Given that there have been three major peace processes in Sudan’s troubled western province of Darfur, the current escalation of violence indicates that perhaps something about existing approaches is failing to hit the mark. Identifying what is missing is vital – not just for Darfur, but for other areas with similar challenges of state fragility, poverty, and competition over natural resources.
There are clearly major problems with the political process regarding inclusivity and representation. Resolving these issues is of course essential, but that is not the end of the story. The current upsurge in violence – 450,000 displaced in 2014 and another 100,000 in January 2015 alone – has as much to do with increasingly complex and multi-layered disputes over land as with the high politics of the formal peace process.
There is a major disconnect here: a war that is about both a national political struggle and a complex web of land conflicts, but a peace process that is framed around national politics with little substance on land and natural resources.
The challenge now is to revisit Darfur on its own terms
The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur states that “competition over pasture and water between herders and farmers is a serious problem in Darfur which shall be addressed in a comprehensive way.” However, the document fails to develop the treatment of land and resources into a strategic program, so it is of little surprise that a comprehensive treatment has failed to materialize. In the governance vacuum created by a decade of violence, endemic conflict over land has also spiraled out of control.
The reason for this gap in response appears to be a combination of the framing of the conflict and a lack of awareness about what an appropriate response would comprise.
For the complete article, please see New Security Beat.
Rising temperatures, recurrent drought, economic marginalisation and decades of civil war in South Sudan (formerly part of Sudan) have exacerbated resource conflicts between and within local communities such as the Dinka, Nuer and Murle. Frequently taking the form of attacks on wells and villages in contested areas these conflicts have claimed more than 7000 direct victims between 1993 and 2013 alone (UCDP, 2015).