Following two decades of a corrosive civil war and continuing carnage in Darfur, Sudan will be divided into two nations in July 2011. ICTJ has worked there to build awareness of victims’ rights and strengthen people’s understanding of relevant justice issues.
Since independence in 1956, Sudan experienced two civil wars between the north and south, in 1955–1972 and 1983–2005. Both were marked by atrocities against civilians, including systematic violence against women.
The conflict, fought largely over identity issues, regional autonomy and natural resources, left 2 million people dead and over 4 million displaced, primarily in southern Sudan.
War officially ended with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the government. The CPA included provisions to share oil revenues between the north and south, and six years of autonomy for the south—to be followed by a referendum on secession.
Conflict continues in Sudan’s western Darfur region. Since 2003, government forces and militias have fought against two rebel groups—the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
The government recruited local tribal militias to lead joint scorched-earth attacks against the rebels’ communities. Mass atrocities were repeatedly perpetrated with total impunity. An estimated 300,000 people were killed, and 2.5 million displaced to refugee camps. The splintering of both rebel groups and government militias into competing factions aggravated the violence.
Deeming that the situation in Darfur posed serious threats to international peace and security, the UN Security Council referred the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2005. Between 2007 and 2010, the ICC issued four arrest warrants and three summonses to appear. Two of the arrest warrants were for President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. He continues to hold office.
In February 2011, southern Sudanese citizens voted for independence from the North. Religious, economic, and political tensions run high. The two nations must work out how to share oil revenues—the oil is in the south, and the infrastructure in the north. They also must deal with religious and ethnic conflicts.
To date, Sudan’s transitional justice efforts have produced scant results. In 2006 authorities in the south created a human rights commission and a commission for peace and reconciliation. The commissions have made progress in monitoring and reporting on ongoing abuses, but truth-telling and accountability efforts remain weak.
Little has been done to date to address the continuing conflict in Darfur.
From 2007 until 2012, we shared our knowledge of other countries’ transitional justice strategies and policies, to empower the Sudanese to create their own.