Preventive Diplomacy in Sudan
The Southern Sudan self-determination referendum in January 2011 presents a recent example of how the United Nations and its regional partners can help steer complex peace processes through delicate transitions.
In the year running up to the referendum, the UN peacekeeping mission, working closely alongside the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel on the Sudan, mediated between the central Sudanese Government and the Government of Southern Sudan, breaking deadlocks at key moments. The UN mission’s leadership also helped align the international community to exercise its influence and assisted the AU Panel in facilitating negotiations on post-referendum arrangements. Complementing the efforts of the mission and significant technical and logistical electoral assistance, the UN Secretary-General also deployed a Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan, headed by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, at the request of the parties. The UN Panel monitored the pre-referendum atmosphere and built confidence among the parties by providing them a means to reach compromise on disputes.
In January 2011, three million people across Sudan and abroad went to the poll in a largely peaceful atmosphere, voting overwhelmingly for secession. While the situation in the region remains fragile with key challenges ahead, the absence of major violence around the referendum itself and the widespread acceptance of its outcome are considered a success for preventive diplomacy.
- Learn more about the Secretary-General's Panel on the Sudan Referendum
- Visit the website of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan
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