Sudan Peace Symposium: How to make peace last

Sudan Peace Symposium was held at the University of Khartoum from 8-10 September, 2015. The Symposium combined panel discussions, a futures thinking for peacebuilding workshop, and an Arts for Peace festival. The series of events were designed to revitalize discussions on the future of peacebuilding in Sudan. Co-hosted by UNDP and the University of Khartoum Peace Research Institute, with support from the European Union and USAID, the Symposium brought together regional experts, international research centres, Sudanese academia, government, civil society, community peacebuilders and students.

“Gathering a group of national and international experts on peace and conflict issues, the Sudan Peace Symposium provides an important opportunity to reflect on the past and revitalize discussions on peacebuilding in Sudan. It is a very important and timely event given that a national dialogue is scheduled for 10 October, and therefore an excellent opportunity to contribute to the efforts of peace in Sudan.” stated Dr. Munzoul Assal from the UoK Peace Research Institute at the opening ceremony.

Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, numerous community, sub-national, national, and international efforts have been made to consolidate peace in Sudan. Throughout the Symposium, panels reflected on peacebuilding efforts in the past and identified potential steps to enhance stabilization and consolidation of peace in the country. International experts shared their experience from peace processes and transitions in other countries, including Lebanon and South Sudan.

Panelists also discussed the cost of conflict, looking at how instability and violent conflict hinder international investments and leave negative impacts to local business and industrial activities. This discussion is part of a longer research project by the UoK Peace Research Institute to estimate the cost of conflict in Sudan since 1956 and to encourage urgent peacemaking to recover its loss. The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), one of the leading think tanks globally working in this area presented their most recent research with data from Sudan. According to their latest Global Peace Index in 2015, Sudan is ranked 156th out of 162 countries, and its national cost of violence is estimated at USD 24.7 billion.

“UNDP is supporting the University of Khartoum in organizing the Sudan Peace Symposium to create space for a candid discussion about peacebuilding in Sudan, and how different stakeholders, including community peacebuilders, academia, private sector and external organisations can better collaborate to build peace and make it last. Ten years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, we believe it is time to talk about lessons learned and how to move forward with building peace and resilience in Sudan.” said Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, Deputy Country Director, UNDP Sudan.

As part of the Symposium, over one hundred community peacebuilders from all over Sudan met for a two-day futures thinking workshop. This was the first time community peacebuilders gathered at a national level to explore foresighting methodologies and their application for peacebuilding. During the same days, the University of Khartoum organized a series of Art for Peace events reaching out to the broader public, hoping to open up the dialogue and place peacebuilding back on the public agenda.