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Statement on Sudan

19 May 2009

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 often un-precedented 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 large 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 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, this 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, demobilisation process and redeployment of the Sudan Armed Forces from the South and that of SPLA from the North are behind schedule. 

The SPLA/M have to literally 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 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 characterised 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 perpetrators to justice. As a result, Darfur faces an ominous humanitarian crisis of gigantic proportion. 

The UN Security Council and many international organisations 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 disarms 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 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 perpetuate 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 co-operation 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 jeopardise 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 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. 

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 often un-precedented 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 large 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 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, this 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, demobilisation process and redeployment of the Sudan Armed Forces from the South and that of SPLA from the North are behind schedule. 

The SPLA/M have to literally 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 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 characterised 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 perpetrators to justice. As a result, Darfur faces an ominous humanitarian crisis of gigantic proportion. 

The UN Security Council and many international organisations 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 disarms 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 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 perpetuate 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 co-operation 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 jeopardise 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 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. 

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