Category Archives: Abyei

“African Ways” and Sanctions as “Extreme Measures”

The UN Security Council’s plan will likely accomplish little. Even if it does lead to Sudan and South Sudan returning to the negotiating table, it is unlikely to lead them to resolve the issues when they talk. For the Nuba Mountain people, the most important thing is what this resolution does not do. It does not help them. There is no threat against Sudan for acting against the people of South Kordofan or Blue Nile. The resolution is all about halting fighting between Sudan and South Sudan.

What is most disheartening to me, however, are the positions expressed by China and Russia as they spoke about the UNSC resolution. I find these statements to be appalling.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong said:

We are always very cautious about the use and threat of sanctions. China has all along maintained that African issues should be settled by the Africans in African ways.

“African issues?” “African ways?” What is this if not racism? I can see the point made in a discussion,

“They’ve always had tribal warfare and slaughtered each other.”

“Who are we to interfere?”

Of course, China nor the UNSC has interfered in the past. They have let millions die while nobly not interfering.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that:

The arsenal of political and diplomatic instruments for normalizing the situation has nowhere been exhausted. We consider sanctions as an extreme measure.

Sanctions? An “extreme measure” against a genocidal government whose leaders are wanted for war crimes by the ICC? Really??? “Extreme???” Is it more extreme than a government deliberately trying to starve a significant minority of its population to death or force them to flee the country amid an indiscriminate hail of bombs?

Not according to the Russian Ambassador or to the UNSC. The Sudan Tribune article tells us that:

The Russian ambassador said that sanctions should not be used in relation to conflicts in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where fighting has been raging since last year between Sudan’s army and rebels from Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) who want to topple to Khartoum government.

The resolution orders Khartoum and SPLM-N to cooperate with the mediation and use a June 2011 framework agreement as a basis for talks. The deal was signed by presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie only to be scrapped by Bashir himself later.

Understanding the Heglig Dispute

Both Sudan and South Sudan claim ownership of the city that Sudan calls Heglig and South Sudan calls Panthou. This article by Dr Luka Biong Deng published by Gurtong explains the dispute from the point of view of the leadership of the SPLA and government of South Sudan. Dr. Deng wrote:

Despite claims to the contrary, Heglig was absolutely not determined to be part of Sudan (the North) by the July 2009 ruling of the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal (referred by many in South Sudan as the Permanent Court of Arbitration decision (PCA decision). The parties signed an Abyei Arbitration Agreement in 2008 which clearly provided that the mandate of the arbitration tribunal was simply to determine if the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) exceeded its mandate and if it did, to then “define (i.e. delimit) on map the boundaries of the area of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905.”

This is the full report of the tribunal.

Dr. Luka Biong Deng goes on to note that:

What is indisputable is that South Sudan claims Heglig as theirs and Sudan claims it as theirs. The fact that Sudan has refused to “agree” that it is disputed —both in the context of the Technical Ad-hoc Border Committee and in the Addis negotiations— does not make it any less a disputed area. Those who would refuse to support the submission of Heglig to a peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms because it is not an “agreed disputed area” are playing a dangerous game by leaving a critical matter unresolved between the parties which can result in continued hostilities. The purpose of the negotiations is to address such matters, not leave them to foment distrust and violence in the future.