Sudan is located in the northeast corner of Africa. Before the South’s secession in 2011, Sudan was the tenth-largest country in the world, at 1 million square miles (1). The northern portion of the country is comprised of the Sahara Desert and the south contains the fertile Nile River Watershed (2).



The Second Sudanese Civil War began in 1983. With the negotiation and signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Second Sudanese Civil War ended in 2005. Following a referendum vote enumerated in the CPA, South Sudan attained independence on July 9, 2011.

The Second Sudanese Civil War was fought between the current Republic of Sudan (the Government of Sudan [GOS], the “North”) and the current Republic of South Sudan (the Government of South Sudan [GOSS], the “South”).


The Government of Sudan

In an effort to gain political support, President Numayri of Sudan implemented policies that converted the government from a secular state into an Islamic state. He appointed an Islamic scholar, Hassan al-Turabi, as attorney general. Turabi’s goal was to rebuild a fundamentalist Islamic group with its basis in the Muslim Brotherhood,(iii)  known as the National Islamic Front (NIF) (3).

Hassan al-Turabi

Turabi wanted to tie together every radical Islamic group in the world and give Islamic organizations safe haven (4). He envisioned using Sudan as the stage for a worldwide Islamic revolution (5).

In 1996, Turabi was elected as speaker of the government’s National Assembly and started limiting the president’s power (7). President Omar al-Bashir, the current president of Sudan, saw these actions as an attempted power grab. President Bashir declared a state of emergency, dissolved the National Assembly, and started to purge Turabi from power (9).

The Sudanese government has maintained an Islamic apparatus of state authority since Turabi (10). In 1998, Bashir founded the National Congress Party (NCP), an outgrowth of the NIF (11). The party had two objectives: survival and collect oil revenues (12). One of the main themes of the government was “making unity attractive” despite previous peace agreements  (13). In the end, while the NCP signed an agreement with southern rebels to end the war, it did not have much respect for the agreement (14) and the NCP took steps to delay implementation of many of the provisions of the agreement.


The Actors of South Sudan

Following a mutiny that started the Second Sudanese Civil War, the rebels and defecting troops from the North fled from Sudan and gathered at a guerrilla base in Ethiopia (15). This rebel movement formed two wings. The first, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), was the militant wing of the movement. The second wing, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), was the civilian/political wing of the movement. Collectively, these wings represented the South during the Second Sudanese Civil War.

John Garang

From the beginning of the second civil war, the SPLA/M was commanded by John Garang. Garang worked for the Sudanese army and taught at the University of Khartoum (20). He secretly organized with southern officers who were growing angry about the violations of the peace agreement (21). With this combination of the network of southern officers, his education, and his political and social ideals from his experience in the United States, Garang became the commander of the SPLA/M during the Second Sudanese Civil War.

John Garang

Garang held several notions about Sudan based on his observations. First, Garang realized that the center of the country was pulling resources away from those living in the outer regions of the country (22). These practices caused dissatisfaction among those living in the outer regions, and Garang used this to form “an alliance for reform” (23).

Second, Garang argued that Sudan must be a multi-ethnic, secular state that remained unified, rather than the South becoming independent (25).  This notion of a unified Sudan would be ultimately lead to factions within the SPLA and a split within the organization in the early 1990s.

Despite these factions, Garang remained the leader of the SPLA and took part in the negotiations that resulted in the agreement that ended the Second Sudanese Civil War.

Omar al-Bashir

In 1989, as Khartoum’s military high command threatened to remove him from office, Sadiq al-Mahdi attempted to negotiate peace with Garang (27). As al-Mahdi left for negotiations, a group of officers, led by Brigadier Omar al-Bashir, launched a coup against the government (28). Over 100 military and political figures were arrested, including al-Mahdi and Turabi, as a result (xviii) (29). Bashir’s government enacted restrictive policies to “reconstruct Sudanese society,” including restricting women’s rights and secret jails anti-government individuals (30). In December 1989, Bashir released Turabi from jail and, along with new government ministers, swore allegiance to Turabi (xix) (32). Sudan was now controlled by an oppressive Islamic government.

Omar al-Bashir

The new government’s aspirations were global (33). Turabi “sought to purge the Arab world of corrupt secular governments,” not just Sudan (34). He wanted an Arab world that was based in Sharia with the Quran as the only source of the truth (35). Turabi wanted a network of the world’s radical Islamic groups that used Sudan as refuge (36). One of the most significant allies was Osama bin Laden (37). Turabi, supported by Bashir, wanted to use Sudan for a worldwide Islamic revolution (38).

The civil war became impacted by world events. The South received much support from Ethiopia, a Soviet Union client, including indirectly receiving weapons and training (39). In the early 1990s, with the fall of the Soviet Union, arms shipments to Ethiopia dramatically dropped (40). Moreover, in April 1991, a rebel group, who had received assistance from Khartoum, ousted the Ethiopian government (41). As a result, the new government cut off all support to Garang and the SPLA (43). The South experienced more trouble in late 1991 when internal factions split (xx) the SPLA along policy lines (44). This split had the end effect of weakening the Southern position and strengthened the Northern position in the war (218). The North used the split to their advantage, and it was part of al-Mahdi’s strategy to win the war- support the split factions to fight against each other, which pits the South against itself (219).

The North also experienced challenges during the mid-1990s. The government had begun to experience troubles in foreign relations because of its position on radical Islam, involvement in assassination attempts, and support of Osama bin Laden (45). Bashir began to distance the government from bin Laden and radical Islamic groups (46).

Bashir governs by allowing his administration to handle the administrative details (47). This changed when Bashir was in trouble of losing power to Turabi and his supporters (48). When Turabi ran for speaker of the National Assembly and won, reorganized  his party, the National Islamic Front (NIF), and sought legislative actions that would limit Bashir of his presidential power (50). In response to Turabi’s actions, in December 1999, Bashir called a state of emergency and demanded new elections (xxi) (51). After winning reelection, Bashir purged Turabi and his supporters from the government (52). Bashir’s subsequent relationship with Turabi has been one of paranoia, involving repeated arrests (53). Turabi’s hope of an Islamic revolution failed to produce (54).

The Aftermath of the Second Sudanese Civil War

During his time as prime minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi adopted policies to win the war and pit the South against itself. More importantly, al-Mahdi burned villages in the South, stole livestock, raped women, and abducted children into slavery in order to make southerners more susceptible to Arabization and Islamization (60). The Murahalin militia, an Arab group created by al-Mahdi that attacked on horseback, (61) used these tactics with the result of great displacement of southerners, a factor that contributed to a humanitarian crisis during the late 1980s (62).

The Bashir government committed similar atrocities during the war. Bashir used a scorched-earth policy to further exploit oil (63). The government burned villages, stole cattle, raped and kidnapped women, and killed young men who might otherwise join the SLPA. Similarly, “oil field development was being implemented through an ethnic cleansing campaign of murder, rape, and pillage by government militias loyal to Khartoum that were recruited from among southern tribes” (64). Finally, the Bashir government denied foreign aid from entering the country and assisting displaced persons in the South, the Nuba Mountains, and in Darfur.

The Second Sudanese Civil War resulted in an estimated 2.5 million deaths and as many as 4 million displaced persons (65).



Khartoum began to seriously consider peace negotiations with Garang in late 2002 (66). In June 2002, the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development, IGAD, reopened negotiations with the active involvement of the US and Norway (67). In late June, the North and the South announced the Machakos Protocol, framework for peace that discussed equality in Sudan and self-determination for the South (xxv). However, the interpretation of this document led to disagreement between groups within and outside of Sudan.

A series of agreements were reached, and on January 9, 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in Nairobi, Kenya (68). The provisions of the CPA included the establishment of an autonomous government in South Sudan and an interim “Government of National Unity” in Khartoum, both of which would have posts for each side’s ruling parties; national multi-party elections held by 2009; and a Southern referendum on secession by January 2011 (69). There were also provisions regarding security: the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) would withdraw from the South, and southern troops would withdraw from the North (70). The agreement also provided that the SAF and the SPLA would create a combined-troops unit to provide security in certain border regions (71). Finally, the CPA provided specific provisions regarding wealth-sharing, specifically oil revenues), and resolution of disputed areas along the North-South border (72).

Implementing these provisions was not entirely smooth. Several of the provisions have met much resistance by the North (73). The concern with the failure to meet these provisions was that they might result in military action.  In the end, the CPA succeeded where other agreements had failed: it ended the Second Sudanese Civil War, allowed southerners to return to their homes, removed northern troops from the South, and answered the security question for the South (74).  Most importantly, it allowed for the January 2011 referendum for independence, which took effect on June 9, 2011, establishing South Sudan as an independent state (75).


Was it Genocide?

Genocide is defined as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and/or forcibly transferring children of the group to another” (76).

The United States Congress passed the Sudan Peace Act, which was signed into law on October 21, 2002, based on this definition. The law passed to “facilitate famine relief efforts and a comprehensive solution to the war in Sudan” (77).

Congress found that the Government of Sudan had “intensified its prosecution of the war against areas outside of its control” (78). Congress was referring to actions that the Government of Sudan had taken against the people of the South. The act made note of the use of tribal rivalries to cause the South to fight itself; the use of government-sponsored militias for raiding, capturing, and enslaving parties outside of government control; and an effort to disrupt the South’s ability to sustain itself (79). Congress also charged the Government of Sudan with the banning and interfering with the distribution of relief aid, which caused starvation (80).

Congress charged the Government of Sudan of committing genocide, according to the understanding enumerated by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, against the people of an area outside of its control – South Sudan.

Did Human Trafficking/Child Soldiering Occur?

One tactic commonly used throughout the fighting was militias, supported by the North, raiding and burning villages, raping women, and abducting children into slavery. It was not until 2005, with the signing of the CPA, that these raiding practices were stopped. To get a rough number, “thousands of Dinka women and children, and a lesser number of children from the Nuba tribe, were abducted and enslaved by members of the Missiriya and Rizeigats during the concluded North-South Civil War” (81). On the other side, as children would flee these destroyed villages, many made their way to UN-supported refugee and internally-displaced-person (IDP) camps, which were formed in the late 1980s (82). These camps were attractive to the SPLA because many were composed predominantly of male refugees. The SPLA would use these camps for recruitment and training purposes (83). Both the government and the SPLA were guilty of this crime of child recruitment.

While South Sudan has signed and/or committed (xxvi) itself to releasing and reintegrating child soldiers from its military, as of April 2012, UNICEF estimates that as many as 2,000 children, ages 12 to 18, serve as child soldiers in the SLPA (84). Even though the government of South Sudan has made a commitment to release children from its military, the Government of South Sudan faces a challenge in fulfilling this commitment. In a country with a weak infrastructure and inadequate education system, the military may be the only promising economic commitment for young men (85). While the government has programs in place to assist children who are released from the military, according to the chief of UNICEF’s child protection unit in South Sudan, these assistance programs need to be “meaningful” (86). Moreover, like military opportunity, these programs need to offer promising economic opportunities to keep children from re-entering the military.

Although the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) has denied that children were recruited into its forces, there is evidence that child soldiers are present. In 2006, children were seen in the newly-integrated SAF units after unification (87). As of August 2006, the SAF estimated that, of the soldiers present in its force, a good number of them were under the age of 18 (88). While the CPA required the release and reintegration of child soldiers by July 2005, this was prevented within the SAF as a result of the conflict in Darfur and the lack of infrastructure within communities (89).

Since these events have occurred, UNICEF and other organizations have been able to monitor certain SAF barracks and camps, with the permission of the Government of National Unity, to make sure child soldiering is not occurring (90). The Government has also agreed to pass national legislation to criminalize the recruitment of children (91).

From these facts and the raiding practices that occurred during the Second Sudanese Civil War, it is clear that human trafficking and child soldiering existed in several forms and in some locations may still exist today. Moreover, while the Government of Sudan has taken steps to release and reintegrate child soldiers, combating human trafficking through law enforcement, protective, and prevention measures was not a priority during the reporting period of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report (92).  Moreover, while the Government of South Sudan’s efforts to monitor human trafficking and its ability to provide accurate statistics on the matter was weak, the government did show some willingness to address these issues during the reporting period of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report (93).      

 Prepared by James Petermeier, J.D., World Without Genocide  Associate


(iii) This is the world’s oldest, largest, and most influential transnational movement, founded in the 1940s in Egypt; Hassan al-Turabi was one of the founders of the Sudanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s, which eventually evolved into the Islamic Charter Front in the 1960s and then later into the National Islamic Front (NIF).  Andrew S. Natsios, Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know xv (2012).

(xviii) There is evidence that the arrest of Turabi was a front to cover up the true nature of the new government.  Andrew S. Natsios, Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know, 80-81 (2012).

(xx) Over Garang’s governing style of the SPLA and whether the North and South should remain unified.  Andrew S. Natsios, Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know 98 (2012).

(xxi) Which were held in 2000.  Andrew S. Natsios, Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everybody Needs to Know 105 (2012).

(xxv) However, many issues such as human rights and the option of a cease-fire were left for later talks.  Douglas H. Johnson, The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars: Peace or Truce xv – xvi (2011).

(xxvi) One such commitment was an action plan signed on March 16, 2012, and another was a commitment made following the signing of the CPA, in which the SPLA committed itself to removing all child soldiers from its military (which it never followed through with).  Returning Sudanese Child Soldiers Their Childhood, Inter Press Service News Agency (July 2, 2012),


(1) Id. at 8.

(2) Id.

(3) Natsios, supra, at 84-85.

(4) Id.

(5) Id. at 93.

(6) Id. at 96.

(7) Id. at 104.

(8) Id.

(9) Id.

(10) Id. at 104-105.

(11) Id. at 106.

(12) Id. at xv.

(13) Id. at 134.

(14) Id. at 164.

(15) Id. at 180.

(16) Johnson, supra, at 62.

(17) Id.

(18) Id. at 64.

(19) Id.    

(20) Id.

(21) Id.   

(22) Id.    

(23) Id. at 67.

(24) Id.   

(25) Id.

(26) Id.

(27) Id. at 173-174.

(28) Id.

(29) Id. at 80.

(30) Id.    

(31) Id. at 83.

(32) Id.

(33) Id.

(34) Id. at 91.

(35) Id.    

(36) Id. at 92.

(37) Id. at 93.

(38) Id. at 94.

(39) Id.   at 96.

(40) Id. at 97.

(41) Id.    

(42) Id.

(43) Id.

(44) Id.

(45) Id. at 98.

(46) Id. at 98-99.

(47) Id.

(48) Id. at 101-103.

(49) Id. at 103.    

(50) Id.    

(51) Id.

(52) Id.

(53) Id. at 104.

(54) Id. at 104-105.

(55) Id. at 105.

(56) Id.

(57) Id.    

(58) Id. at 107.

(59) Id.

(60) Id. at 109.

(61) Id. at 110.

(62) Id.    

(63) Id. at 72.

(64) Id. at 74.

(65) Id.

(66) Id. at 77.

(67) Id. at 108.

(68) Id. at 111.

(69) Id. at 1.

(70) Id. at 163.

(71) Id. at xv.

(72) Id. at xvii.

(73) Natsios, supra, at 171.

(74) Id.    

(75) Id.

(76) Id.   at 171-172.

(77) Id. at 178.

(78) Id. at 185.

(79) Id.

(80) United Nations Conventions on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Jan. 12, 1951, 78 U.N.T.S. 277.

(81) Sudan Peace Act, Pub. L. No. 107-245 (2002)

(82) Id. § 2(1).

(83) Id. § 2(7).

(84) Id. § 2(9).

(85) U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2011, at 335.

(86) Natsios, supra, at 75.

(87) Id. at 75.

(88) Andrew Green, Returning Sudanese Child Soldiers Their Childhood, Inter Press Service News Agency (Apr. 15, 2012),

(89) Id.

(90) Id.

(91) Sudan, Child Soldiers Global Reports 2008, (last visited July 2, 2012)

(92) Id.

(93) Id.

(94) Id.

(95) Id.

(96) U.S. Department of State, supra, at 336.

(97) Id.