«PEACEMAKING IN THE MIDST OF WAR : AN ASSESSMENT OF IGAD’S CONTRIBUTION TO REGIONAL SECURITY Sally Healy Royal Institute of International Affairs ...»
deep sense of betrayal caused by Africa’s silence:
‘The reason for not condemning such massive crimes had supposedly been a desire not to interfere in the internal affairs of a Member State, in accordance with the Charters of the OAU and the United Nations. We do not accept this reasoning because in the same organs there are explicit laws that enunciate the sanctity and inviolability of human life.’ (Kioko 2003: 15) In 1993, Eritrea’s President Issayas spoke in a similar vein at his own inaugural address, saying the OAU had failed the people of Africa and the people of Eritrea.
A brief interlude from 1991 to 1993 was marked by the absence of conflict, proxy or otherwise, between IGADD member states. It was a period of internal consolidation in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan. Kenya and Djibouti were both going through a difficult political 4 transition. Uganda and Kenya had mended fences and Museveni was focused on events in Rwanda. Somalia’s collapse had produced a severe humanitarian crisis, but this was being addressed through international humanitarian intervention by the US and UN and did not appear to pose a specific threat to regional security.
The decision to expand IGADD’s mandate was taken at an extraordinary summit of heads of state and government held in Addis Ababa in April 1995 (Somalia was not represented). The summit established a ministerial committee to propose amendments to the IGADD charter and make recommendations on the restructuring of the organisation. In addition to enhancing co-operation in existing areas of food security, agriculture and environmental protection, they were asked to develop proposals for ‘increasing the capacity of countries of the sub-region in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, both inter and intra-state through dialogue’ (IGAD 1996: annex). The new mandate was adopted at the next summit meeting in Nairobi, in March 1996, and the organisation was renamed the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
IGAD’s ambitions were in tune with the spirit of regeneration in the mid 1990s that saw a shift in Africa from functional to security co-operation at the regional level (Adar 2000).
Considerable hopes were placed in the new crop of African leaders to tackle Africa’s security and development challenges with more success than their predecessors. In the IGADD group, Museveni, Meles and Issayas were all associated with this progressive strand of thinking. The promotion of economic integration and the joint development of infrastructure were as important as the political goals, especially for Ethiopia and Eritrea, which shared ambitious development plans and were still using a common currency. IGAD appeared to be an ideal vehicle for achieving security, development and integration. But its fortunes were tied to the regional alliance structure, which disintegrated and reconfigured (in rapid succession) between 1994 and 1998. For the most part IGAD has proved unable to prevent or contain conflict in the region. Yet at the same time major political settlements in Sudan and Somalia have been enacted in its name.
IGAD’s role in reconciliation and peacemaking in Sudan and Somalia The 1996 IGAD Agreement included among its principles the peaceful settlement of conflicts, the maintenance of regional peace, stability and security, and the protection of human and people’s rights. A new objective was ‘[to] promote peace and stability in the subregion and create mechanisms within the sub-region for the prevention, management and resolution of inter and intra-State conflicts through dialogue’ (IGAD 1996: Art.7g). Member states agreed to: a) take effective collective measures to eliminate threats to regional cooperation, peace and stability; b) establish an effective mechanism of consultation and cooperation for the pacific settlement of differences and disputes; and c) deal with disputes between member states within this sub-regional mechanism before they are referred to other regional or international organisations (IGAD 1996: Art.18a).
The IGAD Secretariat was restructured to fulfil the new mandate and in due course it established a division responsible for peace and security. However, IGAD’s institutional changes lagged behind real political processes within the region. By the time IGAD announced its new mandate the short-lived peace amongst its member states that existed between 1991 and 1993 had broken down. Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda had identified the government of Sudan as a threat to regional security and were whole-heartedly engaged in military support to the Southern Sudanese rebels.
5 This unpromising state of affairs was the starting point for IGAD’s most successful venture to date in conflict resolution. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between North and South Sudan is often cited as a good example of an African regional peace initiative, but IGAD’s institutional role was relatively low key. The argument of this paper is that shifting regional alliances rather than new approaches to regional security largely accounted for the openings for conflict resolution in Sudan. Such openings were by their nature short-lived because volatile regional relations often threatened to derail the peace process. Where IGAD’s institutional role proved crucial was first of all in framing the problem as a NorthSouth process and then maintaining a semblance of continuity for the Sudan peace process.
This long-term engagement enabled those involved to capitalise on opportunities to come to a settlement. Without IGAD’s sustained involvement these would most likely have been lost.
IGAD and the Sudan Peace Process (1993-2005) The civil war between North and South Sudan long pre-dated any notion of a regional security organisation in the Horn of Africa. Since the resumption of hostilities in 1983, the Ethiopian government had been a major sponsor of John Garang’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). This support was a means to weaken Sudan and served as a counterweight to Sudanese support for rebels in Eritrea and the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia. The overthrow of the Mengistu regime in 1991 transformed political relations across the region and created the conditions in which IGAD engagement began. Ethiopia’s new government had been hosted in Khartoum as rebels during the civil war. On taking power in Addis Ababa they stopped assistance to the SPLA and expelled its leadership to Nairobi. Soon afterwards, an ugly conflict erupted among different Southern Sudanese factions, further weakening the southern rebellion and precipitating a severe humanitarian crisis. Nigeria tried unsuccessfully to mediate.
At the IGADD summit in September 1993, President Omar El-Bashir asked his neighbours to help end the conflict. IGADD established a standing committee on peace at heads of state level, with President Moi of Kenya in the chair. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea were well disposed towards Khartoum, while Kenya and Uganda had influence with the SPLA. It appeared, therefore, to have the ingredients for a well-balanced mediation. However, the deadly rivalry within the Horn was soon to resume, tilting the balance firmly towards the SPLA. In January 1994, Eritrea broke off relations with Sudan, accusing Khartoum of sponsoring an Islamist rebel group inside Eritrea. Uganda joined the hostile stance towards Sudan, which also had the active backing of the US. Ethiopia followed suit in 1995 after blame fell on Sudan for an attempt on President Mubarak’s life at the Addis Ababa OAU summit.
The IGADD Committee continued its negotiations despite the collapse of the regional alliances that had prompted Bashir’s request for their involvement. Kenya alone maintained its neutrality and organised proximity talks between representatives of the Sudanese government and the SPLA. At first the Sudanese government rejected use of the term ‘selfdetermination’ on the agenda as well as any negotiation on the application of Sharia law.
After a third round of talks in July 1994, IGADD negotiators drew up the Declaration of Principles calling for a secular state in Sudan and proposing that if this was not possible South Sudan could exercise the rights to self determination under a referendum (El-Affendi 2001;
Woodward 2004). At the September 1994 IGADD summit, Bashir refused to accept the Declaration of Principles. However, it remained on the IGADD table and later on provided the foundation upon which the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was negotiated.
6 For the next two years, the focus of regional involvement shifted from the negotiating table to the battlefield. The Clinton administration supported the cause of the Southern Sudanese and provided $20 million of US military assistance to its friends in the region, ostensibly to help them withstand the Islamist threat from Sudan (Washington Post, November 10, 1996).
Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda – all of them fresh from winning their own civil wars – needed no further encouragement to enhance the military performance of the SPLA. With the IGAD peace process immobilised, Egypt and Libya tried to launch an initiative of their own that would ensure that the self-determination (and potential separation) of the South remained off the agenda. Boosted by the support of its neighbours the SPLA recovered its strength and made substantial military progress. In 1997, Moi revived mediation efforts and convinced Bashir of the wisdom of re-opening negotiation on the Declaration of Principles. In May 1998 more international actors, now in the guise of the IGAD Partners Forum (IPF), stepped in to buttress the IGAD process and maintain its approach to settling the Sudanese conflict. After a fresh round of talks involving IGAD, the IPF and the UN, a breakthrough occurred and the Sudanese government agreed that the principle of self-determination would be upheld through a referendum.
No sooner had this vital concession been won than the entire regional alliance structure was convulsed by the outbreak of conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea in May 1998. The trigger for this was a mishandled border incident that escalated out of control, exposing serious underlying differences between the two former allies. After a tense standoff and failed diplomatic efforts these differences came to be settled on the battlefield in three bloody rounds of conventional warfare that were to cost the lives of some 100,000 combatants (Negash and Tronvoll 2000). In order to prepare for their own confrontation both Ethiopia and Eritrea abandoned their hostility towards Sudan and took immediate steps to mend relations with Khartoum. Military logic demanded at least a neutral presence on their Western flank.
The IGAD peace process lost considerable momentum, but it was not abandoned. As Cairo and Tripoli sought to take advantage of IGAD inactivity, Western support for the IGAD process was stepped up (El-Affendi 2001). The vehicle for this was the IPF, established in 1996 as a channel for donor funding. It became the basis for a strong negotiating partnership between IGAD and external actors led by the US, Norway and UK (Prendergast and Mozersky 2004). By July 1999 IGAD’s Sudan peace process had secured donor funding and acquired an institutional home in the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The new administration of President George W Bush wanted to maintain pressure on Khartoum and appointed Senator Danforth as a Special Envoy to Sudan just days before the Al Qaeda attack on New York in September 2001. Thereafter the US played a key role in driving IGAD’s Sudan peace process (Natsios 2008). The US and Sudan Peace Act of October 2002, with an explicit threat of sanctions, left the Sudanese authorities little room for doubt over US intentions.
Kenya continued to lead the negotiations. By July 2002 General (Rtd) Sumbeiwyo had successfully negotiated the Machakos Protocol. This secured the crucial ‘one country, two systems’ compromise in which the two sides agreed that Sharia law would be the source of law in the North, while the South would have its own secular administration. It also established the timing of the referendum for the South on self-determination, to be held six years after the signing of the peace agreement. Further agreements were negotiated on security arrangements, power sharing and wealth sharing over the next two years, culminating in the signature on 9 January 2005 of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
7 The Sudan peace process had begun in 1993 as a member-state initiative, a request from the Sudanese government to neighbours it saw as friendly for assistance in mediating in its civil war. The decision to revitalise IGAD had not been taken and the establishment of IGAD’S peace and security institutions had not begun. Political events, driven by the interests of member states, were running way ahead of institutional developments. Alliance shifts soon transformed the mediating group into an antagonistic grouping against Khartoum, but IGAD’s Standing Committee on Peace pressed on to formulate the Declaration of Principles. A combination of military pressure (much of it attributable to the neighbours) and diplomatic pressure eventually convinced Khartoum to accept the Declaration of Principles. Even though the military pressure fell away in 1998 when Ethiopia and Eritrea went to war, the Declaration of Principles formed the starting point for a renewed process led by Kenya and backed up by US pressure.
IGAD’s secretariat played a minimal role in the process, with most of the negotiations taking place in Kenya and organised by the Kenyan foreign ministry. The scope for institutional development in conflict resolution within IGAD itself was thus rather limited (IGAD 2007a).
Nonetheless IGAD supplied some vital components of the Sudanese peace process. It brought together in one forum all the states that were active stakeholders and participants in the North/South Sudan civil war. This gave the process a degree of legitimacy that other interventions had lacked. Between them, the IGAD members could exert decisive influence on the SPLA, which depended on them heavily for diplomatic as well as military support. On the other side, the US exerted considerable pressure on the government of Sudan.
Importantly, IGAD provided continuity within the peace process so that agreements secured in earlier stages were reinforced and could not be renegotiated. Given the fast changing system of alliances that characterises the Horn of Africa, the continuity that IGAD lent to the process was a small but essential contribution.