Dorothy Cunningham, Marc O`Sullivan (prepared by)
The political geography of conflict in the south Sudan. Selected materials
Student Workshop: The Anathomy of Modern Conflicts
This is a DRAFT. Please do not quote.
Case Study 1: Second Sudanese Civil War
The war is often characterized as a fight between the central government expanding and
dominating peoples of the periphery, raising allegations of marginalization. Kingdoms and great
powers based along the Nile River have fought against the people of inland Sudan for centuries.
Since at least the 17th century, central governments have attempted to regulate and exploit the
undeveloped southern and inland Sudan.
Some paint the conflict as racial (Arabs in the central government vs. Africans in the South)
or as religious (Muslims vs. Christians and Traditional African Religions). Scholars such as Douglas
Johnson have pointed at exploitative governance as the root cause.
When the British governed Sudan as a colony they administered the northern and southern
provinces separately. The south was held to be more similar to the other east-African colonies —
Kenya,Tanganyika, and Uganda — while northern Sudan was more similar to Arabic-speaking
Egypt. Northern Arabs were prevented from holding positions of power in the Catholic-dominated
south, and trade was discouraged between the two areas. However, in 1946, the British gave in to
northern pressure to integrate the two areas. Arabic was made the language of administration in
the south, and northerners began to hold positions there. The southern elite, trained in English,
resented the change as they were kept out of their own government. After decolonization most
power was given to the northern elites based in Khartoum, causing unrest in the south.
When the British moved towards granting Sudan independence, they failed to consider
southern needs. Southern Sudanese leaders weren't even invited to negotiations during the
transitional period in the 1950s. In the post-colonial government of 1953, the Sudanization
Committee only included 6 southern leaders, though there were some 800 available senior
In the early Sudanese state, the government enacted many repressive measures. In 1962,
foreign Chrisitan missionaries were expelled from the country, and Christian schools were closed.
The government's attacks on southern protesters resulted in sporadic fighting and mutinies,
transitioning into a full-scale civil war. The civil war ended in 1972, with the Addis Abeba
Agreemen. Part of the agreement was a great deal of religious and cultural autonomy to the south.
Another factor in the second war were the natural resources of Sudan, particularly in the
South, where there are significant oil fields. Oil revenues make up about 70% of Sudan's export
earnings. Due to numerous tributaries of the Nile river and heavier precipitation in southern
Sudan, the south also has greater access to water, and is therefore much more fertile. The north of
the country is on the edge of the Sahara desert. The northern desire to control these resources in
2004 to present, and the southern desire to maintain control of the resources where they live,
contributed to the war. A parallel war between the Nuer and Dinka also raged in the south.
Government marginalization was also the cause of spreading the war to other regions of
Sudan. The government's policy was of taking land from farmers (Muslims and non-Muslims alike)
and transferring it to government officials and merchants. This had drastic effects on the
population of Darfur and Blue Nile. Eventually this would create unrest all over Sudan, including
the north. The Addis Ababa Accords were incorporated in the Constitution of Sudan; the violation
of the agreement led to the second civil war.
The first violations occurred when President Gaafar Nimeiry attempted to take control of oil
fieldsstraddling the north-south border. Oil had been discovered in Bentiu in 1978, in
southernKurdufan and Upper Blue Nile in 1979, the Unity oilfields in 1980 and Adar oilfields in
1981, and in Heglig in 1982. Access to the oil fields meant significant economic benefit to whoever
Islamic fundamentalists in the north had been discontented with the Addis Ababa
Agreement, which gave relative autonomy to the non-Islamic majority Southern Sudan
Autonomous Region. The fundamentalists continued to grow in power, and in 1983 President
Nimeiry declared all Sudan an Islamic state, terminating the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region.
The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) was founded in 1983 as a rebel group, to
reestablish an autonomous Southern Sudan by fighting against the central government. While
based in Southern Sudan, it identified itself as a movement for all oppressed Sudanese citizens, and
was led by John Garang. Initially, the SPLA campaigned for a "United Sudan", criticizing the
central government for policies that were leading to national "disintegration".
In September 1984, President Nimeiry announced the end of the state of emergency and
dismantled the emergency courts but soon promulgated a new judiciary act, which continued many
of the practices of the emergency courts. Despite Nimeiry's public assurances that the rights of
non-Muslims would be respected, southerners and other non-Muslims remained deeply suspicious.
On 6 April, senior military officers led by Gen. Abdul Rahman Suwar ad-Dahhab mounted a
coup. Among the first acts of the new government was to suspend the 1983 constitution, rescind
the decree declaring Sudan's intent to become an Islamic state, and disband Nimeiry's Sudan
Socialist Union. However, the "September laws" instituting Islamic Sharia law were not suspended.
A 15-member transitional military council was named, chaired by Gen. Suwar ad-Dahhab,
in 1983. In consultation with an informal conference of political parties, unions, and professional
organizations—known as the "Gathering"—the military council appointed an interim civilian
cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Dr. Al-Jazuli Daf'allah. Elections were held in April 1986, and a
transitional military council turned over power to a civilian government as promised. The
government was headed by Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi of the Umma Party. It consisted of a
coalition of the Umma Party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) (formerly the NUP-National
Unionist Party), the National Islamic Front (NIF) of Hassan al-Turabi, and several southern region
parties. This coalition dissolved and reformed several times over the next few years, with Prime
Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi and his Umma Party always in a central role.
In May 1986, the Sadiq al-Mahdi government coalition began peace negotiations with
the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) led by Col.John Garang. In that year the SPLA and a
number of Sudanese political parties met in Ethiopia and agreed to the "Koka Dam" declaration,
which called for abolishing Islamic Sharia law and convening a constitutional conference. In 1988,
the SPLA and the DUP agreed on a peace plan calling for the abolition of military pacts with Egypt
and Libya, freezing of Sharia law, an end to the state of emergency, and a cease-fire. However
during this period the second civil war intensified in lethality, and the national economy continued
to deteriorate. When prices of basic goods were increased in 1988, riots ensued, and the price
increases were cancelled. When Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi refused to approve a peace plan
reached by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)
in November 1988, the DUP left the government. The new government consisted essentially of the
Umma Party and the fundamentalist National Islamic Front (NIF).
In February 1989, the army presented Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi with an ultimatum:
he could move toward peace or be removed. He chose to form a new government with the DUP,
and approved the SPLA/DUP peace plan. A constitutional conference was tentatively planned for
On 30 June 1989, however, military officers under then Col. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, with
National Islamic Front (NIF) instigation and support, replaced the Sadiq al-Mahdi government
with the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (RCC), a military junta of 15
military officers (reduced to 12 in 1991) assisted by a civilian cabinet. As General al-Bashir he
became: president; chief of state; prime minister; and chief of the armed forces.
The new RCC al-Bashir military government banned trade unions, political parties, and
other "non-religious" institutions. 78,000 members of the army, police, and civil administration
were purged in order to reshape the government.
In March 1991, a new penal code, the Criminal Act of 1991, instituted harsh punishments
nationwide, including amputations and stoning. Although the southern states were officially
exempt from these Islamic prohibitions and penalties, the 1991 act provided for a possible future
application of Islamic Shari’a law in the south. In 1993, the government transferred most non-
Muslim judges from the south to the north, replacing them with Muslim judges in the south. The
introduction of Public Order Police to enforce Shari’a law resulted in the arrest, and treatment
under Shari’a penalties, of southerners and other non-Muslims living in the north.
The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) was in control of large areas of Equatoria, Bahr
al Ghazal, and Upper Nile provinces and also operated in the southern portions
of Darfur, Kordofan, and Blue Nile provinces. The government controlled a number of the major
southern towns and cities, including Juba, Wau, and Malakal. An informal cease-fire in May broke
down in October 1989.
In July 1992, a government offensive seized southern Sudan, and captured the SPLA
headquarters in Torit.
It is estimated that as many as 200,000 Southern Sudanese and Nuba children and women
have been taken into slavery from Southern Sudanese towns and villages during the war. Both the
government regular armed forces and notorious militia (known as the People's Defense Forces,
PDF) were used to attack and raid villages in the South and the Nuba Mountains for slaves and
In August 1991, internal dissension among the rebels led opponents of Colonel Garang's
leadership of the SPLA to form the so-called Nasir faction of the SPLA rebel army. The attempt to
overthrow Garang was led by Riek Machar and Lam Akol. In September 1992, William Nyuon
Bany formed a second rebel faction, and in February 1993, Kerubino Kwanyin Bol formed a third
rebel faction. On 5 April 1993, the three dissident rebel factions announced a coalition of their
groups called SPLA United at a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Yet Sudan’s national
governments have a long history of using proxies in Southern Sudan, and the North–South border
areas, to fight their wars and preserve their regular forces. These militias were recruited locally,
and with covert ties to the national government. Many of the Khartoum-aligned groups were
created and then armed by the NIF in a deliberate ‘divide and rule’ strategy. After 1991, the factions
clashed occasionally and thus, the rebels lost much of their credibility with the West.
Then, in 1990–91, the Sudanese government supported Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War.
This changed American attitudes toward the country. Bill Clinton's administration prohibited
American investment in the country and supplied money to neighbouring countries to repel
Sudanese incursions. The US also began attempts to "isolate" Sudan and began referring to it as a
Since 1993, the leaders of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya have pursued a peace
initiative for Sudan under the auspices of theIntergovernmental Authority on
Development (IGAD), but results have been mixed. Despite that record, the IGAD initiative
promulgated the 1994 Declaration of Principles (DOP) that aimed to identify the essential elements
necessary to a just and comprehensive peace settlement; i.e., the relationship between religion and
the state, power-sharing, wealth-sharing, and the right of self-determination for the south. The
Sudanese Government did not sign the DOP until 1997 after major battle field losses to the SPLA.
In 1995, the opposition in the north united with parties from the south to create a coalition
of opposition parties called the National Democratic Alliance. This development opened a
northeastern front to the civil war, making it more than before a center-periphery rather than
simply a north-south conflict. The SPLA, DUP, and Umma Parties were the key groups forming the
NDA, along with several smaller parties and northern ethnic groups.
In 1995, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda stepped up their military assistance to the SPLA to
the point of sending active troops into Sudan. Eritrean and Ethiopian military involvement
weakened when the two countries entered a border conflict in 1998. Uganda's support weakened
when it shifted its attention to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
By 1997, seven groups in the government camp, led by former Garang lieutenant Riek
Machar, signed the Khartoum Peace Agreement with the NIF, thereby forming the largely
symbolic South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) umbrella.Also in 1997, the government signed
theNuba Mountains, and Fashoda agreements with rebel factions. These included the Khartoum,
agreements that ended military conflict between the government and significant rebel factions.
Many of those leaders then moved to Khartoum where they assumed marginal roles in the central
government, or collaborated with the government in military engagements against the SPLA. These
three agreements paralleled the terms and conditions of the IGAD agreement, calling for a degree
of autonomy for the south and the right of self-determination.
In July 2000, the Libyan/Egyptian Joint Initiative on the Sudan was mooted, calling for the
establishment of an interim government, power-sharing, constitutional reform, and new elections.
Southern critics objected to the joint initiative because it neglected to address issues of the
relationship between religion and the state and failed to mention the right of self-determination. It
is unclear to what extent this initiative will have a significant impact on the search for peace, as
some critics view it as more aimed at a resolution among northern political parties and protecting
the perceived security interests of Egypt in favour of the unity of the Sudan.
Peace talks between the southern rebels and the government made substantial progress in
2003 and early 2004, although skirmishes in parts of the south continued. A Comprehensive Peace
Agreement was signed on 9 January 2005 in Nairobi.
The terms of the peace treaty are:
•The south will have autonomy for six years, followed by a referendum on independence
(the Southern Sudanese independence referendum, 2011).
•Both sides of the conflict will merge portions their armed forces into a 39,000-strong force
after six years (the Joint Integrated Units), if the secession referendum should turn out
•Furthermore, oil revenues will be divided equally between the government and SPLA
during the six-year interim period.
•Jobs are to be split according to varying ratios (central administration: 70 to
30, Abyei/Blue Nile State/Nuba Mountains: 55 to 45, both in favour of the government).
•Islamic Sharia law is to remain in the north, while continued use of Sharia in the south is to
be decided by the elected assembly.
The ability or willingness of the government to fulfill these promises has been questioned by
some observers, however, and the status of three central and eastern provinces was a point of
contention in the negotiations. Some observers[who?] wondered whether hard-line elements in the
north would allow the treaty to proceed.
In 1999, Egypt and Libya initiated the Egypt-Libya Initiative (ELI) By this time the peace
process of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) had reached a
stalemate. ELI's main purpose had been to bring members of the non-Southern opposition
(especially opposition in the north) aboard the talks. However, as ELI avoided contentious issues,
such as secession, it lacked support from the SPLA, but the NDA leadership accepted it. By 2001,
ELI had been unable to bring about any agreement between the parties.
In September 2001, former U.S. Senator John Danforth was designated Presidential Envoy
for Peace in the Sudan. His role was to explore the prospects that the US could play a useful
catalytic role in the search for a just end to the civil war, and enhance humanitarian services
delivery that can help reduce the suffering of the Sudanese people stemming from war related
Following an internal outcry, the Sadiq al-Mahdi government in March 1989 agreed with
the United Nations and donor nations (including the US) on a plan called Operation Lifeline
Sudan (OLS), under which some 100,000 tons of food was moved into both government and SPLA-
held areas of the Sudan, and widespread starvation was averted. Phase II of OLS to cover 1990 was
approved by both the government and the SPLA Sudan faced a 2-year drought and food
shortage across the entire country. The US, UN, and other donors attempted to mount a
coordinated international relief effort in both north and south Sudan to prevent a catastrophe.
However, due to Sudan's human rights abuses and its pro-Iraqi stance during the Gulf War, many
donors cut much of their aid to the Sudan. In a similar drought in 2000–01, the international
community again responded to avert mass starvation in the Sudan. International donors continue
to provide large amounts of humanitarian aid to all parts of the Sudan. The US
government's Sudan Peace Act of 21 October 2002 accused Sudan of genocide for killing more than
2 million civilians in the south during the civil war since 1983.
Sudan relied on a variety of countries for its arms supplies. Following independence, the
army was trained and supplied by the British. However, after the 1967 Six-Day War, relations were
cut off, as were relations with the United States and West Germany.
From 1968 to 1972, the Soviet Union and COMECON nations sold large numbers of
weapons and provided technical assistance and training to Sudan. At this time the army grew(?)
from a strength of 18,000 to roughly 50,000 men. Large numbers of tanks, aircraft, and artillery
were acquired, and they dominated the army until the late 1980s.
Relations cooled between the two sides after the coup in 1972, and the Khartoum
government sought to diversify its suppliers. The Soviet Union continued to supply weapons until
1977, when their support of Marxist elements in Ethiopia angered the Sudanese sufficiently to
cancel their deals. The People's Republic of China was the main supplier in the late 1970s.
Egypt was the most important military partner in the 1970s, providing missiles, personnel
carriers, and other military hardware. At the same time military cooperation between the two
countries was important.
U.S.-aligned countries resumed supplying Sudan in the mid-1970s. The United States began
selling Sudan a great deal of equipment around 1976, hoping to counteract Soviet support of
Marxist Ethiopians and Libyans. Military sales peaked in 1982 at US$101 million. After the start of
the second civil war, American assistance dropped, and was eventually cancelled in 1987.
In November 1993, Iran was reported to have financed Sudan´s purchase of some 20
Chinese ground-attack aircraft. Iran pledged 17 million in financial aid to the Sudanese
government, and arranged for $300 milion in Chinese arms to be delivered to the Sudanese army.
Meanwhile the rebel SPLA was supplied weapons through or by Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda. The
Israeli embassy in Kenya also supplied anti-tank missiles to the rebels.
Armies from all sides enlisted children in ranks. The 2005 agreement required that child
soldiers be demobilized and sent home. The SPLA claimed to have let go 16,000 of its child soldiers
between 2001 and 2004. However, international observers (UN and Global Report 2004) have
found demobilized children have often been re-recruited by the SPLA. As of 2004, there were
between 2,500 and 5,000 children serving in the SPLA. Rebels have promised to demobilize all
children by the end of 2010.
The Nuer White Army, a minor participant in the war in the Greater Upper Nile region,
consisted largely of armed Nuer youths, but it was principally self-organised and often operated
autonomously of both elders' authority and the dictates of the major factions.
Case Study 2: The Conflict in Darfur
The beginning point of the conflict in the Darfur region is typically said to be 26 February 2003,
when a group calling itself the Darfur Liberation Front (DLF) publicly claimed credit for an attack
on Golo, the headquarters of Jebel Marra District. Even prior to this attack, however, a conflict had
erupted in Darfur, as rebels had already attacked police stations, army outposts and military
convoys, and the government had engaged in a massive air and land assault on the rebel stronghold
in the Marrah Mountains. The rebels' first military action was a successful attack on an army
garrison on the mountain on 25 February 2002 and the Sudanese government had been aware of a
unified rebel movement since an attack on the Golo police station in June 2002. Chroniclers Julie
Flint and Alex de Waal state that the beginning of the rebellion is better dated to 21 July 2001,
when a group of Zaghawa and Fur met in Abu Gamra and swore oaths on the Qur'an to work
together to defend against government-sponsored attacks on their villages. It should be noted that
nearly all of the residents of Darfur are Muslim, including the Janjaweed, as well as the
government leaders in Khartoum.
On 25 March 2003, the rebels seized the garrison town of Tine along the Chadian border,
seizing large quantities of supplies and arms. Despite a threat by President Omar al-Bashir to
"unleash" the army, the military had little in reserve. The army was already deployed both to the
south, where the Second Sudanese Civil War was drawing to an end, and to the east, where rebels
sponsored by Eritrea were threatening a newly constructed pipeline from the central oilfields
to Port Sudan. The rebel tactic of hit-and-run raids to speed across the semi-desert region proved
almost impossible for the army, untrained in desert operations, to counter. However, its aerial
bombardment of rebel positions on the mountain was devastating.
At 5:30 am on 25 April 2003, a joint Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality
Movement (JEM) force in 33 Land Cruisers entered al-Fashir and attacked the sleeping garrison.
In the next four hours, four Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships (according to the
government; seven according to the rebels) were destroyed on the ground, 75 soldiers, pilots and
technicians were killed and 32 were captured, including the commander of the air base, a Major
General. The success of the raid was unprecedented in Sudan; in the 20 years of the war in the
south, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) had never carried out such an operation.
The al-Faioyioshir raid was a turning point both militarily and psychologically. The armed
forces had been humiliated by the al-Fashir raid and the government was faced with a difficult
strategic situation. The armed forces would clearly need to be retrained and redeployed to fight this
new kind of war and there were well-founded concerns about the loyalty of the many Darfurian
non-commissioned officers and soldiers in the army. Responsibility for prosecuting the war was
given to Sudanese military intelligence. Nevertheless, in the middle months of 2003, the rebels
won 34 of 38 engagements. In May, the SLA destroyed a battalion at Kutum, killing 500 and taking
300 prisoners; and in mid-July, 250 were killed in a second attack on Tine. The SLA began to
infiltrate farther east, threatening to extend the war into Kordofan.
However, at this point the government changed its strategy. Given that the army was being
consistently defeated, the war effort depended on three elements: military intelligence, the air
force, and the Janjaweed, armed Baggaraherders whom the government had begun directing in
suppression of a Masalit uprising in 1986-1999. The Janjaweed were put at the center of the
new counter-insurgency strategy. Though the government consistently denied supporting the
Janjaweed, military resources were poured into Darfur and the Janjaweed were outfitted as
a paramilitary force, complete with communication equipment and some artillery. The military
planners were doubtlessly aware of the probable consequences of such a strategy: similar methods
undertaken in the Nuba Mountains and around the southern oil fields during the 1990s had
resulted in massive human rights violations and forced displacements.
The better-armed Janjaweed quickly gained the upper hand. By the spring of 2004, several
thousand people — mostly from the non-Arab population — had been killed and as many as a
million more had been driven from their homes, causing a major humanitarian crisis in the region.
The crisis took on an international dimension when over 100,000 refugees poured into
neighbouring Chad, pursued by Janjaweed militiamen, who clashed with Chadian government
forces along the border. More than 70 militiamen and 10 Chadian soldiers were killed in one gun
battle in April. A United Nations observer team reported that non-Arab villages were singled out
while Arab villages were left untouched:
The 23 Fur villages in the Shattaya Administrative Unit have been completely
depopulated, looted and burnt to the ground (the team observed several such sites
driving through the area for two days). Meanwhile, dotted alongside these charred
locations are unharmed, populated and functioning Arab settlements. In some
locations, the distance between a destroyed Fur village and an Arab village is less than
A 2011 study in the British Journal of Sociology, “The Displaced and Dispossessed of
Darfur: Explaining the Sources of a Continuing State-Led Genocide,” examined 1,000 interviews
with Black African participants who fled from 22 village clusters in Darfur to various refugee camps
in 2003 and 2004. The study found that: 1) The frequency of hearing racial epithets during an
attack was 70% higher when it was led by the Janjaweed alone compared to official police forces; it
was 80% higher when the Janjaweed and the Sudanese Government attacked together; 2) Risk of
displacement was nearly 110% higher during a joint attack compared to when the police or
Janjaweed acted alone, and 85% higher when Janjaweed forces attacked alone compared to when
the attack was only perpetrated by the Sudanese Government forces; 3) Attacks on food and water
supplies made it 129% more likely for inhabitants to be displaced compared to attacks that involved
house burnings or killing of persons; 4) Perpetrators knew and took “special advantage” of the
susceptibility of Darfur residents to attacks focused on basic resources. This vulnerability came
against the backdrop of increased regional desertification.
Sudanese authorities claim a death toll of roughly 19,500 civilians while certain non-
governmental organizations, such as the Coalition for International Justice, claim that over
400,000 people have been killed.
In September 2004, the World Health Organization estimated there had been 50,000
deaths in Darfur since the beginning of the conflict, an 18-month period, mostly due to starvation.
An updated estimate the following month put the number of deaths for the 6-month period from
March to October 2004 due to starvation and disease at 70,000; These figures were
criticized, because they only considered short periods and did not include deaths from violence. A
more recent British Parliamentary Report has estimated that over 300,000 people have died, and
others have estimated even more.
In March 2005, the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland estimated that 10,000
were dying each month excluding deaths due to ethnic violence. An estimated 2.7 million people
had at that time been displaced from their homes, mostly seeking refuge in camps in Darfur's
major towns. Two hundred thousand had fled to neighboring Chad. Reports of violent deaths
compiled by the UN indicate between 6,000 and 7,000 fatalities from 2004 to 2007.
In May 2005, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the
School of Public Health of the Université catholique de Louvain in Brussels, Belgium published an
analysis of mortality in Darfur. Their estimate stated that from September 2003 to January 2005,
between 98,000 and 181,000 persons had died in Darfur, including from 63,000 to 146,000 excess
On 28 April 2006, Dr. Eric Reeves argued that "extant data, in aggregate, strongly suggest
that total excess mortality in Darfur, over the course of more than three years of deadly conflict,
now significantly exceeds 450,000," but this has not been independently verified. The UN
disclosed on 22 April 2008 that it might have underestimated the Darfur death toll by nearly 50%.
In July 2009, the Christian Science Monitor published an op-ed stating that many of the
published mortality rates have been misleading because they include a large number of people who
have died of disease and malnutrition, as well as those who have died from direct violence.
Therefore, when activist groups make statements indicating that "four hundred thousand people
have been killed," they are misleading the public.
In January 2010, The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters published an
article in a special issue of The Lancet. The article, entitled Patterns of mortality rates in Darfur
Conflict, estimated, with 95% confidence, that the excess number of deaths is between 178,258 and
461,520 (the mean being 298,271), with 80% of these due to diseases. 51 International
peacekeepers have been killed in Darfur.
International attention to the Darfur conflict largely began with reports by the advocacy
organizations Amnesty International in July 2003 and the International Crisis Group in December
2003. However, widespread media coverage did not start until the outgoing United Nations
Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, called Darfur the "world's
greatest humanitarian crisis" in March 2004.Organizations such as STAND: A Student Anti-
Genocide Coalition, later under the umbrella of Genocide Intervention Network, and the Save
Darfur Coalition emerged and became particularly active in the areas of engaging the United States
Congress and President on the issue and pushing for divestment nationwide, initially launched
by Adam Sterling under the auspice of the Sudan Divestment Task Force. Particularly strong
advocates have additionally included: New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Sudan
scholar Eric Reeves, Enough Project founderJohn Prendergast, Pulitzer Prize-winning
author Samantha Power, photographers Ryan Spencer Reed, former Marine Brian Steidle,
actressMia Farrow and her son Ronan Farrow, Olympian Joey Cheek, actress Angelina Jolie,
actors George Clooney, and Don Cheadle, actor Jonah Hill, actress Salma Hayek, Save Darfur
Coalition's David Rubenstein, Slovenian humanitarian Tomo Kriznar, and all of those involved
with theGenocide Intervention Network. A movement advocating for humanitarian
intervention has emerged in several countries.
In March 2005, the Security Council formally referred the situation in Darfur to the
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, taking into account the report of the International
Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1564 of 2004, but
without mentioning any specific crimes.Two permanent members of the Security Council, the
United States and China, abstained from the vote on the referral resolution.
In April 2007, the Judges of the ICC issued arrest warrants against the former Minister of
State for the Interior, Ahmed Haroun, and a Janjaweed leader, Ali Kushayb, for crimes against
humanity and war crimes. The Sudan Government said that the ICC had no jurisdiction to try
Sudanese citizens and that it would not hand the two men over to authorities in the Hague.
On 14 July 2008, the Prosecutor filed ten charges of war crimes against Sudan's incumbent
President Omar al-Bashir, three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of
murder. The Prosecutor has claimed that Mr. al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to
destroy in substantial part" three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity. Leaders from
three Darfur tribes are suing ICC prosecutor Luis-Moreno Ocampo for libel, defamation, and
igniting hatred and tribalism.
After an arrest warrant was issued for the Sudanese president in March 2009, the
Prosecutor appealed to have the genocide charges added. However, the Pre-Trial Chamber found
that there was no reasonable ground to support the contention that he had a specific intent to
commit genocide (dolus specialis), which is an intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a protected
group. The definition adopted by the Pre-Trial Chamber is the definition of the Genocide
Convention, the Rome Statute, and some ICTY cases. On February 3, 2010 the Appeals Chamber of
the ICC found that the Pre-Trial Chamber had applied "an erroneous standard of proof when
evaluating the evidence submitted by the Prosecutor" and that the Prosecutor's application for a
warrant of arrest on the genocide charges should be sent back to the Pre-Trial Chamber to review
based on the correct legal standard. In July, 2010, Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir was finally
charged by Hague for orchestrating Darfur genocide, three counts of genocide in Darfur by
the International Criminal Court. Mr. al-Bashir is now the first incumbent head of state charged
with crimes in the Rome Statute. Bashir has rejected the charges and said, "Whoever has visited
Darfur, met officials and discovered their ethnicities and tribes ... will know that all of these things
It is expected that al-Bashir will not face trial in The Hague until he is apprehended in a
nation which accepts the ICC's jurisdiction, as Sudan is not a state party to the Rome Statute which
it signed but didn't ratify. Payam Akhavan, a professor of international law at McGill
University in Montreal and a former war crimes prosecutor, says although he may not go to trial,
"He will effectively be in prison within the Sudan itself...Al-Bashir now is not going to be able to
leave the Sudan without facing arrest." The Prosecutor has publicly warned that authorities could
arrest the President if he enters international airspace. The Sudanese government has announced
the Presidential plane will be accompanied by jet fighters. However, the Arab League has
announced its solidarity with al-Bashir. Since the warrant, he has visitedQatar and Egypt. Both
countries have refused to arrest him. The African Union also condemned the arrest warrant.
Some analysts think that the ICC indictment is counterproductive and harms the peace
process. Only days after the ICC indictment, al-Bashir expelled 13 international aid organizations
from Darfur and disbanded three domestic aid organizations. In the aftermath of the expulsions,
conditions in the displaced camps deteriorated, and women were particularly affected. Previous
ICC indictments, such as the arrest warrants of the LRA leadership in the ongoing war at northern
Uganda, were also accused of harming peace processes by criminalizing one side of a war. Some
believe that the arrest warrant against al-Bashir will hinder the efforts to establish peace in Darfur,
and will undermine any effort to boost stability in Sudan.
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Hassan, Salah M. (eds.) (2006), Ray Carina E., Darfur and the crisis of governance in Sudan. A
critical reader, Ithaca: Cornell University Press 2006.
Johnson, Douglas Hamilton. (2006), The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars, James Currey
Natsios. Andrew, South Sudan and Darfur. What everyone needs to know, Oxford: Oxford
Prunier. Gerard, (2008). Darfur: A 21st Century Genocide, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
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