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50 Lundin press release, “Lundin Petroleum completes sale of Block 5A Sudan,” Geneva, June 23, 2003. The announcement of the agreement to sell was made on April 28, 2003. Lundin press release, “Lundin Petroleum Sells Interest In Block 5A, Sudan To Petronas For USD 142.5 Million,” Geneva, April 28, 2003.
Based on the findings of our research, Human Rights Watch concludes that CNPC and Petronas operations in the GNPOC Sudanese oil concession Blocks 1,2, 4 (and the operations of Talisman Energy prior to the sale of its interest), and Lundin, Petronas, and OMV operations in Block 5A have been complicit in human rights violations. Their activities are inextricably intertwined with the government’s abuses; the abuses are gross; the corporate presence fuels, facilitates, or benefits from violations; and no remedial measures exist to mitigate those abuses. Human Rights Watch believes that a corporation should not operate in Sudan if its presence there has an unavoidable, negative impact on human rights. Human Rights Watch therefore recommends that all foreign oil companies immediately suspend their operations in Sudan, and agree to resume them only when certain minimum human rights benchmarks are met.
Talisman and the Canadian Government Although the Canadian government acknowledged the ethical dilemma faced by any Canadian company operating in Sudan, it never provided clear direction or took effective action in the case of Talisman.
According to the statements of Canadian officials in early 1999, the optimum time for Talisman to have brought pressure on the Sudanese government to reach a negotiated solution to the civil war, or to bring about human rights improvements, was before the pipeline was completed (June 1999) and oil exports began (late August 1999).51 But the Canadian government did not make a Sudan policy statement until October 26, 1999. It then hinted that sanctions on Sudan might be appropriate on human rights grounds and appointed a Canadian government human rights delegation led by consultant John Harker to visit Sudan, mandating it to find whether oil exploration had exacerbated the conflict.52 The report came back in the affirmative.
The delegation found, in February 2000, that 51 Madelaine Drohan, “Sudan play bad timing for Talisman,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), Ottawa, October 27, 1999.
52 Talisman did even not sign on to the code of conduct for Canadian businesses until after the Canadian government human rights investigative mission was actually on the ground in Sudan in late 1999.
We can only conclude that Sudan is a place of extraordinary suffering and continuing human rights violations, even though some forward progress can be recorded, and the oil operations in which a Canadian company is involved add more suffering.53 Despite this finding by its own commission, the Canadian government failed to impose any penalties or restrictions on Talisman. In mid-2000, the Canadian government attempted to put Sudan on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council, of which it was then a member and chair. But its proposal was forestalled by Chinese threats to bring up the U.S. bombing of the pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum in 1998 in any discussion of Sudan, leading the U.S. to ask its Canadian ally not to move forward on this item.
Thereafter, the Canadian government took no further concrete action on Sudan or Talisman’s involvement there.
The Role of the U.S.
After 1989, when a coup deposed the elected government and imposed a military-Islamist junta on Sudan that committed gross human rights abuses, the U.S. administration was legislatively mandated to vote against such a government in international lending institutions, and it did so. Under President Bill Clinton (1993-2001), the U.S. government gradually adopted a policy of isolating the Sudanese government; Sudan was placed on the State Department’s list of countries supporting terrorism in 1993.
In 1997, U.S. sanctions were escalated through an executive order barring any U.S. person from doing business with the government of Sudan or its entities.54 The only exception was for the import of gum arabic from Sudan (an exception under U.S. anti-terrorism legislation made by the State Department for Occidental Petroleum in 1996 was dropped after it came to light).
53 Harker report, p. 15.
54 U.S. President William J. Clinton, Executive Order 13067, “Blocking Sudanese Government Property and Prohibiting Transactions with Sudan,” Washington, D.C., November 4, 1997, http://www.pub.whitehouse.gov/uri-res/I2R?urn:pdi://oma.eop.gov.us/1997/11/5/2.text.2 (accessed February 24, 2000). These sanctions were renewed by the Bush administration in November 2001 and 2002.
Under the George W. Bush administration starting in January 2001, two domestic U.S. lobbies flexed their muscles in seeking to influence U.S. policy toward Sudan: one extremely powerful—the oil industry—and one just beginning to test its foreign policy strength, on Sudan—a conservative religious grouping concerned about treatment of Christians. This conservative religious lobby scored a victory over the oil and business community when the Sudan Peace Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives by 422-2 on June 13, 2001. This act contained an amendment imposing capital market sanctions on foreign companies doing oil business in Sudan, prohibiting them from any access to U.S.
capital markets. This would have required that Talisman Energy be de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange.
The oil and financial industries prevailed, however. The Senate subsequently passed a version of the bill lacking these capital market sanctions. In October 2002, in light of Bush administration hostility to any capital market sanctions, the House passed another version of the Sudan Peace Act, one which omitted such controversial sanctions. This passed the Senate also and was signed by the president.
A year earlier, on September 6, 2001, President Bush named former U.S. senator John Danforth as his special envoy for peace in Sudan. Days later, on September 11, 2001, Islamic militants belonging to alQaeda attacked New York and Washington, D.C. With terrorism becoming the main focus of U.S.
foreign policy following these attacks, the Sudanese government—which had hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from 1990 to 1996—moved quickly to attempt to improve bilateral relations, publicly offering to cooperate with the U.S. in its efforts to combat terrorism.
With assistance from the State Department and U.S. AID, peace envoy former senator Danforth devised a four-point plan to test the willingness of the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A to come to a peace agreement. These four points, although not conceived as such, were essentially human rights points, and the two parties agreed to all of them and began to comply with some of them, thus convincing the U.S. administration that they were sufficiently committed to peace that the U.S. should stay deeply involved in the international diplomatic push for peace.
with the provision that a team of international monitors could operate freely in Sudan to verify compliance with that agreement. The monitoring of this agreement, to be undertaken by the U.S. State Department, did not begin until late 2002.
Postscript: Peace Talks Update 2003 The U.S. peace agenda, in which several U.S. agencies played roles supporting Danforth’s efforts, proceeded with noticeable momentum. The peace talks, pending under the auspices of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) since 1994, when the government and the SPLM/A signed a Declaration of Principles,55 were taken up again in June 2002, with the renewed engagement of several international partners, particularly the U.S., the U.K., and Norway (the “Troika”).
On July 20, 2002, in Machakos, Kenya, the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A signed a protocol agreeing to settle two of the most contentious issues in the Sudanese conflict: self-determination for the south and the role of religion in the state. This Machakos protocol was reached as a first step in the peace process. In it, the government agreed to a referendum for southern self-determination after a sixyear interim period following the signing of a final peace agreement. The government also agreed that— for the six-year interim period—shari’a or Islamic law would not be applied in the south, which could have its own legislation. As of the writing of this report, the difficult issues of resource and power sharing are still being negotiated, as are security and the fate of three African-populated marginalized areas in the transitional area just north of the north-south border (and in which the SPLA has also been waging war): Abyei, the Nuba Mountains, and Southern Blue Nile.
When the July 20 Machakos agreement was reached, many Sudanese groups who were not included in the peace talks protested that this agreement would never last because it was an agreement between 55 The parties agreed to the Declaration of Principles (DOP) in 1994 and the Sudanese government spent considerable effort backing away from it until the Machakos Protocol was signed in Machakos, Kenya, on July 20, 2002. In the DOP the parties affirmed the “rights of self-determination of the people of South Sudan to determine their future status through a referendum” and agreed that a “secular and democratic state must be established in the Sudan.” Declaration of Principles, articles 2 and 4, signed by representatives of the government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, Nairobi, May 20, 1994.
minorities (the Islamist government and the SPLM/A) and would—notwithstanding written agreements for democracy, good governance, and human rights during the six-year interim period—consolidate two dictatorships. The dictators would be Sudanese President Omar El Bashir and SPLA Cmdr.-in-Chief Garang, neither of whom had been elected in free elections, both of whose forces were guilty of gross human rights abuses.
On October 4, 2002, after the Sudanese government returned to the peace talks—following an evident power struggle within the Islamist ruling party and the capture of Torit by the SPLM/A and its recapture by the Sudanese government—the parties agreed to a cessation of hostilities. An October 15, 2002 memorandum of understanding provided for “a period of tranquility during the negotiations by ceasing hostilities in all areas of the Sudan and ensuring a military stand down for their own forces, including allied forces and affiliated militia.” There was no provision for this ceasefire to be monitored. Following on this agreement, on October 26, the government and SPLM/A agreed with the U.N.-coordinated umbrella relief agency Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) that humanitarian access would not be impeded by either.56 The peace talks in August 2003 were to discuss the outstanding issues. The parties were to decide, among other things, on deployment of troops and police during the interim period; the SPLM/A wanted two armies (the SPLA and that of the Sudanese government) and the government wanted a united army.
The future role of the pro-government southern militias, mostly Nuer, is crucial for a lasting peace, as this report illustrates. As of the writing of this report, the parties to the peace talks do not seem to have reached this vital topic. The government-backed southern militias, now organized under the umbrella of the SSDF, are not party to the talks, and their political counterparts, some of which are technically in the government, have not been allowed to play any role at the IGAD talks. An SSDF delegation was permitted to attend security talks in April 2003 and tabled a proposal for three armies during the interim 56 The unimpeded access agreement was between the government, the SPLM/A, and U.N. Operation Lifeline Sudan. “Meeting Held On The Implementation Of Clause 5 Of The Machakos MOU On Unimpeded Humanitarian Access,” Nairobi, October 25-26, 2002.
period (the third being the SSDF). This proposal was not discussed nor addressed by the parties to the talks.
The mostly Nuer militias remain a stumbling block for the SPLM/A, which lays claim to govern the entire south. These militias (or armed groups, as they ask to be called) are also a challenge to the government, which does not trust them because they are southerners and continue to insist on the right of self-determination as outlined in the Khartoum Peace Agreement of 1997. Although the SPLA seems to have a position, from time to time, within Block 5A sufficient to block its development, the government militias are situated in different parts of Blocks 1, 2, 4, 5A, and 5 in Western Upper Nile/Unity State, and in Blocks 3 and 7 in the Melut Basin in Eastern Upper Nile also. These areas have changed hands often, even after the October 2002 ceasefire, demonstrating the parties’ and the militias’/armed groups’ continued high interest in controlling the valuable oil resource.
If peace is reached, it should mean that there will be no more fighting or displacement of civilians from the oilfields or elsewhere, and that the displaced may return to their homes. Whether they will return with compensation for the losses suffered and international monitoring of the parties’ respect for human rights is not yet known. The serious human rights abuses detailed in this report have never been accounted for by any of the parties to the conflict.
Nor is it clear that the fighting and the abuses will end with a peace agreement. If peace means that the SPLM/A is the sole government of the southern region and it refuses to compromise or reconcile with the other southern military and political forces, it is likely that Sudanese government hard-liners will continue to use the SSDF militia/armed groups to foment war in the south—in order to frustrate the goal of a self-determination referendum. In these circumstances, displacement and death in the oil war will continue to be the fate of southern Sudanese, even if a peace agreement is signed by the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A.