Civil Society and Doha: Where Next?
It is disappointing how little attention there has been, including on this blog, to the civil society conference in Doha in mid-November, the first such meeting held under the auspices of the succeeding Mediations. Two weeks on, the only version of the final Doha Declaration I have seen comes (predictably) not from the mediators, who are no better at informing Darfurians of their work than their predecessors in Abuja were, but from one of those present, Ali B. Ali-Dinar, who posted it on the Sudan Tribune.
In just three days, representatives of the three states of Darfur, including from Khartoum and the diaspora, succeeding in doing what the armed movements continue to fail to do””agree on a single, unified position paper. What is striking about the conference is how intensively “˜ordinary’ Darfurians had prepared for it and how, once in Doha, they re-worked the plan presented to them by the Mediation (see Ali’s account on Sudan Tribune for this). The four topics tabled for discussion (land, power-sharing, civil society, general issues) immediately became seven, with the inclusion of security arrangements and disarmament, wealth sharing and economic and social development, and justice, reconciliation and return. The land chapter was expanded to make specific mention of “˜nomadic routes’.
What is missing from the Declaration is as interesting as what is included. There is no reference to the International Criminal Court, rather an emphasis on “˜transitional justice’ in all its many forms””and at all levels, from local to international””in order to “˜cure the soul and mend the social fabric’ and ensure there is no impunity for any of the crimes committed in Darfur (2.4.1). There is no mention of genocide, “˜ongoing’ or past, only to “˜illegal stop and search[es]’ of IDPs’ and unspecified impediments to security in the IDP camps (2.1.1 C ). (This raises the question: was enough effort exerted to bring to Doha war-affected Darfurians not in camps?) There is no call for the armed movements to have a role in getting the displaced back to their villages, as demanded by the movements. This should be organized by the Native Administration “˜with the help of the unified police, UNAMID forces in addition to the army if necessary’ (2.1.2.D). There is no demand for a single Darfur region, a subject participants said requires more “˜research and consultation’ (2.3.11). There is no finger-pointing: the words “˜militias’ and “˜movements’ do not appear in the text, which recommends “˜the simultaneous collection of weapons from all parties except the regular forces’ (2.1.2 B).
Civil society is looking forward, not back, demanding the re-establishment of boarding schools (especially important for pastoralists), “˜major development projects of national character [to] foster a sense of nationhood and [remove] a sense of marginalization’ (2.2.1), job creation (2.2.5).
The Doha Declaration requests the parties to observe an immediate ceasefire. The parties claim to represent the people. It’s a pity that the Mediation isn’t exerting greater efforts to get the people’s voice to the parties (and to the media and lobbies that support the parties) to exercise pressure on them to put aside their individual agendas in the interests of the whole.
Many questions remain. Among them:
“¢ Did the Sudan Government in any way impede the meeting or the ability of delegates to travel to Doha? Only five months ago, organizers of Mo Ibrahim’s Mandate Darfur were told that anyone attempting to go to Addis Abada for that civil society meeting would be arrested and put on trial for treason.
“¢ Were pastoralists satisfied with their representation and input?
“¢ How was the Declaration agreed on? By state or delegate? By unanimity or majority?
“¢ Were the movements present as observers? (I believe this was the plan initially) If so, what was their reaction away from the media spotlight?
“¢ What now?
Were any of the readers of this blog present in Doha? If so, can they do what the Mediation hasn’t””supply a detailed account of the meeting (and its corridors)? JEM has (predictably) said “˜most of the civil society representatives (in Doha) are supporters of the ruling National Congress Party’. The conference facilitator, Siddig Umbadda, refutes this. He says “˜quite a few government people declined to come because they thought the opposite’.
One final point: civil society sees a role for itself in “˜documenting’ any future negotiations (2.6.3 F). Had this been done in Abuja, we might not have seen such an immediate, violent reaction against the DPA. The failure of the AU to keep the people of Darfur informed of the progress, and content, of the negotiations was surely one of the main reasons for the uncompromising rejection of the DPA it its entirety.