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Sudan on the Stand

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Sudan on the Stand

Posted by John Norris on July 28, 2009

A series of important hearings this week on Sudan.  The full run down is here.

This is a very important opportunity for members of Congress and the activist community to weigh in with their concerns about the Obama administration’s approach to Sudan. Over the last two months we have seen a series of conflicting signals from the administration on how it is approaching Sudan, and there are credible suggestions that there are some sharp divisions within the administration on how best to approach the issue. This has also bogged down the release of the long-anticipated Sudan policy review being conducted by the administration.

Perhaps most important, this week gives Congress and the broader community the chance to convey some key points.

  1. Almost no one opposes engaging with Sudan on peace talks. But credible engagement requires pressure on Khartoum and not just the offer of incentives and a path to normalization for President Bashir’s government. Until and unless serious pressure is put on Khartoum, the Sudanese government will not change its behavior.
  2. Refugees and the displaced from Darfur will not return home unless security improves substantially, and that requires a much more robust peacekeeping force on the ground, a viable peace deal, and practical efforts to disarm the janjaweed. Any deal that does not create sufficient security for displaced people to return to their homes is not a deal worth having.
  3. Justice cannot be set aside. Accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity must be part of a lasting peace for Sudan.
  4. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement continues to falter in large part because while the international community did an excellent job exerting coordinated and concerted pressure in negotiating the deal, it largely abandoned that approach with respect to the agreement’s implementation. As long as parties are allowed to violate the agreement cost-free, the greater the risk to the peace process.
  5. Any lasting solution needs to look at Sudan as a whole, and understand that many of its problems stem from the fundamental unwillingness of the country’s ruling elite to share power with other groups in the north, south, east and west of the country.

As senators, President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary Clinton were all very tough on Sudan – and rightly so. Now is the time for them to stand firm in their commitments. Contact your member of Congress and ask them to ask tough questions about the direction of Sudan policy, and to make their voices heard.