Exploring Security Challenges to Peace in Sudan: The May 2007 Juba Roundtable

Tasneem Jamal

Emily Schroeder

The Ploughshares Monitor Autumn 2007 Volume 28 Issue 3

From 9 to 10 May 2007, Project Ploughshares program associate Emily Schroeder participated in a roundtable in Juba, South Sudan that focused on security challenges to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan and the South Sudanese. This event, part of the Building Sustainable Peace in Sudan Project coordinated by Project Ploughshares and Africa Peace Forum (APFO), is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The project, begun in 2005, will conclude in 2008.


Three researchers presented papers at the roundtable. Dr. Dan Alila spoke on “Small Arms Legislation & Control Mechanisms in Sudan”; Xanthe Scharff on “Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration in South Sudan: Achievements, Challenges, and Opportunities in Context”; and Khalid Ahmed explored “Armed Groups, DDR and the CPA in Sudan: Possibilities for Durable Peace.”
Each roundtable presentation was followed by an interactive and lively discussion between presenters and the other roundtable participants, including Sudanese stakeholders, representatives of international NGOs, Kenyan academics, and United Nations representatives.

Small arms legislation and control mechanisms in Sudan

In his presentation Dr. Alila analyzed existing small arms legislation in Sudan and assessed the extent to which the Government of National Unity (GONU) is committed to related regional and international covenants. He also explored the challenges related to small arms legislation in South Sudan. His research showed that both northern and southern Sudan have inadequate legislation and policy to deal with the problems of small arms. He concluded that, to effectively control and manage small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Sudan, adequate community security and protection, peacebuilding, and reconciliation must be coupled with development efforts. In the view of Dr. Alila, a reduction in violent conflict in the country will logically minimize demand for weapons and encourage effective SALW control through legislation and legitimate police enforcement.

Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) in South Sudan

Xanthe Scharff examined the DDR program in Sudan and its potential to contribute to long-term peace and security in southern Sudan. She focused on the Interim DDR Program (IDDRP) currently underway and the planned full DDR program and identified unique challenges faced by program implementers in Sudan. She argued that, because the SPLA is recognized as a formal army and the parties to the peace in Sudan anticipate a possible return to hostilities in 2011, in the short term the potential for a successful DDR program is limited. Scharff’s analysis illustrates the key need for clear definition and communication of the objectives of the DDR program in an environment dominated by an inherent tension between the international community’s obligation to bring the commitments expressed in the CPA to fruition and the principle of national ownership.

Armed groups, DDR, and the CPA in Sudan

Khalid Ahmed, a former Sudanese refugee who is now a Canadian citizen pursuing graduate studies, examined the origins and development of armed groups in Sudan and identified the principal obstacles confronting the CPA. He argued that the CPA is considered to be an inadequate mechanism to restore lasting peace in Sudan precisely because, rather than “comprehensive,” it is incomplete — to the extent that it excludes important issues and actors in the country. The limitations of the CPA and the exclusion of some armed groups from negotiations threaten the security of the South. Genuine South-South dialogue, in which armed groups are treated as rebels rather than “stooges” of the North, is needed to include all relevant groups in the DDR and security processes and to allow them to participate in the government of the South.

Future work

Ploughshares and APFO are exploring future collaborations on policy-focused research in the Horn of Africa on security issues, including the upcoming elections in Sudan in 2009, cross-border small arms issues, and armed violence reduction through development programming.

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