The Cairo Declaration for Peace in Darfur
Within the framework of cooperation and solidarity between Arab and African organizations working in the field of human rights, a group of African and Arab organizations organized a Workshop on “Peace in Darfur” and to guarantee the protection of civilians as well as means to help refugees and displaced persons to securely and honorably return to their villages. The Workshop aimed also to guarantee the respect of human rights in the entire Darfur province, and to render the people implicated in the war crimes and crimes against humanity that were committed in the past and are still being committed in this afflicted province.
The Arab Organization for Human Rights, the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists and the Save Darfur Consortium, jointly organized this Workshop, which was attended by 31 Arab organizations, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as well a group of experts and a number of international observers.
Over two days, the participants discussed working papers and a number of reports which discussed the causes of concern about the course taken by the Darfur crisis and the humanitarian disaster in the province. The papers and reports also assessed the efforts made to reach a resolution and reviewed the Arab and international position from the crisis as well as the Sudanese society’s point of view. The working papers and discussions revealed the following:
- The Darfur peace agreement (the Abuja agreement) failed to realize its goals in relation to ending the war or to attracting the support of the warring factions to join the agreement, while the war continued and had destructive effects on the community in Darfur. The Sudanese government failed to protect civilians, to stop war crimes and to allow the international community to provide this protection.
- While the Sudanese government refuses to present the people accused of committing war crimes in Darfur to court it is also reluctant to present the accused to justice. The Sudanese government established special courts within a legal framework that does not allow the courts to practice this mission, furthermore they do not have the required jurisdiction or independence, forcing them to play a nominal role and review marginal cases.
- The systematic nature of violent crimes against women to demean, humiliate and terrorize is part of war tactics, while justice for the victims and their families is systematically hindered, furthermore this phenomenon has painful consequences on the raped women and on the families whose females have been the victims of such crimes.
- In the absence of an official and logical Arab position, which would focus on ending the war and its humanitarian aftereffects and would effectively contribute to the international relief efforts, the participants were greatly concerned by the Sudanese government restriction of the Sudanese media in handling the case, and in revealing the hardships of the people in the province. Factors of the Darfur issue are not clear in the minds of Arab public opinion, and the Arab media as well as Arab organizations working in the field of human rights, are inadequately interacting with the Darfur problem.
- While the participants are fully aware of the dangers of international intervention in Darfur and of the double standards used to deal with international crises, key analysis of the crisis remains that the crisis is an internal crisis, in which the failure to resolve opens the way and provides the pretexts for international intervention.
At the end of discussions, the participants held a round table, which suggested a joint working plan among Arab and African organizations, with the cooperation of international organizations, to push the political process forward, to guarantee the participation of all parties, to eliminate the effects of war and to treat its humanitarian consequences. The working plan involved the following:
1. Recommendations Related to the Establishment of Peace, which take into consideration:
- To expand the base of the Abuja Peace Agreement in order to include all factions and political forces in Darfur without exclusion.
- To incorporate the peace in Darfur within a comprehensive framework of peace in Sudan that would realize harmony as well as the interests of all members of the Sudanese population.
- To realize this peace within a democratic framework that would guarantee the endorsement of Sudanese society and all its sectors.
- To beseech the factions in Darfur to unify their speech stemming from a global national base, in order to facilitate the peace process and to avoid impairing their legitimate demands for democratic evolution and development.
- To ask all parties to the conflict to eradicate all forms of restrictions preventing the flow of humanitarian relief and aid to the distressed.
2. Recommendations Related to Dealing with the Effects Resulting from the Conflict:
- To activate the principle of accountability and to stop perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, from parties involved in the Darfur conflict, from escaping retribution.
- To cooperate efficiently with UN and African Union human rights organizations and instruments.
- To support the Judiciary in Sudan and guarantee its independence and impartiality, to allow it to shoulder its responsibilities related to accountability for human rights violations.
- To guarantee protection for all victims of human rights violations, and provide the necessary protection for witnesses to allow them to give their testimonies to the concerned authorities.
- To effectively execute the UN principles related to the right of all displaced persons, especially in relation to facilitating voluntary, safe and dignified return, within the framework of a project that would guarantee rebuilding destroyed villages as well as rebuilding the infrastructure and providing means for a decent life.
- To give special attention to the issue of violence against women, and the need for quick and deterring accountability for this type of crimes.
- To enable national, regional and international civic organizations to inspect the conditions of all detainees and prisoners incarcerated in relation to the conflict in Darfur.
3. General Recommendations
- To endeavor to implement the Nivasha Agreement, which can be considered a locomotive for peace in all parts of Sudan.
- To support the Organization to Unite National Ranks’ efforts aiming to realize comprehensive national reconciliation, in order to realize peace and democratic evolution.
- To cancel legislations not in agreement with the interim Constitution, or inconsistent with the bases of International Legality, which the Sudanese government has ratified.
- It is imperative to achieve comprehensive national reconciliation in Sudan, while the Sudanese people have to come to terms with their history and their national memory has to be purged. It is also imperative to establish a national authority for justice and equity that would give the victims justice, extract lessons and would be a base of stability for future generations.
4. Recommendations Regarding the Required Arab Role
- To strive to have Arab governments and the Arab League develop a position from the Darfur issue, and to have them participate in an impartial manner in efforts to reach a settlement for the conflict, including providing the necessary support for relief efforts.
- To launch popular solidarity campaigns in various Arab countries to show solidarity with the afflicted in Darfur, to bring out the absent humanitarian side of the problem and to reiterate the call for peace.
- NGOs should adopt a speech that would re-analyze the crisis bounds in view of adequate and accurate knowledge of these bounds.
- The participants presented detailed suggestions to support NGOs interests in the Darfur crisis, including visits to various parts of the province, while Sudanese NGOs pledged to facilitate such visits. Other suggestions involved joining the “Save Darfur Consortium”.
- To strive to attract the attention of the Arab media to the Darfur crisis, and to publish accurate and comprehensive reports about developments in the conditions in the province.
At the end of the Workshop the organizers pledged to make the Workshop discussions available to the general public through a detailed report as well as through a comprehensive book in Arabic and English in both an electronic and a paper copy.
Action Professionals Association for the People
Aegis Trust Rwanda
African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies
African Center for Development
African Society of International and Comparative Law
African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)
The Ahueni Foundation
Alliances for Africa
Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies
Andalus Institute for Tolerance
Arab Program for Human Rights Activists
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE)
Centre for Research Education and Development of Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights (CREDO)
Citizens for Global Solutions
Conseil national pour les libertés en Tunisie
Darfur Alert Coalition
Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development
Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
La Fédération Internationale des Droits de l'Homme (FIDH)
Femmes Africa Solidarité
Human Rights Centre, University of Pretoria
Human Rights First
Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)
Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa
Inter-African Union for Human Rights (UIDH)
International Commission of Jurists
International Refugee Rights Initiative
Justice and Peace Commission
Lawyers for Human Rights
Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections
Legal Resources Consortium-Nigeria
Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l'Homme
Makumira University College, Tumaini University
Minority Rights Group
National Association of Seadogs
Open Society Justice Initiative
People Against Injustice (PAIN)
Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme (RADDHO)
Sudan Organization Against Torture
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
Sudanese Refugee Association in South Africa
Syrian Organization for Human Rights
Universal Human Rights Network
World Organization Against Torture