Sudan Needs a Strategic Approach for Sustainable Change!
Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) has released a comprehensive strategy that was delivered to the interim government of Sudan, as well as to international and regional actors and stakeholders working on Sudan. DWAG’s Strategic Framework for Sustainable Change in the Republic of Sudan (the Framework), which was formulated by DWAG along with contributions from 37 experts and Sudanese civil society representatives (the Working Group) who are committed to promoting the interests of the Sudanese people, stresses the need for laying the proper foundation for sustainable transformation in Sudan.
In the wake of the uprisings in Sudan and following the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir, DWAG began an initiative to develop this Framework. The development of the Framework was based on the belief that Sudan needs a strategic approach that promotes an in-depth understanding of the historical grievances that reflect the realities on the ground while also addressing the root causes of the problems by considering the multiple, long-standing crises throughout Sudan. The Framework emphasizes that the recent uprisings are consequences of the overall deterioration of human rights conditions across Sudan, coupled with the following crises in Darfur, South Kordofan. Blue Nile, the marginalization of the people of eastern Sudan, and the construction of dams that threaten the livelihood and historical heritage of indigenous Sudanese in the far North. It is imperative that a solution for Sudan’s problems are understood against this backdrop in order for the solution to be sustainable. Using a rights-based approach, DWAG and the Working Group recognized that solutions for Sudan must also be based on the principles of universal human rights and the multiple regional and international norms that guarantee the protection of these rights for all Sudanese citizens. Establishment of the rule of law must begin with accountability as directed by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed in Darfur. The development of the Framework relied heavily on the multiple lessons learned from the international community’s approach to Sudan. Accordingly, multiple steps and specific goals have been developed to meet the needs of the Sudanese people at each stage. The Framework includes three separate time frames:
• First, matters of immediate concern, including the provision of unimpeded humanitarian access by inviting previously expelled aid agencies and international observers back into Sudan. This item includes a strong recommendation for the extension of the UN African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) throughout the interim period to guarantee the safety of all Sudanese citizens who remain internally displaced (IDPs). The Framework stresses that the protection of civilians must be an immediate priority and attacks on civilians must cease – particularly in Darfur and other crises affected communities in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
• In the short-term (3-6 months), the Framework recommended a selection process for a qualified interim government vetted against a set of proposed criteria. It also calls for the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of multiple government militias into the national army and further inclusion of armed opposition groups via a genuine peace process.
• The Framework further stresses the importance of both criminal and financial accountability: criminal accountability through the ICC for previous and ongoing crimes in Darfur and across the Sudan, and financial accountability as a crucial step for the restoration of the money and other resources stolen by the former regime’s representatives. In the long-term (upwards of six months), the Framework establishes a baseline in committing Sudan to the universal norms of human rights, rule of law, ratification of the Genocide Convention, recognition of the genocide committed in Darfur, restoration of property rights, fair compensation for losses, moral and psychological support, and development/reconstruction in the war torn areas.
Most importantly, the Framework calls for creating an enabling environment at two levels, including:
(1) enabling environments for IDPs in Darfur, Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains within the crises affected setting and
(2) an enabling environment at the national level which includes freedom of press, expression, assembly, association, and the right to peacefully protest for all Sudanese, pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In addition, the Framework demands a strong measure of accountability for crimes committed against women, ratification of the Convention to Eliminate All Form of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), criminalizing any kind of harassment of women and must be made punishable by law according to international standards.
“In order to transform Sudan, both Sudanese leaders and the international community must understand that a country with millions of genocide-affected victims in the presence of military rule needs a strategic and comprehensive approach, not an ad hoc approach that simply replaces one individual with another. Change needs to be institutionalized with inclusion and establishment of the rule of law that is compatible with international standards.” DWAG President Niemat Ahmadi
For years, the concept of transformation in Sudan has been wrongly decided by the corrupt elites and the international community through a top-down approach. This new Framework takes into consideration that there is a need for a comprehensive approach that can engage all citizens and empower them to act together as agents of change at the grassroots and national levels.
If implemented, the Framework is an important document that will help set the foundation for both the Sudanese leaders and the international community for effective resolution to Sudan’s multiple crises, while facilitating trust-building among the divided Sudanese community, eventually leading to the genuine transformation of Sudan.
Thank you- Niemat Ahmadi, President
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