Raped; burned; run over by armored vehicles; hung from trees- Sudan is suffering the legacies of the Civil War (1983-2005) and the failures of postwar Disarmament Demobilization Reintegration (DDR).
“The South Sudanese military, known as the SPLA, together with allied youth militia, attacked numerous civilian villages during the Unity state offensive. They deliberately killed scores of civilians, including women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.” -Amnesty International
Coming out of the Civil War in Sudan between the North and South, South Sudan presented some security challenges early on in 2005 and 2006 as the UN gave the ok for DDR but opted out when the government of South Sudan elected forced disarmament. Disarmament is the collection of weapons from combatants as conflict is being resolved. Demobilization is the formal disbanding of nonofficial armed groups. Reintegration is the assimilation of ex-soldiers into society with job training and support packages.
There are many ways for these procedures to go wrong. In the case of Sudan, weapons have been collected by some combatant groups leaving them vulnerable to other armed groups whose weapons have not been collected. Disarmament has been conducted universally. At other times, disarmament has left former combatants without local food supplies while food, aid, and resources have not arrived on time, and reintegration into jobs has been implemented too slowly leaving creating economic hardships that have lead to further aggression.
In a report by Cecily Brewer, “UN policymakers and practitioners admit that, despite their best intentions, very little has been achieved so far beyond the approval of a national DDR policy.” Cofounder of the Small Arms Survey, Robert Muggah further has criticized the United Nations’ weakness in political leadership and lack of clear direction from its headquarters.
There are complications going on in Sudan and the continent overall. Extreme poverty and underdevelopment contribute to armed conflict. Russia has tied up a number of resources in African countries with agreements to develop resources, but has not provided funding for those projects. In turn, those resources are sitting stagnant, not creating jobs, and not earning income. If local countries want to change partners, they and the new prospector will have to buy the Russians out. Russia has acquired access to many natural mining resources it will deplete in the 2020s and to maintain its leadership in energy. Meanwhile, it has continued to sell arms creating a debilitating combination of stagnating natural resources and jobs while supplying weapons at the same time.
With Middle Eastern countries also developing prospects in Africa, Islamic terrorist havens have swollen in the chaos. The most important military task in Africa, for US AFRICOM, is to “deter or defeat al-Qaida and other violent extremist organizations operating in Africa and deny them safe haven.” These efforts however, must overcome cultural and political challenges such as anti Americanism fostered by the Cold War and colonial history.
If Sudan is to emerge from its present chaos, coordinated efforts between local governments and factions and host countries, private sector companies, NGOs, and aid need to be planned and ready to implement before conflict has ended and stages of DDR implemented with maximum time efficiency with both incentives for on time benchmarks reached and penalties for missteps. These projects can be put into effect without UN participation which has in recent years advanced Sudan’s problems instead of facilitating an environment for peace and economic growth.