The Darfur Crisis: Monitoring the ceasefire

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Introduction

The war that broke out in Darfur in early 2003 between two rebel groups and the government of Sudan has had devastating humanitarian consequences. (1) The rebels, the ‘Sudan Liberation Army’ (SLA) and the ‘Justice and Equality Movement’ (JEM), began the war with attacks on towns, government facilities and civilians in Darfur. Two million people are said to have been affected by the conflict. (2) Famine threatens hundreds of thousands of displaced Darfurians. (3) A ceasefire agreement signed in early April 2004 has provided observers of the conflict with the chance to reflect on events in Darfur. (4) Western Sudan has been ravaged by lawlessness and banditry for many years and one of the more difficult tasks of the ceasefire monitors will be to differentiate between criminality perpetrated by armed bandits, something that has opportunistically escalated since the conflict began, and actions carried out by parties to the ceasefire. (5)

It is essential that the April 2004 humanitarian ceasefire is vigorously monitored. The ceasefire agreement outlined that the African Union would be tasked with the supervision of the ceasefire. (6) The details of the monitoring process were agreed in Addis Ababa on 28 May. Representatives of the European Union and the United States are involved in the process. One hundred international monitors have subsequently been deployed in Darfur to supervise the ceasefire. (7) They will also have international military protection.

Lessons from Monitoring the Ceasefire in southern Sudan

The importance of having an independent ceasefire monitoring mechanism in place is clear. Claims and counter-claims about alleged violations of the ceasefire have already been made. The lessons of needing to investigate such claims were apparent in the peace process which has just ended the civil war in southern Sudan. In that conflict, many of the claims – especially against the Government of Sudan – had been taken at face value by the public and media at large. An essential tool in assisting with the southern Sudanese peace process was the establishment of the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) to investigate any allegations of attacks on civilians. The team became operational in southern Sudan in 2002. The CPMT was funded by the United States Government and was made up of international monitors. These monitors exposed as false several serious claims about Khartoum’s alleged involvement in ceasefire violations during peace negotiations to end the southern civil war.

In February 2003 various anti-Sudanese activists made very serious allegations against the Government of Sudan. (8) These included claims that Sudanese government forces had massacred between two and three thousand Sudanese civilians in attacks on several villages in 2002. These allegations were widely disseminated internationally. The CPMT investigated the claims, something that would previously have been impossible. The CPMT conducted two on-site field investigations, interviewing villagers and rebels within these areas and concluded that: "The claim…that up to ‘2,500 people were killed’ has not been substantiated." (9) It also made a point of recommending: "That all sources carefully screen future allegations for credibility, source of information, accuracy, and the feasibility of such an allegation being truthful so as to cautiously avoid inflaming the situation and reality on the ground." (10)

Another allegation, made in June 2003, claimed that government forces had murdered 59 civilians in attacks on ten villages in eastern Upper Nile. The Civilian Protection Monitoring Team conducted on-site field investigations in the areas of the incident from 6-10 June and 12-13 June 2003, collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses in Kosti, Adar, Bolgok, Pagak, Daga Post, Buong, Longochok and its surrounding villages, and Wan Tau. The CPMT "determined the allegation that the [Government of Sudan] lead militias forces launched an attack on 27 May 2003 is unsubstantiated. The claim that 59 persons were killed as a result of this attack is also unsubstantiated. Finally the claim that the [Government of Sudan] abducted 16 persons was also found to be unsubstantiated."

The Civilian Protection Monitoring Team revealed that many of these false claims were made by international organisations on the basis of third-hand claims they had not taken the trouble to verify.

Conclusion

The lessons for Darfur are clear. The conflict in Darfur has already become mired in propaganda claims and counter-claims very similar to the ones outlined above. (11) Many claims have already been repeated and published as true despite the fact that it has been almost impossible to verify them. An effective ceasefire commission will serve two vital functions. First and foremost it will help to protect civilians from attacks. Secondly, it will provide a means of offsetting many of the propaganda claims that would otherwise continue to confuse and distort international perceptions of events in Darfur in particular, and Sudan in general. This ceasefire monitoring mechanism must be built up and extended.

Appendix

AGREEMENT WITH THE SUDANESE PARTIES ON THE MODALITIES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CEASEFIRE COMMISSION AND THE DEPLOYMENT OF OBSERVERS IN THE DARFUR

African Union
May 28, 2004
Addis Ababa

I. TERMS OF REFERENCE

The Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement on the conflict in the Darfur, signed in N’Djamena on 8 April 2004, provides, in its articles 3 and 4, for a Ceasefire Monitoring Committee, which shall report to a Joint Commission consisting of the Parties, the Chadian mediation and the international community. To implement the above provisions, the African Union is proposing that the Parties agrees on the followings:

1. Joint Commission

A. The Joint Commission shall operate on the basis of consensus and consist of two senior members each, from the Parties, the Chadian mediation, the African Union (AU), the US and the EU. The Chairman of the Joint Commission shall be selected by the AU from an African Union Member State. Other International Representatives from the UN and major contributors shall be invited to attend the meetings of the Joint commission as observers.

B. The Joint Commission shall comprise political leaders who should be mandated to take decisions and to deal with matters brought before it by CFC. The Joint Commission (JC) shall be located initially in N’Djamena, moving to Khartoum at a time to be agreed upon by the parties.

2. Ceasefire

Commission The CFC shall report to a Joint Commission consisting of the Parties, the Chadian Mediation and the international community in accordance with the sovereignty of Sudan.

II. COMPOSITION

1. The Ceasefire Commission (CFC) shall be composed as follows:

a. Chairman, to be appointed by the AU, from an African Union Member State;

b. Deputy Chairman (European Union);

c. Chadian Mediation;

d. Government of Sudan

e. JEM

f. SLM/A

2. The size of the CFC may be adjusted with the agreement of the Parties as necessary to carry out the objectives of the Agreement.

3. Other International Representatives from the UN, the EU and USA shall be invited to participate as observers.

4. The operational arm of the Ceasefire Commission shall be the African Union Monitoring Mission, composed of Observers from the Parties, the Chadian mediation, African Union Member States and other representatives of the International Community.

5. To ensure command and control, all Observers shall be answerable to the Chief Military Observer (CMO) to be designated by the AU, who, in turn, shall be answerable to the CFC. Additionally, and in order to ensure unity and discipline of command, all Observers participating in the monitoring, investigation and verification exercise, as well as members of the CFC, shall be funded through the budget of the CFC. No parallel reporting to other authority shall be allowed in the execution of responsibilities.

6. The Military Observers (MILOBS) may be lightly armed. The AU Monitoring Mission shall be deployed on the basis of the commitment of the Government of The Sudan, the JEM and the SLM/A to ensure the protection and the safety of the Observers. However, in the event that the Parties are unable to provide effective protection, the Chairmen of the Joint Commission (JC) and the Ceasefire Commission (CFC) shall request for the deployment of the protection element as envisaged in the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council of 25th May 2004. The Protection element shall be drawn from AU Member States and shall number between 100 and 300.

III. MANDATE

i. The mandate of the CFC shall consist of:

– Planning, verifying and ensuring the implementation of the rules and provisions of the ceasefire;

– Defining the routes for the movement of forces in order to reduce the risks of incidents; the administrative movements shall be notified to the CFC;

– Requesting appropriate assistance with demining operations;

– Receiving, verifying, analyzing and judging complaints related to possible violations of the ceasefire;

– Developing adequate measures to guard against such incidents in the future;

– Determining clearly the sites occupied by the combatants of the armed opposition and verifying the neutralization of the armed militias.

ii. The CFC Headquarters shall be responsible for coordinating investigations, verifications, monitoring and reporting compliance in accordance with the Darfur Cease-fire Agreement and Implementation Modalities. The priority for the CFC is to investigate and report on violations of this Agreement

iii. The CFC Headquarters shall be located in El-Fisher (Darfur). Sectors sites shall be established at other locations, including, but not limited, to Nyala, El Geneina, Kabkabiyah, Tine, and Abeche. A liaison Office will be established in Khartoum.

Each Sector will be composed of two (2) Teams for verification and investigation comprising the Parties, the African Union, the Chadian Mediation and other members of the international community (see the deployment Plan). iv. The CFC support staff shall be part of the Headquarters and shall be organized as follows:

– Operations Team: Coordinates all activities of the CFC in Darfur. Maintains communications links with the Parties and the International community.

– Transportation/Logistics Team: Coordinates transportation, communications, supply and logistics requirements for the CFC.

– Information Team: Coordinates the dissemination of information to support and promote the Cease-fire Agreement among the people in Darfur, including information regarding activities of the CFC, freedom of movement, civic action, and others.

– Medical Support Team: Provides necessary health and medical care
and advice to the CFC.

– Government of Sudan Team: Conducts liaison with the GoS.

– SLM Team: Conducts liaison with the SLM/A.

– JEM Team: Conducts liaison with the JEM.

IV. MODALITIES FOR MONITORING AND VERIFICATION

a. Under the orders of the Chairman, members of the CFC can be deployed anywhere in Darfur to monitor and report on compliance with the provisions of the Cease-fire Agreement and when necessary investigate any alleged violations of the Agreement. When deployed, the CFC shall organize itself as a team. The team leader will be designated by the Chairman/Deputy Chairman.

b. The CFC will investigate all credible reports of violations of the Ceasefire Agreement. The CFC may conduct its inspections and investigations by road or by air.

c. Each of the Parties and the international community shall provide two liaison officers per sector, to be available to participate in investigations at any time. The non-provision of liaison personnel by the Parties to investigate shall be considered as a violation of the Agreement.

d. Following an investigation, the CFC shall endeavor to reach its decisions by consensus. In the event that any of the parties disagrees with the final decision of the CFC, that Party will seek redress from the Joint Commission (JC).

e. The CFC shall seek to advance the process through confidence building visits in the region. The CFC will maintain regular liaison with the parties as well as UN Agencies, the ICRC and NGOs. The CFC will also visit IDP sites and other areas.

f. The parties shall provide the Chairman of the CFC, or his designated Representative, immediately upon request, information required for the implementation of the Darfur Ceasefire Agreement on the understanding that the information shall be held confidential by the Chairman.

g. The Parties shall give the CFC and its personnel unrestricted freedom of movement and access throughout Darfur. The Sector Commander shall inform all members of the Observer team of all their future movements. It will be the responsibility of Liaison Officers to inform their respective Commanders of such movements.

h. A Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA) will be signed with the Government of The Sudan. Addis Ababa, 28 May 2004

For the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army:
Mini Arkou Minawi, Secretary General

For the Government of Sudan:
H.E. Osman Elsaïd, Ambassador of the Republic of The Sudan in Ethopia

For the Justice and Equality Movement:
Ahmed Mohamed Tugod Lissan

For the Chadian Mediation:
H.E. Maïtine Djoumbé,Ambassador of the Republic of Chad to Ethiopia

For the African Union:
H.E. Saïd Djinnit,Commissioner for Peace and Security

[A "PLAN FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CEASEFIRE COMMISSION AND THE DEPLOYMENT OF OBSERVERS IN DARFUR" was attached]

Notes:

[1]. See "Sudan: One Million At ‘Imminent Risk’ in Darfur, Says US Government", News Article by Integrated Regional Information Networks, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 3 March 2004.

[2]. "2 Million Sudanese in Darfur Area Now Affected by Conflict, UN", News Article by United Nations News Centre, 17 May 2004.

[3]. "Sudan turmoil may kill 350,000 in Darfur – ICG", News Article by Reuters, 23 May 2004.

[4]. See "Sudan government, Darfur rebels sign ceasefire deal", News Article by Agence France Presse, 9 April 2004.

[5]. "Lawless Bands Contribute to Misery in Western Sudan", ‘The New York Times’, 4 May 2004.

[6]. "African Union to Deploy Darfur Ceasefire Monitors", News Article by Reuters, 14 April 2004.

[7]. "Khartoum, Observers Sign Deal on Monitoring Darfur Ceasefire", News Article by Agence France Presse, 4 June 2004; "International Observers Arrive in Khartoum en Route for Darfur", News Article by Agence France Presse, 2 June 2004; and "African Union to Send Observers’ Mission into War-torn Darfur to Oversee Ceasefire", News Article by Voice of America, 31 May 2004.

[8]. "International Team Uncovers Killing Fields in South Sudan", Press Release by Servant’s Heart, 6 February 2003.

[9]. Executive Summary, ‘The Report Of Investigation: Liang, Dengaji, Kawaji and Yawagi Villages’, Civilian Protection Monitoring Team, Khartoum, 19 June 2003.

[10]. ‘The Report Of Investigation: Liang, Dengaji, Kawaji, And Yawagi Villages’, Civilian Protection Monitoring Team, Khartoum, 19 June 2003.

[11]. See, for example, ‘The Darfur Crisis: Looking Beyond the Propaganda’, European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council, London, March 2004, available at www.espac.org.

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