ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIOECONOMIC IMPACTS OF ARMED CONFLICT

DAMAGE TO NATIONAL PARKS AND BIODIVERSITY IN SOUTHERN SUDAN

Southern Sudan is a haven for many species of rare and endangered wildlife, including the Kobus kob (white-eared Kob), elephant, black and white rhino, and many bird species. There are 19 conservation areas, three gazetted national parks, and a biosphere reserve (ACTS 2005). However, many species have been overhunted and have migrated from the country due to conflict-related disturbance. One example is the overhunting of antelope by the Murle people of Pibor state. The Murle live in a remote, marginal area with minimal links to markets and very little international assistance. Due to food insecurity, and also due to the availability of automatic weapons because of the war, antelope hunting has become much more destructive than in the past, and now threatens supplies of meat for local people and limits future potentials for wildlife tourism. A peaceful Sudan could attract significant revenue from adventure tourism, if wildlife can be sustainably managed (ACTS 2005).

In Western Equatoria, exotic forest plantations, including Tectona grandis (teak) and Khaya spp. (mahogany), are of considerable economic value. One tonne of dry teak is worth about US$5 435 on the world market, while green teak is valued at US$6 020 (Boateng 1998). During the war, hundreds of hectares of teak trees were harvested from Western Equatoria with the involvement of foreign companies. The trade was not conducted in a transparent way, and it is unlikely that many local people received any benefits. Trade in mahogany is also worth large amounts of money that, in peacetime, could be invested in education and health. During the war, revenues have financed the military campaigns – or private bank accounts – of the warring parties. Lack of accountability has often led to the exploitation of community resources by “connected” individuals.

The mineral-rich south holds potential for intensive and small-scale mining. Chromite reserves in the southern Blue Nile are estimated at one million tonnes, but production has fallen by 80 per cent since the 1980s due to the escalation of the war in this area (Economist Intelligence Unit 2001). The Suri people of Boma County used to be able to make their livelihoods through their skills in gold prospecting, however, opportunities in this sector has decreased by two-thirds due to conflict and insecurity. Gold is also present in moderate quantities in Eastern Equatoria, and copper and diamonds have also been found, though the conflict has limited the extent of mineral surveying.

Such “war economies” give military leaders a vested interest in continued conflict, as the current situation of instability allows them to monopolize such trades, and avoid legal controls and taxation. Local communities should be granted rights to sustainably benefit from such resources (ACTS 2005).

PEACE AGREEMENTS ENSURING SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

It is increasingly common to address key sustainable development and environmental management in conjunction with other issues during peace negotiation processes. This is important because in post-conflict situations in countries particularly badly affected by war, peace agreements often serve as interim national constitutions.

The various protocols signed during negotiations for the end of the conflict in southern Sudan are good examples of this trend. The exploration of oil has been linked to the conflict for a number of reasons:

  • First, many of the oilfields are located near the historical boundary between the northern and southern parts of the country; these boundaries have been a source of controversy, especially since oil was discovered, because of potential revenue earnings.
  • Second, the oil installations have been the target of attack, and counter-insurgency operations have involved massive displacement of people as well as gross human rights abuses and thousands of deaths.

Under the Protocol on Wealth-sharing, signed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Government of Sudan on 7 January 2004, 50 per cent of net oil revenue derived from oil-producing wells in southern Sudan is to be allocated to the government of southern Sudan at the beginning of the pre-interim period. The remaining 50 per cent is to go to the national government and states in northern Sudan. In the case of some boundary areas, a share of revenues will be distributed directly to representatives of the local communities. According to the Protocol on the Resolution of Conflict in Abyei (signed 26 May 2004), residents are to be citizens of both north and south Sudan. Net oil revenues will be divided six ways during the interim period: 50 per cent for the national government, 42 per cent for the government of South Sudan, and 2 per cent each for (southern) Bahr el Ghazal region, (northern) Western Kordofan, Ngok Dinka people and Misseriya people.

During the Somali peace talks facilitated by IGAD in Nairobi, Kenya in 2003, a special technical committee was established in order to examine problems arising from conflicts over land access, which date back to colonial times (Huggins 2002). The committee advised the federal government to form and institutionalize a proper land tenure system, which pays special attention to properties currently or previously held by women (Farah 2005). Further, the committee recommended that at least a quarter of the posts in all bodies of the legislature and the executive should be held by women (Farah 2005). This was considered necessary because of the high level of gender inequality in land and property rights, a product of both cultural and war-related factors. The declaration requests the neighbouring countries to assist in the return of both public and private properties looted from Somalia by individuals, and it also calls for international organizations to assist in the return of Somali professionals from the diaspora and provide incentives to those willing to return.