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Mediation in Sudan Conflict Resolution

Mediation is one of the oldest forms of strategy that has been used consistently as a peacemaking method. Mediation is defined by Zartman as “any action taken by an actor that is not a direct party to the crisis, that is designed to reduce or remove one or more of the problems of the bargaining relationship and therefore to facilitate the termination of the crisis itself” (Young, 165). Mediation is therefore a peacemaking method that requires participation of third parties in conflict resolutions which is seen to be very effective as a negotiation tool on its own.

The purpose of any peacemaking techniques are to prevent or avert disputing parties from engaging in violence means as an end to disputes and instead commit parties to explore peaceful avenues in settling their disagreements (Zartman, 164). Indeed the United Nations Charter requires member states to resolve their differences through peaceful means that would not endanger international security peace and justice. Over the years, the United Nations Charter on conflict resolution has been reviewed severally in way that has further moved to bind member states to commitment of peaceful dispute resolutions (Zartman, 164).

Among the peacemaking strategies that are listed in Article 33 of the UN Charter, require member states to engage in mediation as a mean towards peaceful dispute resolutions besides other methods such as negotiation, conciliation, mediation, arbitration or any other means that they deem to be peaceful (Zartman, 164). This various methods of peaceful dispute resolutions are categorized by United Nations Charter into three categories: direct conciliation between parties in dispute without involvement of a mediator, mediation and agreements declarations overseen by mediators.

Hence mediation is one of the major ways that is usually applied to achieve peaceful agreements between parties. Mediation is a method that is not only limited to resolutions between countries but also between rebel groups, organizations or between various individuals. The mediation process involves four basic components i. e. the parties that are in disagreement, mediation deliberations, a mediator and issues of conflicts (Zartman, 168). These are the variables that will determine the form and shape of mediation efforts that takes place.

In Africa mediation as a peaceful strategy has been used in many countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, DRC Congo just to mention but a few. The choice of mediation strategy is preferred by many negotiators due to its inherent advantages. Unlike arbitration mediation does not require parties to commit to agreements that are binding legally. This therefore makes mediation process more effective and swift in achieving agreement since parties in dispute are not pressured towards any binding commitments that can be legally enforced (Zartman, 168).

Arbitration requires that parties arrive on a consensus regarding issues of disagreements and then commit themselves; this makes arbitration very time consuming since parties takes time considering all factors before they make such decisions. The outcome of a mediation process is one that is usually determined by several factors such as the unique characteristics of the parties, issues of conflicts and the mediator (Zartman, 168). Mediation as a strategy of peacemaking has various features that are unique and different from those of other peacemaking methods.

In the proceeding section of this paper we are going to examine how mediation in general has been used as a peacemaking method in Sudan and more specifically features of mediation that were applied in this case. The mediation efforts of the Sudanese conflict were undertaken by the Kenya government under the auspices of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and led to signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement commonly referred as CPA accord.

Thereby ending one of the longest and costly civil wars in terms of human life that had dragged on for many years and which has been responsible for deaths of two million peoples in the process. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in Naivasha between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People Liberation Movement (SPLM). The issues of disagreements between the two parties mainly included, power sharing, natural oil resources, oil revenue sharing, and modalities for ceding the southern region.

The mediation between the two parties was represented by President Bashir of the North and Lt. Garang Mabior leader of SPLM. The special mediator to Sudanese conflict was Ambassador Lazarus Sumbeiywo from Kenya who was instrumental in ensuring the peace agreement was signed (Assessment and Evaluation Commission). There are five components that defines the mediation process and which were effectively used in attaining Sudan peace agreement. First mediation process is a peaceful method of conflict resolution.

In Sudan the priority outcome of the mediation process was to halt the armed conflict between the southern Sudan armed military and the government of Sudan armed forces that have been ongoing for decades. This is because it is impossible to make progress for peaceful resolutions without having the parties in dispute cease from armed means of conflict resolution. Therefore the first task of a mediator is to work towards convincing the parties that armed conflict and violence is no longer a viable option that would settle their differences.

This was among the early agreements that were agreed on as contained in the CPA document. Permanent ceasefire between government of Sudan and SPLM was agreed upon and signed on October 2004 in Naivasha, Kenya. The second component of a mediation process is the involvement of a third party to moderate on peace talks that take place between the parties. The purpose of a third party is to oversee and document the progress of the peace talks and prevent the process from disintegrating. The role of a mediator is central and very vital to the mediation process.

Indeed the functions of a mediator are in no way limited in breadth or depth in how they can get involved to ensure disagreements are peacefully resolved. A mediator must be impartial and just in all mediation endeavors that they undertake to promote peaceful resolutions. They should be held in high esteem, respected, possess good will and have elements of authority. The Sudanese conflict was overseen by IGAD, which is a union of several African countries and supported by international communities such as United States that funded the whole process and which continues to oversee the implementation of the CPA.

Kenya was chosen as the location of the talks with Lt. Sumbeiywo as the lead mediator of the talks. Ambassador Sumbeiywo has impeccable credentials and the fact that he had the goodwill of IGAD increased his credibility as an effective mediator which was an important aspect during the whole mediation process. The third feature of mediation is that it is a process that does not bind the parties or coerce them towards any sort of agreement. The binding agreements that are eventually signed later between the parties emanate from other form of peacemaking methods but not from mediation process per se.

As such mediation makes the party feel free to agree on issues easily since they are not bound legally to observe them, and they can also retract from any agreements that are not to their advantage at any time without consequences. All the CPA protocols that have been signed during the Sudan peace agreements were previously agreed and observed by both parties without initial commitment to legal peaceful agreements. The CPA has a total of eight protocols agreed between the two parties that are now legally binding.

The fourth component is the principal aim of mediation process which is to influence conflict situations in a way that would be in the best interests of the parties and in a peaceful manner (Zartman 168). Finally mediators must possess skills and ideas that must ensure that peaceful means of dispute resolutions succeed above all other alternatives including violent means. From the onset the intention was made clear that Sudanese dispute must finally be resolved peacefully since violent means have so far failed.

Once the parties were made aware of this fact then exploring peaceful means through mediation process was not a difficult feat to achieve. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement has so far been observed since it was implemented in 2005 and all indications points to continued observation of the agreements by both parties. There are other instances where mediation has been used as an effective strategy for resolving disputes peacefully besides the Sudanese case study.

This is an indication that mediation process is one of the most viable methods of peacemaking more so when applied alongside other known effective strategies. Works Cited 1. Zartman, William. Peacemaking in International Conflict: Methods and Technique, 2nd ed. Washington. DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2007. Print. 2. Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC). Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2007. Web. 7 May. 2010. < http://www. aec-sudan. org/about. html>.

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