Home    Multimedia    Press    Resources    Events    Contact Us    Who We Are   
think.


Autonomy and Independence: The International Community's Role
December 2010

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.

Rachel Gerber


Share: Email Facebook Twitter
HIGHLIGHTS
Courier Courier
In the newest issue of Courier, our editor takes on Godzilla to find out what the fictional prehistoric monster can teach us about our collective fight to solve common global problems. Keith Porter writes about the challenges that global governance faces in the future. 

We also have a sobering look at the Central African Republic, a piece on India’s climate change policy, and an interview about genocide prevention. Lastly, an investigative news nonprofit takes a deep dive into Japan's controversial plutonium-reprocessing plant.

The full Summer 2014 issue PDF (2.0 MB) Subscribe for FREE


Author Anchee Min Speaks Author Anchee Min Speaks
8th Annual International Women Authors Event
Featuring Best-selling Author Anchee Min
November 6, 2014
5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

New Video on Nuclear Security New Video on Nuclear Security
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.

the latest the latest
Our bimonthly newsletter looks at a Latin America network to stop mass atrocities as well as a seminar for journalists aimed at demystifying nuclear lingo. We also have a slideshow of our annual Investigation U. summer camp for students.

In the latest, you’ll find many extras—from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up now


Now Showing Now Showing
This Now Showing event-in-a-box toolkit Before the Killing Begins: The Politics of Mass Violence considers how early preventive strategies by governments and the international community should build much-needed capacities within countries, and make it harder for leaders to resort to violence. It aims to encourage discussion of how future efforts might better protect populations under threat, giving new resolve to the promise of never again. Sign Up.

Receive Materials Receive Materials
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues.
Sign Up

Watch and Learn 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.

Facebook