Toward A Comprehensive Strategy For Sudan

J. Scott Gration
Special Envoy for Sudan 
Testimony Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
July 30, 2009


Chairman Kerry, Ranking Member Lugar, Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here today to discuss our strategic objectives in Sudan and to outline what we are doing to make them a reality.

Mr. Chairman, let me begin by acknowledging your leadership on these issues. We greatly appreciate your commitment to finding solutions to the many challenges confronting the people of Sudan. That commitment is widely shared by the members of this committee, including Senator Feingold, Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, with whom I have recently met, and Senator Isakson, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee. We are especially grateful to you, Mr. Chairman, and Senators Corker and Isakson for participating in the State Department’s Forum for Supporters of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which we held here in Washington last month. I will say more about those proceedings in a few moments, but I want to thank you now for your support.

The great human tragedies that have occurred in Darfur and the rest of Sudan are deeply embedded in our memories. Many people in Sudan suffer terribly from the pain and loss brought by conflict, and it is these people who deserve our support.

We have made progress in recent months, but we have much work ahead. From my visits to Sudan, the region, and throughout the international community, I have found the challenges in Sudan to be complex and our timeline compressed. Because of the complicated nature and urgency of the tasks at hand, we have helped to craft a strategic approach that blends all elements on national power and a methodology that is integrated, comprehensive, and based on a policy of dialogue and engagement.

I want to take a moment to discuss our engagement. Engagement is not something we pursue for its own sake, and it is not about accommodating the status quo. Engagement does not mean the absence of pressure, or doling out incentives based on wishful thinking. On the contrary, it is about working to change conditions on the ground. Engagement means frank dialogue about what needs to be accomplished in the months ahead, how we can help make those accomplishments happen, how the bilateral relationship could improve if conditions on the ground transform, how the Government of Sudan could become even more isolated if it does not act now, and how we ensure that all parties are held accountable.

First let me tell you what we want to achieve. We want a country that is governed responsibly, justly, and democratically, a country that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors, that is economically viable, and a country that works together with the United States on common interests. We want an inclusive and durable peace in Darfur. We want full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and a peaceful post-referendum period whether as a single, stable, and unified Sudan or a Sudan that divides peacefully and orderly into two separate states. We want only what is best for the Sudanese people.

This is our vision. Now let me tell you how we’re going to make it a reality. We are using diplomacy, defense, and development—all the elements of national power—to achieve our strategic objectives.

We are engaging directly with all of the relevant parties inside Sudan to bring peace and stability to the country. This includes the two main parties of the Government of National Unity (GNU)—the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), as well as other political parties and movements and civil society. We have traveled to the country three times since my appointment in March, and returned just a few days ago from our last trip. We were in Khartoum to facilitate trilateral talks to advance timely implementation of the CPA and in Darfur to review our progress on facilitating humanitarian assistance and to promote the Doha peace process. I visited several camps for internally displaced persons, met with camp leaders, and saw firsthand the day-to-day struggles these Darfuris must face. Ultimately, the Government of Sudan must be accountable to its people and bear responsibility for peace within Sudan’s borders.

To achieve our goals, we must also engage with Sudan’s neighbors and the international community. This is why we have traveled around the world to Chad, China, Egypt, France, Libya, Norway, Qatar, and the United Kingdom to meet with key leaders who share our common concern and want to work together toward shared objectives. This is why, at the end of June, we convened the Forum for Supporters of the CPA here in Washington to bring together representatives from over 30 countries and international organizations to renew the global commitment to seeing a peaceful and stable Sudan. We are confident that this multilateral group will work closely together to achieve a lasting peace in Sudan by keeping Sudanese parties positively engaged in implementing the peace agreement and preparing for the future, increasing the capacity of the Government of Southern Sudan, and helping to keep all Sudanese government institutions accountable to their people.

We are dedicated to carrying this vision to success. I have built a team of sharp and dedicated individuals who, along with our colleagues based in Sudan, are working tirelessly to achieve our objectives. My role is to guide our vision, and I will do all that is in my power to see this vision come to fruition. I report regularly to President Obama and Secretary Clinton about our progress and have visited Congress to exchange views with you and a number of your colleagues. I look forward to speaking with many more of you in the weeks ahead. We are committed to working together as a strong and united team to achieve our objectives of a politically stable, physically secure, economically viable, and peaceful Sudan.

Now let me tell you more about the four pillars required to support this vision of Sudan. Most urgently, we want a definitive end to conflict and gross human rights abuses in Darfur and justice for its many victims. We can never forget the lives needlessly lost in the last five years, and the millions who continue to be displaced. As I witnessed last week, families still crowd into makeshift housing in IDP camps, women continue to gather firewood in fear, and children grow up without hope for a better tomorrow.

To resolve this humanitarian tragedy, we believe only a negotiated political settlement between the government of Sudan and all parties to the conflict will bring sustainable peace to Darfur. Our goal is to conclude an agreement that will allow people to go back to their home villages or a place of their choosing to resume their lives in safety, stability, self-sufficiency, and security.

Past peace negotiations have faltered, and we have learned from these experiences. We are collaborating with the African Union and United Nations joint chief mediator, Djibrill Bassolé, to ensure that the peace process is inclusive and that it adequately addresses the grievances of the people of Darfur. We are engaging with the fragmented movements in Darfur to help them unite and to bring them to the peace table with one voice. We are working with Libya and Egypt to end the proxy war between Chad and Sudan that has ignited further conflict. We are supporting the full deployment of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) as a critical mechanism for protecting Darfuri civilians. We are determined to work toward a peaceful Darfur where displaced families can resettle and reestablish their homes. We must act without delay—innocent Darfuris have suffered for too long.

Our second pillar focuses on sustaining peace between the North and the South. In January 2005, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, ending a 22-year war. Four and a half years after the signing of the CPA, peace remains fragile. In just eight months, Sudan will hold national elections in April 2010 and referenda in Southern Sudan and the Abyei region beginning nine months later in January 2011. Our timeline is so very short; it is urgent that we act now to support the full implementation of the CPA.

This will not be easy. Just over a week ago, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague announced its arbitration decision on the Abyei border delineation—a highly sensitive and emotional issue for both parties to the CPA. Before the boundary decision was handed down, we spent a significant amount of time with the parties, working to ensure the decision would be accepted and fully implemented. Tensions in Abyei remain high and the international community must continue to be vigilant. As we have seen before in that area, tensions between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya can quickly erupt into violence, resulting in a conflict that could bring the SPLM and NCP into direct confrontation and threaten to derail the CPA.

We will also need to continue support for the UN Mission in Sudan, help the parties prepare for elections in April, and ensure legitimate popular consultations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Collectively, we must assist the parties as they prepare for the January 2011 referenda and their consequences. These are just a few of the major challenges ahead as we help the parties implement the remaining milestones in the CPA.

It is critical that we work with the parties to begin the process of democratic transformation and decentralization, so that in January 2011, the voices of the people of Southern Sudan will be heard and we can witness a unified and peaceful Sudan or a Sudan that is on an orderly path toward becoming two separate and viable states at peace with each other. Resolving the issues of North and South is critical to tackling challenges in Darfur and other parts of the country. These twin challenges must be addressed with equal attention and vigor.

The third pillar calls for a functioning and stable Sudanese Government, and one that will either include a capable Government of Southern Sudan or coexist peacefully with an independent southern Sudan. Our strategy seeks to help the South improve its security capacity to defend against external and internal threats while striving to ensure a potentially independent Southern Sudan is politically and economically viable.

Our fourth and final pillar is to seek increased and enhanced cooperation with the Sudanese government to counter terrorism and to promote regional security, consistent with—and not at the expense of—our overall objectives of peace and security in Sudan. We also seek an end to Sudan’s efforts to weaken or marginalize opponents abroad or align with negative state and non-state actors.

Our whole-of-government approach is integrated and comprehensive. It is firmly founded in the belief that engagement with all of Sudan, the region, the international community, and civil society is essential if we are to secure our vision of a Sudan that is ruled more justly and democratically, is at peace with itself and with its neighbors, is economically viable, and works together with the United States on our shared interests. Further, our strategy is deeply rooted in a conviction that we must do all we can to end the human suffering in Sudan.

As you can see, we are aiming high, thinking big, and expecting much. We do so because we believe innovative concepts and ideas, coupled with detailed planning and sufficient resources, are the only way to achieve big results. Big results are exactly what we need in Sudan at this critical moment.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I would like to thank you for your leadership and support on efforts to end the suffering in Darfur and the rest of Sudan. Again, thank you for allowing me to be here today to discuss these issues that are so important to us all, and especially to the Sudanese people.