News reports are full of reports of violence in South Kordofan, but peace still exists in many places. Despite escalating violence, communities historically involved in the conflict are rejecting violence.
Even in the midst of the conflict as international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) bunker down, the tribes are still able to communicate with each other. Aided by the network of peace activists created and supported by local organizations, like the Collaborative for Peace in Sudan (CfPS), and funded in part by USIP, essential communication is maintained to prevent the violence from intensifying. For the past two years, groups like CfPS, have been working at a local level with individual communities, encouraging them to think about their own interests and resist political manipulation. They have acted as mediators to re-build relationships degraded by decades of conflict and they have equipped individual leaders and communities with the skills and the structures to respond to conflict non-violently.
This is best seen in the western region of South Kordofan where the CfPS coordinator is based. In this area, the Dajou, Misseryah and Nuba tribes, located in the western mountains, have so far all agreed to reject the current violence. Until now there have been no violent events between them, despite the surrounding conflict.
This follows a formal agreement made by themselves after they convened a meeting with each other to discuss the outbreak of conflict at the governmental level. Supported by the Deputy Ameer of the Nuba, tribal leaders of Dagu and Misseriyah, and peace activists from all the communities, the agreement they made was published in the localmedia on June 14. Similar agreements have been made elsewhere in South Korodofan and in Unity state, south of the border.
Despite the coming independence of South Sudan, CfPS sees its north-south peacebuilding network as more important than ever. With USIP funding, it has actively worked with its coordinators in Unity and South Kordofan to maintain cross-border dialogue through this tumultuous period. And at a time when most outside observers would expect history to repeat itself, many of the communities historically caught up in the violence between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army have resisted.
The United States has made an expensive, decade-long commitment to peace in Sudan for both humanitarian and national security reasons. Local interventions like those in South Kordofan contribute to this goal by helping to break a cycle of violence that has lasted decades.