Autonomy and Independence: The International Community's Role
In January, Southern Sudan and Abyei are expected to fulfill a nervously anticipated element of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended a protracted civil war between Khartoum and Southern Sudanese rebel forces in 2005. The CPA-mandated popular referendums will determine if the South will declare independence from Sudan, and which part of Sudan oil-rich Abyei will join.
Observers insist there is little doubt independence will be chosen by voters, assuming the vote takes place and it is free, fair, and inclusive. Certainty of popular will, however, is shrouded in an equal degree of skepticism regarding the credibility of the process and willingness of the parties, particularly Omar el-Bashir’s regime, to follow through on commitments and abide by the results.
The pending referendums have thus attracted a largely unprecedented degree of speculation and attention on behalf of the international community, which has invested directly in the process in hopes of a peaceful outcome.
This level of attention is in many ways unsurprising—the CPA that mandates the referendums was the result of active engagement on behalf of key international players. Forty years of civil war revealed a penchant for civilian targeting on all sides, leading many to fear that the process and its innumerable contingencies could lead not only to a resurgence of general conflict but also to mass atrocities and genocidal campaigns.
Given the investment and the risks, many world leaders are paying a unique level of attention to the process, and attempting a form of engagement that is often elusive in global politics—a concerted effort at crisis prevention rather than a simple “wait and see” in anticipation of the need for crisis response.
The global attention evokes memories of other recent cases of secession, as well as the lingering status of numerous autonomous regions striving for official statehood, each of which have attracted highly varying levels of international support and engagement.
Like Southern Sudan, the status of Kosovo, its own autonomy stemming from an experience of civil war and mass atrocities, elicited a high degree of international involvement. In fact, direct administration by UN authorities defined much of its post-atrocity history. Yet opinions of UN member states, including major powers, have differed widely on the validity of its declaration of independence.
Other cases have attracted significantly less attention and investment. Somaliand, an island of relative stability unwillingly encompassed within the world’s most notoriously failed state, Somalia, declared independence in 1991 to an absence of international recognition—recognition it continues to strive for with little direct support. Moldova’s breakaway region of Trans-Dniester has been considered by few aside from key neighbors and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has thus far been unable to force a breakthrough in the stalemate on its status. Georgia’s autonomous regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have received flares of attention in moments of heightened conflict, and a UN mission (UNOMIG) was established in 1993 to verify cease-fire compliance between Georgian and Abkhaz authorities. Continuing engagement, however, has been largely stifled by lack of consensus among the members of the UN Security Council, which failed to renew UNOMIG’s mandate in June of 2009.
In the Sudanese case, many question whether the actions taken by international actors, particularly the United States, have been sufficient to ensure a peaceful result or prepare for the prospect of violence. While the course of the referendum remains largely unclear, the engagement of the international community will certainly play into its outcome—one way or another.
Director of Communications: The director of communications, a senior professional at the Stanley Foundation, is responsible for all aspects of the foundation’s external communications, from general brand to specific material production.
Program Officer, Media: The Stanley Foundation seeks a program officer to join its Policy Programming Department. The chosen candidate will work with the foundation’s leadership team and staff to plan, implement, and assess the impact of the foundation’s media programming in pursuit of our mission, vision, and organizational goals.
Policy Program Officer, Nuclear Security: The Stanley Foundation seeks a program officer to plan, implement, and assess the impact of the foundation’s nuclear security policy programming.
Policy Program Officer, Human Protection; The Stanley Foundation seeks a program officer to plan, implement, and assess the impact of the foundation’s human protection policy programming.
The latest issue of Courier features an investigation of a 2007 break-in at a South African nuclear storage facility that still unnerves many officials and experts. It also considers the architecture for climate action that needs to be built ahead of this year's global gathering in Paris. Another article looks at our annual global youth conference that brings students together to discuss global issues. Finally, two teachers share how a travel award offers unique professional development.
Our bimonthly newsletter looks at the need to establish a group to negotiate an international convention on nuclear security. The Spring issue of Courier has been published and we feature a new analysis brief that offers two ideas for energizing the international community to build the rule of law around the world.
In the latest, you’ll find many extras—from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up now
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues. To reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste, we almost exclusively, use electronic distribution for our publications. Sign up to receive our resources via e-mail.
|Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences
The Stanley Foundation holds two annual conferences, UN Issues and the Strategy for Peace Conference. These bring together experts from the public and private sectors to meet in a distraction-free setting and candidly exchange ideas on pressing foreign policy challenges.
Divided into roundtable talks, the cutting-edge discussions are intended to inspire group consensus and shared recommendations to push forward the debate on the foundation’s key policy areas.
|Nuclear Security Video
The Stanley Foundation produced a 13-minute video looking at what needs to be done to stop terrorist groups from acquiring enough fissile material to make a bomb. The foundation talked with over a dozen diverse and distinguished experts from the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group and the Fissile Materials Working Group to see how today's patchwork of voluntary arrangements can be forged into a long-lasting system. Watch the video.
|Watch and Learn
Stanley Foundation events, talks, video reports, and segments from our Now Showing event-in-a-box series can now be viewed on YouTube. To receive regular updates on our video posts, please subscribe today.