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  • Author: Jon Temin, Lawerence Woocher
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Numerous predictions asserted that the referendum on the secession of southern Sudan would lead to renewed civil war. Despite ongoing violence in many parts of Sudan and South Sudan, the referendum process was largely peaceful. This unanticipated result may prove a relatively rare instance of documented success in conflict prevention. Warnings of impending violence came from many sources. They were timely but tended to be vague. Whether they were overly dire because of faulty assumptions about the conflict dynamics deserves scrutiny. Two prominent narratives explain why the referendum process was peaceful: one that emphasizes domestic factors and another that focuses on international intervention by Africans and westerners. It is highly likely that both contain important explanations for the peaceful referendum. People in Sudan and South Sudan tend to emphasize the domestic narrative; members of the international community tend to focus on international engagement. Several lessons for global conflict prevention can be drawn from the Sudan referendum experience: Preventing conflict in what seems like dire circumstances is possible. Coordinated outside actions should support local conflict-mitigating dynamics. Technical actions, such as election or referendum logistics, can have a significant positive impact on political processes. International actors need to be receptive to taking preventive action. Focusing on successes, as well as failures, is critical.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Ethnic Conflict, Territorial Disputes, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Author: Aaron Sayne
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Many of Nigeria's worst conflicts pit the recognized original inhabitants, or indigenes, of a particular place against supposedly later settlers. These conflicts may be growing deadlier and more numerous with time. State and local governments have free rein to pick who is an indigene. Abuse of the label can foster deep socioeconomic inequalities, given that indigenes enjoy preferential access to land, schools, development spending, and public jobs. These inequalities feed into violence, although righting inequality may not be sufficient to end violence in every case. The indigene-settler distinction is also explosive because it reinforces and is reinforced by other identity-based divides in Nigeria. These differences in ethnicity, language, religion, and culture can be longstanding and deeply felt, but how they factor into violence is again not well understood. Poor law enforcement responses also help entrench violence between indigenes and settlers. Official complicity and indifference make prosecutions rare. Destructive conduct by the Nigerian security forces itself often becomes a structural cause of violence. Serious thought about how to prevent or resolve indigene-settler violence has barely started in Nigeria. Addressing inequality between indigenes and settlers calls for serious, microlevel analysis of local economic dysfunctions and opportunities, along with real official commitment to make and enforce better policies. More holistic understandings of justice are also needed. The worst hot spots will need a wide menu of well-planned interventions. Options include securitization, criminal prosecution, mediation and dialogue, truth commissions, victim compensation programs, public health and trauma assistance, public institutional reforms, education, and communications work. In some cases, building sustainable peace could take a generation or more.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Crime, Ethnic Conflict, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Jon Temin, Theodore Murphy
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Approaches to Sudan's challenges—by both Sudanese and the international community— have been fragmented and regionally focused rather than national in scope. They overlook fundamental governance challenges at the roots of Sudan's decades of instability and the center of the country's economic and political dominance of the periphery, which marginalizes a majority of the population. Such fragmentation diffuses efforts into fighting various eruptions of violence throughout the periphery and confounds efforts to address governance and identity issues. Ongoing processes in the future Republic of Sudan, sometimes referred to as north Sudan, continue this trend. While Darfur negotiations and popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states should continue, they should eventually be subsumed into a national process aimed at addressing the root causes of Sudan's governance failures. The process should feed into, and then be reified by, development of a new national constitution. Even now the goal of these regional processes should be re-envisaged as steps toward a national process. Sudanese negotiations largely occur between elites. Negotiators often cannot claim genuine representativeness, resulting in lack of broad buy-in and minimal consultation with the wider population. The ongoing Darfur negotiations are a case in point. To avoid prolonging the trend, a more national process should be broad-based and consultative. It should feature an inclusive dialogue, involving representatives from throughout the periphery, about the nature of the Sudanese state and how to manage Sudan's considerable diversity. Southern secession in July 2011 presents an opportunity for Sudanese to take a more comprehensive, holistic approach to their governance problems. Significant adjustments are warranted by the end of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, such as the development of a new constitution. The opportunity to initiate fundamental governance reform may be ripe because the ruling National Congress Party is under intense political and economic pressure. The Arab Spring revolts, the economic shock of lost oil revenue, and the proof of governance failure that southern secession represents have inspired, among some NCP leaders, a belief in the necessity of preemptive change. Any reform of northern governance should be led by Sudanese. Perceptions that external actors are forcing change can be counterproductive. The international community can support a reform process but should tread carefully. International efforts should focus on promoting an enabling environment in which nascent Sudanese-led efforts can take root and grow. Support to constructive voices and aid to inchoate political initiatives should be available when requested. Supporting a national process poses a challenge for the international community as its capacity, pressure, and incentives are already distributed across the various regional political processes. Pressures and incentives are tied to specific benchmarks defined by those processes, making it difficult to reorient them toward the new criteria dictated by a national process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Civil War, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Jok Madut Jok
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The government of South Sudan and its development partners appear to be heavily focused on state building and less so on nation building: the question of how to turn the young state into a nation in which all South Sudanese can see themselves represented.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The top concern for both Riyadh and Damascus remains blowback from Iraq: the ascendance of ethnic and sectarian identity and the spread of Islamist militancy. The need to contain this threat is the dominant force that shapes their relations with Iraq. Both Syria and Saudi Arabia have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq's emerging political order is inclusive of Sunni Arab Iraqis, who have not yet been fully incorporated into Iraqi institutions. Syria and Saudi Arabia do not look at Iraq in isolation, nor do they assign it top priority among their foreign policy concerns. For them, Iraq is merely one element in a comprehensive view encompassing other regional players (including the U.S. and Iran) and other regional crises, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lingering resentment and bitterness toward Washington is now mixed with intense curiosity and modest optimism about President Barack Obama. Saudis still bristle when recalling how the Bush Administration sidelined Riyadh on Iraqi matters; as do Syrians, who believe the previous administration was intent on isolating and undermining Damascus. Iraq remains very much isolated in its neighborhood. Recent Progress on regional cooperation notwithstanding, these two neighbors are still focused more on containment than engagement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Steven Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: From a strategic perspective, Syria has gained some advantages and some disadvantages since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. President Bashar al - Asad, considered a callow leader five years ago, faced a testing period in 2003–06 and did more than merely survive. He withstood a threat of imminent regime change at the hands of the United States, and weathered heavy international fallout from the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the summer war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah, which Syria has long supported. Bashar has emerged a cagey geopolitical operator, able to manage a delicate strategic balance, and Syria is now stronger than it has been at any time in recent history. Yet Syria faces a number of internal challenges due to Iraq's instability. Primary among these is coping socially, economically, and politically with a huge influx of Iraqi refugees, and mitigating the effect that sectarian (Shia-Sunni) and ethnic (Arab-Kurd) conflict in Iraq has on the fragile status quo in Syria.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Deborah Isser, Peter Van der Auweraert
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq has experienced several waves of mass displacement over the last forty years that have left complex land and property crises in their wake. As security has improved and some of the nearly five million displaced Iraqis have begun to come home, resolution of these issues are at the fore of sustainable return.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Migration, Religion, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Radwan Ziadeh
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Kurds in Syria have been denied basic social, cultural, and political rights, in many cases stemming from the Syrian state's refusal to grant citizenship.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Europe, Arabia