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The Failure Of Unamid In Darfur Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 3907 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Darfur has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. Since the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the world has not seen such a campaign of killing, refugees, rape and destruction. The crisis caused the death of 300 000 people and over 2.5 million displaced Sudanese since February 2003. This crisis attracted the attention of many humanitarian and human rights organizations, various states’ policy makers, and a number of regional and international organizations such as the African Union, the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. In 2004, the African Union established the Darfur Integrated Taskforce (DITF). In 2007, the continuing hazardous situation required the creation of a joined AU-UN operation to intervene in Darfur, which was called United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

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After three years of functioning of the UNAMID, the situation in Darfur still depicts a lot of human suffering and deprivation [3] . This suggests that the UNAMID was not effective in dealing with the crisis. To understand this, the paper will investigate the reasons behind the mission’s failure in achieving its objectives and goals. Hence, the study will try to answer the following question: why did UNAMID fail in Darfur? In other words, what are the reasons behind UNAMID’s ineffectiveness in Darfur? In fact, there are various reasons that can be investigated ranging from domestic to international, organizational to financial ones. However, given the limited time and knowledge, we will focus on two major reasons that we think created obstacles to the mission’s success. Thus, the hypothesis that we are willing to test is that UNAMID was not effective in Darfur because the Khartoum government didn’t cooperate and the mission lacked resources.

Before answering the question and testing the hypothesis, it is important to understand the conflict and its roots. For this purpose, we are going to divide the paper into three major parts. The first one will deal with defining the concepts, literature review and the theoretical framework. The second part will focus of the conflict. That is to say, it will give a background of the Darfurian situation before and after the 2003 conflict, explaining the origins of this latter and its key actors. The last part will deal with the UNAMID intervention. It will give an overview of the creation of the mission, an assessment of its work, and then a brief analysis of the causes of its ineffectiveness.

Theoretical Framework


Before analyzing UN peacekeeping operation (PKO) Darfur, we should first define the concept of peacekeeping and understand its role in order to be able to reflect on the UNAMID mission and its success or failure. Peacekeeping, as defined by the Cambridge dictionary, is “the activity of preventing war and violence, especially the use of armed forces not involved in a disagreement to prevent fighting in an area”. This definition is broad, and it does not specify the conditions under which the intervention can occur, nor the procedures that should be taken before that. For this purpose, we will take the definition of the UN and which defines peacekeeping as “the deployment of international military and civilian personnel to a conflict area with the consent of the parties to the conflict in order to: stop or contain hostilities or supervise the carrying out of a peace agreement” [4] . This definition adds two important points: the first one is that the interveners are international actors, both military and civilians; and the second point stresses the agreement of the parties involved. It also exposes the role of these operations. This latter was further clarified by the International Peace Academy. It stated that the roles of the PKO are: “the prevention, containment, moderation and termination of hostilities between and within states, through the medium of a peaceful third party intervention, using a multinational force of soldiers, police and civilians to restore and maintain peace”. Hence, the developments in the practices and operations of “peacekeeping” resulted to the emergence of a set of concepts and terms that describe the different natures of the operations and tasks they undertake. That is to say, “peacekeeping” has become a general concept which requires details of the selected sub-show style of operation that is intended in each particular case. These sub-divisions are defined in Boutous Ghali’s Agenda for Peace. In this latter, he mentioned three concepts: peacemaking, peace-keeping, and preventive diplomacy. The first one is defined as “an action to prevent disputes from arising between parties, to prevent existing disputes from escalating into conflicts and to limit the spread of the latter when they occur”, the second one as ” an action to bring hostile parties to agreement, essentially through such peaceful means as those foreseen in Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations”, and the third as “a technique that expands the possibilities for both the prevention of conflict and the making of peace”.

It is noted that some operations may combine the properties of more than one type of peacekeeping operation. That is to say, the mission may begin according to one of the patterns but the developments on the ground may drive it to shift to another type of operation. It is further noted that the different sub-divisions of the peacekeeping operations run in parallel, meaning that they did not cancel each other since the world is still witnessing all of these processes in different parts of it, depending on the situation and the circumstances that require one operation over the others.

Literature review

During the Cold War, the United Nations Charter put an integrated system for collective security. Theoretically, the system has the necessary components to ensure its effectiveness, which are general principles and rules agreed on and shared, namely: a device responsible for making sure the states respect these principles, and giving it the resources and capabilities so that it can do the task of deterrence or punishment for states that cross the limits agreed upon. However, the implementation of this system was conditioned by the acceptance of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, which was impossible to achieve in most cases under the conditions of the cold war [5] . This created an obstacle for the implementation of the collective security system. In this case of polarization, the UN tried to find alternative mechanisms to deal with events of international violence and conflicts that arise in different areas throughout the world. One of these mechanisms is the creation of peacekeeping operations. The creation of this latter was justified by the need to adopt methods designed to stop or contain conflicts that have turned into armed conflicts [6] . Besides, the PKOs would serve to deepen the gap that emerged between the arrangements set out in the Charter concerning reaching a peaceful settlement of disputes and contained in articles 28-33 (which gave the Security Council the main role in assisting States to resolve problems among themselves) [7] as well as the arrangements set out in articles 39 – 51 (under which the UN Security Council has the right to use force to impose peace) [8] on the one hand, and the possibilities for the actual implementation of these arrangements on the other hand. Thus, the UN interventions rose from only 14 between 1947 and 1987, to 32 between 1988 and 1997 [9] .

Particularly, UN intervention in Africa in extensive regarding the number of peacekeeping operations which are 27 in Africa compared to 39 in the rest of the world [10] . This can be explained by the various wars that occurred and occur in Africa, both inter and intra-states conflicts that differ in this severity, and that range from the dispute over land like the case of Benin, to the ethnic cleansing and genocide such as Rwanda. In 2003, the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) was created. It’s goals are as follows:

enhance international support for Africa’s development and security through its advocacy and analytical work, assist the Secretary General in improving coherence and coordination of the UN system support to Africa, andfacilitate inter-governmental deliberations on Africa at the global level, in particular relating to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) [11] .

Moreover, the outcomes of the UN intervention in Africa are different, depending on the situation and the circumstances. Some of them manage to achieve the missions’ goals and hence are successful, others fail to implement the goals or part of them. Rhazaoui illustrates this idea by giving examples. He said:

while Somalia and Rwanda illustrated the limitations of indecisive action by the Security Council, UN intervention in Mozambique succeeded in consolidating peace and mobilising adequate resources for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of that war-torn country [12] .

Thus, UN is heavily interested in stabilizing and developing the African countries through various missions which have different goals depending on the situations. Nevertheless, these operations are not always successful due to a range of reasons related either to the state cooperation, or to the UN’s organization and resources, and sometimes both.

Conflict Theory

The crisis in Darfur is a multidimensional conflict that can be explained in various ways be it ethnic, religious, ecological… In order to understand the crisis, we will use conflict theory as a theoretical framework. This theory analyses conflicts economically. That is to say, the causes of conflicts, according to this theory, are “the desire to redistribute scare sources, to in act incompatible roles, or to pursue incompatible value” [13] . Society is composed of groups that are unequal in terms of wealth, distribution of resources and power, and hence, the disadvantaged struggle to ensure a kind of equality and defend their interests. So, using conflict theory as a theoretical framework, we will analyze the economic causes of conflict in Darfur both within the region (between the Darfurian tribes) and between the region and the government.

Understanding the Crisis of Darfur

Sudan, in northeast Africa, is the largest country in the continent measuring about one fourth the size of the USA. It neighbors nine countries (see map1 in appendix). Sudan is an authoritarian Republic because all power is in the hands of President Umar El-Bashir who has controlled government since military led coup in 1989. Sudan is a very fragmented nation with 400 languages and dialects and 600 cultural and ethnic groups [14] .

Pre-conflict Situation

The Darfur region is located in the western part of Sudan (see map2 in appendix). It is roughly the size of Texas [15] and has a pre-conflict population of approximately 6 million. It borders Libya, Chad and the Central African Republic. Darfur is known throughout history, as an independent state. It was colonized 18years after Sudan [16] . It has an ethnic, economic and political situation different from that of the north or the south in Sudan.

The Arabic word Dar roughly means homeland and the population of Darfur is divided into several Dars, not only the Fur as its name suggests, but also in several other communities (see map3 in Appendix) determined by livelihood as much as ethnicity. However, this latter is not itself clear-cut, given the long history of racial mixing between indigenous “non-Arab” peoples and “Arabs”, who are now distinguished by cultural-linguistic attachment rather than race [17] . The Fur are peasant people and they occupy the central part of the region which is the richest and most stable area [18] in terms of land fertility and water resources. Also in its central zone are the non-Arab Masalit, Berti and Bergid peoples who are all sedentary farmers. The northern zone is Dar Zaghawa which is inherited by camel nomads, principally the Zaghawa who are non-Arab in origin, and the Arab Beni Hussein, Mahamid, Mahariya and Irayqat [19] . It is the most ecologically fragile of the three main zones and affected by drought. The eastern and southern zone of Darfur is occupied by the Arab nomads. They comprise Rezeigat, Habbaniya, Beni Halba and Taaisha. The area is severely affected by drought than the northern zone. economics

Throughout history, the population of Darfur suffered from marginalization and neglect. This idea is stressed by Saleh who said that “what can be deduced from 18th and 19th century Darfur is that government and elite alike have never treated the people of Darfur kindly” [20] . He added that they were suffering from all kinds of injustice including slavery and high taxation [21] . Since Darfur was annexed by the British to Sudan, the former was excluded and abandoned by the successive governments [22] . Moreover, most Darfurians voted for the NIF, but once in power, they showed bias to the Arabs and neglected Darfur [23] . So, politically speaking, Darfur was not fully integrated in the dynamics of Sudan. Political system

Key Actors

In order to fully understand the conflict of Darfur and its dynamics, we need to know the actors involved, their background and their goals. Hence, we are going to discuss the Janjaweed as a government sponsored militias, the government as a double role actor in the conflict, and the two Darfurian rebel groups: the Sudanese Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement. In fact, we should mention that there are various other groups that are included in the conflict such as National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD), Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SFDA) [24] , but they are not as important as SLM and JEM and hence we will focus on the two latter for their importance in Darfur Politics.

The Janjaweed are Arab militias that are responsible for most of the damages in Darfur, in terms both of blood and treasure. To know who they are and how they emerged, we should go back in history. From the time of the Sultans, the camel-herding Abbala Reizeigat, to which belong the Janjaweed, had been “a headache to the rule In the1980s, s of Darfur” [25] . In the 1980s, the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) law was created with an objective of “training men and women in civil and military tasks, to raise their level of security consciousness, and instill military discipline so that they can cooperate with the regular armed forces and security services” [26] . Janjaweed became part of the PDF, the state paramilitary force [27] .

The government, on the other hand, is government

The Darfur Liberation Movement (DLM) was created during the late 1980, as a response to the activities of the Sudan government sponsored militias in Darfur, but became Sudanese Liberation Movement/ Army (SLM/A) in 2003 and an alliance of the tribal groups that oppose the government and their para-military militia groups [28] . The creation of SLA marked a formidable ideological shift from Darfur Liberation Front which was a secessionist movement premised on establishing a separate Darfur state, to a movement that aspires to create a democratic and more equitable Sudan. The SLA/SLM position on the unity of the Sudan is stated in its Political Declaration as follows:

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The Sudan Liberation Movement/Army is of the view that Sudan’s unity is of paramount importance, but it should not be maintained and cannot be viable unless it is based on justice and equality for all the Sudanese peoples. Sudan’s unity must be anchored on a new basis that is predicated on full acknowledgement of Sudan’s ethnic, cultural, social and political diversity. Viable unity must therefore ultimately be based on the right of self-determination and the free will of the various peoples of Sudan. The fundamental imperatives of a viable unity are an economy and political system that address the uneven development and marginalization that have plagued the country since independence, so that the interests of the marginalized majority are adequately catered for and they are brought to the same level of development of the ruling minority. The SLM/A shall work with all political forces that ascribe to this view. [29] 

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) JEM

The 2003 Crisis

The conflict of Darfur turned out to be a humanitarian crisis, described by some as genocide and by others as the worst humanitarian crisis. As any conflict, it has various reasons varying from political, economic, ecological, and ethnic. However, we will deal with the economic ones as conflict theory considers the struggle over resources is the main cause of conflicts.


West Darfur has a population of approximately 1,7 million, most of them are African farmers from the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes. The rest of the population of Darfur consists of Arab nomadic groups. Although both the black African and Arab tribes are all Muslim, they have a long history of clashes over land, crops and resources [30] . The fighting in Darfur is usually described as racially motivated, pitting mounted Arabs against black rebels and civilians; but the conflict has its causes in another dimension, between settled farmers and nomadic over failing lands. Until the rains began to fail, the nomads lived amicably with the settled farmers. The nomads were welcome passers. The farmers would share their wells, and the herders would feed their stock on the leavings from the harvest. However, with the drought, farmers who had once hosted the tribes and their camels were now blocking their migration because the land could no longer support both herder and farmer. Few tribes drifted elsewhere or took up farming, but the Arab herders stuck to their lifestyle as part of their Arab identity [31] . Fertile land continued to decrease as desertification became more of a problem. Tensions between nomadic Arab tribes and African farming communities began a struggle over controlling an environment that can no longer support all the people who must live on it [32] .

Another economic dimension to the conflict is between the Darfurians and the government. Darfur is the poorest state in Sudan. It has been neglected, abused, and underdeveloped and all tribes, Arab and African alike, suffered greatly from this. Even if Sudan became an oil exporter country with700 million barrel oil reserves, Darfur people suffer from hunger and frustration. more


In 2000, pastoralists moved towards the south and disputed over the fertile region, so clashes were renewed, which resulted in violence that led to the deaths of more than three thousand people, displaced a million people and burned thousands of villages in two years. In 2003, the conflict entered a dangerous turn when rebels from the two groups (SLM and JEM) attacked government targets in Darfur, destroying aircraft on the runway and the occupying El Fasher for hours and then withdrawing to their positions, accusing the government of marginalization of the region, which lacks development. Thus, the government intervened military to stop the rebels. consequences

UN intervention in Darfur

The Creation of the UNAMID

Did it fail?

Reasons behind its failure

Lack of Government Cooperation

Lack of UN Resources


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