The political geometry of Sudan defies resolution. No sooner had a framework been agreed for the provisional settlement of the North-South conflict in 2002 than the war in Darfur blew away all conventional wisdom about how the country could achieve peace and stability. The twin challenges of deciding whether Sudan is one country or two, and seeking a more inclusive and democratic system of government, combine to create an equation with no solution. For decades, Sudan’s leaders have tried to manage the unmanageable by alternating doomed revolutionary projects with simply buying time. The latter—in which tactical crisis management drives out strategic problem solving—has been the order of the day for the last decade. Today, the ruling party hopes that oil money will sufficiently change the game for them literally to purchase a solution. Read the rest of Sudan: Buying Time.
Julie Flint and I have an Oped in today’s Washington Post. Is the International Criminal Court losing its way in Darfur? We fear it is. Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s approach is fraught with risk — for the victims of the atrocities in Darfur, for the prospects for peace in Sudan and for the prosecution itself. We are worried by two aspects of Ocampo’s approach, as presented to the U.N. Security Council early this month. One concerns fact: Sudan’s government has committed heinous crimes, but Ocampo’s comparison of it with Nazi Germany is an exaggeration. The other concerns political consequences: Indicting a senior government figure would be an immense symbolic victory for Darfurians. But Darfur residents need peace, security and deliverable justice more than they need a moment of jubilation. And with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his men still in power, a high-level indictment would probably damage all these objectives. Read the rest of the article here…
The ICC’s Chief Prosecutor would surely agree that the mediators of peace agreements need to be attentive to the requirements of justice. However, in the complex ethical battleground of twenty-first century armed conflict, there is also a strong case to be made that the standard-bearers of justice take account of the requirements of peacemaking. In the event that an indictment of President Bashir by the ICC is a real possibility, I would like to outline some key conflict resolution considerations that the Prosecutor’s office could take on board, drawing on findings of Conciliation Resources’ recent Accord publication: Powers of persuasion: incentives, sanctions and conditionality in peace processes. The first question concerns how the course of action would affect ongoing conflict dynamics in Sudan and the wider region, both in the short and longer-term. Is the indictment likely to act as a deterrent and contribute to the de-escalation of hostilities, or will it be a trigger for renewed violence? Clues may be found in the target’s history of responses to international sanctions, and answers are likely to be determined by the target’s ideological, strategic and personal goals. Stepping back from the likely impact on the target’s individual behaviour, it would also […]
Last Sunday the Washington Post ran a column by me in the section This Writing Life. It begins: Some years ago in a rebel-held enclave of Sudan, I met a man whom I had reported as assassinated. He was chief Hussein Karbus, and I was introduced to him by the man I had said killed him, the liberation fighter Yousif Kuwa Mekki. Both of them thought my mistake – made in a human rights report – was hilarious. In truth, Karbus had gone into hiding, and many had feared he was dead. It’s characteristic of Sudanese society not to let political differences – even accusations of homicide – get in the way of amicable social relations. It’s also characteristic of Sudan that the worst will usually come to pass. In recent years especially, some commentators have gained a reputation for prescience by parroting that mantra. The column continues here.
The term “Islamism” has two common uses in the study of contemporary Sudan, what I will call “the descriptive” and “the analytical.” Descriptively speaking, Islamism refers to the historical phenomenon of what is called in Arabic al-haraka al-islaamiyya (the Islamic Movement, that is, the plethora of groups which trace their genealogy back to Muslim Brotherhood of the 1940s and 50s and whose members are referred to in Sudan as al-islaamiyyiin, the Islamists, al-kayzaan, (xii) or, naas al-jabha, the people of the National Islamic Front). Here we must agree with Gallab that there have been major intellectual, personal, and military-tactical splits within the movement which have led to a significant recasting of the Islamist message, a reshuffling of its cadre, and even the disappearance of some of the earlier goals of the Islamist state which had been on its agenda. That said, a great number of the Islamists who steered the inqaadh revolution of 1989 have managed to remain in power for the past 20 years (with no sign of disappearing anytime soon), turning up the force of Islamist politics at domestically and internationally strategic moments (as Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban noted in her post), and turning down the same forces when it […]
Wednesday’s report in the Sudan Tribune re-ignited the debate over whether the Sudan Government might hand over the two men wanted by the ICC for crimes in Darfur. The two are Ahmad Haroun, now Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, and the militia leader Ali Kushayb. Leaving aside the veracity of the report—which is uncertain—two sets of questions arise. First, what would the Sudan Government require in order to hand over the two men? Is it looking for a guarantee that there will be no prosecutions of senior officials? And if so, what kind of guarantee would suffice? The ICC itself cannot provide any such guarantee—the Prosecutor is constrained solely by his mandate and any resolutions of the UN Security Council. The Court would not want to enter into bargaining of this kind with a possible indictee. But it is conceivable that assurances from respected international leaders might be sufficient for President Bashir to reconsider his options and at least buy himself some time. The Sudan Government’s lawyers will have taken some solace from the difficulties the prosecution has faced in the Lubanga case, difficulties that will be reproduced should Haroun or Kushayb stand trial. Second, could the Chief Prosecutor […]
Abdullahi Gallab recalled in his posting of June 18 that the term “post-Islamism” was coined by the sociologist Asef Bayat. Bayat used the term in his now famous 1996 article “The Coming of a Post-Islamist Society” to characterize a new historical phase into which he saw Iranian society transitioning following the death of Khomeini in 1989. What he wrote is instructive to the conversation we are having on this blog, not, in my estimation, for how post-Khomeini Iran echoes the situation in contemporary Sudan (for I don’t think it does), but rather for revealing many of the assumptions that underlie the attempt to label the Sudanese state (or its society) as post-Islamist. Bayat wrote: By “post Islamism” I mean a condition where, following a phase of experimentation, the appeal, energy, symbols, and sources of legitimacy of Islamism get exhausted, even among its once ardent supporters. As such, post-Islamism is not anti-Islamic, but rather reflects a tendency to resecularize religion. Predominantly, it is marked by a call to limit the political role of religion. In contemporary Iran, post-Islamism is expressed in the idea of fusion between Islam (as personalized faith) and individual freedom or choice… [my emphases] (i) For Bayat, then, […]
If peace and justice in Sudan are on a collision course, one reason why is the way in which the Darfur peace talks and the accountability process have been structured, so that each process has been isolated from the other. In the early rounds of the Darfur peace talks, the armed movements repeatedly raised the issue of accountability for crimes committed and destruction caused during the conflict. Justice was high among their priorities and the Sudan Government’s objection to the issue was one reason among many why so little progress was achieved. However, following UN Security Council Resolution 1593 in March 2005, the issue of accountability was set aside for the remaining duration of the Darfur peace talks, on the rationale that the ICC was now dealing with the issue. For the AU mediators and their international partners, this was a way of getting a complicated and divisive issue off the table. The Declaration of Principles of July 2005 made only oblique reference to justice. It referred to “full implementation of all relevant Security Council Resolutions” (preamble), rehabilitation and compensation (Article 10) and reconciliation (Article 11). The DPA of May 2006 reproduced this omission. Its preamble included the clause: CONDEMNING […]
The argument presented here is that through nothing more than the simple invocation of basic principles of law and criminal justice necessarily associated with criminal court proceeding, the new global tribunals are enacting a dramatic re-alignment in the global balance of powers, a re-alignment about which we ought to have serious concerns. In the case of an ICC indictment of Omar al Bashir, for example, it must be remembered that this would have to be based on a special jurisdiction created by the Security Council under its Chapter VII powers, and that this—it is argued here—would have the effect of significantly enhancing the power of the Security Council, both in relation to the other bodies of the UN and in relation to the future independence of the ICC. More generally, it is argued that even the apparently simple choice to use global criminal tribunals is fraught with profound, and little understood consequences, and that, therefore, the choice to prosecute Bashir before the ICC will significantly further a deep and radical realignment in the global order, one associated, in particular, with a growing tendency to strip law of any relationship to democratic legitimacy or oversight. In considering the question of how […]
On 13 June, the ICC’s trial chamber stayed proceedings in the Lubanga case due to the prosecution’s habitual labeling of a wide range of materials received from third parties as confidential and non-disclosable–a practice which the Court considered in its effect a violation of the accused’s fair trial rights. The decision has been described variously as a “blow for ICC credibility and momentum,” as well as a “demonstration of the independence of the court’s judges.” I believe that its importance also lies in highlighting the extent to which the ICC (and particularly the prosecution) depends on cooperation with the United Nations in volatile environments and some of the major difficulties associated with such cooperation. The case confirmed publicly that the UN routinely seeks “Article 54(3)(e) protection” for all documents produced under its cooperation agreements with the prosecutor. This is a reference to a provision in the ICC Statute designed to spare certain materials from disclosure requirements under the Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. While the article refers to materials received “for the purpose of generating new evidence,” however, it seems that the prosecution has been interpreting the afforded protection more widely. The Trial Chamber disapproved of this […]