Events - 11.03.2011 - 00:00
11 March 2011. While Southern Sudan moves closer to becoming an independent country on 9 July 2011, the process of gaining its autonomy is likely to be a very complicated and messy affair said speakers at the HSG roundtable discussion on Human Security in Sudan.
"This still very much an ongoing conflict," said Professor Dirk Lehmkuhl of HSG who chaired the roundtable. "Neither the 2005 peace agreement nor the referendum are the end of history in respect to the threats to human security in Sudan."
Eric Berman, Managing Director of The Small Arms Survey in Geneva and Dr. Peter Neussl of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), were invited to speak to the Students of St Gallen about Sudan as the students prepare to represent the African nation in the National Model United Nations 2011.
Sudan - a divided country
Sudan, the largest nation in Africa, has been historically a very divided country plagued by ethnic, religious and economic conflicts between the North and South. However, in 2005 a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed which marked an end to the 20-year civil war. As part of the agreement a referendum was held to decide whether or not the South could split from the North, and become a new and independent country. On 9 January 2011, Southern Sudan voted 99% in favor of secession.
Violence and uncertainty
However, violence and uncertainty still grip the country with nearly 200 civilians killed as recently as February, and human security within the region remaining fragile. As a result of the long-running conflict, small arms proliferation has become a significant problem. Attempts by international groups at Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) have not made a serious impact.
"Arms recovery efforts have just not been effective," said Mr. Berman whose organization estimates more than USD 160 million in small arms have entered the country in recent years according to customs data. "This is due to a number of things including lack of transparency and other political and financial motivations."
According to Mr. Berman, the DDR efforts, which include paying people to bring in weapons, can be improved with a few key considerations. For example, concentrating on the collection ammunition as well as weapons, and destroying the weapons instead of stockpiling them. Also, programmes should target quality weapons with DDR. Otherwise a person may turn in an old weapon to collect the fee and then use that fee to buy a new and better weapon.
However, even if the arms recovery efforts are improved, the long-lasting conflict still leaves other threats to the nation's security.
Biggest number of internally displaced persons
"Sudan has the biggest number of internally displaced persons worldwide," said Dr. Neussl, stating that 5 million persons continue to be displaced within Sudan. "We need to remember that as part of the ongoing DDR policy of we need to stress the R, namely reintegration. If you don't take care to sustainably reintegrate people after they are disarmed and demobilized, then you don't deal with the very roots of armed conflict."
Vision for the future
Mr. Berman concluded, "A lot depends on whether Southern Sudan decides to make a go of it and find a shared vision for the future, or fight amongst themselves. The South unfortunately has a lot of conflict within itself and a lot of animosity even towards people in the provisional government, so I could make a case for either outcome."
The roundtable was organized in partnership with the Swiss Network for International Studies and was open to the public as well as students of HSG.
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