12 November 2009

Monitoring Sudan

Security is Sudan is vital, but remains elusive. The U.S. has become increasingly mindful of the need to monitor social and political situations around the Horn of Africa and to encourage greater stability. Key security interests for U.S. and the global community include buffering the expansion of terrorist safehavens - recall that Sudan graciously hosted Usama bin Laden when he was rejected by the Saudi government - and quelling a legacy of ethnic violence and human rights abuses.

Sudan is a major player in the East African region, but they are not a unified front. The North and South continue to be engaged in a protracted struggle, and to function largely as separate and adversarial political entities. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) provided a stopgap measure, and set the stage for elections to occur in February 2010. But Southern Sudan is still plagued by very deep challenges that do not provide an environment conducive to legitimate and peaceful elections. There is civil unrest between Southern communities, violent opposition and threat from militia groups, and charges that the North is obstructing the CPA.

With scheduled elections just four months away, Sudan deserves the attention of the global security community. A wonderful source of information is The Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) Project, a component project of the well-known "Small Arms Survey." I have provided a their project description below and would encourage you to visit the site and perhaps subscribe to their free email alerts.

The Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) is a multi-year research project administered by the Small Arms Survey, an independent research project of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. It has been developed in cooperation with the Canadian government, UNMIS, UNDP, and NGO partners. Through the active generation and dissemination of timely empirical research, the project supports violence reduction initiatives, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, incentive schemes for civilian arms collections and security sector reform and arms control interventions across Sudan. The HSBA also offers policy-relevant guidance on redressing insecurity. The objectives of the project are the following:

* to investigate international, regional, and domestic transfers of arms;
* to assess domestic small arms stockpiles and inventories;
* to map and assess origins, motivations, and distribution of armed groups;
* to measure the scale and distribution of mortality, morbidity, and victimization; and
* to examine local security arrangements and demand for weapons.

The project publishes its findings regularly in two separate formats, Issue Briefs and Working Papers, as well as in occasional op-eds and practitioner articles. Publications are available in English, Arabic and French (in the case of research on the Central African Republic and Chad), and they maintain an excellent listing of Sudan-related web links.