Pulitzer Center Update

In Focus: Sudan 5 years later

Mark Stanley, Pulitzer Center

Jen blog image
Image by Jen Marlowe, Pulitzer Center grantee currently reporting from Sudan on the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement five years after it was signed.

Pulitzer Center journalist Jen Marlowe returns to Sudan this week to report on the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The commemoration coincides with preparations for Sudan's much-delayed elections, currently scheduled for April, and the 2011 referendum on southern independence. Incumbent candidate Omar al-Bashir will participate in the general election as the first standing head of state with an International Criminal Court warrant issued for his arrest.

The agreement's 2005 adoption signified a milestone in the peace process on the heels of a decades-long civil war, facilitating a shift in international attention to infrastructural issues driving the violence. While earlier media coverage portrayed a conflict fueled by oil, the CPA's adoption shifted public attention to underlying facets of population security including a primary culprit - water scarcity - described by Paul Sullivan for Circle of Blue.

The CPA's principal provisions have been evaded or ignored, as have key elements of the Darfur Peace Agreement and the East Sudan Peace Agreement. Repression and marginalization continue as core policies of the northern Sudan government in Khartoum. The government of southern Sudan has been marred by corruption, factionalism and an unwillingness or inability to combat a rise in intra-communal violence. Though the violence in Darfur has abated, some 2 million persons remain in displaced persons camps.

Five years after the agreement's signing, Marlowe and others' efforts to make Sudanese voices heard by the international community are drastically under-covered. In the Huffington Post blog, the ENOUGH Project's John Prendergast and Laura Heaton further explore failures of international accountability in the agreement's implementation. Sudan Watch covered an otherwise under-reported joint statement this week by the UK, US and Norway, congratulating the people of Sudan for upholding the principles of the CPA. The statement, however, falls far short of acknowledging the obstacles confronting Africa's largest country during a critical transition.