Current Date:

Saturday, 25 November 2017

ACCDS Workshop: Social Justice in Post-Conflict Sudan: Social Justice is essential for Sustainable Peace (1)

ACCDS (Al Ayam Centre for Cultural and Development Studies) in cooperation with the German’s Fredrick Ebert Foundation

have organized during the last more two years many workshop on different issues linked  to  drafting  a roadmap to attain  Social Justice in Sudan. The last workshop convened on 30 Sept. 2017 was to debate the results of all the previous workshops and come up with the workshops final recommendations.
The workshop opening session was addressed by Prof. Al Tayeb Zein Al Abdien from the Centre board of Trustees, who pointed to that ACCDS have organized during the last two years 12 workshops on the issue of social justice with the strong support from Fredrich Ebert, who are also supporting similar projects in many other countries and we are with this initiatives. In Sudan the issue of social justice is the cause for all the crises and conflicts in the country; South Sudan, Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and East Sudan. The core issue was the division of wealth and power or in other words the absence of social justice, so this is a core issue for Sudan.
Fredrich Ebert- Sudan Director Mr. Axel Blaschke in his address highly commended the partnership with Al Ayam Centre stressing on that without social justice there can never be a sustainable peace, on the other hand, Ms. Ilham Brini, Fredrich Ebert Social Justice regional program manager pointed to that the project aim to promote social and economic policies that promote social justice with the participation of the academia, experts and the civil society and political forces.

Background Paper

A paper (Social Justice in Post-Conflict Sudan: Towards a Roadmap for the Future) was presented which summarized the previous workshops papers issues, recommendations and outcomes.
Sudan have been in war with itself since its official admission as an independent state in the mid-1950s. Since then violent confrontation, low scale and high scale violent conflicts to open civil war have been the rule, and intermittent peace the exception.
At times peace agreements were signed and constitutions passed but hopes for peaceful, united and democratic conflict-free Sudan have never been realized. Prevarication and denial has had the tragic result of splitting the country into two states- Sudan and South Sudan, both embroiled in the same old protracted conflicts, earning in the process the status of failing and failed states respectively.
The secession of South Sudan in 2011 marks a turning point in the history of the Sudanese state. This outcome, the result of a failed transition following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, left the remaining regions of Sudan embroiled in old and new patters of conflict. The Sudanese ruling elite are faced with managing two interrelated processes: formation of the Sudanese nation, and building state institutions that can be effective in delivering development goods. The continued failure of northern ruling elite in managing these processes from an inherently faulty approach to nation state building since independence in 1956. The outcome has been systematic marginalization and exclusion of the broad masses of non-northern groups from access to state power.
Recognizing the urgency of the current situation, the Government of Sudan organized the National Dialogue (2014-2017) the outcome of which has not crucially redressed the fallouts of the protracted conflicts. While the policy recommendations were celebrated by some as providing guidelines for resolving political crisis in the country, yet others lamented lack of political will to see adhere to National Dialogue calls for opening up and accommodating opposition and rebel groups. Nonetheless, a new momentum for ending conflict and ushering in a new phase of post-conflict seems in the offing. It is with this optimism spirit  that a serious of workshops were organized by Al Ayam Centre for Development  and Cultural Studies in coordination with partners on issues related to conflict in Sudan , post-conflict policies , etc. , what seems  to be one of the root causes of the conflict , absence of social justice in the past.
The ultimate objective of this draft roadmap is to seek consensus on common policy issues that are likely to shape post conflict Sudan. Absence of “social justice” has emerged from the workshops as a theme recurring contributing to conflicts and failure of peace agreements afterwards. This is why the title of the draft “Roadmap” bears the title “Social Justice in Post-Conflict Sudan: A Roadmap for the Future”. Hence, the objective of this workshop is to bring together once again presenters of the papers, panels’ members and representative of political parties and forces, civil society, international community, media, and other concerned stakeholders to debate the centrality of social justice in future post-conflict policy environment.
Following this introductory sections, section two gives a brief note of the current contest of Sudan after the secession of South Sudan. Section three is on the gist of social justice as a mainstreaming theme in a number of policy areas covered by the workshops mentioned above, and section four gives the outline of policies recommended by the panels and these covers five areas : 1-Macro-economic and restructuring, 2- Rights and Legal Environment, 3- Budgets and Financial Federalism, 4- Role of civil society a practical future and 5- peace and recommendation ; followed by a conclusion in in section five , references in section six and appendices in section seven.


The full title of this section is: Context of Sudan; from Conflict to Post-Conflict.
A host of economic, social and political indicators sum up the crux of Sudan current situation.
Economic indicators are seen in sharp and rising of disparities in national development among and between regions, underdevelopment, cumulative international debt, economic sanctions, accelerated trends of economic decline, and collapse of economic productive sectors, failure of economic and regulatory institutions, resulting in massive economic corruption, lack of transparency and accountability.
Social indicators are reflected in sharp and rising trends divides along ethnic/tribal lines, poverty scaling , social injustice, state sponsored socio-cultural marginalization/ exclusion ; mismanagement of cultural diversities, social disruption /disintegration , massive migration and population mobility (IDPs and refugees)
, brain drain and deterioration  of social capital, rising religious intolerance , radicalism and politicization of religious factors, deterioration of an overall human insecurity.
Political indicators are seen in unsettled disputes and contestation over fundamentals  that makes a state a functioning and stable state, namely national identity , citizenship, and constitution, recurring and protracted wars ,associated with gross human rights violation and oligopoly of power and use of violence over wide territorial space of Sudan instead of monopoly of power and use of violence as inclusive state jurisdiction (the question  of the rule of law and state legitimacy), ,successive failure of the fashionably  dominant ,Power Sharing Model and the current Paradigm of Peace-making in Sudan manifested in sustained counterproductive peace agreements. 
Equality issues pertaining to identity and balanced development are of vital significance.
The contention that cultural and ethnic diversity would be replaced by cultural and ethnic homogeneity with the secession of South Sudan has been proven painfully wrong. Sudan is and still remain a diverse country. Hence, one of the most pressing challenges that policy makers in post-conflict Sudan will be how to confront the question of managing ethnic diversity and, related to this, how to address past grievances of communities in the periphery.
The challenge is how to reconcile sub-national and national identities in an inclusive national identity capable of accommodating a wide range of asymmetric and definitions, identity is multi-faceted and that citizens can hold multiple identities depending on their role in society.
In addition to providing for enforceable constitutional safeguards guaranteeing non-discrimination. Religious and cultural freedoms and recognition and respect for cultural diversity, the burden of reconciling local identities to a mutual sense of belonging based on concepts of citizenship would largely fall on the shoulders of the political elite.

Political Reforms

Political institutions are either inclusive political institutions and or exclusive ones. Acemoglu   and Robinson (2012) marshaled extensive evidence suggesting that inclusive political institutions give rise to efficient economic institutions that eventually achieve economic and social development and economic prosperity. Exclusive political institutions, on the other hand, give birth to extractive economic institutions that eventually fail to achieve development. The current ruling regime provides an excellent example of an exclusive political regime which gives rise to an extractive economic system legitimized and buttressed by the cultivation and presence of fatalistic culture and religious ideology.

Way Out

How could post-conflict Sudan undergo structural and meaningful change in a way that would reverse the mentioned above indicators (economic, social, political, identity)? What are the main tenets of a roadmap leading to this desired situation? How could this “roadmap” benefit from previous and efforts under way as indicated by, among others, Sudan Call, Democratic Alternative, National Dialogue, AU roadmap, etc.
During the workshops discussions social justice emerged as cross-cutting theme in most of the sessions. Discussions have highlighted the absence of social justice as a factor contributing to conflicts and failed efforts to build peace and recompilation. Hence the contention that social justice should serve as a central plank in any future settlements.
The general theme that has been expressed in almost all papers during the workshops is that the root causes of conflicts is the absence of social justice and so this challenges have to be placed at the center of the policy making and implementation in the post conflicts era.