Most experts view secession as the most likely outcome of the 2011 referendum on southern Sudan's potential secession. While this scenario may lead to some stability in the long run, effective secession immediately after the referendum may prove difficult.

242

Summary

  • Most experts view secession as the most likely outcome of the 2011 referendum on southern Sudan's potential secession. While this scenario may lead to some stability in the long run, effective secession immediately after the referendum may prove difficult.
  • There is significant concern about preparedness for the referendum at the national, regional, and community levels. While postponing the vote may provide some breathing room, it heightens the risk of uncertainty and instability.
  • Each plausible scenario - unity, secession, or a delay to the referendum - holds great uncertainty and risk regarding the potential impacts on oil, land, and water. The effects of each scenario could drastically change if the political and economic situations on the ground become more fragile.
  • Management of petroleum resources is one of the most serious challenges facing Sudan's leaders. Petroleum is the largest foreign exchange earner and the biggest contributor to fiscal revenues for both north and south. Potential flash points include revenue transparency and equitable sharing formulas, as well as financing for exploration, production, new infrastructure development, and maintenance of existing infrastructure.
  • There are insufficient data on, and attention to, use and potential of land and water. The management of both resources poses serious challenges that could derail statehood and precipitate violence.
  • If oil, water, and land are not managed and developed properly and sustainably, both north and south Sudan could be facing a much more uncertain and violent future.

About This Report

This study examines links between natural resources and effective statehood, in both northern and southern Sudan, following the planned January 2011 referendum on southern Sudan's potential secession. The study draws on research and analysis of three key natural resources - petroleum, land, and water - and on commissioned reports, a detailed questionnaire, and consultations with several leading Sudan experts regarding the referendum's implications for peaceful management of these resources. Using this information, the circumstances most likely to trigger conflict can be pinpointed. These findings are used to develop recommendations aimed at improving the management of these three resources and reducing the likelihood that competition over them will lead to violence in 2011. Dr. Paul J. Sullivan teaches at National Defense University and Georgetown University. Natalie Nasrallah, a consultant for the United States Institute of Peace on this study, has an MS in violence, conflict, and development.

 

Related Publications

What Does Sudan’s New Cabinet Mean for its Transition?

What Does Sudan’s New Cabinet Mean for its Transition?

Monday, February 8, 2021

By: Joseph Tucker

The announcement on February 8 of a new Cabinet in Khartoum—the product of a peace accord signed by Sudan’s transitional government with several armed groups in October 2020 through a deal brokered by South Sudan—offers hope that the broader inclusion of political leaders can help address Sudan’s pressing challenges and create peace dividends. Unfortunately, the lengthy process of selecting new Cabinet members revealed additional fractures among both signatories to the peace deal and civilian political elements that seemingly offer competing visions for the transition and beyond.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

How Art Helped Propel Sudan’s Revolution

How Art Helped Propel Sudan’s Revolution

Thursday, November 12, 2020

By: Elizabeth Murray

During Sudan’s 2019 revolution—as people mobilized across the country with tactics including sit-ins, marches, boycotts, and strikes—artists helped capture the country’s discontent and solidify protesters’ resolve. In particular, artists became an integral part of the months-long sit-in at the military headquarters in Khartoum, which was known as the heart of the revolution until it was violently dispersed by paramilitary forces on June 3, 2019. This immense expression of creativity was both a result of loosening restrictions on freedom of expression and, at the same time, a catalyst for further change.

Type: Blog

Nonviolent Action

Normalizing Sudan-Israel Relations Now is a Dangerous Game

Normalizing Sudan-Israel Relations Now is a Dangerous Game

Thursday, September 24, 2020

By: Payton Knopf; Jeffrey Feltman

With the UAE and Bahrain having joined Egypt and Jordan in declaring peace with Israel, those asking “who’s next?” often look enthusiastically westward, toward Khartoum. Adding new chapters to the Abraham Accords is in the U.S. interest, but so is a successful transition in Sudan. And the sequence of these steps is critical. A unified Sudanese government with a popular mandate will be better able to forge a warm and sustainable peace with Israel, whereas a rushed Israeli-Sudanese agreement has the potential to unravel Sudan’s transition and generate renewed support for Sudan’s Islamists and their foreign backers.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Global Policy

View All Publications