The report, Sudan 2012: Scenarios for the future, was released in the Hague on September 1, 2009. It takes an interesting and original approach to the problems of Sudan by looking ahead, past the much talked about 2011 referendum, to what Sudan could be like in 2012 based an four scenarios that would precede 2012. The report, based on a study by Jaïr van de Lijn, “is to contribute to the debate about how to stimulate peace, security and development in Sudan and to present options for international action.”

The material presented in the report comes from workshops in Malakal, Juba, Bor and Khartoum in May and June 2009, just after my own visit to Southern Sudan, although I went to Juba, Wau, Aweil and Abyei. Information comes from input during the workshops by local and international NGOs, faith group, politicians, government officials, civil society organizations and “others”.

The report defines four scenarios based on two uncertainties: 1) whether the country will be at war or at peace, and 2) whether the country will remain united or whether the south will secede from the north (see diagram below).

FOUR (five) SCENARIOS:

In the document’s executive summary, five main findings arose from the exercise of creating these four scenarios:

  1. “It may not be wise to direct all long-term attention to developmental rather than humanitarian assistance.” because, the report stipulates, even in the best scenario (self-professed as the ‘CPA Hurray!’ scenario) “small-scale conflicts are still likely.”;
  2. The ‘CPA Hurray!’ scenario is worth pursuing as a strategy because it “promises a less violent future.” But, according to this report (and this recent report), it “appears less plausible”.
  3. The materialization of “free and fair elections is essential, not only to guarantee peace, but as the only peaceful way to bring about unity,” which according to September 2007 focus group survey, A Place to Call Their Own, as well as the report’s own southern focus groups, most Southerners do not want.
  4. “Continuous outside mediation and pressure is needed to get all parties to implement the CPA and to make unity attractive.” It continues to explain that the “time horizon” needs more flexibility and needs to be extended beyond 2012. The need to talk about a “post-2012 period” is paramount particularly “about what unity might look like” to make the pre-2012 period “more manageable.”
  5. “The critical difference between a successful and unsuccessful outcome will be to a large extent determined by whether the South has a stable, cooperative and confident leadership.”

The interesting future histories in Sudan between 2009-2012, created by the report’s author, lead to each of the four post-2012 Sudan scenarios are followed by the suggestions and policy options for the international community. They are well researched and seem to portray the current situation in Southern Sudan. Future histories are then formulated to create each of the four scenarios.

Based on the five main findings outlined above, the report seems to favour scenario #3, which represents the point of view of Northern focus groups, who view ‘CPA Hurray!’ as “a romantic but possible scenario.” The members of Southern focus groups expressed a belief that “a renewed war between the North and the South next to unavoidable” so scenarios one and two were most likely to them.

Possibly the most interesting element in the report is the identification by the Northern focus groups of a fifth “Stagnation’ scenario within the ‘no war’ and ‘united’ quadrant of the diagram. Based on a third uncertainty, which is given little attention these days, is the possibility that neither the 2010 elections nor the 2011 referendum will take place. They believe that “because elites in power in Khartoum and Juba have little to gain from [a election and a referendum], and prefer the present situation to continue.” This status quo situation would allow Sudanese and international actors to “muddle through, continuing to ‘band aid’ the Sudanese system together.”