World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Statement on Sudan

19 May 2006

WCC Executive Committee, Geneva, 16-19 May, 2006


The fate of the people of Sudan seems to oscillate between hope and despair. After
the earlier signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9th January,
2005 came the sudden death of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army
(SPLM/A) leader, John Garang. This tragic event was soon taken over by the developments
in Darfur that posed a serious challenge of an unprecedented humanitarian
disaster because of the atrocities being committed by the "Janjaweed" militias
supported by the government of Sudan. The conflict spilled over into Chad
creating the possibility of an inter-state war. Fortunately, under the growing pressure
from the international community and media, a peace agreement was finally
signed between the government of Sudan and Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)
in Abuja, Nigeria on 5th May, 2006. It is hoped that these agreements will finally
bring peace to Darfur and southern Sudan after a long-festering conflict in
which the largest number of victims have been women and children.

The historic Sudan CPA mentioned above was signed between the ruling National
Congress Party (NCP) and the SPLM/A. It brought an end to one of Africa's
longest and bloodiest civil wars, but is now showing signs of crisis and strain.

Over the period of 21 years of conflict, famine and disease have killed more than
two million people, forced an estimated 628,000 Sudanese refugees to the neighbouring
countries and internally displaced more than four million people within
the country. The CPA provides for a six-year interim period with democratic
elections by 2009, and an autonomous government in the South. This is to be
followed by self-determination for the South. In the interim, the Agreement mandates
power and wealth-sharing arrangements. It also guarantees the SPLM's representation
in the federal government of Sudan. Although power and wealth-sharing
procedures are clearly laid out in the agreement and the protocols, the actual
implementation of the recommendations are not taking place. As a result, the
actual formation of an effective administration in the South, the functioning arm
of the government of Sudan, is slow and the withdrawal of the "Khartoum
Government" from the South is even slower.

The international community has a huge physical presence in Sudan devoted to
monitoring the CPA. It has, however, thus far failed to live up to its mandate as
a guarantor of the peace agreement and has not been able to seriously engage and
challenge the parties concerned.

The security sector provisions remain the most critical part of the Agreement in
order to ensure its sustainability. If these are not implemented and monitored
carefully, a return to war is likely. The disengagement of forces, including disarmament,
demobilization process and redeployment of the Sudan Armed Forces
from the South and that of SPLA from the North are behind schedule.

The SPLA/M has literally to build a government administration from scratch.
Establishing such a functional government in southern Sudan will be a long and
difficult process. Also, transforming SPLA into a regular army is not going to be
easy and little progress has been made in this direction.

There are disturbing and alarming signs that the carefully and skilfully drafted
CPA, globally acknowledged as a major success, may collapse. There is a real danger
of renewed conflict unless the churches of Sudan, the ecumenical fellowship
and the international community together respond to the political and economic
challenges and move from monitoring to action.

While the negotiations to end the war in the South were under way, another conflict
erupted in Darfur, western Sudan, in April 2003 when the locally based
SLM/A attacked the security forces of the government of Sudan. This resulted in
a humanitarian emergency in Darfur that affected an estimated 2.6 million, including
2 million displaced persons and over 200,000 refugees in eastern Chad. Tens
of thousands of civilians have been killed or arbitrarily detained and women raped.

The international community's response to these systematic killings, rape, displacement
and looting that have characterized the armed conflict in Darfur over
the last three years has been too little, too late. The gravity of these crimes against
humanity, by some even considered as "genocide", pose a serious challenge to the
international community that has a moral responsibility to bring the perpetra-
tors to justice. As a result, Darfur faces an ominous humanitarian crisis of gigantic
proportions.

The UN Security Council and many international organizations have passed several
resolutions raising concerns about war crimes and crimes against humanity that
are being committed in Darfur by the Sudanese government, its security forces and
government-backed "Janjaweed" militias. The international community has repeatedly
demanded that the Sudanese government disarm the militia and prosecute
individuals responsible for the crimes. However, none of these appeals and demands
have been implemented. On 16th May, 2006, the UN Security Council adopted a
resolution under Chapter 7 to establish a Peace-Keeping Force in the region. It is
hoped this will pave the way for implementation of the 5th May Agreement.

After the Rwanda genocide the international community stated "never again will
we allow this to happen". Yet once again in Darfur there is much talk but little
action to stop the carnage. This is not because of lack of information but because
of a lack of political will. The 9th WCC Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on the
issue of "Responsibility to Protect" stated:

"States can no longer hide behind the pretexts of sovereignty to perpetrate human rights
violations against their citizens and live in total impunity".

The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Bossey,
Switzerland, 16-19 May, 2006:

• Expresses appreciation to the international community for the role it has played
in facilitating the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the
recent Darfur peace agreement, and to the African Union for the crucial role
it has played in bringing the parties together;

• Congratulates the government of Sudan for its cooperation in bringing the
conflict to an end and signing the peace agreements, and appeals to President
Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir to provide full protection and guarantee of safety
of national and international humanitarian workers in Sudan and take every
step to ensure the speedy implementation of the provisions of these agreements
in their letter and spirit;

• Condemns atrocities committed on innocent Sudanese civilians, particularly
women and children, by parties to the conflicts;

• Encourages the UN Security Council to take urgent and decisive action under
its Chapter 7 resolution adopted on 16th May, 2006 to ensure that Sudanese
civilians are protected, and further to take all steps necessary for the implementation
of the terms of the 5th May Agreement signed in Abuja;

• Urges the governments of Sudan and Chad to resolve their differences through
dialogue and prevent any action that may jeopardize the security of the region;

• Urges also the ecumenical fellowship to undertake advocacy and lobby work
for the implementation of the agreements, make fact-finding and solidarity
visits to the region and provide the much-needed humanitarian assistance and
support;

• Challenges the international community to provide the urgently required
humanitarian assistance for the people of Sudan;

• Calls on IGAD together with USA, UK, Norway and Italy to urgently refocus
their efforts on bolstering the implementation process of the CPA and to
hold the parties accountable to the agreement;

• Appreciates the role of the Sudanese Churches, the Sudan Ecumenical Forum,
All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and other ecumenical partners for
promotion of peace and justice in Sudan; requests the ecumenical family to
undertake vigorous advocacy efforts, both by diplomatic means and at the grassroots'
level, for the implementation of the peace agreements and continue their
efforts to encourage initiatives for control of small arms in the region and in
particular in Sudan;

• Calls on the Sudanese churches and their ecumenical partners to review the
relief, rehabilitation, resettlement needs and prepare a comprehensive plan of
action.