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Down to the Wire: An Update on Negotiations Between the Sudans

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Down to the Wire: An Update on Negotiations Between the Sudans

Posted by Amanda Hsiao on July 31, 2012

Down to the Wire: An Update on Negotiations Between the Sudans

This report went to publication on July 30, 2012. Negotiations between South Sudan and Sudan, and Sudan and the SPLM-N, respectively, are ongoing. The Enough Project will continue to follow the negotiations and provide updates in the coming weeks. No Sudan government representatives could be reached for the purposes of this report.

In the last days before the August 2 deadline, Sudan and South Sudan’s positions on key outstanding issues—arrangements on oil and associated financial payments, resolution of disputed and claimed border areas and border demarcation, the final status of Abyei, and the establishment of a demilitarized zone along the North-South border—remain far apart.

United Nations Security Council resolution 2046 (2012) establishes a deadline of August 2 for the two parties to reach agreement on these issues. If negotiations between the two Sudans do not result in agreement on any or all of those issues, the African Union, or A.U., the U.N., and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, are requested by the Council to make detailed proposals on how to resolve all outstanding issues. This deadline is around the corner, and it is unlikely that a comprehensive agreement will be struck in time.

However, there are opportunities for important interim steps. The establishment of a demilitarized zone along the North-South border, which is critical for defusing tensions as negotiations continue forward, is possible if there is targeted international pressure on Khartoum to accept the map proposed by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, or AUHIP. A demilitarized border zone should satisfy both sides’ short-term security concerns, including Sudan’s emphasis on southern support for rebel forces operating in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, as well as in Darfur.

Resolution 2046 also decides that Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement—North, or SPLM-N, shall cooperate with the AUHIP and IGAD Chair to reach a negotiated settlement on the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and urges both parties to accept the tripartite proposal to permit humanitarian access into the two states. However, Khartoum continues to reject the latter. The political track that has been initiated—in response to the continued impasse on the humanitarian side—will not yield progress in the short-term. The pressing humanitarian needs in the two states demands that at least a temporary mechanism is established to secure international, third party humanitarian access into SPLM-N controlled areas in the two states before the August 2 deadline.
In the long term, security issues between the two countries can only be addressed through a two-track process, consisting of parallel North-South and North-North talks, the latter of which would lead to the resolution of the fundamental issues of governance and center-periphery tensions at the root of the conflicts in Sudan.