The South Sudan Referendum: Regional and International Implications

The South Sudan Referendum: Regional and International Implications

  • 26 January 2011

The referendum of January 9, 2011 in southern Sudan constitutes an important landmark event in the history of Sudan as a state; an importance which is derived in no small measure from its regional consequences for the Afro-Arab and international spheres. The first part of this lecture discusses the historical roots of the crisis in southern Sudan where civil war broke out even before the country became independent; addresses the responsibility of the political elites of the successive totalitarian and pluralistic regimes that ruled Sudan; the perpetuation of the crisis in the south; and the eventual culmination in the acceptance of the right to self-determination for southern Sudan prior to the Naivasha Agreement.

The second part of this lecture discusses post-referendum or secession challenges such as nation-building in the nascent southern Sudanese state; developmental outcomes in northern Sudan; and the regional implications of creating these new Sudanese states.

The lecture focuses in particular on:
• The risks and challenges of building a new state in southern Sudan.
• Transforming the apparatus of civil war into civil and administrative services capable of running the affairs of the nascent state.
• Conflict risks that might ensue as a result of a practically non-existent infrastructure in southern Sudan.
• Potential civil and tribal strife in the absence of clear strategies for development and lack of organized ownership of agricultural holdings in southern Sudan — an area distinguished by diverse tribal groups and a long history of ethnic and tribal conflicts.
• The impact of these risks on the peace and security of the nascent southern Sudanese state, as well as neighboring regions and possible regional and global repercussions.

The interpretation of these potential developments constitutes an important approach to understanding the regional and international repercussions of the referendum in southern Sudan, and the implications of the division of the largest Afro-Arab country into two states after five decades of conflict. The consequences of this division might not be limited only to neighboring countries and may prove influential to all nation states that are built on religious, ethnic or cultural plurality. Afro-Arab relations may be gravely affected not only in Sudan, but also the Sub-Saharan and Nile Basin regions. This an extremely sensitive area because it relates to strategic issues pertinent to water resources, issues of Arab security, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. This lecture will conclude by assessing the strategic possibilities to reduce risks and maximize what is feasible in the light of an imminent division of what is known as the largest Arabian and African country.

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LECTURER

Wednesday 26 January 2011

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Wednesday 26 January 2011

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