Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights (CSHR), in association with the Mosaic Institute of Canada, convened Darfurians in Cairo to discuss conditions for sustainable peace in Darfur (November 20-23, 2008). This Chairman’s Statement summarizes discussions.
- Darfurians agreed that a lasting solution to the Darfur conflict needs to address its root causes, which lie in the extreme poverty of the region. They concluded that, since the historic marginalization of Darfur in regard to economic development is one of the prime sources of unrest, sustainable peace will require solutions to the development crisis, alongside strategies that address immediate security and humanitarian needs. Progress is limited by widespread insecurity especially in areas where displacement has been widespread.
- Darfurians agreed to launch a Darfur Reconstruction and Development Initiative with an executive committee of Darfurians and with task forces focused on (i) water, (ii) agriculture, (iii) pastoralism, (iv) energy, (v) health, (vi) education, (vii) land, and, (viii) gender issues. The Initiative will prepare a “Darfur Reconstruction and Development Master Plan” encompassing conditions, policies, institutions and projects.
- Darfurians underscored the critical importance of women to Darfur’s future. Therefore, gender issues will be mainstreamed and women involved in all aspects of the initiative. Other cross-cutting themes include capacity building and project development.
- Darfurians will inform other Darfurians of the meeting, including representatives of the Darfurian Diaspora. Outreach may also target international NGOs, as well as governments and official development assistance agencies. Darfurians agreed to convene a follow-up conference with broader participation by Darfurians and other stakeholders.
- Darfurians will determine modalities for providing information on the initiative to the Government of Sudan. The Darfur Reconstruction and Development Initiative may evolve into a Joint Planning Mechanism to assist both Darfurians and the Government of Sudan in assessing needs, developing priorities, and drawing up project action plans. A peace agreement must incorporate the development dimension for Darfur.
- Darfurians asked CSHR to establish an interim secretariat to facilitate future activities and, with possible assistance from the Mosaic Institute, CSHR will endeavour to gain support for activities of the Darfur Reconstruction and Development Initiative.
David L. Phillips
Center for the Study of Human Rights
November 22, 2008