the longer Washington delays lifting the designation, the more the generals will be able to sow doubt that the civilians entrusted with Sudan’s transition are capable of bringing about the economic turnaround the country needs.
     
  • Relatedly, and to address concerns among external partners about entrenched corruption networks and the grip of military actors over the economy, members of the Friends of Sudan should help Sudan put its financial house in order and tackle graft. They should provide technical assistance to the government to help track state revenues and stymie illicit rent-seeking behaviour within Sudan’s complex state and parastatal machineries, including in the profitable and corruption-prone gold and oil sectors. With this assistance, the transitional government would be better prepared to navigate Sudan’s opaque financial systems and delicately begin to take control of revenue streams that legally belong to the state yet have long been subject to diversion for the profit of individuals in or with ties to the security services.
     
  • As Crisis Group advocated in a recent report, the Friends of Sudan should encourage the African Union (AU) immediately to appoint a new special envoy for Sudan who would represent the region in supporting the implementation of the transitional agreement and the reform agenda and be based out of the AU’s liaison office in Khartoum. Special envoys from the EU, UK and U.S. have been active and effective over the last few months, as has the Quad comprising the U.S., the UK, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), initially in encouraging parties to sign on to the August transitional agreement and later in keeping a lid on tensions between civilians and the military. But an African figure to support the transition could have additional legitimacy in working to promote implementation of the agreement – particularly given Khartoum’s often strained relations with western donors in recent years.

    Operating with the support of the UN, EU, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the U.S., the envoy could be particularly helpful in mediating disagreements between parties in the transitional administration, who still regard each other with considerable suspicion, and in coordinating technical support for Khartoum’s peace talks with armed groups. A deal that brings peace to the country’s periphery would represent a major accomplishment for the transitional government and could give Hamdok a freer hand to press for a reduction in military expenditure.

 

Sudan’s unfolding transition offers both great promise and substantial risk. There is every reason to expect that entrenched interests that have benefited under the old regime will resist reform, but there is also every reason to expect that the forces of change will continue to press forward. The country’s youth, with no prior experience of civilian government, have shown a striking appetite for democracy and reform. Sudanese civil society has demonstrated its capacity to mobilise and challenge those who stand in the way. The government’s civilian leadership has shown vision and courage in starting down the path of reform. They cannot, however, complete the journey by themselves.

Through your efforts to date, the Friends of Sudan have demonstrated the critical role external partners can play in keeping the transition on track. If the transition is to succeed, however, you will need to go further. By moving swiftly to implement the recommendations set forth here, you can help Sudan seize an opportunity that until recently was difficult to imagine, and make an historic contribution to the advancement of peace and security in the country and beyond.

Robert Malley, President & CEO, and Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director

Contributors

President & CEO
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Program Director, Africa
EroComfort