This morning, we released our latest strategy paper on Sudan, "Abyei: Sudan’s Next Test." As we previously noted, this Wednesday the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal (located at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague) will issue its much-anticipated decision on the boundaries of the contested region of Abyei—an oil-rich, contested region along Sudan’s disputed North-South border.
In this paper, Enough Policy Advisor Colin Thomas-Jensen and Policy Assistant Maggie Fick argue that the international community—in particular the United States, which played a critical role in negotiating the Abyei Protocol of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement—has a responsibility to ensure that the ruling is respected and that the residents of Abyei and the affected surrounding areas are protected from violence.
The good news is that we have seen repeated public commitments in the past month by both Sudanese parties—the ruling National Congress Party, or NCP, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, or SPLM—to immediately begin implementing the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal’s ruling. Last Friday, both parties confirmed that they were working together to prevent conflict on the ground in Abyei following the ruling. Likewise, the international community, with leadership from the Untied States, has begun a welcome diplomatic push to secure renewed commitment from the SPLM and NCP on CPA implementation. In the paper, Enough argues that focusing on Abyei now is an important step in making these commitments real in the lives of ordinary Sudanese people.
"How each party responds is a crucial litmus test of each side’s will to implement the CPA," says Colin Thomas-Jensen. "By extension, their response to the Abyei ruling is a useful barometer for the efficacy of the Obama administration’s strategy on Sudan." Maggie Fick notes, "If the Abyei dispute relapses into stalemate and violence, the already fragile CPA will be pushed to the breaking point."