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Mediation Perspectives: Third Party Pressure Fueling Rebel Fragmentation

Image courtesy of Jason Patinkin/

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.

“The only page [of the Darfur Peace Agreement] that really matters is the last page, which has the space for the signatures of the parties,” explained Salim Ahmed Salim to the conflict parties. One Darfurian rebel leader eventually signed the agreement because of tremendous external pressure. The conclusion of the peace agreement was followed by rebel fragmentation and the civil war dragged on for many years to come.


Renewed Fighting Worsens Darfur Crisis

Rebel soldiers in Darfur. Image by hdcentre’s photostream/Flickr.

A recent spate of violence in Sudan’s western region of Darfur has left tens of thousands displaced; humanitarian agencies say they are struggling to access populations in need of support.

An estimated 2.3 million people remain displaced by Darfur’s decade-long conflict.

A number of peace agreements – most recently the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur – have failed to halt the intermittent clashes between the government and rebel groups in the region. In early April, fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) in East Darfur State displaced several thousand people; SLA-MM managed to capture took two towns – Muhajiriya and Labado – for ten days, but the SAF has since retaken them.


ISN Weekly Theme: Sudan Looks Ahead

Sudan's long and winding path to peace, photo: WTL, flickr

With national elections just days away, a big push for peace in Darfur in recent weeks and a referendum on southern independence slated for next year, Africa’s largest country faces ample opportunities to usher in democratic reforms – or sink further into political turmoil.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content on the Sudan:

  • David Lanz of swisspeace provides an Analysis of the promises and pitfalls of national elections in this vast, challenging political landscape.
  • Julie Flint talks about why peace has remained elusive in Darfur in our Podcast interview.
  • Security Watch stories about US-Sudan relations, the ‘Bashir burden’ and his ICC indictments and much more.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, like recent papers from the International Crisis Group, the Atlantic Community and the US Congressional Research Service on the prospects for peace in the election’s wake.
  • Primary Resources, including the UN Secretary General’s reports to the Security Council on the Sudan.
  • Links to relevant websites, among them UNHCR’s web platform on the Sudan-Chad refugee crisis.
  • Our IR Directory with relevant organizations, like the Harvard-based World Peace Foundation, dedicated to advancing the cause of peace through study, analysis and advocacy in numerous countries, including the Sudan.

Darfur: The Genocide Question

Burnt Huts in Darfur, Sudan, photo: Radio Nederland Wereldomroep/flickr

Back in November 2008, I wrote a commentary piece on the Darfur conflict for ISN Security Watch (Sudan: China is Key) with the phrase, “the incoming Obama administration can show its resolve to combat genocide.” I can no longer say with conviction that this loaded term is an appropriate description of what transpired in the region.

I have eschewed the label in my analytical reports ever since. All the same, the debate is an important one and warrants further scrutiny. It also highlights the intersection of politics and law in international criminal justice.

What transpired in Darfur, for the most part between 2003-2006, was certainly a grave humanitarian tragedy and an abhorrent counter-insurgency campaign, but did it amount to genocide?


Global Media Forum Day 3: Serious Games

GMF public in the plenary hall / photo: Cristina Viehmann, ISN
GMF public in the plenary hall / photo: Cristina Viehmann, ISN

Ever since the earliest of ages, the human being has been a player. The Dutch historian Johan Huizinga knew what he was writing when he entitled his 1938 book “Homo Ludens“.

Huizinga defines the conceptual space in which play occurs. And some of the serious games today create the virtual universe in which conflicts occur.

There is nothing you cannot make a game about. What is a game, after all? To create a game, you just need a topic and a virtual universe. You then put people in it and assign them tasks.

Combining virtual experiences with the act of reporting games can be a way of representation. Take Dafur is Dying as an example. And yes, Darfur is a special case because coverage is there, but we do not know why so very little has happened.

When it comes to serious conflict gaming, a big question remains open: How do we deal with the exposure offered by such interactive games?