Now that Sudan has a peace agreement, what is the role of the international community in helping make it succeed?
Neil Hicks is the director of international programs for the New York-based “Human Rights First.” He told Voice of America reporter Cole Mallard that although the peace agreement can be implemented, it still faces challenges. Hicks says they include the fact that the main faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army, which has the largest military force, is the only one of the three rebel factions present in Abuja, that signed the accord. He says not all the concerned parties were represented in Abuja, so it’s only a partial agreement.
What is needed, he says, “is a process that’s more comprehensive and includes all of the stakeholders.” Hicks says the best way to accomplish this is through the appointment of a UN special envoy for Darfur who can “gain support from all the contesting parties” and “lead the process of reconstruction.” He says, “We think that an envoy would have the backing of the international community and the political clout” to ensure that all parties stick to the agreement, especially the Sudanese government.
Hicks says immediate follow-up by the international community must lead to humanitarian assistance and aid so the people of Darfur “can feel some benefit.”
Hicks says it‘s very important to support the African Union force on the ground and send the message to the diplomatic community that Darfur continues to be a top priority: “There is the danger that people will assume that because an agreement was signed in Abuja that the Darfur crisis is over, and that is very far from being the case.”