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Making and Breaking Peace in Sudan and South SudanThe Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Beyond$

Sarah M. H. Nouwen, Laura M. James, and Sharath Srinivasan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266953

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266953.001.0001

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Peace and Peacemaking in Sudan and South Sudan

(p.1) 1 Introduction
Making and Breaking Peace in Sudan and South Sudan

Sharath Srinivasan

Sarah M. H. Nouwen

British Academy

Abstract and Keywords

Opening Making and Breaking Peace in Sudan and South Sudan, this chapter introduces the book’s key concepts: peace and peacemaking. The contributions in this volume show that ideas of peace have been contested in the Sudans, and that different modalities of peacemaking have both gone together and have competed with each other. This chapter draws on these contributions in order critically to interrogate diverse ideas of peace and practices of peacemaking that have been prevalent in the Sudans. It connects them to their roots in major traditions in political thought and sets out why they are often problematic when applied to complex conflicts such as in the Sudans. Rather than arguing for one specific understanding of peace or modality of peacemaking, this chapter explains why the volume has taken a perspectival approach. Adopting the vantage points of multiple different actors, a perspectival approach foregrounds on-the-ground contestations over different ideas of peace and modes of peacemaking. Understanding what peacemaking has come to mean in the Sudans – how different understandings of peace have been deployed, but also contested, in the processes of ‘making’, and with what effects – allows scholars and practitioners to reconsider prospects for peace in the region, and well beyond.

Keywords:   Sudan, South Sudan, peace, peacemaking, perspectival approach

IN REGIONS mired in armed conflict, peacemaking seems a fool’s errand. Sudan and South Sudan have been the focus of innumerable peace initiatives over more than two decades, but wars have continued, mutated or recurred. The protagonists in these wars have hard questions to answer. But so do international actors: throughout these decades, foreign resourced or initiated peacemaking has been bound up with the fate of both countries. Crudely put, have their interventions contributed more to making or to breaking peace?

That crude question – itself impossible to answer because of the abundance of contingencies and the absence of counterfactuals – begs a more fundamental one: what and whose idea of ‘peace’ is being pursued? With attention to the unavoidable complexity of Sudanese politics, this book explores how diverse ideas of peace, and modalities of peacemaking, have fared in the Sudans over the last two decades. For the Sudanese and South Sudanese who wrestle with the pursuit of peace and political change as well as scholars and practitioners of peacemaking, such an inquiry holds promise for new thinking about peace in the region, and beyond.

This book appears at a time that such new ideas might make a difference. In 2020, both Sudan and South Sudan appear to be heading in new directions, though starkly different ones. In Sudan, the country’s fate depends heavily upon how the new transitional government will fare after the civilian uprisings and internal coup in April 2019 that forced president al-Bashir from office after nearly 30 years. From the negotiations between civilian leaders and a transitional military council, to social movement forums, print and broadcast media and neighbourhood committee meetings, there are lively discussions about the shape and content of political change. This includes Sudanese discussions on how to resolve wars in Sudan’s ‘peripheries’ – Darfur in Sudan’s west, the southern regions of the Nuba Mountains (p.2) and southern Blue Nile state (see Figure 0.1) – that have eluded multiple externally led peacemaking attempts.

In South Sudan, over a year after a ‘revitalised’ peace deal in September 2018 attempted again to end the young country’s civil war, the implementation of that agreement faces significant challenges. Machinations between warring elites, under the shadow of reprimands and coercive threats from powerful foreign states, control the prospects for peace. A sense of foreboding once again descends on the war-weary South Sudanese as the possibility of a breakdown in accord and armed confrontation persists. The fate of both countries hangs in the balance. In 2020, as for many years before, the Sudans remain in focus, not only for the Sudanese and South Sudanese, but also for foreign scholars, activists and diplomats who seek to promote war-to-peace transitions in countries caught in armed conflict.

Starting with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, this volume grapples with the complex recent history of peacemaking in the Sudans from multiple vantage points, as a contribution to critically reappraising peacemaking worldwide. The chapters offer unique perspectives on how different understandings of peace and models for peacemaking were brought to bear, the contestations that arose between them, and the effects that these divergent ideas and efforts had on the course of war and politics in the region. The volume covers a range of episodes of peacemaking, starting from the CPA era and Sudan’s second civil war, taking in the war in Darfur and ending with South Sudan’s civil war. Contributors draw upon different disciplinary perspectives and both rely on and call into question diverse approaches to peacemaking. They also write from multiple positionalities, ranging from strictly academic to scholar-practitioner to policymaker standpoints. Many authors have lived and worked in, or researched, the Sudans for decades, while others are exciting new scholars of peacemaking in the region.

Taken together, the contributions in this volume show how the record of peacemaking in the Sudans is mixed, not because it performs poorly against one commonly agreed set of criteria or a calibrated scale, but because peacemaking in its aims, means and outcomes depends greatly on the vantage point adopted. With peace, as with politics more generally, the vantage points are many. There is no agreement on the criteria or scale, because there is no agreement on what the objective, peace, entails. The contributors draw attention to different understandings of peace held by foreign peacemakers, mediators, the warring parties and other Sudanese actors, and how these understandings influenced the practices and trajectories of peacemaking efforts. Some contributors, speaking from a wealth of either scholarly or practitioner experience, explicitly advocate for different ideas of peace in Sudan and South Sudan and ways of peacemaking to achieve them. They often take up and justify positions they have held during their long engagement with the Sudans. Other contributors challenge the very idea that it is possible to pursue a given idea of peace. Within the analyses contained in this volume, but also among and between the contributions, the irreducibly contested nature of peace – in Sudan, as well as in international policy and political thought – is laid bare. There can be no reckoning and even less prescribing without accounting for the actual (p.3) politics – messy, fraught and unpredictable – of peacemaking in civil wars. To grasp what peacemaking comes actually to be about, to assess how it fares, and to think through new possibilities for how it might fare better, requires taking a perspectival approach.

A perspectival approach foregrounds an enquiry into the on-the-ground contestations over different ideas of peace and modes of peacemaking as seen from different actor vantage points, and seeks to trace their impact. The contestations are irreducibly political: these ideas and modes of peace and peacemaking reflect the political worldviews, histories and projects of the actors involved and their relative power to influence dominant approaches.2 Moreover, scholarly debates on the ‘right’ definition of peace and the ‘best’ modes of peacemaking cannot escape such politics. Rather than drilling down into the politics of all understandings of peace and practices of peacemaking, the perspectival approach heuristic is especially concerned with seeing and unravelling political contestations at close range. It is also watchful over how epistemic authority is claimed and by whom in studying and advising on peace in any specific context. Accordingly, this approach resists the temptation to use a case study context to judge one or another idea of peace or mode of peacemaking as superior or more efficacious than another. But this approach does allow for insight into how the contested nature of peace might affect peacemaking in otherwise unforeseen and poorly anticipated ways.3

This chapter begins by introducing the book’s starting point: the CPA of 2005. It then provides a critical review of dominant ideas of peace and peacemaking that have been salient in the Sudans. Looking first at ideas of ‘peace’, it identifies a plurality of meanings in the Sudans that this volume encounters, and locates them within a long history of peace as an enduring, yet unsettled, idea in human history. Turning next to peacemaking, the chapter pays particular attention to three dominant modalities of peacemaking that have also featured prominently in the Sudans: peacemaking as deal brokering; peacemaking as liberal peacebuilding; and, peacemaking as statebuilding. It connects these peacemaking approaches to their roots in major traditions in political thought in order to explain why they are problematic (p.4) when applied to complex conflicts such as in the Sudans. The diverse perspectives in this volume draw these problems out, while also pointing to alternative understandings of peace and approaches to peacemaking and reflecting on the specificities of peacemaking in practice.

The chapter then sets out what the contributions in this volume offer to those seeking a perspectival approach to peacemaking. We introduce how the chapters in this volume bring into view important ways in which the meaning of peace is contested. What becomes clear, however, is that even if all actors were to share an understanding of peace, peacemaking in protracted armed conflict operates within a range of exigencies, expediencies and power hierarchies that means it invariably is more complex, unpredictable and exasperating than any peacemaker, warring party, local actor, citizen or scholar might wish it to be (though some might indeed profit from this). The perspectival approach advanced in this introduction seeks to reconcile thought and analysis on peacemaking with this reality.

Our starting point: the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005

The centrepiece of peacemaking in the Sudans in recent decades has been the 2005 CPA. The CPA ended Sudan’s second civil war, the 21-year armed conflict between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Government of Sudan (GoS) that began in 1983. Over two decades, the war took a brutal toll on civilians in southern and central Sudan, including an estimated peak of 4 million internally displaced persons and between 1 to 2 million civilian deaths. Long as it was, the war in effect resumed another civil war before it, first an intermittent insurgency that began already before Sudan’s independence (1 January 1956), and then an armed conflict that flared between 1962 and 1972, between southern separatists and the government. That earlier war ended with the 1972 Addis Ababa peace agreement, whose lead peacemakers were the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches.4

While related to the first, the second civil war was also distinctive. Involving a more diverse set of regions, groups and actors, it is better understood as a set of interconnected conflicts fought by many more actors than just the GoS and SPLM/A, namely government sponsored militias, splinter factions within the SPLM/A, other armed groups in southern Sudan, and national and foreign allies.5 (p.5) Politically, the second civil war also mutated across eras: it began as a war between a Communist-Ethiopia-backed rebel movement (the SPLM/A) against a Cold War ally of the United States (the Sudanese government of president Jafar Nimeiri), and ended as a war between a state under US sanctions (Sudan under the presidency of Omar al-Bashir) and a darling of evangelical Christian, human rights and African-American pressure groups in the United States (the SPLM/A).

In spite of all of this complexity, the CPA boiled down to a bargain between the two main belligerents on essential issues such as who controlled power, wealth and security, the relationship between religion and state, and, crucially, the right to self-determination of southern Sudanese. That peacemaking secured an agreement at all on such vexed issues between these bitter foes was an improbable achievement.6 However, more probable was that an agreement of such importance to the fate of the country concluded by only two parties would be resisted by those who felt excluded by it and from the process that had brought it about. Many chapters in this book problematise the notion that the CPA was ‘comprehensive’, while others emphasise it was the best that was possible under the circumstances.7

The CPA provided the people of southern Sudan with a right to self-determination,8 to be exercised through a referendum, which eventually led to the independence of South Sudan in 2011. For this reason alone, the CPA is now deeply woven into the political history of Sudan and South Sudan. Yet the CPA itself must also be seen as a creature of political history, including Sudan’s international relations. Many years in the making, the CPA built from numerous peacemaking attempts and elements of brokered compromise that came before it.9 The ideas of (p.6) peace enshrined in the CPA, and the model of peacemaking deployed by external actors to reach it, have their history in Sudan’s story of war and peace.

The peace deal arose from a particular moment in international politics in which western peacemaking interventions in armed conflicts were at their highest point. After the end of the Cold War, early on during lengthy and fraught occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, prior to shifts in global politics towards multipolarity, and before failed forays in Libya and Syria, peace was an untarnished objective of western foreign policy. The CPA was a result of a regionally led but heavily western-backed foreign policy effort of this era. Since the CPA, there have been at least six major foreign-led peacemaking interventions in the Sudans: the Cairo process that led to an agreement between the GoS and the opposition National Democratic Alliance in 2005; the Abuja peace process negotiating the Darfur Peace Agreement of 2006; the process leading to the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement of 2006; the process bringing about the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur of 2011; the negotiations facilitated by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on the implementation of the CPA, secession of Southern Sudan and peacemaking in the so-called ‘Three Areas’ (Abyei, Southern Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile); and the process led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to end the civil war in South Sudan between 2013 and 2018. In addition, there have been less prominent initiatives by neighbouring states, as well as dozens of conflict resolution interventions by non-state actors. Some have had successes, especially when viewed at close range or on narrow time-bound terms. Many have not. Interrogating peacemaking in the Sudans in recent decades recognises the central place of the CPA, while looking well beyond.

In terms of ‘peacemaking beyond the CPA’, this book covers the implementation of the CPA, peace processes concerning parts of Sudan besides the southern region and peacemaking in independent South Sudan. The path of CPA implementation proved contested and uneven, strongly shaped not just by its own history, but also by contingencies along the way. One of the most important of such contingencies may have been the helicopter crash three weeks into the Interim Period (July 2005–July 2011) in which Dr John Garang was killed. With the death of the long-term leader of the SPLM/A, then recently appointed First Vice President of the Government of National Unity, and President of the newly constituted regional Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), the vision for a reformed united Sudan, Garang’s ‘New Sudan’, also suffered a severe blow.10 The new SPLM/A leadership instead oriented the movement towards securing an independent South Sudan, downplaying the CPA provisions that were supposed to transform the entire country and thus ‘make unity attractive’.11 Sudan’s situation meanwhile deteriorated. While the National Congress Party, which had concluded the CPA on behalf of the GoS, (p.7) had hoped that the CPA would grant it international legitimacy, this never fully materialised due to the protracted conflict in Darfur and especially the ensuing arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (including against the country’s President). After South Sudan’s independence, the Sudan that remained faced new challenges.12 The boon of oil revenue began drying up and the country’s economic situation rapidly deteriorated. Alongside unresolved armed conflicts in several parts of the country and entrenched authoritarianism, this led to growing civilian protests throughout Sudan and in-fighting and defections within the ruling regime. In April 2019, these movements of Sudanese citizens influenced an outcome that no civil war or international arrest warrant had managed to achieve: the deposing of president Omar al-Bashir by his own officers. Similar revolutions in 1964 and 1985 had brought about civilian rule that proved short lived. At the time of finalising the book, civilian movements are trying to protect the prospects for their revolution.

A second way in which the book explores the Sudans beyond the CPA is by delving into the peace processes concerning parts of Sudan besides the southern region, especially the Three Areas and Darfur. The chapters illustrate that all these regions had their own unique characteristics and sources of conflict, but had at the same time been part and parcel of the GoS–SPLM/A conflict (the Three Areas) or were strongly affected by developments at the national level, including the negotiation and implementation of the CPA (Darfur). Having their own ‘CPA’ became an ambition for regions other than southern Sudan, but the CPA at the same time limited the possibilities for other peace agreements: new agreements would have to fit within the framework set by the CPA and heavily depended on its implementation.13 The efforts of several internationally supported peace processes and a multi-billion-dollar peacekeeping mission notwithstanding, Darfur never obtained a peace agreement that all warring parties could accept. Abyei, at the very last minute of the CPA negotiations, did get its own chapter in the CPA, but one that deferred substantial issues to future procedures. These procedures would not overcome the underlying fundamental political disagreement about the questions of what area constituted Abyei, where Abyei belonged and who belonged in Abyei: the area became the first region explicitly addressed in the CPA to see armed conflict again. The areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile descended into war just before southern Sudan’s sucession, for the Interim Period had not improved their situation and South Sudan’s independence left them politically and militarily isolated.

Third, the book looks beyond the CPA by analysing peacemaking in independent South Sudan. The CPA ushered in South Sudan’s independence and (p.8) provided it with the building blocks for the future state – most of which proved very wobbly, and important pieces appeared missing. Having gained independence on 9 July 2011, the country descended into a civil war in December 2013, again catalysing international peacemaking efforts, involving many of the same actors as the ones that had shaped the CPA.

The kaleidoscope of peace

Contemporary peacemaking in protracted armed conflict takes diverse forms that wrestle with competing ideas of peace. Such contestations are themselves a microcosm of contestations over peace throughout world history. For millennia, human societies have had a vocabulary for ‘peace’. Yet the meaning of peace has never been common or consistent;14 we might understand peace as an ‘essentially contested concept’ – ‘concepts the proper use of which inevitably involves endless disputes about their proper uses on the part of their users’.15 On an optimistic view, the absence of an agreed definition of peace is productive for resolving specific disputes as invoking ‘peace serves as a means of obtaining verbal consensus – it is hard to be all-out against peace’.16 A more pessimistic perspective considers how conflicting ideas concerning what peace should be ‘can easily become a source for conflict’.17

Holding purposeful value for political actors, peace endures as an idea amid a shifting kaleidoscope of meanings. At this kaleidoscope’s centre is an irreducible minimal concern for ‘not war’. Yet even this has applied differently across human history. In ancient Egypt, to be at peace pertained only to the state of affairs within the empire, irrespective of external wars, akin to the Pax Romana or imperial peace that began with Augustinian rule (27 BC). That state of affairs internally was mostly one of dominance of the centre over the rest of the territory it controlled. By contrast, prominent early modern European concepts of peace arising from the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and Kant’s liberal or perpetual peace had an external, interstate, focus. Westphalian and Kantian concepts remain wellsprings and exemplars within realist and liberal traditions in international relations respectively. Just as with an actual kaleidoscope – which contains underlying primary constituents but changes what appears through mirrors, reflections and a moving lens – perspectives on peace admit great variety, and thus also preference, change and contestation.

(p.9) Prominent peacemaking literatures – from peace studies and conflict resolution scholarship, to political economy and political settlements thinking, to conflict management and negotiation theory – also reveal diverging ideas of peace across a kaleidoscope of possibilities. The meaning of peace ranges across ideas of what might endure as just (maximalist pursuits of ‘positive peace’) to what is just enough for an end to war (the minimalist tendency towards ‘negative peace’).18 Amid this kaleidoscope of meanings, the purposeful value of peace takes a variety of forms, from shaping identities (we are peace-loving), normative ideas (the liberal peace or peace as social justice or development) to pragmatic arrangements (deals that serve interests or share spoils, or simply stabilise and contain crisis).

Given that the meaning of peace is as elusive and irreconcilable now as throughout human history, this book keeps clear from trying to divine the best or most popular meaning of peace. Rather, it considers it more productive to come to grips with how multiple meanings influence peacemaking in practice and to identify the challenges that arise from this contestation, and opportunities to anticipate and navigate such tensions.19 As Devon Curtis argues in the wider African context, unravelling the relations of power that animate contestations over different ideas about peace (she identifies three: stabilisation, the liberal peace and social justice) perhaps matters most.20

During the course of peacemaking in the Sudans in recent decades, the dominant idea of ‘peace’ has been elite bargains to end overt violent conflict, centred on sharing power, wealth and military control (see Ali, Chapter 9; Marsden, Chapter 13; Dawkins, Chapter 14; and Verjee, Chapter 15). Sometimes hand-in-hand with narrow elite bargains, the peace being pursued also came to include institutionalising political reforms towards civil liberties, democratic government and a stronger rule of law. Indeed, the promise of liberal reform seemed to make narrow elite bargains tolerable (see Dixon, Chapter 5). With the prospect of a new sovereign country in southern Sudan, landlocked, war-ravaged and desperately poor on any human development measure (though anticipating oil wealth), peace during the CPA period also meant a stronger southern state-in-the-making that above-all controlled its security.

For many subnational political movements in Sudan, armed or unarmed, their language of peace was inflected with aspirations for equality and socio-economic justice: calls for equal citizenship and equitable development are forthright and frequent (in this volume, see Bromwich, Chapter 11, and Marsden, Chapter 13, on Darfur; Wendy James on Blue Nile, Chapter 3, Johnson on Abyei, Chapter 4). Here, peace’s absence may be seen as a failure of inclusive development, with global macro-historical roots (see Thomas, Chapter 7). The failure of the political leadership in Sudan and South Sudan to prioritise socio-economic justice after the (p.10) conclusion of the CPA has arguably fuelled further resentment (see Schomerus and Rigterink, Chapter 16).

International actors’ focus on the economic dimension of peace was on a slightly different aspect. Their emphasis was on the lucrative ‘peace dividends’ that the peace agreement would generate and that could be used for (re)building an effective state (see Thomas, Chapter 7 and Laura James, Chapter 8). In the context of donors’ ‘Joint Assessment Missions’ and ‘Multi-Donor Trust Funds’, peace dividends are a form of appeasement; they do little structurally to address deeper socio-economic inequalities that were in part created by past failed development (see Thomas, Chapter 7). The Chinese government, a significant player in Sudan on account of its oil investments, explicitly pursued a concept of peace-as-development. Beijing’s foreign policy had longer timelines, deeper pockets and larger ambitions than its western counterparts, without being burdened by the liberal peace agenda (see Large, Chapter 10).

Many other specific ideas of peace have been at play in the Sudans. Within war economies, one idea of peace that holds sway among political protagonists is peace as a business strategy. Peace as a business strategy is often at loggerheads with the images of peace held by peacemakers. On the one hand, political leaders may see ‘peace’, with its influx of post-conflict assistance, as a conducive financial context for rent-seeking that might be self-rewarding (see Dawkins, Chapter 14, and de Waal, Chapter 17), or helpful to oil patronage machines (see Thomas, Chapter 7). Peace, here, is given no inherent moral value; instead it is a useful state of affairs or objective to be instrumentalised. Ideas of peace as grand national bargains, freedom and liberty, security in a strong state, socio-economic justice or development, are readily appropriated and disrupted by elites at different levels. ‘Peace’ appears as a shifting terrain within a wider political economy of instability, coercion and opportunism that previously took the form of ‘war’.

On the other hand, while imaginings of peace as socio-economic justice from among the wider polity may be under-served, they are not easily or fully silenced – be that within specific under-recognised communities (see Wendy James, Chapter 3 and Johnson, Chapter 4), among local political leaderships (see Bromwich, Chapter 11), or among socio-demographic groups such as women (see Ali, Chapter 9) and across communities (see Schomerus and Rigterink, Chapter 16). Whether the period of politics ordained by peacemaking heralds a creative citizenry-driven process of political transformation, or veers towards a lamented, debilitated and violence-prone ‘not war’ political calamity, is as much a matter of perspective on and commitment towards what peace should mean, as one of objective assessment.

Ideas of peace at play can also have deeper and more complex histories than are apparent in immediate periods of elite peacemaking. In the 1990s, the Wunlit and Nuer peace processes in southern Sudan successfully manifested vernacular and indigenous understandings of peace and ways of peacemaking, including those (p.11) inspired by religion.21 Characteristic of these processes was the ‘people to people’ approach in which communities and churches convene to make peace and reconcile in the absence of their political and military leaders. The strength of these processes was that they recognised and amplified the agency of communities that are often treated as merely victims of conflict. The Wunlit process in particular inspired several similar processes in southern Sudan. Their weakness was that by bypassing combatants, they could not silence the guns. Implementation of the agreements presented another challenge.

‘Peace’ in Sudan has also been tied to ideas about nations and self-determination (see Abdulbari, Chapter 2) and the kind of post-colonial peace that emerged after the Second World War. Such ideas of peace were not championed by peacemakers and foreign states; they were deeply woven into Sudan’s history and the contested space of political aspirations of southern Sudanese. Yet that history and that space were always globally constituted too. During Sudan’s first civil war these ideas were reinvigorated in Sudan by southern elites from the international political milieu of decolonisation in the 1960s. Self-determination waxed and waned, falling out of favour in the early years of the SPLM/A, returning to the fore in shifting post-Cold War politics of the early 1990s and, later that decade, becoming relatively accepted language, though differently defined, for what peace should mean among Sudanese political elites of all types.

With a focus on this ‘southern problem’ and Sudan’s ‘north–south war’, imaginings of peace in Sudan during the CPA period privileged some geographies, levels and actors while deferring or de-emphasising others (see de Waal, Chapter 17). This was especially true of the Three Areas of Abyei (see Johnson, Chapter 4), Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile (see Wendy James, Chapter 3) and also Darfur (see Bromwich, Chapter 11, Moman, Chapter 12 and Marsden, Chapter 13). These contributors, resonating with arguments elsewhere,22 all emphasise that how peacemakers chose to ‘see’ the wars in the Sudans, and where they chose to ‘see’ war and its absence, had arguably the greatest impact on a spatially-defined scope and meaning of peace (see also Thomas, Chapter 7).23

(p.12) Arrayed across this kaleidoscope of meanings – some profound, others protean – peace emerges as a signifier, often no more but no less; peace constitutes the overall meaning to a set of political contestations that are timeless and also firmly creatures of particular times and places. What matters, then, is what peace comes to mean in specific peacemaking experiences, and how and why it comes to mean certain things and not others. A perspectival approach to peacemaking unravels its politics in order to make better sense of this.

Having portrayed the kaleidoscope of ‘peace’, we now turn to ways and means of peace ‘making’. The why and how of what peace comes to mean in a specific context, lies in unpacking its modes of making.

Peace, in the making

The perspectival approach heuristic, with its focus set at close-range on political contestations, suggests that perhaps even more than the meaning of peace, it is the making of peace that matters: in particular places and times; by distinct actors; according to plans, models and intentions; yet beholden to contingency, contestation and unpredictability. It is in the making that peace, with its kaleidoscope of meanings, comes to mean some things, not others, and with particular consequences. And the making of peace is both a very specific situated set of actions, individuals and events in a particular place in the world, and also a world of activity, of fields of knowledge and of domains of expertise. In recent decades, in parallel with the rise of mediation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding as bodies of scholarly and professional knowledge, peacemaking24 has been professionalised, technicised, standardised and institutionalised.

Drawing on the contributions to this volume, we argue that peacemaking in the Sudans during recent decades has primarily followed a mix of three dominant modalities: deal brokering, liberal peacebuilding and statebuilding. With roots in different political traditions, each of these modalities makes particular assumptions regarding war and politics. We argue that some of these assumptions have problematic implications for the fate of peacemaking in contemporary armed conflicts. However, we also argue that it is the way in which these modalities are combined in practice, and how they play out alongside alternative modalities being pursued by different peacemaking actors, that bear heavily upon the kind of peace actually made and its consequences.25 Finally, the contributions in this volume underscore (p.13) a third, often overlooked dimension, namely that much of what explains the vicissitudes of peacemaking relates to more surface-level challenges of decision making under urgency and uncertainty, within complex contingencies and competing political interests.

Peacemaking as deal brokering

Peacemaking as deal brokering seeks to secure optimal bargains between organised armed adversaries. In Sudan, the deal brokering logic operated to privilege armed actors, and often only certain ones, around the bargaining table. Many authors in this volume argue that the reductivity of this mode of deal making, whether during CPA peacemaking or as regards Darfur or South Sudan, had counterproductive effects. Yet this model is dominant in peacemaking partially because it makes sense within the foreign policy logics of states.26 The bargain approach subordinates civil war to objectively discernible state-like interests that can be rationally traded off – based, ultimately, on the balance of material forces. The original domain of application is interstate war, harking back to thinkers such as Clausewitz and Thucydides. The governing schools of thought are realism and strategic studies. Warring sides are clearly opposed, and disputes are over clear-cut spoils (territory, population, wealth, power). War is about compulsion, about victory and defeat. If a decisive military encounter is not forthcoming, the balance of forces may nevertheless translate into an objectively discernible deal: peacemakers look for ‘hurting stalemates’ that render wars ‘ripe for resolution’.27 The civil war that is amenable to a realist conceptualisation – a neat Schmittian ‘square table’ bargain, one’s enemy on the opposing side28 – relies on this sharp binary of enmity and this prescriptive separation of war and politics: there are clear issues in dispute capable of being bargained and settled based on the balance of forces, or of war threat. Within this schema of binaries, settling a civil war requires imputing neat adversarial units with rational state-like policy objectives. Arguably also rooted in European history is the type of ‘output’ that these types of peace talks are focused on: a written accord. The focus on text, which Moman in Chapter 12 also observes,29 and the desire for something that looks like law, carries forward the European histories of ‘peace treaties’ and continues to shape the thought and practice of peacemakers.

(p.14) As the Sudans lay bare, civil wars are invariably less organised and regularised into opposing camps, and a lot more politically multifaceted and fluid in terms of the interests, ideals and identities that configure group level objectives and alliances. Distinctions between army, state and society blur. In the context of resistance and rebellion within states, a sharp focus on combat is lost. The instrumental use of violence towards fixed state policy objectives intersects with concurrent and co-constitutive processes of politics and social change. Civil war is irreducibly and unpredictably political. Pieces of paper recording or, in many instances, proposing accords are many, but easily blown away amid changing political winds and new political storms.

The experience of peacemaking in the Sudans makes clear the risks of excessive reductivity, which might coerce a particular written outcome out of a messy civil war but is liable to backfire. Yet the explanations proffered in this volume for this reductivity differ. Wendy James (Chapter 3) and Johnson (Chapter 4) ascribe the narrow binary focus of the CPA negotiations, at the expense of the complexity of the Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions within Sudan’s history of war and politics, to the ignorance of peacemakers, ill-versed as they were in the history and societies of Sudan. Moman, by contrast, in Chapter 12 suggests this reductivity arose from a more foundational ideal peacemaking model that focuses on achieving agreed textual accords. Two practitioner accounts, from Marsden and Verjee (Chapters 13 and 15), suggest a closer-range analysis is important. Marsden, from her first-hand experience of failed diplomatic efforts to end the war in Darfur, points to tactical errors by peacemakers seeking narrow elite bargains but also lays bare the exigencies of making peace, including contingent events and the coercive dominance of key belligerents. Verjee, from his own first-hand experience in the South Sudan mediation, prises open how even the reductive deal-brokering modality may have many and varied logics or motivators (from rapid containment, to regional security, to signalling regional competence to the broader international community); motivators that even a mediation team might disagree on.

The crude bargain model is problematised and rethought by political economy approaches to civil war. Here, the level of analysis goes beyond the elites to include those on whose support they rely. The protagonists are less monolithic and more fragmented, their motives and worldviews are more complex. Attention turns to analysing rents, markets and profit-making in war, as well as the economics of building and retaining political allegiances. Importantly, the boundaries between war and peace are blurred at this level of analysis; the politico-economic logics of ‘not war, not peace’ are remarkably adaptable and thus considerably consistent along this continuum.30 Illustrative is de Waal’s argument that in the Sudans, military expenditure increased after the CPA, not necessarily because actors were preparing (p.15) for war, but in order for them to keep the peace within their groups.31 From this perspective, elite bargains and peace dividends do not automatically divide spoils and then benefit the entire country, but instead create conditions for continuously negotiated payments required to maintain loyalty, and thus to protect the peace.

Peacemaking as liberal peacebuilding

A second peacemaking modality is born of liberal thought. Peacemaking as liberal peacebuilding privileges constitutional blueprints espousing individual civil liberties and political rights, democratic government, opening up market and trading economies and institutionalising the rule of law, whatever the illiberal reasons for war that came before. Violence and war – deemed irrational and barbaric – are political anathema and underplayed as a driver of human affairs. Such thought flourished during a 19th-century liberal ‘false consciousness’, in which a purported domestic peace in Europe was considered a product of rational liberal government, free trade and civil society, even though it went hand-in-hand with horrendous levels of imperial violence between ‘civilisers’ and ‘barbarians’.32 Liberal societies were abodes of peace; war occurred only beyond in distant illiberal lands. Laws that emerged (including laws governing war and conquest) were given a universal and ahistorical normative character in line with a general framing of law as transcendent, a ‘constant lasting force’, free from origins in political domination, or in social and economic power.33 Not only is war anathema, for liberal peacebuilders their claim to profound insights from western experience extends to a belief that they are eminently exportable in pursuit of peace’s expansion. The greatest interest is in ensuring that peace agreements include provisions that enact the institutions and laws of liberal society, economy and government.

In Sudan, the lengthy text of the CPA imported lessons, models, blueprints, rights language and norms from a world of liberal peacemaking elsewhere. And yet, the CPA also chimed well with peace as elite deal brokering and was certainly understood that way by its two signatories. Dixon (Chapter 5) takes aim at the ‘liberal peace’ model that promised economic and democratic transformation but in reality accepted an unaccountable elitist political deal.34 Arguably, the modality of liberal peacebuilding valorised the future promise of institutional reforms of (p.16) politics, law and markets while accepting more coercive or pragmatic immediate steps to end war. Whatever the inconsistencies and pragmatism, ‘liberal peace-building’ was a dominant signifier in the Sudans and in turn an object of both suspicion, disappointment and critique.

The process through which the CPA was negotiated set liberal ideals on the wrong foot. In peacemaking for civil wars, the heralding of inclusive democratic polities undergirded by constitutional protections can ring hollow for civil and political actors not party to the initial deal making. Separate to political elites meeting and negotiating their bargains, ‘civil society actors’, whether self-identifying as such or not, organised, met and discussed how to promote civilian politics, human rights and peace.35 But, as Dixon points out in his contribution, they struggled to get access to the formal negotiations. They were then ambivalent towards the emergent democratic space controlled by the peace signatories, including towards the elections. As de Waal argues in Chapter 17, ‘it is the criteria for accepting candidates at the outset that determine who will win the prizes. Non-violent parties are understandably frustrated that a “liberal” peace disadvantages them in this way, while other armed parties reduced to the status of spoilers or also-rans are likely to resist violently.’ Since the CPA and following trends in peacemaking ‘best practice’ at the global level,36 there has been, over the years, more attention to greater ‘inclusivity’ in peacemaking in the Sudans. However, as both Marsden (Chapter 13, in the context of Darfur) and Verjee (Chapter 15, writing on South Sudan) show, peacemakers have struggled to reconcile the still dominant deal brokering mode with this emerging ‘inclusivity agenda’.

Perhaps the most important version of the critique that there was too much, yet also too little, liberal peacebuilding comes from on-the-ground perspectives on the CPA’s implementation. The CPA era did little justice to imaginaries of peace and liberal peacebuilding as fostering an alternative civil politics and socio-economic dispensation. Explaining the failure to transform the SPLM/A into a civil democratic actor, de Alessi (Chapter 6) implicitly decries the failure of the liberal project to deliver democratisation while also critiquing that project and the SPLM’s own failure. In the economic governance realm, Thomas (Chapter 7) argues that the liberal model for fiscal decentralisation and rebalancing envisaged by the CPA came unstuck during implementation as other modalities of making peace based on party patronage logics took precedence. Similarly, Laura James (Chapter 8) finds political elites usurped the kind of fiscal outcomes anticipated by the CPA’s text on wealth sharing based on their own deal brokering logics.

Liberal peacebuilding did not meet its own ideals during CPA implementation, but this is not merely a matter of elites riding roughshod over liberal ideals. (p.17) Insistent and well-resourced ideas for putting the world to fairness and rights, even where they come unstuck, can have disruptive and disturbing effects, or be in tension with dominant ideas on the ground. The intervention of the ICC in Sudan, just after the conclusion of the CPA, is a case in point. The Court, representing a liberal idea of individual criminal accountability for so-called ‘atrocity crimes’ (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes), had significant disruptive effects on humanitarian, human rights and peacemaking agendas.37 Free and fair elections, a billboard of liberal peacebuilding, is another example: they increase the stakes of political competition and therefore the incentives to do all that is possible to win, including resort to illiberal actions. With respect to tensions with dominant ideas on the ground, Schomerus and Rigterink (Chapter 16) point to a mismatch between the dominant idea of ‘justice’ that is part of liberal peacebuilding (not visible in the CPA, but very much so in subsequent South Sudan negotiations) and the justice demands of the South Sudanese. Liberal-peace justice focuses on individual criminal responsibility for the narrow set of crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction; the justice demands of the South Sudanese also encompass accountability for failure to deliver socio-economic improvements.38

Peacemaking as statebuilding

Finally, a third dominant modality of peacemaking focuses on forging a strong and secure post-war state. This model draws from both realist and liberal thought. Statebuilding has become an increasingly significant peace project in civil wars, hand-in-hand with assessments of ‘state failure’ or ‘fragile states’.39 If state failure is seen as the cause of conflict, the ‘solution’ for making peace becomes building state capacity and authority, first and foremost in the realm of security. The civil peace requires the state to approach a monopoly on the use of violence. A lack of such monopoly leaves the state and society not only prone to renewed civil war (p.18) but to violent elite contestations, warlordism, violent profiteering and parochial barbarism.

In southern Sudan after the CPA, considerable attention was given to reforming the security sector and building the governmental institutions of a state in waiting. A technocratic focus, however, eschewed the actual political contestations between different socio-political groups vying to shape the constitutional essentials of the new state. Whatever the provisions in the CPA, the GoSS held no monopoly over the legitimate use of violence. In the absence of a civilianised SPLM focused on building its democratic legitimacy (as de Alessi in Chapter 6 explains), there was only the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in its inglorious under-institutionalised and militaristic form. The outcome was that heavily resourced statebuilding by donor peacemakers, combined with the proto-state’s monopoly over rents from oil production, fed the ever-rapacious appetite of a kleptocratic order.40 On paper, there was security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR). In practice, there was accommodation, co-option and patronage (see Dawkins and Verjee in Chapters 14 and 15), combined with the fuelling of injustice for key constituent groups involved in the war, notably women (see Ali, Chapter 9). As Ali shows, the implementation of the DDR programme in South Sudan led to the production of hierarchies of human value: some ex-combatants were made into heroes and heroines whereas other ex-combatants and women associated with the armed forces were deemed worthless. In Sudan, political and economic decentralisation was the centrepiece of building a stronger and more legitimate state in the wake of the CPA (see Thomas, Chapter 7). Regional peace agreements such as the Darfur Peace Agreement and Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement followed this model. But as both Thomas and Marsden demonstrate, in practice, local and regional governance remained heavily dependent on patronage systems in Khartoum.

Underlying peacemaking as statebuilding are different theories of state formation that are problematic in the context of contemporary armed conflict contexts such as the Sudans. One is a veneration of the Hobbesian sovereign state, which by dint of providing its subjects with security generates its legitimacy. Yet it is helpful to remember that Hobbes’ particular project sought to disallow civil war, not to address its actual occurrence. He sought the erasure of any connection between war and domestic politics by delegitimising domestic war as a motor of societal formation and political change. In contemporary peacemaking as statebuilding, building a strong state that secures the population is considered to be the prior condition for legitimacy and politics, and thus for peace. Yet there can be no neat ‘prior conditions’ where, in contexts such as Sudan, political struggles over decades since independence, and even before, produced societal relations and historical memories that permeate any ‘post-war’ moment. Through history, state formation (p.19) is arguably better understood as a product of social revolution,41 or violent transitions to modernity,42 as opposed to an antidote to these processes.

Another tradition sees the Weberian state with its monopoly over violence as the product of wars between neighbours and which, through taxation for the provision of security and order, expanded structures of authority and forged social contracts between citizens and elites.43 If warmaking was statemaking historically, then peacemaking as statebuilding steps in where late modern armed conflicts fall short. Peacemaking as statebuilding seeks to tame non-state violence by privileging belligerents in the negotiation of an inclusive security deal and then strengthening the post-conflict state’s capacity to broadcast coercive authority over its territory and population. Yet the technocratic and institutionalist focus of statebuilding, and especially a focus on professionalising, buttressing and ordering the state’s means of coercion, elides to its peril the politics of the civil war and political contestations over government, society and the future state. The common problem with the statebuilding modality of peacemaking is that the processes through which social contracts are forged and the capacity for violence is legitimated and thus tamed, not merely monopolised, cannot be technocratically designed or deployed by outsiders.

The Sudans: accommodating and critiquing dominant peacemaking modalities amid day-to-day challenges

Deal brokering, liberal peacebuilding and statebuilding have all played prominent roles in peacemaking efforts in the Sudans in recent decades, usually in combination. Peacemaking then has mostly been a working accommodation of these dominant ideas of peace and modalities of peacemaking: striking elite deals with representatives of conflicting armed groups that represent ethno-territorial constituencies to divvy-up material and organisational spoils, while committing them to institutionalising liberal values (elections, markets, laws and liberties) and legitimising and resourcing them to shore up their capacity to secure and stabilise their dominions. ‘Good things go together’ it has been said of the institutional dynamics of peacebuilding and statebuilding.44 The more persuasive account is that dominant modalities pushed by powerful institutions in peacemaking settings often have no (p.20) choice but to go together, for good or for bad, because no single modality or institution rules the roost.

While there have been various and strong critiques of the dominant approaches to peacemaking, far fewer true alternatives have been spelt out. Many purportedly alternative approaches can in fact be reconciled with, for instance, liberal peacemaking: while diverging from dominant liberal peacemaking practices, the approaches are still compatible with the fundamental values of liberalism.45 For instance, as we have noted, Dixon in Chapter 5 leans towards conflict transformation thought, focusing on relational, dialogical, generative processes of peacemaking that are not tied to outside ideas of what peace should mean. Yet de Waal (Chapter 17) questions whether this modality actually gets beyond some objective referent of peace and thus whether it fundamentally differs from mainstream approaches.

There are more radical variants in the conflict transformation vein, ones that resonate with post-positivist approaches in the social and political sciences. In these variants, there are no causal analyses of what mix of independent variables works to secure objectively determined peace outcomes. Attention focuses on the constitutive processes that give peace meaning, and the argument is that peacemaking must be emancipatory, rather than dominative; empathetic, rather than incorporative.46 But apart from often lacking specificity, this idealistic approach has its own ontological problem. Post-positivism is only one approach, only one worldview. For it to be the idea of peace and modality of peacemaking, would be tyrannical and thus against the essence of what post-positivism espouses.

Whether considered a correction of the liberal peacemaking model or a radical alternative, the most prevalent calls for other ways of peacemaking in the Sudans have all focused on relying more on popular participation by the Sudanese,47 whether in the context of the conflict involving the SPLM/A (Wendy James, Johnson and Dixon, Chapters 3, 4 and 5, respectively), land issues in Darfur (see Bromwich, Chapter 11), or the Darfur conflict more broadly, as advocated by the AUHIP. Chaired by President Thabo Mbeki, and inspired by South Africa’s own process of peacemaking, the AUHIP tried to organise a so-called Darfur-based Political Process, as an alternative to the AU/UN supported peace process between the GoS and leaders of some (but far from all) of the armed movements in Doha, Qatar. In the envisaged Darfur-based Political Process, Darfurian communities would form shared positions and choose representatives who would eventually negotiate an (p.21) agreement with the GoS. However, as recounted in Marsden’s Chapter 13, this proposal was opposed by key western states and eventually the UN Security Council. They considered the environment in Darfur to be insufficiently ‘enabling’ for such an inclusive peace process – the GoS could threaten the lives of participating Darfurians. In the AUHIP’s view, this was putting the cart before the horse: requiring peace before its making could begin. At a deeper level, the disagreement between the AUHIP and western states in the Security Council reflected fundamentally different visions on how peace is to be made.

There is one final, less profound yet equally potent, perspective on peacemaking that many chapters in this volume bring out. As if the contestation over the meaning and ways of making peace were not enough, there are a whole range of contingent, context-specific factors that can derail (or suddenly facilitate) a peace process. Influencing these factors is often the real day-to-day concern of peacemakers (rather than debating, let alone settling on, a specific understanding of peace or a way of ‘making’ it). Shifting foreign policy priorities (see Moman, Chapter 12, and Marsden, Chapter 13), the short-term private interests of warring elites indulged by incentivised peacemaking initiatives (see Dawkins, Chapter 14), or multiple and conflicting mediator worldviews (see Verjee, Chapter 15), all complicate the path that peacemaking takes.

The perspectival approach adopted in this volume unearths a kaleidoscope of contested meanings in the Sudanese and South Sudanese context, and unpacks the motley mix of modalities and contingencies that shape crooked pathways of actual peacemaking. The approach allows attention to turn to opportunities to refine where there is crudeness, ground where there is lofty idealism, appreciate where the business of politics matters but also where political imaginaries of hope take hold, and reveal and bring closer the places, people and ideas that are seemingly hidden or distant but always important to what peace finally comes to mean.

This volume

Taken together, the contributions in this volume provide a rich set of perspectives on the ideas, practices and consequences of peacemaking in the Sudans in recent decades. Beginning with chapters on the CPA, the book then moves in three ways beyond it: first, by looking at CPA implementation; then by turning to regions other than southern Sudan that were affected by the CPA, specifically Darfur; and finally by looking at peacemaking efforts in South Sudan, the country that the CPA had made possible.

We open the book with Sudan’s current Minister of Justice, Nasredeen Abdulbari, who in Chapter 2 focuses on what is arguably the cornerstone principle of the CPA: self-determination. He argues that the concept can be understood in a much ‘thicker’ way than as a right to secession (‘thin’ self-determination). ‘Thick self-determination’ focuses on inclusion and political participation and could be reconciled with the CPA’s objective of ‘making unity attractive’. Abdulbari argues (p.22) that the CPA also tried to promote that understanding of self-determination but that in the implementation a focus on thin self-determination came at the detriment of thick self-determination. He draws a parallel between thin self-determination and negative peace and between thick self-determination and positive peace. Just like thick self-determination was neglected, the CPA’s provisions promoting positive peace were hardly implemented. Positive peace thus suffered much the same fate as thick self-determination.

Whereas Abdulbari focuses on a centrepiece of the CPA, the two subsequent chapters focus on the ‘afterthought’ of the CPA: the ‘Three Areas’. Wendy James (Chapter 3) takes us to the Blue Nile, one of the Three Areas that had strong geographical, political and military ties with southern Sudan, but was above the 1 January 1956 boundary and therefore outside the CPA’s arrangements for southern Sudan. She argues that the CPA mediators failed to recognise the international dimension of the conflict they were addressing, especially Ethiopia’s role, and that of Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia. The mediators also, she contends, lacked understanding of the situation on the ground in Blue Nile. They could have had more insight had they actually consulted with people from the region. Drawing on her experiences as a ‘resource person’ to the mediation, she shows how limited the interest in such expertise was.

Douglas Johnson (Chapter 4) then takes us to the one Area of the Three Areas that has received the most international attention: Abyei. Discussing the CPA negotiations, in which he, too, was a resource person, he identifies several failures of the mediators. But he points the finger at the Sudanese government, which was not willing to compromise. Again drawing on his personal involvement, he also shares a first-hand account of the work of the Abyei Boundaries Commission. He criticises mediators for trying to reach compromise after compromise, instead of insisting on the implementation of compromises already reached.

Peter Dixon (Chapter 5) finds even more faults in the Naivasha process that produced the CPA by contrasting it with the ideal type process of ‘strategic peace-building’. Such an ideal peace process is inclusive, comprehensive, sustained and complements a political settlement with other mutually supportive activities, focused on positive peace, while recognising the complex causality of violent conflict. Writing from a background in civil society peacebuilding, Dixon argues that external actors failed to promote a peace process that was more inclusive and better integrated with community-level activities.

With Benedetta de Alessi (Chapter 6) we move from CPA negotiation to CPA implementation. One of the peacemaking ideas in the CPA was that of democratisation. Having fought for that agenda, the SPLM/A was expected to become its main driver during CPA implementation. But it did not. De Alessi argues that one of the reasons why it did not was that it itself failed to transform from a rebel movement into a political organisation. She attributes that failure to three weaknesses: a divisive ideology, a fractured and hierarchical military leadership and weak political institutionalisation.

(p.23) Another key idea of peacemaking in the CPA was addressing one of the generally accepted causes of Sudan’s civil wars: the inequalities in the development of, on the one hand, the country’s ‘centre’ and, on the other, its vast peripheries. Edward Thomas, in Chapter 7, analyses how the CPA was meant to address the issue, but did not in practice. Having provided a historical background to the problem of inequality in Sudan and explaining how and why previous attempts to address it had failed – in part due to global economic developments – Thomas’s conclusion is clear: new fiscal arrangements, one of the most enduring features of the CPA and replicated in other Sudanese peace agreements, were not sufficient; instead, more ambitious plans are needed to integrate the productive energies of the periphery into the Khartoum-centred national economy.

Laura James (Chapter 8) looks more generally at the CPA’s economic blueprint for a New Sudan and analyses which provisions were (somewhat) implemented, which were sidelined and why that may have been the case. She concludes that buy-in from negotiating parties and some degree of specificity over timings and mechanisms were necessary conditions for implementation, but were not sufficient. Rather than the text, domestic and international political dynamics shaped what was implemented and what was ignored. Still, text matters, and, so James argues, especially the text on principles and institutions, because these tend to hang around.

Having looked at attempts to promote democracy and change the economy, we turn to the security sector. Studying the impact of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) – a common statebuilding and peacebuilding instrument – in South Sudan, Nada Ali, in Chapter 9, argues that DDR actually made the situation worse for most women ex-combatants and women associated with the armed forces. DDR led to the production of hierarchies of human value: some ex-combatants were made into heroes and heroines whereas other ex-combatants and women associated with the armed forces were deemed worthless.

None of these areas of CPA implementation were of particular interest to China. And yet, even though China is not usually considered as one of the brokers of the CPA, it did see itself as a crucial actor, given that it created the material conditions of possibility for the CPA: oil money. Daniel Large shows in Chapter 10 how China over time took a more active role in engaging with CPA implementation, expanding its mostly bilateral modes of operation to the occasional multilateral engagement, and shifting its focus from Khartoum to Juba. Moreover, China also became more directly involved in peace efforts in Darfur, because of the international reputational damage of campaigns portraying China as merely taking oil out of Sudan and siding with an allegedly genocidal regime. Throughout, China promoted dialogue and economic cooperation over sanctions and liberal peacebuilding.

Brendan Bromwich (Chapter 11) takes us to the heart of the Darfurian conflict. Siding neither with those who attribute the Darfur conflict only to the genocidal intent of a few individuals, nor with those who explain it entirely by reference to climate change, Bromwich applies a multi-layered frame to analyse the conflict. Drawing on work by Sharif Harir, Adam Azzain Mohamed and Atta El-Battahani, he subdivides the international, national and regional Darfur levels, and investigates (p.24) the relevance of natural resources to peacebuilding at each of them. At the Darfur level, he explores Darfur’s social, customary and formal institutions concerning natural resources, and their interaction with international initiatives, demonstrating how the latter sometimes obstruct the former. Building on Frances Cleaver and Jessica de Koning’s idea of ‘institutional bricolage’, Bromwich’s ideal is one of facilitating a Darfuri process that can explore new institutional arrangements to address elements of Darfur’s own contested institutions.

Partha Moman then in Chapter 12 takes us to peacemaking efforts in Darfur, focusing on the negotiations leading to the (failed) DPA of 2006. He argues that it was not so much different ideas of peace, but a certain, agreed upon idea of peacemaking that shaped the peace process leading to the DPA. The ideal type peacemaking process focuses on specific warring factions, on reaching agreement on a number of issues, and on a text that encapsulates that agreement. The real failure of most peace processes is thus not so much not complying with the ideal type but, so Moman argues, aspiring to the ideal type itself.

With Rosalind Marsden, in Chapter 13, we shift to the next big Darfur peace process: the one that led to the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). Drawing on her experiences as UK Ambassador and EU Special Representative to Sudan, she extrapolates lessons from Sudan’s peace processes in order to assess the role played by international political actors. Focusing on the process leading to the DDPD, she identifies several flaws in the international actors’ approach: competition among mediators, limited engagement with civil society, deadline diplomacy and weak oversight in the implementation phase. She argues that even though there was an awareness that a more holistic approach was needed, international actors’ attempts at peacemaking remained piecemeal and that they often prioritised peacekeeping and humanitarian relief. She also shows that international actors’ approaches were often at odds with each other, while the GoS was consistent in using the peace negotiations as a cover for its own military approaches and political objectives.

Turning to independent South Sudan, Sophia Dawkins (Chapter 14) uses the IGAD-mediated talks following the eruption of violence in 2013 to study what specific interests parties actually pursue when they participate in ‘peace’ negotiations. She tests three prominent theories: peace processes deliver power, money and status; peace processes sustain neo-patrimonial bargaining; and peace processes transform commitments. She finds support for all three theories, but emphasises that processes and relations, rather than monolithic actors and their interests, are crucial in explaining why peace negotiations persist despite perverse outcomes.

It is clear in this book that different actors have worked with different conceptions of peace. Aly Verjee shows in Chapter 15 that even within one single mediation team, different actors work towards different conceptions of peace. Using the same IGAD South Sudan mediation as a case study, he identifies no fewer than six conceptions of peace that were at play within the mediation team: peace as (1) containment, namely avoiding a regional proxy war; (2) a cessation of hostilities; (3) resetting the foundation of the state; (4) copying the model of peace pursued (p.25) in an earlier agreement; (5) preventing a security threat; and (6) signalling process management by the region. Relying on his insider’s experience in the IGAD peace process, Verjee shows how different individuals had different approaches within the mediation and how these differences fundamentally influenced the process.

Mareike Schomerus and Anouk Rigterink take us away from the official mediation processes to understand South Sudanese demands for ‘justice’ in the context of peacemaking in Chapter 16. Their empirical research shows that calls for accountability are not just for criminal accountability of those alleged to have committed war crimes. It is also a call for ‘collective social and economic accountability’ of the leadership for failing to implement the CPA and to deliver the dividends that peace and independence were supposed to bring the South Sudanese in their day-to-day lives. They sum up that ‘justice in South Sudan does not start from crimes committed, but from what is lacking in society’.

In the concluding Chapter 17, Alex de Waal, engaging with all the chapters and almost all of the themes in this volume, essentially dismisses all peacemaking theories: they are all structured to achieve a singular unified settlement, or to pursue external interests; none of them manages to capture the strategic ambiguity, the parallel tracks and the positioning for future opportunities that are inherent in peace processes and make them unstable.

That brings us back to the approach advocated in this introduction. A perspectival approach to peacemaking in civil wars is not blinkered by starting with preferred models or theories but instead unearths how different ideas are invoked, which politics they reflect, and how they are put into competition in actual peacemaking practice. Not straightjacketed into observing the world through dominant peacemaking lenses, a perspectival approach is open to interpreting the outcomes of peacemaking also from conceptions of peace that are situated and salient. A perspectival approach searches beyond dominant framings of the war – who are the sides, the issues, the geographies – and seeks vantage points for assessing peacemaking from places that are obscured or among overlooked peoples. In so doing, perspectives are sought at multiple levels of analysis, ranging from on-the-ground and national to regional and international, ensuring that outside actors are analysed as fully political players in the domestic politics of war and peace. Time also matters for a perspectival approach, which pays attention to what peace comes to mean from moments and periods well before and well after the ink drying on signatures to written accords. Understanding what peacemaking has come to mean in the Sudans – how different understandings of peace have been deployed, but also contested, in the processes of ‘making’, and with what effects – allows scholars and practitioners to think again on prospects for peace in this region, and well beyond.


(1) The authors thank Devon Curtis and Edward Thomas for most constructive comments on this chapter.

(2) See also, specifically in the context of peacebuilding, Devon Curtis: ‘peacebuilding may be best thought of as a set of multiple ideas, relationships and experiences that are embedded within hierarchies of power and knowledge’. D. Curtis, ‘The Contested Politics of Peacebuilding in Africa’, in D. Curtis and G. A. Dzinesa (eds), Peacebuilding, Power, and Politics in Africa (Athens, OH, Ohio University Press, 2012), pp. 1–28, p. 3. See also, for the concept of peace, Oliver Richmond: ‘It is clear that peace is essentially contested as a concept. Inevitably, and following on from this, it is a subjective concept, depending on individual actors for definition, different methods and ontologies, and indeed different epistemological approaches. Its construction is a result of the interplay of different actors’ attempts to define peace and according to their relative interests, identities, power and resources.’ O. P. Richmond, Peace in International Relations (Oxford, Routledge, 2008), p. 41.

(3) Srinivasan, in his recent study of peacemaking and unending wars in the Sudans, argues that underlying these conflicting ideas of peace and models of peacemaking is a common means-end logic that may debilitate non-violent civil political action and reinforce the currency of coercion. He suggests this is tragically inherent in foreign peacemaking in civil wars. S. Srinivasan, When Peace Kills Politics: International Intervention and Unending Wars in the Sudans (London, Hurst & Co, 2021, forthcoming).

(4) For more on the Addis Ababa peace agreement and the process leading up to it, see Mohamed Omer Beshir, The Southern Sudan: From Conflict to Peace (Khartoum, Khartoum Bookshop, 1975) and Dunstan Wai, The African-Arab Conflict in the Sudan (Boulder, CO, Lynne Rienner, 1980).

(5) D. H. Johnson, The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars: Peace or Truce (Rochester, NY, Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2011). For other analyses of Sudan’s wars, see: F. M. Deng, War of Visions: Conflict of Identities in the Sudan (Washington, DC, Brookings Institution Press, 1995); J. M. Jok, Sudan: Race, Religion, and Violence (London, Oneworld Publications, 2007); A. M. Lesch, The Sudan: Contested National Identities (Oxford, James Currey, 1998); G. K. Komey, Land, Governance, Conflict and the Nuba of Sudan (Oxford, James Currey, 2010).

(6) See also, de Waal, chapter 17, in this volume.

(7) For example, compare on the one hand, Johnson, Dixon and Wendy James, with, on the other hand, de Waal. See also: S. Srinivasan, ‘The politics of negotiating peace in Sudan’, in Curtis and Dzinesa, Peacebuilding, Power, and Politics in Africa, pp. 195–211 and Ø. H. Rolandsen, ‘Sudan: The Role of Foreign Involvement in the Shaping and Implementation of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement’, in M. Eriksson and R. Kostić (eds), Mediation and Liberal Peacebuilding: Peace from the Ashes of War? (Routledge, New York, 2013), pp. 76–91.

(8) This right had been gradually accepted by the Government of Sudan and neighbouring states. It made its first appearance in text proposed by a mediator in the context of the Sudanese civil war in the Declaration of Principles of 1994, drafted by the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) (which became the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in 1996). The SPLM/A immediately accepted the Declaration of Principles, but the GoS did not. Self-determination then became part of the 1997 Khartoum Agreement between the GoS and several Southern Sudanese militias, but notably not Garang’s SPLM/A. As a result of the ensuing constitutional amendment, the Constitution of 1998 provided in article 139(g) that ‘the Southern Sudan has a transitional system for a term, during which the same is federal and co-ordinatory for the Southern States, and shall expire by the exercise of the right of self-determination’. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was the most specific in explaining what the right entailed and how it would be given effect.

(9) See de Waal, Chapter 17, in this volume; Justice Africa, ‘Peace in Sudan: The Literature of Accord’, https://sites.tufts.edu/wpf/literature-of-accord/ (accessed 17 April 2020); A.W. El-Affendi, ‘The Impasse in the IGAD Peace Process for Sudan: The Limits of Regional Peacemaking?’, African Affairs, 100 (401) (2001), 581; Lesch, Contested National Identities; Johnson, Root Causes.

(10) See also F. M. Deng, Sudan at the Brink: Self-Determination and National Unity (New York, Fordham University Press and the Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs, 2010), pp. 9–10.

(11) See also M. Khalid, The Paradox of Two Sudans: The CPA and the Road to Partition (Trenton, NJ, Africa World Press, 2015), ch. 8.

(12) See A. El-Battahani, ‘The Post-Secession State in Sudan: Building Coalitions or Deepening Conflicts?’, in G. M. Sørbø and A. G. M. Ahmed (eds), Sudan Divided (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 25–44.

(13) See S. Nouwen, ‘Sudan’s Divided (and Divisive?) Peace Agreements’, 2006 Hague Yearbook of International Law, 19 (2007), 113, and Adam Azzain Mohammed, ‘The Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Darfur’, in A. de Waal (ed.), War in Darfur (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2007), p. 199.

(14) In international relations, see especially: O. P. Richmond, The Transformation of Peace (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Richmond, Peace in International Relations; R. Mac Ginty, International Peacebuilding and Local Resistance: Hybrid Forms of Peace (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

(15) W. B. Gallie, ‘Essentially Contested Concepts’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 56 (1955), 167–98, at 169. See also Richmond, The Transformation of Peace.

(16) J. Galtung, ‘Violence, Peace, and Peace Research’, Journal of Peace Research, 6 (3) (1969), 167–91, 167.

(18) The famous treatise on ‘negative’ versus ‘positive’ peace is from Galtung, ‘Violence, Peace’.

(19) This line of argument may be taken further. Srinivasan calls for a fundamental rethinking or even abandoning of what we call ‘peacemaking’. Srinivasan, When Peace Kills Politics.

(21) See Mark Bradbury, John Ryle, Michael Medley and Kwesi Sansculotte-Greenidge, ‘Local Peace Processes in Sudan: A Baseline Study’ (Rift Valley Institute, 2006). For the Wunlit peace process, see also ‘Assessment mission by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to improve human rights, accountability, reconciliation and capacity in South Sudan: detailed findings’ (A/HRC/31/CRP.6, 10 March 2016), pp. 27–8. For the Nuer peace process, see William O. Lowrey, ‘Passing the Peace … People to People: The Role of Religion in an Indigenous Peace Process among the Nuer People of Sudan’, Ph.D. thesis, 1996, on file with authors. Thanks to Edward Thomas for sharing his resources on this topic.

(22) J. Young, The Fate of Sudan: The Origins and Consequences of a Flawed Peace Process (London, Zed Books, 2012); A. de Waal, ‘Sudan: The Turbulent State’, in A. de Waal (ed.), War in Darfur and the Search for Peace (Cambridge, MA, Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University, 2007); de Waal, The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and the Business of Power (Cambridge, Polity, 2015); S. Srinivasan, ‘Negotiating Violence: Sudan’s Peacemakers and the War in Darfur’, African Affairs, 113 (450) (2014), 24–44.

(23) And in Edward Thomas, South Sudan: A Slow Liberation (London, Zed Books, 2015).

(24) In policy documents, peacemaking and peacebuilding are often treated as separate concepts, with the former comprising peaceful acts to bring hostile parties to agreement, and the latter aiming at supporting structures to strengthen the peace achieved to avoid a relapse into conflict. While this book focuses on peacemaking, it does not treat peacebuilding as a separate process that is of relevance only after peace has been ‘made’. As this chapter shows, ideas of peacebuilding broadly conceived inform ways of peacemaking from the outset.

(26) See also, critically, C. Clapham, ‘Rwanda: The Perils of Peacemaking’, Journal of Peace Research, 35 (2) (1998), 193.

(27) I. W. Zartman, ‘The Timing of Peace Initiatives: Hurting Stalemates and Ripe Moments’, The Global Review of Ethnopolitics, 1 (1) (2001), 8–18; I. W. Zartman, Ripe for Resolution: Conflict and Intervention in Africa (New York, Oxford University Press, 1989).

(28) See A. de Waal, ‘Violence and Peacemaking in the Political Marketplace’, in A. Ramsbotham and A. Wennmann (eds), Accord 25: Legitimacy and Peace Processes: From Coercion to Consent (London, Conciliation Resources, 2014).

(29) See also S. Nouwen, ‘Commentary’, in S. van Hoogstraten, N. Schrijver, O. Spijkers and A. de Jong (eds), The Art of Making Peace: Lessons Learned from Peace Treaties (Leiden, Nijhoff, 2017), pp. 85–90.

(30) See, for example: D. Keen, The Economic Functions of Violence in Civil Wars (Abingdon, Routledge, 2005); D. Keen, Useful Enemies: When Waging Wars is More Important than Winning Them (New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2012).

(32) F. Mégret, ‘From “Savages” to “Unlawful Combatants”: A Postcolonial Look at International Humanitarian Law’s “Other”’, in A. Orford (ed.), International Law and Its Others (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 361. See also M. W. Doyle, ‘Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs’, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 12 (3) (1983), 205–35; M. Koskenniemi, The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870–1960 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001).

(33) See especially P. Owens, Between War and Politics: International Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 80–2.

(35) See Alex de Waal, Chapter 17, in this volume; Justice Africa, ‘Literature of Accord’; A. H. Abdel Salam and Alex de Waal, The Phoenix State: Civil Society and the Future of Sudan (Asmara, Red Sea Press, 2001).

(36) On which see D. Curtis, ‘The Interests in Inclusivity in Peace Negotiations’, unpublished paper, on file with authors.

(37) See S. M. H. Nouwen, Complementarity in the Line of Fire: The Catalysing Effect of the International Criminal Court in Uganda and Sudan (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013), ch. 4 and S. M. H. Nouwen, ‘Tensions between the Pursuit of Individual Criminal Accountability and Other International Policy Agendas in Situations of Armed Conflict’, in Jennifer Welsh and Dapo Akande (eds), The Individualisation of War (forthcoming).

(38) More generally on diverging justice demands in Sudan (and Uganda) and the contrast with the justice promoted by the International Criminal Court, see S. Nouwen and W. Werner, ‘Monopolizing Global Justice: International Criminal Law as Challenge to Human Diversity’, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 13 (1) (2015), 157–76.

(39) See S. Woodward, ‘State-Building for Peace-Building: What Theory and Whose Role’, in R. Kozul-Wright and P. Fortunato (eds), Securing Peace: State-Building and Economic Development in Post-Conflict Countries (London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2011), pp. 87–113; O. P. Richmond and J. Franks, Liberal Peace Transitions: Between Statebuilding and Peacebuilding (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2009); O. P. Richmond, ‘Failed Statebuilding Versus Peace Formation’, Cooperation and Conflict, 48 (3) (2013), 378–400.

(40) de Waal, Chapter 17, in this volume, also de Waal, The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa, chapters 5 and 6.

(41) T. Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1979).

(42) B. Moore, Jr, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston, MA, Beacon Press, 1966).

(43) C. Tilly, European Revolutions, 1492–1992 (Oxford, Blackwell, 1993); Tilly, Coercion, Capital and European States, AD 990–1992 (Oxford, Blackwell, 1990).

(44) See, for example, D. Acemoglu and J. A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (New York, Crown Books, 2012). But cf. C. Clapham, ‘Peacebuilding Without a State: the Somali Experience’, in Curtis and Dzinesa, Peacebuilding, Power, and Politics in Africa, pp. 295–309.

(45) See Roland Paris, ‘Alternatives to Liberal Peace?’, in S. Campbell, D. Chandler and M. Sabaratnam (eds), A Liberal Peace? The Problems and Practices of Peacebuilding (London, Zed Books, 2011), pp. 159–73. See also M. Sabaratnam, ‘Avatars of Eurocentrism in the Critique of the Liberal Peace’, Security Dialogue, 44 (3) (2013), 269.

(47) See also, beyond the context of peacemaking, Yasir Awad Abdalla Eltahir, ‘Empowered Deliberative Democracy (EDD): A Start from the Bottom’, in Elke Grawert (ed.), After the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan (Woodbridge, James Currey, 2010), pp. 62–80.