The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended Sudan's generation-long North-South civil war in 2005 is at risk. Citizens remain polarized along political and tribal lines and arms are abundant. Resource conflict and human displacement contribute to conflict throughout the region. The Governments of Sudan and semi-autonomous South Sudan continue to maneuver for partisan advantage as a January 2011 referendum on southern independence approaches.
Time is short, and more is at stake than the prevention of local conflict. The success or failure of peacebuilding in these critical states will have implications not only for the viability of Sudan's entire peace process, but for stability across the volatile Great Lakes region. Two Sudanese organizations, the Institute for the Promotion of Civil Society (IPCS) and the Sudanese Organization for Nonviolence and Development (SONAD), have invited Nonviolent Peaceforce to provide operational expertise in preventing violence before and during the forthcoming elections and referendum.
In South Sudan, NP and its partners will collaborate to build Sudanese-led violence prevention teams. These teams will act as adjuncts to traditional dispute settlement and peacebuilding activities in districts where the risk of election-related violence is especially high.
The project has now transitioned from the initial two-person Project Development team to the Implementation Phase, under the leadership of an Acting Country Director (from Ireland) and a Programme & Operations Manager (from Rwanda), along with three international civilian peacekeepers (from Zimbabwe, Uganda and Canada). . An international search is underway for a permanent Country Director and key administrative positions are being filled from the region. In collaboration with our partners, local peacekeepers will be identified and trained into our expanding peace teams in the coming weeks and months, with establishment of the first area of deployment underway in Mundri in Western Equatoria.
In addition to providing a proactive presence and protective accompaniment for vulnerable civilians, trained civilian peacekeepers will work with local groups to foster dialogue among parties in conflict. NP and its Sudanese partners will equip civil society leaders with tested tools to strengthen their communities' confidence and capacity to reduce and prevent violence. They will seek cooperation and coordination with traditional and community leaders, as well as with elected officials, civil servants, and military personnel. Working especially with women, youth, and traditional leaders, the project will employ a blend of well-tested methods and novel nonviolent practice. (Updated May 2010)