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February 18, 2010 |  Print  Your Opinion  

Enver Ferhatović

Avoiding Another Disaster in Sudan

Enver Ferhatović: As Sudan prepares for general elections this year and a secession referendum next year, the international community needs to help form a plan to avoid post-election violence. Sudan will over the next couple of years remain one of the major test-cases of the effectiveness of an EU common foreign and security policy.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the 22-year civil war, the longest in recent African history, between the North and South Sudan, had its fifth anniversary on January 9. The peace agreement did not solve all of the structural problems, yet it paved the way for a more peaceful and democratic Sudan. The next 12 months will be crucial in determining Sudan’s political future. A number of unresolved issues threaten the fragile peace while the elections in April 2010 or the secession referendum in January 2011 could trigger another war. Analysts and insiders warn that both sides are preparing for a potentially bloody endgame. In the course of last year more than 2,500 lives were lost in the South and more than 350.000 displaced due to intertribal fighting and LRA attacks. With no deal on the borders or post-referendum division of oil revenues and a low level of trust between the parties a new war is possible. The consequences could affect the whole Horn of Africa.

In a declaration on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement the EU High Representative highlighted the need for a full implementation of the CPA and a post-referendum agreement to secure peaceful future co-habitation irrespective of the outcome of the 2011 referendum. The EU Special Representative for Sudan echoed this with a call for intensified efforts with full EU involvement to negotiate a post 2011 arrangement between the parties. The EU is the second largest donor and one of the guarantors of the peace agreement between the North and the South and Sudan is part of Europe’s strategic neighbourhood. But due to member states’ policies and complex and inadequate institutional arrangements the EU lacks real political influence or strategy.

In this light the EU needs to adjust its approach and presence in Sudan both institutionally and politically. On one hand this means engaging closely with the international supporters of the CPA, primarily the Troika members, China, the AU and IGAD to ensure the best possible framework for post-referendum arrangements negotiations. The EU should further dispatch a full-fledged observation mission for the 2010 elections and the 2011 referendum. As a top donor and guarantor of the CPA the EU should demand certain implementation standards and condition the recognition of an independent South Sudan.

That also means following through on the 2004 agreed Africa-EU partnership for peace and security and in the upcoming period agreeing on steps to be taken for each of the potential scenarios. All security related issues need to be closely coordinated with the US Special Envoy and President Mbeki. Still the EU should continue supporting African solutions for African problems placing responsibility for conflict management primarily on the AU. Technical assistance to the GoSS institutions, in particular to the security sector, should be enhanced in the short to mid-term. In case the UNMIS cannot cope with the violence, a bridging ESDP mission should be considered with the explicit assumption that the European troops hand over responsibility as soon as possible to the UN and AU.

On the other hand there needs to be institutional clarity following the Lisbon Treaty. The EUSR’s are potentially effective tools, which need some adjustments. Unifying both the EUSR and EC offices within one structure promises increased effectiveness and authority. Existing member states structures should be integrated into a truly European effort for peace while the mandate could envisage a proactive role and considerable policy input. The overall political capacity and presence in Sudan should be strengthened by appointing a deputy EUSR to Khartoum and Juba. Optionally the member states could appoint their national envoys and their staff to the EU mission for the crucial next 2 years.

Sudan will over the next couple of years remain one of the major test-cases of the effectiveness of an EU common foreign and security policy. The steps above are possible and necessary. They are needed in order to get the EU common foreign and security policy right and to ensure stability and peace in Sudan. There is enough time to avoid a disaster and the EU should play a decisive role.

Enver Ferhatović is currently the Strategic Planning, Analysis and Reporting Officer at the EUPOL Afghanistan. His prior postings were at the UN HQ in NYC, OSCE BiH, OHR/EUSR BiH and until February 2010 as political advisor in the EU Special Representative office in Sudan. He studied Political Science and Law (M.A.) at the FU Berlin and Islamic Studies (M.A.) at the Sarajevo University.The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and do not reflect the views of of the EUSR Sudan or the European Union.

This is a shortened version of the original policy paper "Implementing Peace in Sudan: Lessons for the EU Common and Foreign Security Policy" written specifically for Atlantic Community and available for download as PDF.

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