South Sudan becomes independent against the background of conflict with the North

FIDH and its Sudanese member organization, the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), welcome the proclamation of independence, on July 9, 2011, of the Republic of South Sudan, which will become Africa’s 54th State and probably the 193rd Member of the United Nations. However, our organizations remain concerned about the risks of open conflict with North Sudan and about the perpetration of human rights violations on both sides of the border.

After 20 years of civil war between north and south causing the death of nearly 2 million people and displacing about 4 million, both parties agreed, in 2005, on the conclusion of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) providing for a 6-years autonomy for South Sudan and the organization of a self-determination referendum. In January 2011, a large majority of South Sudanese voted for the accession to independence with over 98% of votes in favor. The official proclamation of independence will be organized on July 9 in the presence of the President of North Sudan, M. Omar El Bashir, who is facing two arrests warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. Our organizations urge all representatives of States Parties to the Rome Statute participating in the ceremony of independence to refrain from having any contact with the suspect Omar El Bashir.

Our organizations are particularly concerned about the possibility of a renewed conflict between the two new states. Disputes concern, among other things, the delimitation of the 2,100 km of borders, the status of the Abyei region, the sharing of oil and mineral resources, as well as the question of nationality and status of South Sudanese living in the North and vice versa.

In May 2011, border disputes escalated into armed clashes in Abyei when the Northern troops took possession of the region, displacing more than 110,000 people fleeing the fightings. While an agreement signed on June 20 between the two parties provides for the withdrawal from the region of north and south Sudan forces, the establishment of a joint administration and the deployment of a United Nations Interim Security Forces (ISFA) in charge of ensuring the effective demilitarization of Abyei, north Sudanese armed forces have not left the area and so far, no schedule for the deployment of the UN force has been announced.

"The international community must remain committed to the peaceful resolution of conflicts in both Sudan" said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. "Strengthening the United Nations peace missions in North and South Sudan, and establishing an international mission of inquiry to shed light on war crimes allegedly committed in Abyei should be considered as a priority to contribute to the stabilization in both countries" she added.

For Osman Hummeida, ACJPS Executive Director "South and North Sudan should put the respect for human rights at the center of their policies. The South should adopt, following an inclusive process, a progressive Constitution and the North should adopt several reforms, including judicial, constitutional and administrative measures to fully guarantee their citizens with the rights enshrined in international and regional human rights instruments".

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