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Textbook, 2013, 81 Pages
The origins of the conflict in Darfur
The scientific debate on climate change as a cause of conflicts
Background on Sudan
Background on Darfur
Beginning of scarcity resources and conflict in Darfur
Rainfall and drought in Darfur
Land degradation in Darfur
Land tenure system in Darfur
Climate change casual relation with land tenure
What danger does climate change pose to societies?
History of tribal conflicts over resources in Darfur
The nexus between climate change and the conflict in Darfur
The role of multilateralism in solving the crises in Darfur
United Nations response
African Union response
List of figures
This book was possible because of the extensive support of my beloved wife who devoted herself for our family. I would also like to thank my lovely daughters for tolerating my absence patiently while I am writing this book. My sincere thanks go to my Parents. I do extend special gratitude to many individuals in all parts of Sudan and United Kingdom who helped me writing this book.
Climate change presents a serious threat to the security and prosperity of all countries. The effects of climate change and its security implications have now been at the forefront of international attention. Academic researches on environmental change and security gained popularity in political science and security studies in the 1990s. With Cold War-related security issues on the decline, policymakers began looking more closely at non-traditional security concerns such as environmental change, poverty and diseases. In so doing, the idea of what constitutes state security expanded beyond the risk of direct military aggression from hostile states to concerns about the regional instability that could affect economic security and draw governments into regional conflicts. ;
Few quantitative and qualitative studies conclude that, climate change in itself is unlikely to produce violent conflict, but rather, it could serve as a “threat multiplier” whereby environmental degradation caused by climate change may exacerbate many of the underlining causes linked to violent conflict. However this conclusion is widely generalized, since it has put all countries in one basket despite the numerous differences and variation between countries as far as adaptive mechanism and mitigation technologies are concerned. Using Darfur as a case study, this book examines the effects of climate change in poor or less developed countries, and critically analyzing the concept of climate change as a security threat that has ignited the conflict in Darfur, critically analyzing the role of drought, desertification, decreased rainfall, land degradation and migration in the conflict in Darfur. While acknowledging the prominent role of the International community in solving this crisis, this work intends to illustrate that, the absence of a common view on the nature and root causes of the conflict has hampered international convergence about how to act on Darfur crisis. This has delayed a coherent response and has contributed to the escalation of the conflict. Also the mischaracterization of the causes and nature of the conflict in Darfur has contributed to oversimplified views, which allowed the conflict to be politicized in a way that has complicated the search for solutions. This has hampered progress toward defining a political settlement, and toward finding a formula for allowing the various population groups to pursue compatible and sustainable livelihoods and as a result of the wrong diagnosis of the problem people of Darfur are still suffering. This books aims to draw the attention of international community, non-governmental organization and public to the reality of the root causes of the crisis in Darfur
This book seeks to critically analyze the role of climate change in intrastate conflicts in less developed countries, and links between climate change and the untraditional concept of security threats. The book will also narrow in to analysis and takes the crisis in Darfur as a case study. It will cover the period when the climate change started to hit Darfur in 1970s passing through the period of 1980s when Darfur was devastated by the major famine. Then it will focus on the era when the conflict escalated in 2003 and the role of the international community till 2008.
Darfur started to attract the attention of the international community following the outbreak of the conflict in 2003 owing to the escalation of the violent conflict that led to massive displacements, killing and deaths.
Since 2003, much is being written on what is happening on the ground, much less about the root causes of the conflict and that is because it has been looked at from a political perspective rather than scientific one, and therefore it has been described by many activist groups, countries and humanitarian organization as a genocide resembling the tragedy of the 21st century. However, the root causes of the conflict have not been addressed properly. Few scholars and scientists shed lights on these root causes, but the important stakeholders ignored the fact that climate change with increasing desertification and decreased rainfall is a major factor behind the crises which had started since 1970s. The symptoms of climate change in Darfur intensified in 1980s when the region witnessed a severe drought and famine, as a result, more people are competing for access to land, water, and other natural resources in Darfur. In 2003 the conflict turned to be an armed conflict between the various tribes over natural resources, especially water and land. These impacts include expanding desertification, decreased rainfall and land degradation left dire consequences, as pastoralists (Abbala) have migrated south for improved grazing for their herds, yet farmers have denied them access due to their marginal lands. As a result, more Darfurians are competing for access to land, water, and other natural resources than at any other time. The increased competition only further aggravates the already uneasy political, social, and ethnic relationships in the Darfur region.
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People of Darfur have been devastated by war, and its aftermath has been sorrowful story of suffering, displacement and death. The war has become one of the most misrepresented and misunderstood conflicts in recent history. Analysts and activists have oversimplified the causes of the war, slighting its historical and systemic causes. For years, public commentators ignored the nature and the real cause of the violence in Darfur, causing important misperceptions among the public and in the policy community1.
The region of Darfur had witnessed a severe drought since 1970s caused by decreased rainfall which led to land degradation; in addition to that, the population has significantly increased. The inhabitants of Darfur depend heavily on the natural resource base for their socio-economic activities. Land and water access are crucial for sustainable livelihoods. The majority of people earn their livelihoods through subsistence agriculture, either farming or pastoralist2. With the increasing competition for land and water resources and the lack of local conflict resolution mechanisms, the relations between the competing tribes have intensified and developed to an armed conflict with traditional weapons.
The conflict's origin goes back to land disputes between semi-nomadic livestock herders and those who practice sedentary agriculture3, as nomadic tribes facing drought are going after the territory of sedentary farmers4.
In 1980s Darfur was badly hit by unprecedented drought that caused the well-known famine in Darfur and the conflict between tribes continued to evolve as pastoralists have migrated south for improved grazing for their herds, yet farmers have denied them access due to their marginal lands. The year 2003 witnessed the escalation of the current crises but this time light mechanical weapons were used and insurgency against the government was announced by some tribal groups alleging that the central government is intentionally ignoring the development of Darfur. Although the conflict in Darfur in its holistic is approaching its fourth decade, yet no lasting solution was found. Now it has been nine years since the armed conflict in Darfur attract the attention of the international community following the outbreak of the conflict in 2003, during this period many Security Council resolutions have been issued against Sudan. Many unilateral sanctions were imposed on Sudan, an economical sanction has been applied to Sudan by EU, and moreover, troops from UN have been sent to Darfur. Recently, the case has been transferred from the Security Council to the International Criminal Court5,accordingly, warrant of arrest was issued against the Sudanese President and other officials, yet the crisis was not solved. If all these actions are unable to find the cure, then there is something wrong with the diagnosis of the problem.
The conflict is being presented in the media and by some stakeholders as a war between Arabs and Africans, with Arab militias, calledjanjawid, carrying out massacres, rape and pillage with the support of the Khartoum Government, and sometimes presented as a war between Muslim and non-Muslim, while this is far away from the fact, Darfur region is entirely inhabited by Muslim tribes and the usage of the terms "Arab" and "Black" has been opposed, because all parties involved in the Darfur conflict whether they are referred to as ‘Arab’ ; or as ‘African,’ are equally indigenous Muslim black African6.
;Most of the policy makers, activists and researchers ignored or even denied the climate change factor as the major cause of the conflict. Instead they started pushing the International community to take coercive actions against the government in Sudan, and that was an important factor that deprived the International community from looking into the root causes of the conflict.
The idea that climate change and resource scarcity can lead to conflict has become a wide-spread assumption. Yet, a consensus has not been reached. Academic writings and scientific works on the issue differ in the final judgments. While there are strong theoretic arguments and qualitative case studies supporting the significant link between resource scarcity and armed conflict, some quantitative studies contradict these findings by believing in weak empirical evidence for such claims. This book would add a new dimension for this subject as it argues that the impacts of climate change cannot be the same in every society, the severity of these impacts depend on the situation within the state itself. For instance if a developed and less developed states have been hit by the same drought the poorest will be worst affected, While the developed state can absorb the consequences and adapt itself by using mitigation technology and the already existing adaptive capacities. In the case of Darfur, since 1990 Sudan has been ranked the third failed state in the world by many specialized organizations like fund for peace Institute7, a country ranking based on a set of indicators assessing stability and vulnerability and that includes social, economic, and political indicators such as demographic pressures, refugee flows, uneven economic development or severe economic decline. The vulnerability of people in Darfur is shaped not only by the persistence of poverty, the lack of good infrastructure, the difficulty of getting a foothold in the world market, and thus the intractability of underdevelopment, but also by the effects of armed conflict which has started since August 1955 and continued under the ruling of the successive governments took power in Sudan.
The literature written on resource scarcity has focused around environmental degradation as a cause of conflict also known as the neo-Malthusian paradigm8or the Toronto group. Leading scholars in this field include Homer-Dixon, Baechler (1999), and Kahl (2006). As the founder of resource scarcity theory, Homer-Dixon identifies three forms of resource scarcity: "demand-induced scarcity", which results from population growth; "supply-induced scarcity", which results from the depletion or degradation of a resource; and "structural scarcity", which refers to the "distribution of the resource."9The interaction of these three factors is more likely to produce intrastate conflicts versus interstate wars. Furthermore, in the journal of International Security, Homer-Dixon introduces his model for identifying environment-conflict linkages in which he stated that, environmental change, population growth and unequal resource distribution would lead to internal conflicts .10The degradation and depletion of environmental resources is only one source of environmental scarcity, two other important sources are population growth and unequal resource distribution.11These main resources water, land, fisheries, and forests (renewable resources): are essential for livelihoods of millions of people, especially for subsistence users. With renewable resources, Homer-Dixon identifies two main patterns of interactions for environmental scarcity: resource capture and ecological marginalization.12
Resource capture occurs with population growth and natural resource degradation. Ecological marginalization occurs when environmental changes from degradation lead to significant social effects, such as human migration into more ecologically sensitive areas.
Additionally, environmental degradation of natural resources has impacts across horizontal and vertical levels. Environmental degradation may cause countless often subtle changes in developing societies. If the state cannot respond to the environmental degradation, either through markets, adaptation, or mitigation policies, then any existing social/economic/political political cleavages can erupt into conflict. ; According to Kahl (2006), state failure and the state exploitation can cause violent conflict over scarce resources13.Agreeing with Homer Dixon; Kahl argues that resource scarcity, stemming from demographic and environmental stresses (DES), can place significant pressure on state institutions that may lack the capacity to manage the contested resource. At the field level, societal groups (such as pastoralists or ethnic tribe) may experience an absolute depravation (where they are actually separated from the resource for livelihoods) or relative depravation (where groups feel they are entitled to a resource and are denied access) from the resource.14Through a snowball effect, the denial of groups to important natural resources will lead to economic and political marginalization often cited reasons for conflict.15However, a developed state with well-established social adaptation institutions is capable to alleviate the consequences of resource scarcity and it is less likely have internal conflicts erupt over scarce resources. Future studies, therefore, should focus on poor states with a history of internal violence.
Additionally, researching connections between globalization and environmental degradation will be vital to understand why certain areas of the world are being changed faster than others.
In the international policy realm, climate change has gained more attention in the past several years. With the release of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific community has verified that the warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.16Additionally, in 2007, the publishing of the Stern Review found that the benefits of strong early action considerably outweigh the costs17. In particular, both reports strongly agree that developing countries will be the hardest hit by climate change due to lack of financial, technical and institutional capacity. Importantly, the Stern review notes: "Climate-related shocks have sparked violent conflict in the past, and conflict is a serious risk in areas such as West Africa, the Nile Basin, and Central Asia"18
Analyzing the linkages between climate change and conflict has found a renewed interest. Despite the renewed interest in the climate change and security nexus, the phenomenon is not new. In the 1970s, both Richard Falk’s and Lester Brown’s explored the connections between security and the impending climate change.19Specifically, Falk pointed out the relationship between time and climate change: the faster the rate of change, the less time to adapt20.As a result, without proper institutional capacity to manage environmental changes, the risk for violent conflict increases especially in weak states.
Another prominent scholar, Jon Barnett, explores the linkages between climate change and conflict: the political scale, the nature of governance, and the nature of environmental (as opposed to resource) changes affected by climate change21
Barnett stresses the importance of understanding that nation-states are unlikely to declare war with one another due to climate change effects; however, it is most likely conflicts will erupt within the state between different stakeholders22. Barnett mentioned that conflicts in which environmental change appears to be a contributing factor tend to be within state rather than between states23.
Another school of thought is the Zurich group around Bächler and Spillman. This group of scholars presented a final report in 1996 based on qualitative case studies on developing countries that had to deal with both environmental problems and armed conflict. The basic assumption of this group is that environmental change may lead indirectly to conflict by intensifying the existing potential for socio‐economic conflict to the point of violent escalation. According to this view, conflicts are primarily socially or politically motivated, not an irreversible consequence of environmental change. The particular aim of this study was to devise a typology of conflict that links a particular kind of environmental degradation to its socio‐economic consequences and the affected parties to the conflict. Drawing on an analysis of 40 environmental conflicts, the following categories were developed:
- Regional, cross‐border and demographically‐induced conflicts
- Migration conflicts
- International water conflicts
- Conflicts arising from distant sources
The Zurich group typology shows that contextual factors other than the impacts of resource degradation ultimately determine whether competing actors will seek a peaceful or a violent solution to conflict. Among the most important socio‐economic factors identified, was the lack of societal mechanisms for regulating conflict and the influence of past conflict.
A third group involved in this debate is "Oslo Group" around Gleditsch. At the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo Gleditsch started an independent quantitative research approach as a process of critical engagement with the studies of Homer‐Dixon and the Zurich group. His aim was to counter the excessive complexity of the qualitative models and to provide a correction to their deficiencies regarding the selection of case studies, in particular the tendency to study countries with acute conflicts over resources (Gleditsch, 1998). According to Gleditsch compared cases in which resource conflicts are conducted violently with cases in which there is no escalation of violence. Gleditsch argues that an abundance of resources is more likely to lead to violent conflict, because rebel groups, for example, draw their funding from the exploitation of natural resources. Gleditsch emphasizes that, environmental stress is only one of several variables that may contribute to the escalation of conflict. While environmental factors such as deforestation, soil degradation and water scarcity increase the risk of violent conflict within states, economic and political factors remain crucial as explanations for the outbreak and intensity of such.
At the period of this study (before the secession of South Sudan), The Republic of Sudan was the second largest country in Africa. It's highly diverse landscape ranges from desert to tropical forest, and its abundant natural resources include oil, timber, metals and extensive agricultural land, and marine and inland fisheries. The country is also culturally diverse, as it bridges the Islamic culture of North Africa with the largely Christian south, and comprises hundreds of distinct tribal and ethnic groups. Sudan located in northeast of Africa, after being spilt it measures about 1,890,000 km with population of 31, 6 million. Its neighbors are Chad and the Central African Republic on the west, Egypt and Libya on the north, Ethiopia and Eritrea on the east, Kenya, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo on the south. The Red Sea washes about 500 mi of the eastern coast24. It is traversed from north to south by the Nile, all of whose great tributaries are partly or entirely within its borders. Unfortunately, Sudan has long been plagued by civil war and regional conflict. In the fifty years since achieving independence, the country as a whole has been at peace for only eleven years (1972-1983). While a historic peace agreement was reached for Southern Sudan in 2005, conflict raged on in Darfur.
Sudan has experienced several severe droughts in the past thirty years, and food production in many regions has dropped at the same time as the population has increased. The combined impacts of conflict and food insecurity have caused over five million Sudanese to be both internally and internationally displaced into camps and urban fringes, and over five million to receive international food.25Sudan comprises hundreds of ethnic and tribal divisions and language groups. Despite relatively abundant natural resources, Sudan is currently a very poor country due to underdevelopment, conflict and political instability.
In 2004, the gross domestic product per person was estimated at 740 USD (using Purchasing Power Parity figures), as compared to 3,806 USD and 1,248 USD for neighboring Egypt and Kenya respectively. While the production and export of oil are growing significantly in importance, Sudan’s primary resources are agricultural. Sorghum is the country’s principal food crop, and livestock, cotton, sesame, peanuts and gum Arabic are its major agricultural exports. Sudan, however, remains a net importer of food and a major recipient of food aid. Average monthly temperatures in Sudan vary between 26°C and 36°C. The hottest areas, where temperatures regularly exceed 40°C, are found in the northern part of the country. The dominant characteristic of Sudan’s climate is a very wide geographical variation in rainfall. In the north, annual precipitation ranges from close to zero near the border with Egypt, to approximately 200 mm around the capital, Khartoum. Its territory crosses over 18 degrees of latitude, which results in an extremely diverse environment ranging from arid desert in the north to tropical forests in the south. ;The majority of Sudan is very flat, with extensive plains in an altitude range of 300 to 600 m above sea level. Twenty-nine percent of Sudan’s total area is classified as desert, 19 percent as semi-desert, 27 percent as low rainfall savannah, and 14 percent as high rainfall savannah, 10 percent as flood region (swamps and areas affected by floods) and less than one percent as true mountain vegetation.26Sudanese civilization dates back to at least 3000 BC. It long concentrated along the northern reaches of the Nile River, the area that came to be known as Nubia. The region’s three principal kingdoms were converted to Coptic Christianity by missionaries in the 6th century AD. These Black Christian kingdoms coexisted with their Muslim Arab neighbours in Egypt for centuries, until the influx of Arab immigrants brought about their collapse in the 13th to 15th centuries. Sudan was then partly converted to Islam.
In 1820, the Albanian-Ottoman ruler of Egypt Muhammad Ali Pasha invaded and conquered northern Sudan.
Until its gradual suppression in the 1860s, the slave trade was the most profitable undertaking in Sudan and was the focus of Egyptian interests in the country. The government encouraged economic development through state monopolies that had exported slaves, ivory, and gum Arabic.
By 1874, Egypt had conquered all of Sudan and encouraged British interference in the region. This led to the revolt of the Mahdi, who captured Khartoum in 1885. The Mahdi died in June 1885. He was followed by ;Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, known as the ;Khalifa, who began an expansion of Sudan's area into Ethiopia, but defeated by British army in 1898 in Omdurman battle. Sudan was proclaimed a ;condominium ;in 1899 under British-Egyptian administration. From 1898, the United Kingdom and Egypt administered Sudan as the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, but northern and southern Sudan was administered as separate ;provinces ;of the condominium. In the very early 1920s, the British passed the Closed Districts Ordinances which stipulated that passports were required for travel between the two zones, and permits were required to conduct business from one zone into the other, and totally separate administrations prevailed.
In 1943, the British began preparing the north for self-government, establishing a North Sudan Advisory Council to advise on the governance of the six North Sudanese provinces: Khartoum, Kordofan, ;Darfur, and Eastern, Northern, and Blue Nile provinces. Then, in 1946, the British administration reversed its policy and decided to integrate north and south Sudan under one government. The South Sudanese authorities were informed at the ;Juba Conference ;of 1947 that they would in future governed by a common administrative authority with the north. From 1948, 13 delegates, nominated by the British authorities, represented the south in the Sudan Legislative Assembly. Many southerners felt betrayed by the British, because they were largely excluded from the new government. In February 1953, the ;United Kingdom ;and Egypt concluded an agreement providing for Sudanese self-government and self-determination. The transitional period toward independence began with the inauguration of the first parliament in 1954. On 18 August 1955 a revolt in the army in ;Torit ;city in Southern Sudan broke out, ;which although quickly suppressed, led to a low level guerrilla insurgency by former Southern rebels, and marked the beginning of the ;First Sudanese Civil War.27On 15 December 1955 the Premier of Sudan ;Ismail al-Azhari ;announced that Sudan would unilaterally declare independence in four days’ time. ;On 19 December 1955 the Sudanese parliament, unilaterally and unanimously, declared Sudan's independence. ;The British and Egyptian Governments recognized the independence of Sudan on 1 January 1956. The ;United States ;was among the first foreign powers to recognize the new state. However, the ;Arab-led Khartoum government reneged on promises to southerners to create a ;federal ;system, which led to a mutiny by southern army officers that sparked seventeen years of civil war (1955–1972). In the early period of the war, hundreds of northern bureaucrats, teachers, and other officials, serving in the south were massacred. Dissatisfaction culminated in a second coup d'état on May 25, 1969. The coup leader, Col. ;Gaafar Nimeiry, became prime minister, and the new regime abolished parliament and outlawed all political parties. Disputes between ;Marxist ;and non-Marxist elements within the ruling military coalition resulted in ;a briefly successful coup in July 1971, led by the ;Sudanese Communist Party. Several days later, anti-communist military elements restored Nimeiry to power. In 1976 and Islamic group supported by Libya tried to seize power through military invasion of capital Khartoum.
1 Foreign policy briefing, volume No, 89 June 1, 2010.
2 Fadul, A. A.Natural Resources Management for Sustainable Peace in Darfur. Sudan, University for Peace, (2004), p. 34.
3 Scott Straus,Darfur and the Genocide Debate, Foreign Affairs magazine, Vol. 84, No. 1 (Jan. – Feb 2005), pp. 123/133.
4 Bechtold, P. K.A History of Modern Sudan. Middle East Journal 2009, 63(1), 149 – 150.
5 Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005).
6 Alex de Waal & A. H. Abdel Salam eds,The Phoenix State: Civil Society and the Future of Sudan, (Red Sea Press 200)1, p.45
7 ;Failed states ranking. Available at > www.fundforpeace.org<, [accessed on 9 June /2012].
8 Homer-Dixon, T. F., 1994, 'Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict: Evidence from Cases', International Security, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 5-40. ;
9 Gleditch, Nils Petter , Environmental Change, Security and Conflict. United States Institute of Peace Press 2007, pp.177-196; p. 179.
10. ;Homer-Dixon, Thomas. “Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict: Evidence from Cases,”International Security, Vol. 19, No. 1 (summer, 1994), pp. 5-40; p. 10.
11. Ibid, p. 40.
12. Ibid, p. 10.
13. Raleigh, C. and H. Urdal. "Climate change, environmental degradation and armed conflict." Political Geography Magazine 2007, 26(6): 674-694.
14. ;Colin H. Kahl, States, Scarcity, and Civil Strife in the Developing World, Princeton University Press 2008), p. 99. ; ;
15. Homer-Dixon, environment, scarcity and violence, (Princeton University Press 2001), p.88.
16. Ibid, p. 10.
17. ;Raleigh, C. and H. Urdal (2007). "Climate change, environmental degradation and armed conflict." Political Geography26(6): 674-694.
19 Kahl. States, Scarcity, and Civil Strife, p.108.
20 Dixon, environment, p. 121.
21 John Barnett, TheMeaning of Environmental Security: Ecological Politics and Policy in the new security era, (Zed books Ltd 2001), p.62.
23 Ibid 55.
24 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles,[accessed on 10/6/2012 at 15:11].
25 BBC (2008) “Country Profile: Sudan.
26 UCDP (2008) Database www.ucdp.uu.se/database Uppsala University, [accessed 28/5/2012 at 16:12].
27Alex de Waal, War in Darfur and search for peace, (Harvard University 2007), p.75.