Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile River region to the west and south of Sudan have been suffering from endless cross-border armed conflicts between rebels and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). The most notable ones are the Darfur conflict in 2003 and the civil war with South Sudan prior to the historic Referendum of Independence of 2011. In April 2019, the Sudanese military ousted the former President Omar Al Bashir after 30 years of ruling the country with an iron fist. The transitional government tasks were and still are challenging; however, significant milestones towards democracy and peace in Sudan are achievable. This article illuminates the root causes of conflicts in Sudan and the indispensable role of Women, Peace and Security to usher Sudan to its enduring peace.
In multiple discussions with Sudanese women leaders regarding implementing WPS aka UNSCR1325 (“Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century” (A/S-23/10/Rev.1), in particular those concerning women and armed conflict,” ) in Sudan, Ms. Shaza Nagmedin, Executive Director of NADA Organization for Disaster Prevention and Sustainable Development; addressed some of the key challenges in the region. The elements that perpetuate armed conflicts are embedded in national sociocultural, economic, and political aspects.
First, the sociocultural factor: there are powerful groups of women known as “Hakkamat” or the wisewomen in villages. These women represent a local justice figure, they use their unique capabilities and status for singing poetry to mobilize youth and men to join armed groups, or otherwise call for peace and ceasefire. In order to analyze these pendulum swings, it is important first to understand the pride, dignity, and the heritage of each tribe. The tribes in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile River region are diverse in their ethnicity and religions. When an armed conflict erupts, attackers often use rape, mass killing and physical control over land and water resources as symbols of victory. Therefore, the Hakkamat call for a vendetta as a form of serving justice.
This leads to the second major factor of conflicts, which is the destitution of Sudan’s rural population. Under the dictatorship regime Sudan was ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. The agropastoral sector is the main source of their economy. This means for most Sudanese there are two forms of livelihood, one is farming near water resources, which offers some stability; and the other is nomadic, where people raise cattle and manage livestock. The nomadic tribes constantly migrate throughout the region frequently crossing borders with neighboring countries. The mismanagement of natural resources combined with unpredictable of rainfall leaves many people struggling to survive. Hard living becomes a catalyst for protracted armed conflicts.
In contrast to the scarcity of water and difficult conditions in the west and the southern borders of Sudan, the region is rich in oil in South Kordofan, and about 75% of electric power supplied nationwide is generated from the Blue Nile area.² Thus, the political factor of the conflicts cannot be overlooked. Rural populations still live in primitive conditions where women and girls are marginalized, lack access to education, suffer from sexual and gender-based violence as well as inaccessibility to justice system. This region suffered from political conflicts with Southern Sudan prior to the referendum in 2011. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) was established in 1999 as a political entity along with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) formed to fight against the oppression of Al Bashir’s regime. However, after the independence of South Sudan, the SPLA North Wing remained in Sudan, while the South Wing departed to South Sudan. The decades of despotism and poor investments in the most vulnerable region in Sudan, left people believe they had no choice but to fight for their survival.
Ms. Nagmedin pointed that at present there is no “fertile soil” for a long-lasting peace unless the international community, the private sector and the Government of Sudan cement a foundation for it through WPS programs to support fruitful outcomes. By addressing all the different aspects of conflict Ms. Nagmedin, and other NGOs implementing programs in Sudan are strong champions for the WPS spirit. The implementation of the national frameworks and concepts of UNSCR 1325 should be contextualized at micro intercommunal levels in order for Sudan to move forward under a democratic form of governance.
In August 2020 the Sudan transitional government signed a historic peace agreement with armed groups to end violence in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile region.² This is a significant milestone towards peace and ensuring alignment with the implementation of the four lines of efforts of the WPS Strategy is crucial and a time-sensitive matter.
 Country Studies. Sudan. Energy http://countrystudies.us/sudan/61.htm#:~:text=Approximately%2075%20percent%20of%20the,and%20the%20Port%20Sudan%20refinery.
 Dahir, Abdi Latif. New York Times. Sudan Signs Peace Deal With Rebel Alliance. August 31, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/31/world/africa/sudan-peace-agreement-darfur.html