May 25, 2008 – 11:37 pm
Dear friends in peace, Peace Be Upon You,
Sala’am Aleikum! My task at the
end of this very impressive conference with 150 participants here in
Hermansburg on the Lüneburger Heide is to fly above the nitty-gritty of failing
implementations of the many peace agreements, report the visions, and indicate
possible solutions that have been tried successfully elsewhere. In no way do I say “do this, do
that”. But I do report what comes
to my eyes at four levels: world politics, relations to neighbors, the Sudan
construction and the local level, particularly Darfur, the home of the fur.
Some years ago the focus was on the South.
Let me also start with a well known African
proverb: “When elephants fight, the
grass suffers, and, when elephants make love, the grass suffers even
more.” You have two elephants let
loose, the USA and China, both oil drunk.
You have their drug. Some Sudan
violence is a proxy war. Your neighbors
tend toward one elephant or the other; so do parts and parties in Sudan. We are in Cold War II since USA-NATO-Japan
started encircling Russia-China-India and some more, leading to SCO, the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization. You
risk becoming a battle-field.
You may also risk that one day they agree
on quotas for your oil, and impose them upon you. Their egoism has no space for the effects on
you, yet they are afraid of an all-out war.
Let me make three points in addition to
letting you, the grass, grow high, and very strong, and maybe even pointed.
First, you are protected by human
rights: the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stipulates that
proceeds from the natural resources of a country should accrue to its people;
neither to foreigners, nor to elites only.
As you might expect, the USA did not ratify
Second, you might consider doing
major processing yourself and pocket the value-added rather than exporting
crude only. And you would of course
quote your prices in a hard currency.
Third, oil is fading out as a major
key to global warming. There are such
alternatives as wind and solar energy, and you have plenty of both. Oil may become your doom, not a blessing.
Flying a little lower I see Sudan with its
many neighbors defined by colonial borders, not by your own African nations.
The border between Anglophones and Francophones is one. Some encroach on you, some court one elephant
or the other. You might consider
establishing a confederation, a community of all of you, with as open
borders as possible, and much cooperation. Look beyond today’s frictions, some
of them elephant-generated. And watch that EU elephant herd, now getting its
One level lower Sudan fills the horizon:
one state and many nations, by religion, language, shared history and
attachment to geography. An Arab-Islamic
nation claiming to own it all is as unacceptable as Western colonialism. It generates resistance and secessionism. In the world there are about 200 states,
2,000 nations, and 20 nation-states in the world, the rest are multi-national.
But there are three alternatives to unitarianism and secessionism: devolution,
There are about 25 federations in
the world, housing 40% of humanity; Switzerland, India and Malaysia being very
inspiring. The general formula for the about 25 functions of modern states:
four are handled by the Center; joint foreign, security, finance and
infra-structure. And the rest is handled
by the Parts–like the 7 Sudan regions–particularly such sensitive topics as
religion, language, history and the geographical attachments. Separate, equal and united. Neither unitarian, nor secessionist.
Look at Switzerland: four languages, two
Christianities and none imposed on the other.
Federalism makes democracy
possible as no national majority can impose itself. Nor can sharia be imposed. But watch out: customary, common law also
carries a cultural code. “You have
your code and we have ours” is fine.
But even better is to combine, like when the Archbishop of Canterbury
opened for some application of sharia.
Federalism does not have to be
symmetric. Thus, the South may demand
extra autonomies; and justice is not served by shoes of size 40 for all. A
Constitutional Court may mediate disputes.
I then come closer to the people in this
giant land, and to the worst of all problems: 90% on less than $1 a day. A
golden rule: First priority to the basic needs of the most needy. And
four basic needs can easily be identified: survival served by
orderly political processes and training in nonviolence, freedom served
by democracy, identity served by federalism, and wellness served by
food, housing, clothing, medical services, education through an economy with
people not only elite, priorities. Best
done by lifting the people up rather than threatening elites.
The land issue is at the roots of the
Darfur International- Criminal-Court level violence (as you might expect, the
USA did not ratify that one). A distinction between public ownership and
private, adequate, “usership” may be useful. The right to food is a basic right. To own land and not use it properly is
anti-human, like letting fuel for cars outcompete food for humans.
There is too much suffering in the Sudan
today, too much violence as monuments over conflicts in search of solutions.
But reconciliation without solution is pacification, lollypops that fool
nobody. Solutions of these four conflict
areas, with reconciliation, is peace. Peace
with us all. Sala’am Aleikum.