Enhancing Sudanese civil society participation in peace-building

Report of a dialogue meeting between civil society representatives from North and South Sudan and the

The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) on 9 January 2005, represented a major step towards ending the devastating 21 year civil war between the North and South of the country. The agreement calls for far-reaching changes to Sudan's structure and governance, including new interim national and state constitutions, and the formation of a new Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan.

Furthermore, the agreement has paved the way for the European Union (EU) and other donors to resume development co-operation with Sudan.

On 15-16 August 2005, representatives from civil society organisations from North and South Sudan met in Nairobi in order to identify ways in which they can work together to participate in and to influence the peace process, donor policies and Sudan's new governance structures. The meeting was organised by Saferworld, Africa Peace Forum and InterAfrica Group, as part of a joint project 'Enhancing the capacity of the EU to foster peace and security in the Horn of Africa'. The meeting provided an opportunity for dialogue between civil society representatives from different regions of Sudan, including representatives from the Non-state Actor (NSA) Interim Committees for both North and South Sudan and civil society representatives from the east and west of the country. It also provided an opportunity for dialogue between Sudanese civil society representatives and the European Commission (EC). The meeting was a follow up to an earlier dialogue meeting held on 21-23 September 2004 in Addis Ababa.

The participants reviewed the achievements and challenges faced by civil society in participating in the implementation of the CPA and the constitution drafting process. They also discussed the EU's engagement in Sudan, the opportunities for civil society to access funding, and the problems associated with delays in implementing the EU's non-state actor capacity-building programme. The discussions also focused on analysing the key opportunities, threats and challenges to the peace process in Sudan, and developing recommendations for how civil society and other actors could take action to address them.

A key challenge identified by the participants was a lack of awareness by the wider public of the provisions of the CPA and the constitutional process and their implications for the future of Sudan. They identified this as a major obstacle to broadening public support for the peace process and to opening up space for wider popular participation in the new governance structures of Sudan.

The participants agreed to enhance co-operation between civil society organisations from North and South Sudan by working together towards a common goal. They decided that a key priority for the NSA committees from North and South Sudan would be to work together to raise awareness and provide civic education on the CPA and the constitutional process.