Cutting Corners in the South Sudan Peace Process

Image: USAID Africa Bureau/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 15 September 2014.

On 26 August 2014, the two parties to the South Sudan conflict – the government of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM in Opposition) – reached their fourth agreement aimed at ending the violence that broke out in mid-December 2013. The latest accord mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is called the Implementation Matrix of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement, and gives the two parties 45 days to form a unity government.

It follows three previous agreements: the January 2014 Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities and Status of Detainees; the May 2014 Agreement on the Recommitment on Humanitarian Matters of the Cessation of Hostilities; and the June 2014 commitment to the formation of a transitional government of national unity, which was intended to have happened within 60 days.
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Bringing Europe into the Middle East Peace Process

John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, courtesy of U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/flickr

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations on 22 May 2014.

During his trip to South Korea at the end of April, American President Barack Obama announced a “pause” in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, nine months into Secretary of State John Kerry’s flailing initiative. As the plan’s April 29, 2014 deadline approached, progress towards a first framework-agreement remained slow, if not inexistent. Washington hedged its bets on an exchange to prevent the process from complete derailment: the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) acceptance to postpone the deadline for talks, in return for a package making such extension acceptable, including most notably a partial settlement freeze in the West Bank and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s follow up on his July 2013 promise to release a number of Palestinian prisoners. » More

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Mediation Perspectives: Localizing Peace Processes in DR Congo

Photo: © Sara Hellmüller

The M23’s recent abandonment of its armed struggle has renewed hopes for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, it also underlines a major problem that has characterized peace negotiations over the past decade – namely their primary focus on the “noisiest” actors whose actions aim to shock the collective international conscience. For peace to be sustainable, greater efforts are needed to localize peace initiatives.

From the battlefield to the negotiation table

On 5th November 2013, the Head of M23, Bertrand Bisimwa declared that the organization would henceforth end its armed revolt in the eastern DRC and pursue its objectives through political dialogue. This change of approach can be explained by four factors. First, the M23 experienced some important losses on the battlefield after the United Nations bolstered its MONUSCO stabilization mission with an intervention brigade that possesses a robust mandate to neutralize armed groups. Ground was also lost to the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) after it was strengthened, restructured and made more capable of going after M23 rebels. In addition, diplomatic pressure and suspension of development aid, mainly by the United States and European Union, prompted Rwanda to decrease its backing of the M23. Finally, the appointment of Mary Robinson as UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and Russell Feingold as US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their diplomatic engagement has undoubtedly played a part in moving the warring parties from the battlefield to the negotiation table. » More

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Kerry’s Middle-East Peace Push and Bibi’s ‘No-State’ Solution

US Secretary of State John Kerry Meets With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, April 2013. Photo: US Embassy Tel Aviv/flickr.

If recent press reports are to be believed, the United States will soon present Israeli and Palestinian negotiators with a framework agreement – a non-binding proposal that would begin to sketch out an elusive middle ground between both sides. Yet, some six months into a nine month window dedicated to achieving a lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this only serves to highlight the lack of progress achieved so far.

Despite widespread warnings that time is running out for a two-state solution, even President Obama remains sceptical that a final status agreement will be reached in the foreseeable future. In the absence of any tangible prospects for advancing discussions on final status issues, the US President has lowered expectations, describing current US efforts as merely intending to “push the boulder partway up the hill and maybe stabilize it so it doesn’t roll back on us”. » More

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