Why Arcss Failed?


Inexperience in resolving conflicts

IGAD was created more for economic reasons rather than for addressing political issues. It also has very little experience in resolving intra-state conflicts. In its lifetime, however, they did succeed to bring the Sudan conflict to an end, though there were lapses which detracted from the success of the agreement which they hammered out. For example, after signing the Agreement, IGAD left the parties to implement the Agreement on their own. Though this would have been the ideal way for resolving the problem, practically, that usually did not work. Because, left on their own, the protagonists would sooner than later begin to renege on the agreement and veer from its stipulations and spirit. For example, in the absence of IGAD, the Government of the Sudan ceased the opportunity to renege on two key provisions of the agreement, namely, the Abyei Protocol and the demarcation of the boundaries between the two new states. It is without doubt that these two un-implemented provisions will remain to be a source of friction between the two states. In ARCSS, however, IGAD did put in place follow-up mechanisms, the JMEC and CTSAMM; but so far, their performance to say the least is below par.

Absence of a bull dozer

It is a common knowledge that if one wants to separate two persons who are fighting, one must be equal to or stronger than either of the two, otherwise you won’t succeed. Similarly, in peace talks, the peace makers must either be strong to flex muscles or have the presence of a strong member with might, like Nigeria in ECOWAS. This is very necessary for the success of the talks, since the protagonists would respect it. IGAD lacks such a member that can put its weight behind an agreed issue and command the respect of the parties. Because of that, during the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A talks, the Government of the Sudan, which saw itself as strong as, or even stronger than the any of the members of IGAD , often would ignore dates set for the talks and only attend as it chose to do and IGAD had to go along. Unfortunately, though the Government of South Sudan is not stronger than any of them, IGAD has allowed this to happen again. Often the Government of South Sudan would decline to fulfill certain things, e.g. sign an agreement and IGAD would allow it to do it at a time of its own choice. When peace makers allow such to happen, then their power of mediation is undermined. Hence, must assert itself and firmly remind the parties of the risk of being sanctioned if they prove to be obstacles to peace.

Lack of unity and of purpose among the members

From observations, it is clear that the IGAD peace makers are not united. Leading members like Uganda was actively fighting the Riek forces, while Sudan was clandestinely supplying arms to Riek’s SPLM-IO. Such a lack of unity of purpose has undermined the impartiality of the IGAD and has made the conflict more difficult to resolve. Additionally, protagonists are quick to exploit such divisions. A classic example of this elsewhere was in the first Liberian conflict 1993-1996. In that conflict, Burkina Faso (Campaore) and Cote d’ Ivoire (Houphuet Boigny) were openly supportive of Charles Taylor, it thus became difficult to reach an agreement and particularly to implement it, because both Burkina Faso and Cote d’ Ivoire kept supplying Charles Taylor with arms. Consequently, in 1994, the agreement collapsed and it was only in 1996, when all the ECOWAS leaders worked and stood together, that they succeeded to bring the conflict to an end. Therefore for this war to end, all members of IGAD should stand together and cease supplying arms to any of the sides.

Procrastination, assertiveness and decisiveness

Conflicts are dynamic occurrences. They change very quickly in magnitude as well as complexity if given time. Unfortunately, IGAD’s handling of the South Sudan conflict has been marked by the triple handicaps of the lack of assertiveness, decisiveness and undue procrastination. Given this, protagonists are also quick to recognize such weaknesses and take advantage of them. IGAD’s actions have been far in between, such that by the time some action comes to be taken, many of the things had already changed. For example, the last Revitalization talks ended since mid-December last year, but the follow-up meeting is only going to take place in February. Why this? In the meantime, new issues have arisen, like the Paul Malong case and other new rebel groups. These have the potential of adding to the complexity of conflict. In fact, procrastination has been one reason why it has taken IGAD these four long and shameful years to nail the South Sudanese conflict. Contrast this with ECOWAS in West Africa, where quick and firm actions resolved the potential conflicts in Burkina Faso and The Gambia in a matter of months only. Additionally, because ECOWAS leaders are bold assertive and decisive, they have not shied from rebuking and/or taking actions against one of their own, e.g. Charles Taylor and Yaya Jammeh, should such actions lead to resolving the problem.


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