Less than Two Weeks Left: World Anxiously Awaits Sudan Referendum

December 31, 2010

By Girma Negash, Sudan Country Specialist

This posting is part of the Sudan Referendum Watch series

Recent reports have indicated that South Sudan will move forward as scheduled on January 9. Voter registration including the delivery of ballots went smoothly, the northern Sudan political leadership is openly hinting acceptance of the referendum, and negotiations on post referendum arrangements seem to advance. Still, risks of conflict and renewed war remain as long as agreements on sticky issues like Abyei, border demarcation, and post-referendum citizenship are not resolved ahead of the plebiscite.

Need of vigilance

The political uncertainty around the prospect of secession raises serious possibility of humanitarian and human rights crises. The deluge of southern returnees ahead of the referendum is already overwhelming the capacity of aid workers. The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) have tentatively agreed upon principles of protection of both northerners and southerners in case of secession, but have not yet fully reached a clear agreement on citizenship. Fear of minority rights violations is real. We need to remain alert and monitor the developments on the ground to react quickly and appropriately to possible human right violations leading up to the referendum and after.

Watching out for human rights

While the international community is nervously awaiting the outcome of the referendum we will closely monitor those unfolding events on the ground, which can potentially lead to human rights violations regarding rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, freedom of association, freedom of movement, minority rights, and politically driven human displacement. Join us in watching out for such developments. Here are a few things you can do to get updated:

  1. Read our Sudan Referendum Briefing (pdf)
  2. Follow the weekly blogging series. For daily updates and breaking news, follow #sudanwatch or Amnesty on Twitter.
  3. Look out for new materials, such as more maps and a resource guide, in the weeks running up to the referendum on January 9. New content will be posted on this blog or on our Sudan Country Page