By William Church

Director, GLCSS

 

Diplomatic miscues continue to plague the resolution of the Darfur conflict as violence escalates in Darfur, Chad and Central African Republic (CAR). At the same time, Chad’s president called for an international force to protect the borders of Chad and CAR.

 

Assembling in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the UN Secretary-General and the African Union (AU) Commission convened a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the government of Sudan, and other African countries.  The meeting pushed for three objectives: Re-energize the peace talks, establish a stronger ceasefire agreement, and develop a way forward for a peacekeeping force in Darfur.

 

Prior to the meeting, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guedenno set the expectations for the meeting.

 

“If the fighting continues on the ground,” Guedenno said, “it is very difficult to see how any credible political process will take root.”

 

“If there is no credible political process,” he continued, “whatever the color of the berets, green or blue, will be able to cope with the situation in Darfur.”

 

The 16 November meeting produced the following primary agreed principles:

 

  • The Darfur Peace Accord (DPA) is the only basis for this process and should not be re-negotiated.

 

The Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies (GLCSS) sees this as a major win for the Khartoum government. There have been numerous calls for the international community to declare the DPA “dead” and to restart new negotiations. Khartoum has fought this approach and has insisted that the quickest path to peace was to bring the rebels groups into an existing agreement.

 

According to the Khartoum government, calls for a re-negotiated DPA allowed the parties outside the agreement to “shop” for a better a deal that would set off additional rounds of negotiations and delay a Darfur solution.  This approach was also supported by the UN’s Guedenno.

“It would be unwise to walk away from what was accomplished in Abuja,” Guedenno stressed, referring to the DPA. “The DPA is a solid foundation that was achieved after intensive negotiation.”

 

 

 

  • The AU remains the lead actor in the process of implementing the DPA

 

 

Once again, GLCSS sees this statement as a win for Khartoum. It has been a significant issue for the government of Sudan that the AU negotiated the DPA and agreed to enforce it, and then immediately turned their responsibility over to the UN.

 

  • All parties must immediately agree to a ceasefire

 

As Guedenno stressed, a ceasefire must be in place before the arrival of any peacekeeping force. The Darfur crisis has suffered from six months of misdirection with a focus on the flag of the force when in reality neither force could function without an active ceasefire agreement.

 

  • The UN Secretary-General will recommend that the UN will provide funding for a Darfur peacekeeping force. This force will have an African character and the UN will backstop the force with a command and control structure.

 

It was widely reported in the United States press that Sudan had “backed down” or changed their mind. It set off a series of denials and statements that threatened, once again, to derail the peace efforts in Darfur. However, only one day earlier, Guedenno had clearly stated at the UN Security Council meeting that the Sudan’s government had not changed and it would allow UN support of AU troops but not a UN force.

 

As discussed in previous GLCSS Weekly News and Analysis, the end result will most probably be a Chapter VIII approach. It maintains the character of the DPA and the AU position and at the same time it provides the necessary support for the AU forces.

 

The Darfur conflict has become a milestone for Africa. It has been a hallmark of United States and France Africa policy that the AU should build and maintain an adequate peacekeeping force; however, that policy has not been fully funded or implemented. Darfur became a dual edge issue: humanitarian principles and the international community’s true support for African solutions for African problems.

 

 

William Church is director of the Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank with offices in Central and East Africa. You may contact William Church at wchurch@glcss.org. GLCSS trains African journalists, offers an on-site internship to foreign African studies students, and manages an exchange program with journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.

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