Background to the Sudan Peace Archive

On January 9, 2005, the leaders of Sudan, Vice President Ali Osman Taha, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, John Garang, signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), thereby ending the longest running conflict in Africa. The more than two-decades long conflict had caused an estimated 2 million deaths and displaced 4.5 million people. The historic agreement, as stated in the chapeau to the final agreement, offered “not only hope but also a concrete model for solving problems and other conflicts in the country.” Successful implementation of the CPA, the text continued, would “provide a model for good governance in the Sudan that will help to create a solid basis to preserve peace and make unity attractive…so as to guarantee lasting peace, security for all, justice and equality in the Sudan.”

It would be difficult to itemize the number of threats to this vision of peaceful Sudan that have arisen in the years since the signing of the CPA. Even as the ink dried on this historic document, its promise of peace across Sudan was drawn into sharp question by the conflict in Sudan’s western region, Darfur. The core provisions of the CPA dealing with final relations between the north and south languished. When the deadlines for complex political markers drew nearer, tensions inevitably increased and have been the cause for skirmishes and even (brief) episodes of return to full-scale war between the armies of Sudan and South Sudan. In short, the period after the signing of the CPA was perhaps just as fraught with difficulty and in need of outside mediation as was the initial peacemaking effort.

The African Union lead international efforts to manage this period of final negotiations, through the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, and including former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, and former Nigerian President Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. They began their work in February 2009, as the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur (AUPD), charged with examining the situation in Darfur and making recommendations on accountability, reconciliation and conflict resolution. The mandate was extended in October 2009 to cover the final negotiations governing completion of the CPA and subsequently the separation of South Sudan from Sudan. Any such sensitive mediation process would have been fraught with difficulty; in Sudan the process was further complicated by the deep mistrust between the two sides, the effort to combine a democratization process in both countries with a divorce, as well as the profound need for institution-building and development in the South.

Over the course of three years, the AUHIP with a staff of only 6 – 9 people, managed, for instance, six meetings of the Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan, four ministerial level meetings on defense and security in 2012 alone, and multiple other meetings, some lasting hours and others weeks at a time. The issues they addressed included the countries’ crucial concerns: security, borders, contested areas, financial arrangements, citizenship, debt, and the conflict in the “two areas” of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Reams of paper and countless hours have been dedicated to proposals and counter-proposals, expert analyses, and heated debates.

The World Peace Foundation's Sudan Peace Archive attempts to capture the documents that emerged out of these processes. It was established in 2013 with collections donated by AUHIP staff members Alex de Waal, Neha Erasmus, and Dave Mozersky.