Sudan – A case of “fragile” or “rogue” state?

A “rogue state” is a state that defies international laws and conventions, does not consider itself bound by the major treaties and conventions, World Court decisions – in fact, anything except the interests of its own leadership, the forces around the leadership that dominate policy. That would be an extreme case of a “rogue state and then there are variations, of course. (Noam Chomsky).

However “fragile” state is more or less a weak collapsed and quasi state. A fragile region or state has a weak capacity to carry out basic governance functions, and lacks the ability to develop mutually constructive relations with society. Fragile states are also more vulnerable to internal or external shocks such as economic crises or natural disasters. [Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, 2013).

In the debate of rogue status given to or acquired by states, Sudan’s Case is relevant, and important as well. This is due to the fact that Sudan has been the subject of a number of international ‘responses’ towards its internal problems, including development aid, humanitarian assistance and diplomatic support with regards to peace negotiations with the international and regional peace-keepers. Not to forget the role played by the international sanctions and pressures that triggered Sudan in doing so. More, throughout the Darfur conflict it has moved on from being a “fragile” or “failed” state to acquiring the status of a “Rogue state”. Although these concepts may have a similar function of legitimising external interference, the term ‘rogue’ carries a different connotation, as it emphasizes the state’s defiant posture and often presumes a certain level of control.

Darfur is a region in Sudan, Africa, with the population of nearly 6 million people (before 2003). Darfur Genocide is the ultimate severe form of the unrest and government’s marginalisation of ethnic minority. The issue began in 2003 when two rebellious groups emerged namely Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).These movements were the reactionary forces that surfaced in the wake of their large scale economic marginalisation which increased and fueled the sentiments of the affected class and thus, reacting towards that complex situation, they launched their movements against the Sudanese Government.

Instead of addressing the issues of the groups the government used offensive measures to tackle the situation which worsened the case. Government repressed the groups with the Arab militia (aka Janjaweed) with violent attacks on villages throughout the country. This direct state violence led to a massive humanitarian catastrophe and an estimated 400,000 people died directly or indirectly from the attacks. Genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.” So the violence in Darfur is considered to be genocide because it is racially based as Arab Sudanese targeted the Black Sudanese. Approximately 400,000 killed, 2.5 million people were internally displaced and quite a huge number fled to Chad. In 2004, the Sudanese government denied that genocide had taken place. Very quickly after all this the government expelled 13 international agencies from Sudan and three local agencies from Darfur which reduced the aid program to half. This behaviour also shows that Sudan gave up the binding obligation to the international norms and laws and have opted the status of a “rogue” state itself.

It was September 2004 when finally international community looked upon the matter seriously when US Secretary of State Colin Powell deemed the Darfur conflict genocide and called it the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. It was later in 2009 when Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, became the first sitting president to be indicted by International Criminal Court for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur. The Darfur Peace Agreement (dpa) was finally signed in May 2006 which had little to deal with the issue as it was considered flawed even before it was to implement. Later on, under international pressure and the involvement of more foreign players, Sudanese government accepted a joint proposal from the United Nations for the deployment of a hybrid mission in Darfur. This entailed the deployment of 26,000 soldiers within the UN African Union Mission in Darfur (unamid).

There are diverse views of scholars; international community seems divided too while labeling the Sudanese case as “fragile” state or “rogue” state. There is a camp of scholars who considers it to be mere ‘fragile’ and bases the arguments on the facts that amongst 47 states identified by OECD as fragile Sudan is listed as one of the countries of particular concern because it faces a combination of diminishing aid and slow growth.

Sudan is one of the nations caught in a ‘fragility trap’, a category consisting of those states that have appeared most frequently in the list of the top 20 fragile states over the past 30 years. (Report by David Carment and Yiagadeesen Samy).

Keeping in consideration the historical facts during the violence in Darfur and the international mobilisation and the global response marking Sudan a mere “fragile” state and not a “rogue” state would not do justice to the case because Sudan remained a state that was defiant and disrespectful of international norms and side by side a strong state with direct control over and responsibility for violence.

In the conduct of ‘rogue states’ irrationality and military strength are certainly two key aspects according to which Sudan has been seen up to the mark as it possesses sufficient control over military assets which are to be held responsible for the severity of the conflict, also an irrationality factor that turned down every attempt of peaceful negotiations making it pointless.

An arms embargo is a ban on the export of arms and related material including military ammunition, weapons and goods. This can be put in place by the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Immediately after having much evidence against the atrocities of NIF government, President Clinton signed an Executive Order under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act on November 4, 1997. This was the first time when comprehensive unilateral trade and investment embargo was imposed against Sudan. The President of United States stated that “Sudan constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to national security and foreign policy of the United States.” – Not to forget that this sanction didn’t stop humanitarian assistance which amounted to USD 650 million since 1988.

After fighting broke out in the Sudanese region of Darfur in 2003, in a renewal of the country’s civil war, an arms embargo was imposed by the United Nations Security Council. The embargo came into force in 2004, with the passing of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1556. It was extended in 2005 with Resolution 1591, which has now been incorporated into UK law.

There were several dimensions in which sanctions and restriction were imposed that included primarily the arms control and trade embargos. In arms embargo on Sudan following points were made to be restricted:

Technical assistance, brokering services and other military-related services

Financing or financial assistance related to military activities for use in Sudan

Whereas, Sudan was also a subject to Trade Controls under Schedule-4 Part-2 of the Export Control Order 2008. Other restrictions on Sudan included:

A ban on providing services relating to the supply of technical, financial and other assistance related to military activities in Sudan

Freezing of funds

Travel restrictions on people infringing the arms embargo and human rights

The rogue nature of any state is not a friendly characteristic for own people and for the globe around as well. Such behaviour poses threat to the defence issues and raises the security concerns in the region as well. It is important to keenly observe the core of the issue, developing an international board for mediating on the issue and then smartly turn the unanimous resolution against the state in order to punish the behavior, for which economic embargos against the state is the most commonly used tool.

Highlighting the significance of the sanctions and global pressure on Sudan, Imatong Ali has written in his book that “It is essential that the present level of international pressure be maintained, possibly even intensified, and certainly not reduced. Any easing of pressure will have disastrous effects for the forces of peace and stability not only in Sudan, but throughout the Horn and into Central, East and North Africa, possibly even extending across the Red Sea. The government and its fellow travelers outside Sudan will misconstrue such a relaxation in efforts as a victory for their cause, and they will become even more dismissive of human rights and basic democratic principles.” Even in the case of Sudan, its behavior towards the internal matters was controlled by imposing the sanctions.

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