Oil and Borders: A panel discussion forum on Sudan and South Sudan

Introduction

 

Calgary, Alberta, Canada - In recent months, Sudan and South Sudan have been involved in a crisis fueled by oil and border issues. At several rounds of peace talks, the Republic of Sudan has been demanding a $ 36 charge in exchange for South Sudan to use its oil infrastructure in its territories, something which has not been acceptable to the Republic of South Sudan. After tensions over oil transit fees, particularly the confiscation of South Sudan's oil by Sudan at the Port of Red Sea, South Sudan shut down its oil operation to avoid more confiscations.

 

On March 26, 2012, the Republic of Sudan attacked the Republic of South Sudan. After several attacks on South Sudan including on April 4 and 10, the South Sudan’s Army, the SPLA, took control of Panthou oilfields.

 

On April 20, 2012, South Sudan announced to withdraw its troops in response to the United Nations Security Council’s request to withdraw from Panthou to allow time for peace talk through which the issues should be resolved peacefully.

 

Since the start of the withdrawal by South Sudanese troops from Panthou in April, Sudan’s Armed Forces have been staging attacks deeply inside South Sudan including aerial bombardments of civilians in South Sudan. Some of the latest aerial bombardments on South Sudan by Sudan happened on May 21, 22 and on the eve of the resumption of the latest round of peace talk on May 28. For more information on recent attacks on South Sudanese civilians, see this Globe and Mail article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/tensions-rise-with-reports-of-sudan-bombings-on-south-sudan/article2439871/?utm_medium=Feeds%3A%20RSS%2FAtom&;utm_source=Home&utm_content=2439871

 

Also see this news article by News24;

http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/Sudan-bombs-South-on-eve-of-peace-talks-20120528

 

In an effort to raise awareness about and help provide some solutions to oil and border issues, South Sudan Volunteer Initiative (SSVI), a South Sudanese global response to Panthou’s crisis in April 2012, in partnership with Lost Boys' and Girls' Association of South Sudan in Calgary organized on June 9, 2012 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada a panel discussion forum.

 

 

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Panel members include Mr. Joseph Luri, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Country Representative for the South Sudanese population in Canada (third from left in grey suit), Mr. Kuir e Garang, South Sudanese author and poet(second from left in dark blue shirt), Dr. Mark Durieux, Sociologist and Professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary (fifth from left in black jacket), Mr. Simon Mayiik de Nyok, Community Activist and Former SPLM Chapter Chairman in Calgary (fourth from left in black suit)and Ms.Veronica Lissa, South Sudanese Community Organizer and Social Change Activist(1st from left).

 

The panel discussion forum was moderated by Mr. Nhial Tiitmamer of South Sudan Volunteer Initiative (SSVI) (sitting on the separate round table). Organizing committee members include Ms. Athieng Riakbai and Mr. Miyar De’Nyok from the SSVI, Mr. Dhieu Dok Minyang, Mr. James Nguen and Mr. Ariik Chol Ariik from the Lost Boys’ and Girls’ Association in Calgary.

 

The panel members analyzed the issues and came up with some solutions which cannot only help resolve the conflict between the two countries, but can also help South Sudanese cope with issues of nation building.

 

Impose a no fly zone

 

The panel discussion forum proposed that the United Nations Security Council together with the African Union Security Council should immediately impose a no fly zone, demilitarize and deploy neutral troops in the disputed border areas in order to stop Sudan’s government from killing civilians in South Sudan.

 

One of the ways to implement the proposed no fly zone is for the International Community to equip South Sudan with air defense system to be capable of shooting down offensive Khartoum’s aircrafts. Another suggestion was that if the International Community cares about the suffering of South Sudanese civilians, a no fly zone similar to what was implemented in Libya by the NATO should be applied against Sudan. The justifications are that Sudan’s President Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crime, crime against humanity and genocide in Darfur, Sudan, does not care about peace, and therefore, the only way to resolve the problems between the two countries is to use the NATO’s style applied against Gaddafi’s Libya. Some panel members think Bashir is worse than Gaddafi or has done more evil deeds than Gaddafi, and he still is intending to commit more evil things against humanity as he has recently declared:

Use international arbitration

 

On oil transit fees, the panel proposed that South Sudan should negotiate a deal which can allow it to export its oil through Sudan’s pipeline for the time being while developing other options. However, a $ 36 demand for pipeline fees by Khartoum is unacceptable and discouraging. The negotiation alternative can only work if Khartoum is forced by the International Community to come close to the international oil transit fees standard.

 

If negotiations in Addis Ababa fail, the panel also proposed that South Sudan should use international arbitration to settle disputed areas, border demarcation and oil transit fees.

 

The panel members also argue that South Sudan should not react to event. It should instead plan ahead of time. The decision to shutdown oil operations is great but it has put the country in a vulnerable position, something which would have been avoided if alternatives had been planned ahead of time.

 

Adopt the Charter for Compassion

Dr. Mark Duriex, known for his work on the sociology of compassion, proposed that South Sudan’s Government should adopt the Charter for Compassion. The Charter for Compassion is a “document that transcends religious, ideological, and national differences, and activates the Golden Rule around the world.” Adopting the charter of compassion, Dr. Durieux argues, can allow South Sudan to commit to the highest ideals of humanity, build strong global alliances and get access to global humanitarian networks of sympathizers.

Dr. Durieux also suggests that South Sudan’s government should focus on diversifying the country’s economy, embrace social entrepreneurial ideals and adopt integrated development approach focused on developing middle class, which he sees as a country’s back bone.

Dr. Durieux, together with world renowned South Sudanese musician Emmanuel Jal, is working on introducing social entrepreneurship in South Sudan, which will begin in South Sudan with a training program in September 2012.

 

Decision to capture Panthou (Heglig) was done in a poor fashion

 

Mr. Kuir e Garang, a regular commentator on Sudanese issues, argues that we should not only look at what others are not doing right about South Sudan, we should also look at what we are not doing right. He said the greatest mistake South Sudanese leaders have committed is a failure to recognize mistakes and learn from them. He argued that one of the mistakes is the inability of the government to clearly articulate what it wants. He said the decision to capture Panthou was done in a poor fashion. For example, the government sent mixed messages after the capture. It claimed it captured Panthou because Khartoum used it as an attacking base while at the same time claiming that it belongs to South Sudan. This made South Sudan vulnerable to international pressure, which eventually led to the withdrawal. Kuir also argues that South Sudan should use the United Nations effectively by presenting substantiated evidence of South Sudan’s civilian killings by Khartoum.

 

Mr. Joseph Luri, an award winning human right advocate, described Khartoum as having a greedy mentality of resources pursuit without being mindful of human beings in the resources rich border areas of South Sudan. He said the SPLM is currently committed to resolving outstanding issues using the CPA stipulations on border demarcations based on the 1956 border line. However, he said the SPLM can pursue other options if Khartoum does not want to follow the current terms of negotiation.

 

Mr. Simon Mayiik De Nyok, a native of Panthou area in Unity State, wants the international community to pay attention to the suffering of Unity State’s residents due to constant aerial bombardments by the government of Sudan.

 

Ms. Veronica Lissa wants South Sudanese to be agent of change in order for the country to overcome its current problems. She wants the SPLM to stick to peaceful negotiations as a means for resolving the issues.

 

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A section of audience members with panelists

 


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