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African Mediators Outperform Their Non-African Counterparts — Here’s Why

Image courtesy of World Economic Forum/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This article was originally published by Political Violence at a Glance on 30 April 2020.

In 2013, during the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (now known as the African Union), African leaders solemnly declared their aim to “silence the guns” in Africa by the end of 2020. Consequently, silencing the guns—ending armed conflict—is the African Union’s theme for 2020, with high-level discussions on how to implement this goal throughout the year.

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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.

A Little Less Isolated and a Lot More Troubling: Ban Ki-moon Meets Bashir

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir in Ethiopia, 2009. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Attempts to isolate and marginalize Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir have been mixed at best. The man many people believe is ultimately responsible for the violence and misery of Darfur – and who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for it – has worked tirelessly to show that, as a head of state, he can still galavant across the globe to international conferences and state meetings.

Of course, Bashir hasn’t always been able to go wherever he wants. He hasn’t visited a ‘Western’ state since he was indicted by the ICC in 2008. While he has visited ICC member-states, notably Chad and Kenya in 2010, he is still severely constrained in his movements and Malawi, a member-state which originally let him visit in 2011, has since declared that he is unable to do so again.

As many readers will know, the marginalization of perpetrators of atrocities is a central argument for proponents of international criminal justice. In brief, the argument suggests that investigations and the issuance of arrest warrants against international criminals will isolate them, both within their networks of power such as a government or a rebel group as well as within the international context. In the long-run, it is hoped that this marginalization can ultimately fill the docks of international criminal tribunals and deter the commission of crimes.


The ISN Weekly Quiz: Sudan Looks Ahead

As the Sudanese go to the polls, find out how much you know about their country, our focus this week, in the ISN Weekly Quiz.



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.