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Testimony of Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan

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Testimony of Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Empty Testimony of Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan

Post by Mazy Thu 27 Feb 2014, 07:36

Testimony of Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global

Health, Human Rights, and International Organizations
“U.S. Policy Toward Sudan and South Sudan”
February 26, 2014

Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today.

This hearing comes at a tumultuous time for both Sudan and South Sudan. South Sudan continues to be mired in a devastating internal conflict that, while relatively recent in its emergence, has already caused widespread death and destruction, and threatens to unravel the social fabric of this young nation. With the interests of other regional neighbors so heavily in play, any increase in tensions has the potential to foment broader regional instability. To the north, Sudan continues to respond to the grievances of marginalized groups with violence, particularly in Darfur and the “Two Areas” of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States where government forces have routinely engaged in indiscriminate aerial bombardments. Linked by geography and resources, Sudan and South Sudan’s interdependence could be a source of stability, but recent steps towards resolving bilateral issues have been overshadowed by the conflict in South Sudan.

Speaking as someone who has been in the region almost continuously since December 22, working to bring an end to the fighting and to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table, I can assure you that the U.S. Government has and will be fully engaged to support the President’s goals of two countries, at peace internally, with each other, and with the region. We stand ready to help both Sudan and South Sudan build a peaceful and prosperous future in which all Sudanese and South Sudanese citizens are respected, protected, and have a say in the governance of their respective countries.


Three years after South Sudan’s historic referendum for independence and nine years since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, South Sudan is again riven by conflict – not with Khartoum, however, but with itself. It is devastating for the people of South Sudan, and for those of us in the U.S. government and broader international community, who have all made enormous investments in this country in the hope of seeing it escape the terrible cycles of violence that marked its past and that now threaten to destroy its future.

The cessation of hostilities that was signed by the parties on January 23 was a critical step. Unfortunately, hostilities and attacks against civilians continue. We are deeply concerned by reports of serious human rights abuses and violations that have been committed throughout South Sudan by both parties to the conflict, including those reported in the UN’s first report on abuses committed since the conflict began. Both parties have continued to violate this agreement and commit abuses against civilians, most recently with the anti-government forces’ assault on Malakal, and before that pro-government forces’ attacks on Leer and Godiang. A true cessation of hostilities is our most pressing priority, and the United States Government is providing significant financial support to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led Monitoring and Verification Mechanism which will monitor and identify violators of the cessation of hostilities agreement. In addition to getting both sides to adhere to the cessation of hostilities agreement, we are deeply focused on moving the parties to a meaningful and inclusive political dialogue. The roots of this crisis run deep. The government attempted to contain inter-communal violence without fully committing to the hard work of addressing its causes which include trauma from decades of war, economic disparity, historical grievances between communities, human rights abuses, and political grievances due to real or perceived underrepresentation. On top of this, the government had also progressively reduced the space for political competition, within and outside the ruling party, and for independent media and civil society voices to be heard.

The IGAD Mediators have proposed meaningful political dialogue, between the two sides with a broad representation of others in South Sudanese society. Their premise, one with which I agree, is that the government must not be given the space to return to business as usual with a quick fix and political accommodations for the main protagonists, for the simple reason that this will not bring about a sustainable peace. A number of other senior U.S. officials and I have made clear that we, too, are not engaged in business as usual; as one sign of this, I would note that our security assistance to South Sudan is not going forward at this time, and that some of it is being re-programmed to support the regional verification mechanism.

In parallel to these political negotiations, it will also be critical to start what could be a very long process of national reconciliation that allows multiple and diverse voices to be heard, and to encourage the development of a transparent mechanism for accountability for serious human rights abuses on all sides of the conflict. The African Union is currently establishing a Commission of Inquiry for South Sudan, which we believe could serve as an important step towards ensuring accountability and preventing the recurrence of such abuses. We hope this mechanism will move forward expeditiously, and are looking for ways to support this and other initiatives to deliver justice to the people of South Sudan.

Finally, we are pressing all parties to permit immediate and unconditional humanitarian access to all in need, to the hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese men, women, and children who are the real victims of this violence. More than 883,000 have fled their homes including some 167,000 who have sought refuge in neighboring countries and tens of thousands who are sheltering at UNMISS facilities. Both parties bear the responsibility to begin creating the security conditions and confidence that will allow those who fled to return to their homes and communities. Given the essential role that UNMISS has played in protecting civilians, we are continuing our strong support for the mission, and have repeatedly demanded that all parties cease attacks and threats against the U.N. mission. Additionally, the conflict has disrupted agricultural cycles and will have lasting effects on food supplies. This humanitarian crisis will only intensify in the coming months with the return of the rainy season. To help stem the crisis, in fiscal year 2014 the United States has already committed an additional $59.6 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to help those affected by the recent violence in South Sudan.


South Sudan’s relationship with neighboring Sudan is fragile. In months just prior to the conflict there were positive signs of an improving relationship between Juba and Khartoum, and it appears that Sudan has so far played a constructive role with the IGAD-led mediation efforts to resolve South Sudan’s internal conflict. However, we are concerned about the potential for Sudan’s involvement, especially given their interest in South Sudan’s oil fields, and we are urging Khartoum to continue demonstrating caution. Greater involvement by Sudan could cause friction with other regional actors as well as opposing sides in South Sudan, and we, along with other partners, will continue to press for restraint. We are also urging Sudan to allow international humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to the tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees who have fled into Sudan.

Additionally, there are still unresolved issues between the two nations that cannot be allowed to fester indefinitely. Both nations need to work to implement the September 27, 2012 agreements, particularly on the disputed border regions, while also endeavoring to resolve the final status of Abyei. Unresolved these issues remain potential flash points for further violence – and indeed, there has been renewed tension in Abyei in recent days.


Sudan also continues to suffer from internal strife and conflicts. In addition to multiple insurgencies, economic and social tensions escalated last fall as cuts to oil subsidies resulted in the largest protests seen under the National Congress Party’s rule. Unfortunately, the government responded with a violent crackdown on the protestors, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries, as well as nearly 2,000 arrests and detentions. In Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, despite the resumption of talks between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North and the Government of Sudan earlier this month, fighting continues. The fighting has taken an unacceptable toll on lives and livelihoods, with people unable to safely farm or access social services. Indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas continues. I will continue to work with both parties, and the umbrella opposition group of the Sudan Revolutionary Front, to urge them to take the necessary steps through the AU-led effort to achieve a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access—the latter of which has been denied by the Sudanese government since the outbreak of the conflict over two and a half years ago, resulting in a serious humanitarian crisis.

In Darfur, peace remains elusive as violence and insecurity have increased, resulting in further deterioration in the humanitarian situation. Last year alone, more than half a million people were newly displaced, primarily by inter-tribal conflicts and lawlessness, though fighting between government forces and rebel movements also increased. The United States has provided $7 billion to date in humanitarian, transition, and reconstruction assistance to help the people of Darfur. The United States continues to press the Sudanese government to allow greater humanitarian access in Darfur, and to engage with all parties for a comprehensive political solution.

Reversing the cycle of violence in Sudan will require accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses and violations. The United States will continue to urge the regional and international community to call for Sudan to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court, as required by UN Security Council Resolution 1593. Against the backdrop of continued conflict and the repressive response to public demonstrations in September, we took note of President Bashir’s speech on January 27 in which he called for an inclusive process to redraft the constitution—a process that would include both armed and non-armed opposition groups and that would address issues of peace, economic development, political reform, and a dialogue about Sudanese identity. The world will be watching Sudan carefully to gauge the seriousness of this initiative, which, if truly holistic, inclusive, and comprehensive, offers an opportunity to address the underlying causes of Sudan’s tragic history of war between its center and its periphery.

I strongly believe that one key instrument to engendering peaceful, democratic transformation in Sudan is strengthened engagement—by the entire international community but particularly the United States. Through sustained, deliberate dialogue with a range of actors—including the government, opposition groups, civil society, and the Sudanese people more broadly—the United States can reinforce its position of support for the Sudanese people in realizing an end to decades of violence and repressive governance. Sudan’s conflicts are indicative of a widespread failure to govern equitably and inclusively, and the international community must not allow Khartoum to continue obscuring national issues by painting them as isolated regional conflicts, nor can we allow them to pass off as credible any superficial national process that does not include and empower representation and participation from all levels and regions of Sudanese society. As part of this engagement, it is critical that we unite the international community to show Khartoum that change is both necessary and beneficial.

To this end I, along with other senior U.S. government officials, have endeavored to coordinate and strengthen international messaging with key partners such as China, the United Kingdom, Norway, the AU, Ethiopia, Egypt, Qatar, and others. While it is critical that we continue engagement with Sudan, improvement of our relations with the Government of Sudan will continue to be predicated on genuine and sustained improvements in how Sudan treats its citizens and adheres to its international obligations.


As I said at the beginning, despite the horrendous conflicts that have continued and erupted over the past months, out of the turmoil lies opportunity for both Sudan and South Sudan. The Government of Sudan can make the choice to undertake a truly comprehensive and inclusive constitutional process and national dialogue on the country’s future. Similarly, the Government of South Sudan has a crucial opening to establish an inclusive, peaceful nation, representative of all, the kind of nation that is worthy of all they sacrificed in its creation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman for this opportunity and for your continued commitment to the people of Sudan and South Sudan. I look forward to your questions.

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Testimony of Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Empty Re: Testimony of Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan

Post by Mazy Thu 27 Feb 2014, 07:40

U.S. Policy Toward Sudan and South Sudan Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Human Rights, and International Organizations
February 26, 2014
John Prendergast

Thank you for the opportunity to testify, Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Bass, at this extremely vulnerable moment in the history of Sudan and South Sudan. A little over three years ago, in advance of the referendum for South Sudan’s independence, the great fear of Sudanese and the broader international community was the potential for a return to war between the north and south of the country, a war that was perhaps the second deadliest globally since World War II. That crisis was averted because of immense international pressure, which resulted in a peaceful referendum and the birth of the world’s newest country, demonstrating the power of preventive U.S. diplomacy when the international community is united, proactive, and engaged.

Today, however, the biggest threat to the people of Sudan and South Sudan are raging civil wars within their own countries. Mass atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in the context of wars in both countries. Although the headlines for the last two months have been dominated by conflagration in South Sudan, conditions in Sudan’s Darfur region have deteriorated, and government’s bombing campaigns have intensified in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. The potential for a complete interruption in oil production threatens economies in both countries with implosion and bankruptcy. Conflict has interrupted the planting season, and with the rainy season fast approaching, humanitarian crises are spiraling out of control in both countries.

The threat does not end at the two countries’ borders, however. South Sudan’s eruption has threatened to regionalize the war in ways not seen since the 1990s. On the one hand, Uganda has overtly intervened militarily in support of Juba’s government. On the other hand, allegations are increasing that both Eritrea and Sudan are covertly providing support to the South Sudanese opposition forces, though firm evidence has yet to emerge. Sudan’s history of supporting some of the ringleaders of South Sudan’s armed opposition is deep, and South Sudan-supported Sudanese rebels are alleged to be siding militarily with Juba’s forces in areas near the border of the two countries. Both countries still remain deeply interconnected and in many ways interdependent, and neither can be at peace if its neighbor is at war. Ethiopia has strongly warned Uganda to pull out its forces, with an unknown “or else” attached.

A nightmare scenario is unfolding in this region. To counter it more effectively, the United States and broader international community need to construct a peace strategy for the Sudans. At this juncture, the U.S. is largely reacting to fast-developing events on the ground, primarily by deploying its very capable Special Envoy to the region and by providing generous amounts of humanitarian aid. Given the escalating crisis being faced by the two countries and the threat posed by a regionalization of the wars, a much more robust and proactive approach is needed. A broader strategy for the two Sudans would at a minimum beef up efforts on four fronts: peace, democracy, accountability, and the leverage to impact these goals.

When the pre-referendum crisis was unfolding, the U.S. dramatically upgraded its diplomatic Strategy In addition to deep engagement by President Obama, Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton, the U.S. deployed as many as three envoys at the time: General Scott Gration, Princeton Lyman, and then-Senator John Kerry. All the diplomatic work paid off, when an alliance was forged with China and other countries to pressure Khartoum into allowing the referendum to occur on- time and peacefully, averting a return to deadly conflict at the time.

The escalating crises in Sudan and South Sudan today demand a similar diplomatic surge. One special envoy, no matter how capable Ambassador Don Booth is, pales in comparison to the current diplomatic requirements. The wars in both countries are so complex they require their own envoys, and the interplay between the two conflicts and the broader region demands a deeper political team upon which the two envoys can rely. Therefore, a second special envoy should be named for the escalating regional crisis, with duties divided between the new envoy and Ambassador Booth. Senior Foreign Service officers, including retired ambassadors, and regional experts should be deployed to embassies in the region and Beijing to support the work of the two envoys.

Specifically, the United States needs to become more deeply engaged in the efforts to forge effective peace processes in both countries. We’ve learned over and over the lessons of failed peace processes over the last decade in Sudan, and at a minimum past mistakes need to be avoided. In Sudan, that means no longer accepting the stove-piping of conflict resolution initiatives in Darfur, eastern Sudan, and the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. What is required there is one unified peace negotiation process for all of Sudan’s conflicts, which includes both armed and unarmed opposition groups and civil society organizations to discuss democratic governance and transition issues. Will that be difficult to create? Yes. But anything less ensures continued war. So the U.S. needs a full-time envoy working on the construction of such a process.

In South Sudan, it’s important to remember that well over half of the countries in the world that emerge from conflict return to war within a few years. South Sudan has had its explosion, and now has a second chance to reboot. The odds for a sustainable peace in South Sudan increase proportionately with the degree to which the overall peace process is inclusive of political parties, civil society groups, and regional interests. This necessitates a broader peace strategy. We will need to look beyond the examples of the deals previously constructed in the Horn or East Africa, and certainly in the Sudans, where deals lacking any transparency or accountability are cut between the men with the biggest guns are the norm. National dialogue, SPLM reform, elections, constitution making, and governance will all presumably be discussed in the peace process, but everything is put at risk if these efforts aren’t inclusive. Most analysts agree that the closing of political space was instrumental in raising tensions with no release valve. Just as with Sudan, a full-time envoy is needed to work non-stop with regional governments in helping to craft such an inclusive process and ensure its success.

Globally, U.S. support for Democracy/Governance (DG) programming is down sharply. In Sudan and South Sudan, the need for this kind of support is greater than ever. In both countries, the U.S. should consider a substantial increase in assistance to Sudanese and South Sudanese civil society actors, women’s associations, youth groups, and political parties (including the civilian wings of the Sudan Revolutionary Front coalition) to build their capacity and bolster efforts to promote political transformation. In order to support the SRF’s development of political, negotiations and humanitarian aid delivery capacity, the State Department needs a legal authorization from this Congress in the form of a notwithstanding authority. This will remove the legal handcuffs currently preventing this assistance from going forward.

In both Sudan and South Sudan, civil society could benefit substantially from a shift in US policy. It is essential that a premium is placed on amplifying independent voices and giving them the tools to effectuate change within their unique contexts. In both countries, there is a strong case for the inclusion of civil society at the negotiating table, instead of leaving the big decisions to those carrying guns. In both, it makes sense to empower local actors to monitor for human rights violations, distribute humanitarian assistance and organize themselves. In Sudan, it makes sense to offer civil society activists seeking to use American communications tools and technologies a boost by issuing a General License D. In South Sudan, it makes sense to support a feedback loop between the Addis process and the countryside. It remains essential that the countries’ leaders are confronted by their populations' viewpoints and perspectives.

Accountability, Justice and Reconciliation
No peace process in Sudan or South Sudan has ever held anyone accountable for any crime committed in the context of war. For sustainable peace to have a chance in both countries, impunity has to end for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The flip side of the coin requires inter-communal mechanisms of reconciliation that can provide a bridge back to coexistence between local communities that have been divided and mobilized against each other for years. That process is becoming more urgent by the day particularly in South Sudan, where mobilizing and recruiting soldiers and militia is occurring in some places along ethnic lines. Compensation for crimes will be key to ensuring justice is restorative, not just punitive.

Forging a cohesive national identity remains the greatest challenge facing both the Sudanese and South Sudanese people. This challenge has only been heightened by the atrocity crimes ongoing in both places. True accountability will require components of both justice and reconciliation. South Sudan needs a truth-telling process focused on building social cohesion and peace messaging. However, it also needs justice and accountability. Since its justice system is embryonic, a “hybrid court” is the most appropriate model. The U.S. government and the broader international community can't leave this to the African Union's Commission of Inquiry, which is not a prosecutorial tool. In Sudan, ICC indictee Ali Kushayb, who was spotted at the scene of new crimes in Darfur in the last year, must be held accountable. The U.S. should work internationally and regionally for his arrest as one step towards ending impunity.


To achieve the objectives above, much greater U.S. leverage must be built through a variety of avenues. In both countries, the U.S. and broader international community must be prepared to deploy incentives and pressures in support of serious negotiations. Creating real penalties for those undermining peace prospects and support for those who demonstrate serious resolve would be an important assist to the mediators and democracy-building processes like the constitutional reviews in both countries and hoped-for credible elections.

The U.S. should be working with a number of other countries to begin to develop these instruments of leverage.

This includes high-level engagement with China to see what is possible for the U.S. and China to do jointly. Some consideration should be given to the expansion of the Troika (the U.S., UK, and Norway) to include Beijing in a Quartet aimed at greater influence.

Targeted sanctions are one instrument to create some accountability for the commission of war crimes and undermining of peace efforts. The African Union has already put targeted sanctions on the table for South Sudan, and the U.S. should do so as well. If the UN Security Council is not amenable to utilizing this tool, the U.S. should work with interested countries to deploy them in coalition with others.

In response to Sudan’s war crimes, the U.S. should lead a multilateral effort to target the Khartoum government’s economic lifelines by labeling Sudan’s gold as “conflict-affected,” supporting additional sanctions designations by the UN Sudan Sanctions Committee, and ensuring that any debt relief is made contingent on an end to the wars inflaming Sudan’s periphery and transformational political reform.

Neighboring countries involved or potentially involved in the South Sudan conflict also need to be subject to international pressure. Currently, Eritrea is covered by sanctions for its support for armed elements inside Somalia. A credible investigation should be initiated to determine whether Eritrea is providing resupply support to South Sudanese rebels as has been alleged. If evidence corroborates these reports, those sanctions should be expanded from Somalia to South Sudan. Such an investigation should also attempt to determine if Sudan is providing similar support as has been alleged.

In order to move talks forward in Addis, one of the sticking points will be the degree to which Ugandan forces remain visibly deployed in South Sudan. The U.S. relationship with President Museveni could influence Uganda to redeploy its forces, which in turn would deliver a positive atmospheric improvement for the peace talks. This issue is increasingly threatening both the forward movement in the Addis talks and the possibility of further regionalization of the conflict, so the U.S. should bring to bear its influence to ensure a rapid redeployment of Uganda’s forces. Just as important, though, the U.S. should be exploring with Uganda how to use their joint influence with the Juba government to move it to more constructive positions regarding the governance issues that helped lead to the current crisis.


The track record of the U.S. Congress, and particularly this Subcommittee, has been clear over the past three administrations regarding Sudan and South Sudan. Congress has often led on the policy front, pressing successive administrations to do more to achieve American objectives in this war-hattered region. Sudan and South Sudan need such leadership more than ever before. It is not an exaggeration to say that millions of lives hang in the balance.
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