Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2008

Beyond Darfur: Sudan in its Entirety

Matt Levy

May 2008

Africa Policy Information Center


Sudan is known to most Americans today for the ongoing genocide in its western region of Darfur, yet the problems facing this country are more complex than many activists are aware. As the largest country in Africa and the size of the United States East of the Mississippi River , Sudan faces many challenges, governance chief among them. Shaped by its history, modern Sudan experienced two phases of civil war between the North and South (1955-1972 and 1983-2005) killing more than two million while displacing many millions more. In 2005, this conflict ceased with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). However, it is in danger of erupting once again if CPA implementation continues to be delayed due to Khartoum’s intransigence on many issues and the capacity challenges faced by the Government of Southern Sudan.

Darfur is not the only region of Sudan that has suffered from political and economic marginalization often characterized by prejudice based upon ethnicity and racialized identity markers. A lasting solution to Sudan’s conflicts must be comprehensive in addressing the frustrations and hopes of people throughout the country, not just those of Darfur or those in the South. This Africa Action resource lays out the challenges facing three marginalized communities, all of which are critical to the long-term peace and development of Sudan and the region.

While Darfur should remain a priority for advocates, government officials and interested citizens around the world, all these actors can be more effective in creating sustainable solutions that address the underlying issues of conflict if they understand the full context and extent of challenges to peace in the country. The communities of Eastern Sudan, Nubia (to the North of Khartoum) and Abyei all face serious political and economic challenges that threaten Sudan’s prospects for long-term stability.

No solution to conflict in Sudan will be instantaneous or without its flaws. Instead, advocates must push for change that is comprehensive and sustainable, acknowledging that genuine and lasting peace and respect for all the peoples of Sudan will require long-term strategic international engagement to support peace and development initiatives by local and national level actors.