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.
The Winter 2016 issue of Courier features policy insights for the President-elect and new US leadership to improve our peace and security in nuclear policy, genocide prevention, and climate change. The issue also includes an in-depth interview with a survivor of the Phnom Penh, Cambodia genocide in the late 1970s. The full Winter 2016 issue. PDF (1.0 MB) Subscribe for FREE.
|Stanley Foundation at 60
On December 12, 1956, the Stanley Foundation was certified as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Iowa, bringing to life an organization dedicated to creating a world in which there is a secure peace with freedom and justice. Sixty years later, the organization continues to pursue and advance that vision as a thriving nonpartisan operating foundation. Moreover, it remains an organization with a professional staff and the involvement of family members who have an ongoing role in shaping its strategy and core values. More.
|IRP Fellows Reporting Live from the COP22 Climate Change Conference in Morocco
The International Reporting Project (IRP) and the Stanley Foundation collaborated to bring five international journalists to Marrakech, Morocco to report on the Twenty-Second Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from November 7-18, 2016.
|SAFETY Guidelines for Journalists:
In the event of a radiation incident such as the use of a so-called dirty bomb or nuclear reactor incident, accurate and swift reporting is vital to public safety. This guide is intended to both help the journalist to be safe if they are covering such a story and to provide basic safety information that can be conveyed to the public to limit the risk of radiation exposure.
|Reporting a Radiation Emergency
Journalists would play an indispensable role keeping the public informed in an emergency resulting in the release of radiation, either accidental or deliberate. But what do they need to do their job effectively? The following recommendations to authorities who would manage such an emergency were drafted by participants in the 2016 Rotterdam Nuclear Security Workshop for International Journalists.
Our bimonthly newsletter is filled with resources to keep you up to date with our work at the Stanley Foundation. Each edition includes news about recent publications and stories as well as features our people and partners.
You will also find many extras, from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up for the latest to stay engaged on key global issues.
|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.
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.
|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.