Friday, January 29, 2010

Analysis of the failure to end the conflict in Darfur

The Small Arms Survey, an independent research project located at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, published in January 2010 an analysis of the failure to achieve peace in Darfur. Written by Julie Flint, a journalist and Sudan researcher, it is called "Rhetoric and Reality: The Failure to Resolve the Darfur Conflict" (PDF file). The paper examines mediation efforts since the talks in Abuja, Nigeria, and suggests why they have failed. The study notes that since the end of the Abuja negotiations in 2006, and the collapse of the agreement concluded there, the largest humanitarian operation in the world has kept hundreds of thousands of Darfurians alive and the region has settled into a confused, usually low-level conflict of all against all. But efforts to reach the sustainable political agreement that eluded Abuja have made no progress. Among Flint’s key findings are:
  • Neither the government nor the armed movements have relinquished the military option and committed fully to peace. While international management of the peace process has been flawed, the absence of will among the Sudanese themselves is the key reason for the failure of peacemaking efforts.
  • External involvement in peacemaking has itself been a driver of conflict. A multiplicity of mediators and conflicting agendas has allowed the government and armed movements to appear to cooperate without in fact doing so.
  • The subordination of peacemaking to peacekeeping, driven in part by advocacy campaigns to 'save' Darfur through military intervention and/or robust peacekeeping, has hardened rebel intransigence and strengthened the government’s belief that the West has a half-hidden agenda of regime change.
Image: Creative commons licensed content by Flickr user marrngtn (Manuel).

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