CIPI hosts lunchtime discussion on “Preventing Conflict in the Two Sudans”-Center for International Policy & Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, October 15, 2012

CIPI hosts lunchtime discussion on “Preventing Conflict in the Two Sudans”

Dr. Jendayi Frazer, Director of the Center for International Policy and Innovation (CIPI) and Distinguished Public Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon, led a foreign policy conference call on the relationship between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan. The September 27 event was part of The Council on Foreign Relations’ Academic Conference Call series, which gives students around the country the opportunity to hear experts discuss various topics related to international affairs. Carnegie Mellon was one of almost 40 participating universities taking part in the CFR program. CIPI hosted the listening party at Carnegie Mellon allowing CMU students to take part in the discussion. Hear the CFR audio recording

Frazer opened the discussion by giving the teleconference audience an overview of the strained relations between Sudan and South Sudan, and expressing her belief that the tension between the two countries will likely remain for the near future. She highlighted three important factors to consider when trying to understand the origins of the tension between Sudan and the newly formed South Sudan.

Map of Sudan, South Sudan

There has been a long history of conflict between the Dinka population of now-independent South Sudan and the Arab population of Sudan. In Dr. Frazer’s view, much of the problem stems from the north’s attempts to impose Islam on the south and its use of the military to control dissent. These two groups became embroiled in devastating decades-long civil conflicts until the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that laid the groundwork for the 2011 referendum, which ultimately led to the creation of the new nation of South Sudan. Despite the separation, decades of violent history has left a lingering animosity which has hindered effective diplomacy. (Map credit: Courtesy of Google Maps)

Second, there are unresolved issues stemming from the 2005 CPA, specifically the oil-sharing and border demarcation provisions. Disputes over the cost of shipping the oil, primarily located in South Sudan, through Sudan, where the oil pipelines are located, led to South Sudan’s decision to cut off its oil production in early 2012. Further complicating this problem is lack of an explicitly defined border. 

Finally, Frazer pointed to the international community’s engagement with these two nations. The African Union has been deeply involved in facilitating negotiations, but she believes that many countries have been using a strategy to balance the threat of sanctions for both Sudan and South Sudan. Dr. Frazer considers this to be a misguided approach, citing Sudan, as primary threat to peace.

The Conference Call also looked at how the current tensions could be alleviated. Frazer advocates continued diplomatic pressure focused on Sudan, in hopes of reforming their tendency to resort to military force. Given the complicated nature of South Sudan’s oil exportation through the north, Dr. Frazer recommends that the nation re-orient its economy to the east. As an observer member of the East Africa Community, South Sudan could look to foster its relationship with its neighbors by building a pipeline to the ocean through Ethiopia.

Hear audio of the full discussion on the Council on Foreign Relations website, including the Question and Answer dialogue with participating universities

View the event flier