December 20, 2011

That is the question panelists tried to answer at a conference held by SIPA’s Humanitarian Affairs Program on Thursday, December 8.

Watch the video of the conference here.

“For better or for worse has the connotations of marriage,” said Professor Dirk Salomons, director of the program, who opened the event. “I am not sure if we have a happy union or not."

More than 2 million people are still lingering in camps in Darfur. This is still unresolved. Meanwhile, at the border, changes have happened in Libya. Changes have happened in Egypt. Will this have an impact?

Will conflict trump peace building? Will this marriage hold?”

Luka Biong Deng, Executive Director of Kush, Inc. and former Minister of Cabinet Affairs for the National Government of Sudan, representing South Sudan, presented a long list of unresolved issues between the two states, including: ongoing conflict, controlling the border, agriculture, water, oil, citizenship, language, and religion. He also discussed the challenges of state building in South Sudan. 

“I think two Sudans are in danger unless actions are taken,” he said. “For the new state of South Sudan, I think the international community needs to invest more effort to ensure this state succeeds.

For the international community, I think there’s a need for more diplomatic pressures and sanctions on Sunday. It is really very naive and morally uncalled for, for you to maintain a relationship with this country… A relationship that is not causing anything but human suffering.

I think it’s very important for all of us for the international community to stand together to bring the indicted in Sudan to justice.”

Deng was followed by SIPA adjunct professor Tanya Domi who highlighted positive steps that are beginning to take place, such as children going to schools for the first time in a long time. But she emphasized the ongoing conflict and a desperate need to end it. This was echoed by a human rights advocate from Khartom, Huda Shafiq Ali, who said:

“We have a lot of urgent and sensitive issues that are still pending, like the security of the borders… All these issues are supposed to be resolved, but actually that has not happened.

And the war is still going in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur. We cannot forget that the wars are still going in these areas. Human rights are being violated, and people are dying.”

Other panelists included John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project and former Director of African Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, Kenny Gluck, former Chief of Staff of the AU-UN Joint Mediation Support Team, and Ahmed Adam Hussein,  Advisor for Foreign Affairs of the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

Michelle Chahine, December 20, 2011