Bashir’s Sudan: a test to the credibility of the AU

Author: Luka Biong Deng | Sudan Tribune

Date: 25 June 2013


June 25, 2013 - As Africa celebrates this year the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Union (OAU) and almost a little more than a decade since the formation of the African Union (AU), Africans will ask themselves to what level the AU and its institutions have succeeded or put the continent on track of their main goal of promoting at least a peaceful Africa. In particular the commitment to achieve the goal of an Africa without conflict and to clear the continent of wars, civil disturbances, human rights violations and humanitarian disasters through African solutions to African problems may need close scrutiny and reflection.


The recent debate about ICC by the AU heads of state and government on the 50th anniversary of OAU/AU tainted the image of the continent and cast doubt about AU’s commitment to clear the continent of human rights violations. As argued very well by Sudd Institute that the allegation that ICC unfairly targets Africans is not only incorrect but made mockery of the lives of Africans that were shattered at the behest of some of these leaders who applauded the motion to condemn the ICC. One would not imagine how African leaders could describe that Bashir has been unfairly targeted by ICC and how would people of Darfur feel about the organization that would make them proud of being Africans and African Union.


Although people may differ on semantic of whether what happened in Darfur is genocide or not, but most African leaders would agree that what happened in Darfur by all standards could be described as gross human rights abuses or crimes against humanity. Besides the lack of recognition of what happened in Darfur as war crimes or crimes against humanity, the AU within the provisions of its Constituent Act did not act in Darfur, particularly Article 4 (h) that allows it to intervene in a member state in respect of grave circumstances such as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The AUPSC has even failed to recommend to the AU Assembly as per its mandate provided for in Article 7 (e) of the Protocol of its establishment any intervention in Sudan in respect of grave circumstances in Darfur. The AU has instead ordered all its member states not to cooperate with the ICC in apprehending and surrendering the Sudanese President to the Court.


With the invasion of Abyei by the Government of Sudan that resulted in displacement of about 150,000 thousands with massive human rights abuses that resulted in exceptionally high level of the post-trauma stress disorder illness and gross human rights atrocities committed by Bashir in Nuba Mountains, the AUPSC could not investigate such atrocities nor recommend any intervention to the AU Assembly as required by the Protocol of its establishment. Even with more than one million are being denied humanitarian assistance in the war affected areas of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile and despite the tripartite humanitarian access agreement between AU, UN and the Arab League, the AUSC is unable to support and facilitate humanitarian actions in these areas a per its power provided in Article 7 (p) of its protocol.


When the two countries were virtually in situation of war over the contested area of Panthou (Hegilig), the AUPSC boldly adopted in April 2012 a roadmap to put the two countries on the track of peace and to put to an end the endless negotiations over the post-secession issues. The AU Roadmap provides a framework within a time-bound of three months for resolving holistically all the pending issues between the two states. In case the two countries failed to agree on any of the post-secession issues, the AUHIP was mandated to provide to the AUPSC final and binding proposals on all outstanding issues.


Since the launching of the AU Roadmap in April 2012, the two countries concluded on 27th September 2012 nine (9) agreements on all post-secession issues except the final status of Abyei and the claimed and disputed areas. It took almost six months for the two countries to agree on 12th March 2013 on the implementation matrix for the nine agreements. As the two countries started the implementation of these nine agreements, Bashir in erratic way decided on 8th June 2013 to unilaterally terminate the nine agreements in a public rally in Khartoum. This decision did not only foil the AU Roadmap but also thwarted the AU slogan of “African solutions for African problems”.


On the remaining issues of the AU Roadmap, particularly the final status of Abyei, the AUHIP came up on 21st September 2012 with a proposal on the final status of Abyei when the parties failed to agree. The AUPSC meetings at the level of permanent representatives, ministers of foreign affairs and heads of state and government all accepted the AUHIP proposal on the final status of Abyei as representing a fair, equitable and workable solution to the issue of Abyei. Despite the consistent outright rejection of Bashir to the African solution to the final status of Abyei, the AUPSC is unable to endorse the AUHIP proposal as final and binding to the Parties as per its commitments in the Roadmap.


This trajectory of inaction and failure of the AU to implement its own commitments and solutions pose a real doubt about the credibility of its institutions after 50 years of existence. The slogan raised by the AU to ensure African security by strengthening African Peace and Security and Governance Architectures to ensure African solutions to African problems remains an elusive goal. For Africa to claim the Millennium and achieve Pan African Development Goals, the AU must be bold in taking decisions in disciplining its members which are in aberration with the Pan African agenda. Sudan under Bashir is a real test to the credibility of the AU. It is to be seen whether the AU will continue with inaction towards Bashir’s Sudan or will AU make history by taking bolder and comprehensive approach to the conflicts in Sudan and to bring Bashir to face justice before the aggrieved people of Sudan take laws into their hands.


The author is a Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and he was the South Sudanese government co-chair of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee . he can be reached at . This article is also published by the New Nation Newspaper.

The article was originally posted on Sudan Tribune on June 25, 2013


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