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RESOURCE ACCESS: A MAJOR CAUSE OF ARMED CONFLICT IN THE SUDAN. THE CASE OF THE NUBA MOUNTAINS

by Jean Brennan last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:49 AM
Contributors: Jean Brennan
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

ABSTRACT The famine in southern Sudan is threatening the lives of more than half a million southerners, especially in Bahr El Ghazal province. The famine has provoked a debate into its causes. Most commentators in the United Kingdom accused the war of being the main culprit. A few days ago, in the House of Commons, a conservative MP stood up and said that the war in the Sudan, and all wars in Africa for that matter, are caused by the political vacuum left behind by colonial powers and wondered if something could be done about that! Clare Short, the Minister for Overseas Development, called the Hounrable Gentleman foolish to ask implicitly for the return of colonialism. The war and the famine, she said, are the responsibility of the leadership on both sides of the conflict. They have to stop the war now and everything would go back to normal. She sat down happy in the feeling that she had defeated the argument of her conservative opponent. The war, according to Clare Short, is all about African leaders. The BBC, however, knew better. Commenting on the pictures of emaciated southern Sudanese children, its newsreader described the war as between Muslim Arabs in the north and Christian Africans in the south. The war is thus a religious and ethnic war. All three interpretations belong to traditional schools of conflict analysis, which explain all armed conflicts in Africa as ethnic, tribal, cultural, religious, etc. These interpretations throw the stick of ethnicity at all conflicts and see there, it devours them all. This is not only unhelpful, but could seriously hamper efforts at genuine conflict management and conflict resolution. A study of all three major violent conflicts in the Sudan shows the futility of this traditional approach to conflict analysis and conflict resolution.

Author(s): Jean Brennan

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