Sudan & South Sudan: Threat of sanctions by the UNSC may quell border violence
Both Countries Vow to End Violence
The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council adopted a seven-point roadmap on 24 April, calling for the countries to halt hostilities immediately, restart negotiations by 8 May, and reach an agreement within three months. On 2 May, the UNSC adopted Resolution 2046, supporting the African Union’s roadmap and stating its intention to take “appropriate measures under Article 41&rdqu o;, which can include sanctions, if Sudan and South Sudan failed to return to peace negotiations within two weeks. Not only would peace negotiations aim to end the violence but also to resolve outstanding issues from the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which include citizenship and statelessness, sharing wealth from resources such as oil, debt-sharing and border demarcations.
South Sudan accepted the AU roadmap on 3 May and stated that it would “fully commit” in accordance with time limits. The following day, just hours after South Sudan alleged that Sudan had bombed the Unity State, located in the disputed border region, Sudan agreed to the AU’s seven-point roadmap and vowed to comply with Resolution 2046 to end hostilities, but reserved the right to defend itself against “aggression”. Sudanese President Bashir followed up, stating on 10 May that, “We will implement what we want and, what we do not want, no one can impose upon us -- neither the U.N. Security Council nor the African Union Peace and Security Council,” and that he would not begin peace negotiations on outstanding issues until security disputes along the border were resolved. As of 11 May it was reported that the governments of Sudan and South Sudan may be taking steps in preparation for further conflict by calling on civilians to donate to and enlist in the states’ militaries, despite that attacks between the countries have subsided.
During a 9 May UN General Assembly meeting, UNSG Ban Ki-moon reiterated the international community’s call for a cessation of violence, stating “I call on both parties to disengage, resume post-independence negotiations and immediately establish the Joint Border Verification Monitoring Mechanism — as required under the May 2nd Security Council resolution. I note that the deadline for compliance is today.”UN High Commission for Human Rights Navi Pillay traveled to South Sudan on 8 May for five days to meet with South Sudanese President Kiir, government officials, UN personnel, the South Sudan Human Rights Commission, the Jonglei Peace and Reconciliation Committee and civil society organizations, to discuss concerns regarding the protection of civilians since violence had flared on the border.
South Sudan initiates internal peace efforts
South Sudan initiated an attempt at domestic peace on 4 May when tribal leaders from six ethnic groups in the oil-rich Jonglei state, including the Luo Nuer and Murle, signed a deal at the Jonglei All Community Peace Conference to work towards ending tribal violence in the region. Ethnic violence between the Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic groups resurged in December 2011 and was the deadliest clash in South Sudan in recent months, resulting in the displacement of 50,000 civilians, the death of 3,000 people. Special Representative of the Secretary-General to South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson, stated “Today is the opportunity to say ‘No’ to violence”. Despite these remarks, many conference participants remained skeptical of the impact the deal would have on quelling violence in the region as only certain i ssues were discussed, including cattle raiding, child abduction and indiscriminate killings. The Lou Nuer chiefs, among other conference attendees, accused the Murle of continuing attacks as the peace conference was being held and noted that other motivations for violence, including isolation and poor infrastructure, had not been discussed.
Civil Society reacts to renewed violence
Meanwhile, reports of human rights violations elsewhere in Sudan continue. On 23 April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that civilians in the Blue Nile region were “bearing the brunt of abuses in Sudan’s simmering border conflict,” and stated that possible war crimes had been committed. On 4 May, HRW also reported that civilians in the Nuba Mountains area of South Kordofan who face conditions of severe hunger and have been denied access to humanitarian services remained under indiscriminate attack by the Sudanese government in mid-April, only exacerb ating the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded since the independence of South Sudan in July 2011. Other organizations expressed concern over unresolved issues, such as Refugees International which reported on 26 April that “the ongoing conflict between the Sudans affects daily life for everyone here, whether through fuel shortages or price inflation. But beyond the conflict zone itself, few have been more affected than the hundreds of thousands of southern Sudanese returning from the north”.
1. The two Sudans must come back to their senses
6 May 2012
There is a worrying war going on in Uganda’s northern neighbourhood of Sudan-South Sudan.
If the images coming from South Sudan, Africa’s youngest nation, are anything to go by, then there’s cause for fear. For the last few months, the two Sudans have been talking and making war. Khartoum’s President Omar el-Bashir, told a gathering that he would finish off “the insects” of the south.
In legal terms, that is regarded as hate speech with genocidal intentions. But coming from Bashir, who has an arrest warrant hanging above his head for committing similar crimes in Darfur, it isn’t surprising in the least.
These words, coming just days after the 18th commemoration of the Rwanda genocide, remind one of the words used in that country in 1994 when Hutu militias were urged to kill “all the cockroaches” in reference to the Tutsi.
It’s not only President Bashir who has raised the tempo in this war. Ahmed Harun, the governor of South Kordofan, was filmed addressing his troops and telling them to “take no prisoners.”
Like Bashir, Harun is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur. (…)
Meanwhile, war on the ground rages on. Over 400,000 people have already fled South Kordofan and Blue Nile. But the most disturbing aspect of the conflict is the aerial bombardments that have forced many to live in caves like animals. (…)
Last Wednesday, in resolution 2046, UN Security Council called upon Sudan and South Sudan to stop fighting and resolve their outstanding issues, or face possible sanctions. This war is not about the two Sudans alone. This is a war that has the potential of engulfing all the other countries in the region.
2. Letter imploring US and China to help solve conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan
International Refugee Rights Initiative, in collaboration with 150 African and Arab civil society organizations
4 May 2012
China and the United States are in a unique position to encourage Sudan and South Sudan to resolve their internal and cross-border conflicts through peaceful negotiation, said a coalition of leading Arab and African civil society organisations in letters sent to the US Secretary of State and Chinese Foreign Minister ahead of the US-China strategic dialogue in Beijing, May 3-4.
The signatory organisations, which include the Institute for Security Studies and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, warn that recent escalation of cross-border violence between Sudan and South Sudan poses a very grave threat to international peace and security. (…)
The letters call on the US and China to show leadership and use their influence with the two parties, and their status as permanent members of the UN Security Council, to encourage Sudan and South Sudan to return to the negotiating table and resolve outstanding post-secession issues.
The organisations warn that the impending rainy season means that time is running out to help hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by fighting, many of whom are already facing serious food shortages. They stress the need for Sudan to uphold its commitment to addressing the underlying causes of conflicts in South Kordorfan and Blue Nile states, which can have ‘no military solution’. (…)
The specific issues the organisations say need to be resolved are:
• Implementation of the requirements of the African Union and UN Security Council
• Cessation of attacks on civilians, a cessation of hostilities and unimpeded humanitarian access across Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States, Sudan
• Expeditious finalisation of transitional financial arrangements, including oil transit fees
• Prompt resolution of the future status of Abyei and demarcation of the border
• End international arms transfers to Sudan and South Sudan
• Respect for human rights and the rule of law
3. Sudan: Crisis Conditions in Southern Kordofan
Human Rights Watch
4 May 2012
The Sudanese government forces are conducting indiscriminate bombings and abuses against civilians in the Nuba Mountains area of Southern Kordofan, Human Rights Watch said today. Such attacks may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and are creating a humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the government’s denial of access to humanitarian agencies outside government-controlled towns, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch researchers went to the region in mid-April 2012 and interviewed victims and witnesses in three areas. They consistently described almost-daily aerial bombardment by government forces, the destruction of grain and water sources that are critical to their survival, arbitrary detentions, and sexual violence against women. (…)
Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) are locked in an armed conflict in Southern Kordofan state and neighboring Blue Nile state, both of which lie north of the border with South Sudan, which gained independence in July 2011. Communities in both states were aligned with the southern rebels during Sudan’s 22-year civil war.
The Sudanese government forces’ actions are serious violations of international humanitarian law, Human Rights Watch said. The government should immediately halt indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, rein in abusive forces, and release civilians captured and now arbitrarily detained by its forces.
On May 2, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning recent cross-border violence between Sudan and South Sudan, but failed to condemn Sudan’s indiscriminate bombing inside its own territory in areas such as Southern Kordofan. The UN Security Council and the African Union should unequivocally condemn these attacks, insist that Khartoum free all civilians unlawfully detained and facilitate access for aid agencies, Human Rights Watch said.
The civilian deaths and injuries from aerial bombing investigated by Human Rights Watch occurred mostly in civilian areas, where witnesses indicated that there was no apparent military target or presence of rebel fighters at the time the attacks occurred.
In recent weeks, fighting between Sudanese and South Sudanese forces in the oil-producing area of Heglig has overshadowed the ongoing crisis in Southern Kordofan, where conflict between the Sudanese government and remnants of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army first erupted in June 2011, and in Blue Nile, where the conflict spread in September 2011. (…)
More than 350,000 people are estimated to be internally displaced within Southern Kordofan, according to Sudanese civil society and humanitarian groups. At least 25,000 have fled to refugee settlements in South Sudan. (…)
The Sudan government has permitted UN staff to go to Kadugli, in Southern Kordofan, and Damazin and Roseiris in Blue Nile, but has blocked humanitarian aid to the most severely affected areas and rebel-held areas in both states since the conflict began.
The laws of war require all parties to the conflict, including the Sudanese authorities, to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of impartial humanitarian assistance for civilians in need. Although the Sudanese authorities have a right to control the delivery of aid, they may not arbitrarily deny access to humanitarian agencies and must allow access to humanitarian organizations that provide relief on an impartial and non-discriminatory basis if the survival of the population is threatened.
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the United Nations and African Union to demand an end to indiscriminate bombing in civilian areas and humanitarian access to populations in need in both Southern Kordofan and neighboring Blue Nile State, and to authorize an independent investigation into serious crimes against civilians in both states. (…)