Sudan: A Case Against Cutting Investment in Diplomacy and Development

In a guest post on The Stimson Center’s Will and the Wallet blog, Alison Giffen, Research Fellow at the Stimson Center and Deputy Director of its project on the future of peace operations, makes the case against cutting investment in diplomacy and development even in these tough fiscal times, and uses Sudan as a primary example.

After outlining the recent historic referendum in Southern Sudan and its potential implications, Giffen states, “Sustained US engagement is critical to a peaceful transition.  There are at least three reasons that the United States should continue to invest in Sudan.”

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Below are some key excerpts:

“First, it’s the right thing to do. There has been an extraordinary social movement in the United States and other parts of the world pushing successive Administrations to end violence against civilians in Sudan. Throughout Sudan’s history of brutal conflicts, the main parties and their proxies have directly targeted or indiscriminately harmed civilians, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

“Second, recent US and international interventions seem to be staving off large-scale north-south conflict. In addition to leading the international community in donor support to Sudan, the US has recently invested a laudable level of diplomacy at the global, national, and local level to prevent conflict there. This three-tiered approach to diplomacy — including a small, but innovative surge of civilians into the southern capital and at-risk areas — is needed to prevent the escalation and manipulation of local conflict and violence against civilians.”

“Finally, Sudan is currently Africa’s largest country and lacks full control of its borders and territory. It is surrounded by nine countries, each with a history of instability linked to Sudan’s internal conflicts. Volatility in Sudan facilitates an unstable region.”

“The United States should not provide aid that strengthens the government of north Sudan–a stronger state as it currently stands would only lead to future conflict. But the United States should continue to engage diplomatically with north Sudan, directly and in partnership with international and particularly African and Arab allies to resolve it’s conflicts, implement peace deals, increase freedoms for and protection of the population and account for its past abuses. A reformed state could lead to greater regional and international security.”

Giffen closes by saying, “De-prioritizing diplomacy and development in Sudan during this critical transition would result in moral, economic, and political costs that exceed any possible savings resulting from cuts to an already marginalized State and foreign assistance budget.”

To read the entire blog post, “Sudan: A case against Cutting Investment in Diplomacy and Development,” click here.

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