Dialogue with Peace Builders from the Sudan

Sita Ranchod-Nilsson receiving a gift of appreciation from the Sudanese delegation of the University of Bahri. (L to R) Guma Kunda Komey, Buthaina Ahmed Elnaiem, Sita Ranchod-Nilsson, Faiz Omer Mohamed Gamie, and Hafiz Ahmed Abdalla Ibrahim

In December 3 and 4, 2015, The Carter Center and the IDN hosted a Sudanese delegation from the Center for Peace and Development Studies at the University of Bahri, Khartoum, Sudan. The delegation made the long trip from Khartoum for two days of discussions, organized by the IDN and The Carter Center, on the role of civil society in peacebuilding. 

Since 2011 The Carter Center’s Conflict Resolution Program and the IDN have collaborated on the Prospects for Peace in Sudan and South Sudan series, a high-profile series of meetings and public events focused on peacebuilding in the two countries and involving key individuals from the region and others supporting peace processes. The purpose of the visit from the Bahri team was to exchange views about advancing peace in Sudan, a field where both The Carter Center and The Center for Peace and Development are active, as well as to meet with Emory faculty who focus on peacebuilding. Below is an overview of the discussions.

The Sudan delegation from University of Bahri’s Center for Peace and Development included: 

Faiz Omer Mohamed Gamie, director of the Center for Peace and Development Studies (CPDS)

Guma Kunda Komey, chief editor of the Journal of Peace Studies, CPDS, one of the three initiators of the program with South Sudan universities, and a core member of the project “Towards a Paradigm Shift in Conflict Analysis and Resolution Mechanisms in Sudan and South Sudan”

Buthaina Ahmed Elnaiem, head of the research department, CPDS, and project manager of the project “Toward a Paradigm Shift in Conflict Analysis and Resolution Mechanisms in Sudan and South Sudan”

Hafiz Ahmed Abdalla Ibrahim, external relation officer, CPDS

Prospects for Peace: The View from Sudan
December 3, 2015—The Carter Center

A roundtable discussion at The Carter Center focused on the current prospects for building peace in Sudan. The panelists included the four members of the delegation from the University of Bahri and Abdullahi An-Na’im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory School of Law. John Goodman, associate director in the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center, moderated the discussion. Some of the questions included: Can there be peace in either Sudan or South Sudan without attaining peace in both countries? What are the prospects for peace inside Sudan now? How does the situation in Sudan compare to two, five, 10, and 50 years ago? What are the prospects for the current national dialogue process in Sudan to become more inclusive? If that effort is not successful, what is the potential impact on Sudan and on relations between Sudan and South Sudan?

In responding to these questions, the panelists spoke about the historical and social interconnectedness of the two Sudans. For example, more than five million Sudanese and South Sudanese are living on either side of the shared border. The two groups interact regularly, crossing the border for seasonal migrations and trade, as they have for centuries. 

Along with these historic linkages, the on-going conflicts in both countries – in Darfur and in the so-called “Two Areas” (both in Sudan) and the civil war in South Sudan – are all taking place on or near the border areas.  Even after the separation of the South, Sudan and South Sudan remain deeply connected in war and peace.  In this context of continuing conflict, the University of Bahri and others are focusing on a “paradigm shift” in peacemaking efforts that places less stress on high-level negotiations and emphasizes a stronger role for civil society in the peacemaking process.

The Role of Civil Society in Peace Processes
December 4, 2015—Emory 

IDN organized a roundtable so that members of the delegation could discuss the role of civil society in peace processes with Emory faculty. Participants noted that the lengthy peace process had not produced lasting peace in Sudan or South Sudan. There was broad agreement that civil society must play a role in researching peace agreements, and especially in sustaining them. Drawing from research on and experience in diverse contexts, the participants raised questions about how to define “civil society,” who gets to establish that definition, and the most effective ways to nurture vibrant civil society in postconflict contexts. All of these discussions were highly pertinent to the Sudanese context, where The Carter Center, the Center for Peace and Development and others of goodwill continue to wrestle with how to end the wars that have plagued the country for more than 50 years.    

Participants in “The Role of Civil Society in Peace Processes” included: 

Faiz Omer Mohamed Gamie, director of the Center for Peace and Development Studies (CPDS)

Guma Kunda Komey, chief editor of the Journal of Peace Studies, CPDS, one of the three initiators of the program with South Sudan universities, and a core member of the project “Towards a Paradigm Shift in Conflict Analysis and Resolution Mechanisms in Sudan and South Sudan”

Buthaina Ahmed Elnaiem, head of the research department, CPDS, and project manager of the project “Toward a Paradigm Shift in Conflict Analysis and Resolution Mechanisms in Sudan and South Sudan”

Hafiz Ahmed Abdalla Ibrahim, external relation officer, CPDS

Abdullahi An-Na’im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law and senior fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory 

Tom Crick, associate director, the Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center

John Goodman, associate director, the Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center

Chris Hale, associate director, the Global Access to Information Program, The Carter Center

Jehu Hanciles, associate professor of world Christianity at Candler School of Theology 

Sabrina Karim, political science doctoral student

Ellen Ott Marshall, associate professor of Christian ethics and conflict transformation at Candler 

Sudha Rajput, professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University

Sita Ranchod-Nilsson, director of the IDN

Pamela Scully, professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and assistant vice provost for academic innovation



Photo: Sita Ranchod-Nilsson receiving a gift of appreciation from the Sudanese delegation of the University of Bahri. (L to R) Guma Kunda Komey, Buthaina Ahmed Elnaiem, Sita Ranchod-Nilsson, Faiz Omer Mohamed Gamie, and Hafiz Ahmed Abdalla Ibrahim

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