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Articles and Analysies Last Updated: Dec 20, 2009 - 3:34:53 PM

Contextualizing the Doha Meeting: The Process and the Declaration by Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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Contextualizing the Doha Meeting: The Process and the Declaration

Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar

This is a report to the general public about what I have witnessed in Doha , the process through which the Declaration was reached and my personal evaluation of the document.


The Process:

I received a letter of invitation from Mr. Djibril Bassole, the Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur to participate in the Darfur Civil Society Inaugural Conference in Doha on November 16-19. I arrived in Doha in the evening of November 15th. Due to the delegates delayed arrival to Doha, the conference started two days later, Nov. 17th. The participants arrived from the states of West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur, including a contingency of Darfurians from Khartoum. According to Dr. Siddiq Umbada, the conference facilitator, the original plan of the conference was to divide the delegates into 7 groups. Each group would discuss the same topic independently and make recommendations. At the end of each day all groups would meet and deliberate on the agreed points to reach a consensus on the set of recommendations.   According to Dr. Umbada, the issues in question were listed as: (1) Land and natural resources, (2) Power sharing, (3) The role of civil society in the peace process, (4) General issues.

            However, the above plan of the conference was not in the interest of the delegates from the three Darfur states. Upon their late arrival (Nov 16th), the delegates of South and West Darfur held a meeting at their hotel and revealed that they came with one position for the Doha meeting. They announced that they will not start deliberating until they meet with the North Darfur delegates to formulate one position paper.

On the morning of Nov. 17, the North Darfur and Khartoum delegation arrived in one plane after a long delay in Khartoum. The Conference opening session was chaired by a representative from each state in addition to Dr. Umbada. It was agreed that any discussion about recommendations must wait until the delegates from North Darfur finish writing their position.   The delegates were later escorted to an adjacent room for a formal opening by the Qatari government and the UN-AU mission. Words of support and encouragement were uttered by representatives from the African Union, the Arab League, Egypt, Syria, South Africa, Chad, Algeria, USA, Canada, Japan, Eritrea, France, China, and others.

On the 18th, representatives from South/West Darfur and North Darfur read their recommendations. At the end there was consensus for the 2 positions to be merged into one document representing Darfur. At this point Dr. Umbada brought his plan of dividing delegates into groups; but his proposal was defeated. The will of the people prevailed. The joint list of recommendations was then read and time was given to many to voice their views on the first draft, but no attempt was made to remove any of the stated points. At the end a broader committee was entrusted to incorporate the technical points of views, language and style for the next day.

On the 19th, the final document was read followed by thunderous applause from the attendees who refused any further discussion on the document and thus it was passed.   Next, the conference discussed forming a mechanism that will be in charge of the recommendations, and the final agreement was set for 10 representatives from the three states of Darfur and Khartoum .

The final session was resided by the Qatari State Foreign Minister, and Mr. Basole and Salah Alghali. The conference was then addressed by Dr. Umbada and representatives from the three states. The final communiqué was presented to the Qatari Minister and the conference was adjourned.

The Declaration:

            The “Doha Declaration” should be regarded as the end of a process of deliberations that started in Darfur and culminated in Doha. The declaration has stated its position in key areas regarding future negotiation with considerations to: (1) Security arrangements and disarmament, (2) Wealth sharing and economic and social development, (3) Power sharing, (4) Justice, reconciliation and return, (5) Land and nomadic routes issues, (6) Role of civil society in Darfur peace process.

            Among many, the Declaration stressed that “..the conflict in Darfur is political, developmental and social”, and that “.. Darfur remained marginalized since the independence of Sudan”, that “.. suspension of violence and the war are the only options to restore peace in the region”, that “..the unity of Darfurians is essential for achievement of sustainable peace through willingness that reflects consensus of Darfurians”. Among the recommendations are:

2.2.1 Weight of the population of Darfur is the standard for sharing wealth and economic and social development..

2.3.9 The representation of women in all levels of authority should not be less than 30% Emphasizing that perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity and serious crimes such as rape will not escape with impunity, and the empowerment of victims of those crimes and those affected to have access to transitional justice at all levels, whether national, or regional or international. Hold to account those responsible for crimes in Darfur and prosecute criminals. Reform legislation with regard to the abolition of immunities and immunities that lead to impunity, procedurally and substantively.

2.5.2 Retain ownership of land (hawakir) and define its borders by the Native Administration.

2.5.3 Land return of displaced persons and refugees to their original owners and evacuate those who lived in them during their absence.

            The Declaration is available in Arabic and English from these links:

In Arabic:   http://www.darfurinfo.org/doha-arabic.doc

In English : http://www.darfurinfo.org/doha-english-rough.pdf


The Declaration in Perspective:

            The delegates of the conference represent local NGO's, native administration, internally displaced people, women, youth, experts and facilitators.   Although the conference was also attended by Darfuri NCP members and perpetrators of war crimes, however their presence was not instrumental neither in derailing the list of recommendations nor successful in disrupting the meeting. The presence of NCP-ers and war criminals in the meeting should be judged against what has been agreed upon in Doha where the perpetrators were self-incriminated. It is also misinformation to describe the event as a government-orchestrated act and to dub the participants, who include diverse sectors of Darfurians, all as dupes and now in the government’s hand. The Doha Declaration could better be viewed in its very historical context as an event in which individuals from Darfur came to the conference with their points of views and insisted in adopting them as their collective position, unanimously. The recommendations in the Doha Declaration are intended for consideration in future negotiations with the government of Sudan. There is no absolute promise, neither from the government of Sudan or from the armed movements that they will adopt these recommendations in future negotiations. When President Al-Bashir welcomed the Doha Declaration grudgingly, he has no way but to salute the unity of Darfurians in Doha, but at the same time this does not mean he is committed to adopt it with references that are self-incriminated to him, personally. Al-Bashir’s welcoming of the Declaration is tactical and should be understood in the context on how much he implemented with regard to the signed agreements of the CPA and the DPA. It is in the best of interest of the government of Sudan to have Darfur divided, but some of these divisions are hardened by some who believe that only they should be consulted.

            The Doha Declaration is not the first civil society initiative coming from Darfur or advanced by Darfurians. Even, at Doha there were many writings in circulation of many past initiatives regarding peace in Darfur. These but all were brushed aside and the current recommendations were passed. These initiatives represent the aspirations of the Darfurian civil society towards inclusion in future negotiation between the government and the armed movements. One wishes that such transparency will be adopted by the armed movements by advertising their positions publicly on all issues before negotiating with the government of Sudan. All citizens of Darfur have the right to espouse their views regarding the future of their region, and each individual is accountable for his/her act.  

            The future of the Doha Declaration or any similar declaration is not in the hands of those who made it. Currently, it is up to those in the government of Sudan, the Darfur armed movements, and the international community who could decide the extent and the level of participation of the civil society in any peace process and whether it should be inclusive or exclusive. But since the conflict engulfed all sectors of the Darfuri populations, the voices of civilians in the conflict zone must be heard and their participation must be considered.



Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar
علي بحرالدين علي دينار

[email protected]

Darfur Information Center , Darfur Alert Coalition

December 2nd, 2009


Disclaimer: The above are my personal views as a participant in the Doha meeting.





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