HONG KONG MODEL UNITED NATIONS 2014 Forum: The United Nations Historical General Assembly Issue: Internally Displaced Persons in the Second Sudanese War, 2004 Student Officer (Chair): Brian Wong Point of reference: 20th November, 2004 "We were suffering because of war. Some have been killed. Some have died because of hunger and disease. We children of the Sudan, we were not lucky." - 14-year-old Simon Majok, a “Lost Boy of Sudan” “The situation for the internally displaced can be worse than for refugees, since the internally displaced are refused the international protection granted to those that are considered to be refugees.” - The Nordic Africa Institute Description of Committee The Historical General Assembly’s mission is to examine a variety of historical events that have previously affected the United Nations during their peak points or crises. The topic of internally displaced persons examined here falls largely in the year of 2004 (when the Second Sudanese Civil War was concluding), but can date back to the beginnings of the First Sudanese Civil War in the 1960s. The point of the committee is not about emulating or replicating historical decisions made by the UN, but to identify more effective (and, in this particular issue, also responsive) solutions than the ones provided by history. Though employing and analysing historical conditions are both crucial processes, the committee ultimately aims to resolve unjustified ethnic violence through a balance of historical awareness and prudent reflection. Historical understanding is essential up to the ending of the Second Sudanese Civil War in December 2004, but delegates need not concern themselves over modeling events thereafter. Given the dynamic and versatile nature of Sudanese politics, this committee aims to provide delegates a deeper understanding of the current Sudan crisis.
Context The Second Sudanese Civil War was a conflict that lasted for over 22 years, from 1983 to 2005, between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. The war was mostly a continuation of the First Sudanese Civil War (1955-1972). Despite its origins in southern Sudan, the war also spilled over to the Blue Nile and Nuba mountains regions. Four million people in southern Sudan had been displaced during the war, their
deprivation further exacerbated by the significant human rights abuses under the regime. The government of Sudan had been accused of inflicting “appalling suffering” on several millions of its citizens - mostly non-Arab Sudanese who had been displaced from their homes. By the time the war had concluded, Sudan contained over 6.1 million internally displaced people: the conflicts and violence since the nation’s independence in 1956 had marginalised large population of people in regions such as Darfur and Khartoum.
Background History As Africa’s most expansive and equally divergent country, Sudan’s demographics encompass several religions, ethnic, and socio-economic divides. The poverty of Sudan was mirrored by its large inequalities in wealth. Whilst the northern regions and Khartoum were relatively advanced in development, the indicators for the remaining parts of the country pointed to significantly stunted growth. Since the declaration of independence in 1956, Sudan had experienced severe tensions amongst factions in the east, west, north, and south. At the root of these conflicts lay the opposition to the marginalising policies of the central government in Khartoum, as well as the desire for greater political autonomy. The historical tensions between the people of inland Sudan and the Nile-based settlements were exacerbated by the regime’s attempts at exploiting the peripheral regions. Other sources would characterise the conflict as an ethnicreligious one, where the government’s attempts at introducing Sharia rule in the nonMuslim south resulted in violence between religious groups. The British colonial period saw the segregation of Sudan into northern and southern provinces. Whilst the south was ruled similarly to other eastern African nations; north Sudan was governed as an Arabic-speaking country. Northern Arabs were banned from power in the traditional South; economic activities and cultural exchanges ceased under the instructions from the ruling British. Despite so, the British took to integrating the two regions in 1946, forcing Arabic and northern elites upon the southern government. The southern population and rule rejected this on the basis of both meritocracy and personal resentment. When Sudan was declared independent after decolonisation, the failure of both the British and north Sudanese parties to recognise Southern needs left the nation in a precariously fragile political state. The Second Sudanese Civil War is often portrayed as a conflict between the “peripheral” regional powers and the central government. The competition between foreign interest and the two opposing parties over the significant oil fields sparked disputes over the distribution of natural resources between the north and south. The northern Sudanese inclination to control these natural resources was driven by the fact that their arid geography barred them from developing their agriculture. With oil revenues taking up 70% of Sudan’s exports, oil was a major factor for the North. Yet the southern parts of the nation were equally concerned about their oil supply - for they saw the natural
resources as a safeguarding tool that could reduce the political imbalance between the north and south. Omar Al-Bashir’s coup in 1989 overthrew the Sudanese government and revoked the peace agreement. Attempts to draft peace agreements often failed due to the major scale of the conflict. The aerial bombardments and helicopter attacks from the Government of Sudan rapidly increased the rate of personnel displacement. The 195 confirmed bombings in 2001 were a tripling from 1999. Many of these attacks occurred in the Eastern Equatoria and Upper Nile regions - densely populated regions. Without access to the promised humanitarian aid and limited freedoms, individuals in the regions were forced to flee. In July 2002, the Government of Sudan and the rebels arrived at a historic consensus on the right of southern Sudan to self-determination. The Machakos Protocol was followed by peace talks during 2003, with particular focus on wealth-sharing. Despite its political successes, the protocol failed to account for the large number of internally displaced persons (IDP) from the war. With most of these individuals concentrated in urban areas, the standards of living for them were abysmal.
Definitions of Key Terms and Acronyms Displacement, also known as forced migration, is the movement of an individual from their natural residence without or against the migrant’s willing consent. Displacement may occur as a result of a combination of factors; in the case of this topic, the factor was predominantly the military conflicts in the Second Sudanese Civil War that made the original residence too dangerous and unstable. Internally displaced persons are individuals who are displaced within their countries’ borders. Most of the forced migration in Sudan has been internal, with a large majority of the populations facing economic hardships and extremely poor living conditions. The official United Nations definition for the word is: “internally displaced persons are persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalised violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters.” The Lost Boys of Sudan is the name designated to groups of over 20,000 young males who were displaced during the Second Sudanese War. Many of them were internally displaced after escaping capture and torture under the regime. The Dinka people are an ethnic group residing in the southern regions of Sudan. During the 22-year-long Civil War, the mainly agripastoral people faced severe persecution by the culturally different Arabic Muslim Sudanese government. A large majority of them were forced to flee their original places of residence for refuge. Most of the internally displaced persons in this topic belonged to the Dinka tribe.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was established in 1983 as a rebel group that aimed to reestablish an autonomous Southern Sudan through warring against the central government. Led by John Garang, the Liberation Army offered representation for all marginalised Sudanese groups. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the United Nations agency tasked with protecting and supporting refugees under the request of a government or the UN. The Office assists in local integration and resettlement for refugees. The role that the office plays in the case of internally displaced persons was yet to be determined at the time of the Second Sudanese Civil War.
Important Individuals and Groups A key issue in the retrospective evaluation of the Second Sudanese Civil War is the identification of responsible parties. The following consists of a few agents that played an important role in the Second Sudanese War. In September 1983, President Nimeiri attempted to extend his islamicisation campaign through incorporating traditional Shari’a punishments into the penal system, subjecting the non-Muslim south to the harsh sentences. The Civil War was resumed, with a clear opposition force established. The fears of the public were intensified by the military takeover in 1985, which saw a new provisional government under General Abdel Rahman Suwar al-Dahab, who rescinded President Nimeiri’s decrees whilst maintaining the Islamic September Laws. The al-Mahdi government initiated peace negotiations with the SPLA in May 1986, coming to an agreement in 1988 on a peace plan abolishing the nation’s military ties with Egypt. The armed forces compelled the Sadiq al-Madhi government to approve their peace plan and engage in peace talks with SPLA. Negotiating sessions in late 1989 brought little progress, whilst the continuous fighting between the two groups resulted in the displacement of a large majority of Sudan’s rural population. Despite the SPLA’s influence over large areas of the Upper Nile provinces and the southern areas of Darfur and Blue Nile, the involvement of the government in major southern towns and cities caused the rapid breakdown of an informal cease-fire in May 1989. The 1991-1993 drought and food shortage forced many of the young to leave their homes for major cities - and food. Attempts at providing international relief in both north and south Sudan were countered by the cutting off of aid due to Sudan’s human rights abuses and close ties with Iraq. The 1990s witnessed regional efforts to negotiate an end to the Sudanese civil war. The rulers of Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya observed a peace initiative for Sudan with mixed results. However, the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority for Development) produced the 1994 Declaration of Principles that would
form the basis of later discussions on peace. Only after losing in major battles to the SPLA did the Sudanese Government sign the Declaration. The Khartoum agreements were made in the name of “Peace from Within”. Leaders were moved to Khartoum where they took up minimal positions in the central government. Autonomy and selfdetermination for the south became increasingly significant requests; yet the issue of forced migrants was still to be resolved.
Timeline of Events January 1983 President Nimeiry declared Shari’a rule, antagonising a large number of Southern Christians. The Sudanese People’s Liberation Army was formed. 1985 Nimeiry was deposed by the Transitional Military Council in a coup that seized control of the country. 1986 Following elections, Sadiq al-Madhi rose to the post of Prime Minister, leading a coalition government of more moderate policies. 1988 The Democratic Unionist Party of Sudan proposed a cease-fire that did not materialize. 1989 The Sudanese regime was overthrown in another coup. June 1989 al-Bashir took on the office of President. He was appointed in 1993. 1995 The US imposed sanctions on Sudan following allegations that the regime was involved in a plot against Egyptian President Mubarak. September 2000 President al-Bashir convened a meeting with the leaders of the National Democratic Alliance. March 2001 The United Nations World Food Programme reported a food crisis for millions of displaced persons facing starvation. June 2001 Peace talks in Nairobi broke down. November 2001 The US began sanctioning Sudan. July 2002 The Second Sudanese Civil War was finally concluding through the Machakos Protocol. 2003 The War in Darfur began, causing large numbers of refugees to flee the nation.
2004 The UN official claimed that pro-government military groups had been behind the Darfur killings. 2004 September US Secretary of State Colin Powell branded the War in Darfur as genocide. Delegates, you are required to debate this issue in synchronisation with historical events only up to the month of September, 2004. Beyond this point, it is up to you to redirect the flow of history through careful deliberations and discourse.
Positions of Member Nations and Other Bodies International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) The displacement of individuals without their own nations was very often the direct aftermath of humanitarian violations during armed conflicts. Civilians fleeing a conflict zone would suggest their safety was no longer guaranteed under uncaring or even exploitative warring factions. The ICRC based the majority of its actions and responses on the principle of upholding for the IDPs the rights and protection afforded to them by the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The role of the ICRC in the early 2000s was to assist individuals affected by armed conflicts through direct and immediate physical action, as well as the promotion of sustainable preventive measures in the long term. United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) With the agency’s expertise on displacement, the UNHCR had been indirectly aiding millions of IDPs since the early 1990s. In 2004, it was in the process of devising the “cluster approach”, which would grant it a predominant role in overseeing the management of IDP camps tailored to the needs of IDPs. The commission had previously been involved with Sudan in several occasions, most notably the displacement resulting from the First Sudanese Civil War. The organisation had close ties with many humanitarian organisations. United States In accordance with its policies, the US’ response to internal displacement was largely founded upon the basis of human rights and the rule of law, as well as the principle that foreign aid was integral to national security. The USAID was the US government’s leading expert group on internal displacement, charged with the task of ascertaining prompt responses from the US government and the international community. Working closely with the UN and other US organisations, the Agency advocated for bilateral diplomacy as a means of achieving a “coherent effort” with other committed countries to fully support IDPs. The official guidelines acknowledge the particular features of the internally displaced, such as their need for legal status and the importance of humanitarian access. The Agency was especially concerned with reintegration and transition for the victims. India
India’s primary response to IDPs within its own country was to offer relief to the rural poor through rehabilitative efforts and education. Women who had been displaced by civil unrest were placed on the top of the government’s priorities, which also encompassed implementing the Policy in collaboration with state governments. A National Monitoring Committee was responsible for monitoring the funding for resettlement and rehabilitation - the two major tenets of Indian policies towards its IDPs. Russia Russian policies emphasised the determination of the status of forced migrants, as well as the creation of socioeconomic safety nets for the protection of their legal rights. Internally, “local migration service bodies” carried the responsibility of legally recognising internally displaced persons and aiding their voluntary returns. Assistance would be granted in the form of non-reimbursable loans, education and training, employment, as well as reuniting families with their “orphaned children”. Property would be restored to the returning individuals. Europe Members of the Council of Europe were particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation of IDPs in Russia. Eastern European nations such as Bosnia and Armenia had been criticised by the UNHRC for underproviding for their IDPs. In a Recommendation issued in late 2013, the Assembly suggested that Turkey, Azerbaijan, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina etc. reviewed their legislation in adherence with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement; ensured the full implementation of the existing legislation, as well as cooperating with the international community through increasing access to areas of displacement and reducing bureaucratic procedures.
Potential Issues The Issue of Aid Refugee programmes in Sudan had always operated on the definition of a refugee as an individual displaced across an international border. With the rise of internally displaced persons in the late 1990s, the definition became increasingly outdated for the victims of the civil unrest. This was particularly the case for Sudan, where the number of IDPs was clearly greater than the number of refugees. The representation of refugees and displaced persons as “problems” had entrenched an exclusive mentality that prevented aid from reaching the individuals and curing the circumstances and root causes that led to mass displacement in the first place. Delegates must therefore consider carefully how aid could reach the victims of displacement as quickly as possible, whilst also ensuring that their solutions were not only temporary ones that failed to address the underlying violence that produced the refugees. In short, the issue of aid must be cross-examined with the resolution of tensions and achievement of peace.
The Issue of Reintegration and Education For those Sudanese living in suburban towns in Khartoum, remittances from resettled families had become a large part of their overall income. These urban migrants’ dependence on foreign cash provided them with the alternatives to the limited few other support mechanisms available to them. Yet for those lacking foreign support, efforts from Church groups (e.g. learning centres for refugee children) should also be recognised as a valid source of aid. This was particularly relevant in the case of the training programmes offered by churches to adult refugees, as well as food rations. Delegates should look at how they can incorporate NGO assistance in their framework of IDP management. The Issue of Legal Status The large number of internally displaced persons in Sudan, complemented by the fact that there was no single legal definition for the phrase “IDP” even in 2004, was reflective of the limbo status of most forced migrants. The legal loopholes had resulted in the “invisibility” of large displaced populations, bearing serious psychological and emotional implications for these individuals. Many of these individuals, rejected by society, turned to alchoholism as a means of overcoming their issues. The failure of the UNHCR to account for the polygamous familial relations in Sudan had resulted in the break-ups of families and divorces. Delegates should be sensitive to the multi-faceted demands of the task of legally defining a phrase as contentious as “internally displaced persons”.
Questions for Debate “Where can internally displaced persons go?” is a question that requires delegates to consider the issue of resettlement in the light of the Sudanese conflicts in 2004. What sorts of criteria must be used in determining whether the migrants were relocated within the country, or transferred to other nations? To what extent should governments intervene to provide support for these individuals? How would education and rehabilitation take place? Delegates must take into account the immediate needs and demands of the displaced persons. Whilst in their original communities, southern Sudanese women played a large economic role in agricultural and grazing activities, the work picked up by them when migrating to the north would often be marginal and brought in little income. These women were plagued by the risk of arrest, for selling alchohol (a common occupation) was illegal and could result in imprisonment. Sexual violation was also a significant problem that must be resolved in consideration of the nation’s Islamic laws and traditions. Could religious rules be bent in favour of egalitarianism and women rights? How could basic liberties be ensured for women in a politically unstable environment?
The system that had been in use in 2004 to address the issue of IDPs was the collaborative approach, which assigned the responsibility for protecting IDPs to be shared amongst various United Nations agencies. This approach had been criticised for lacking a focus of responsibility and consistency in its responses, as the “different agencies were free to pick and choose the situations in which they wish to become involved”. In other words, the self-interests and unique criteria of these groups prevented collaboration from taking place as smoothly as hoped. In recognition of this, delegates may want to extend their research on what was later known as the Cluster Approach. How could bureaucracy and diplomatic errors be kept to a minimum? How could the United Nations make informed decisions about a highly sensitive issue? How could the UN uphold its duties whilst balancing the interests of its member groups? This is the ultimate question that delegates must work around in the conference. Good luck!
Further Reading and Bibliography •
"Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement." The Brookings Institution. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.
"Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement." Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.
"Internally Displaced People." UNHCR News. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.
"Internally Displaced Person." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Dec. 2013. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.
"JOURNAL OF INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT." JOURNAL OF INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.
"Military." Sudan Civil War. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2013.
"South Sudan Profile." BBC News. BBC, 01 Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.
"Sudan: Independence through Civil Wars, 1956-2005." Enough. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.