Political Representation & Participation Of National Minorities In Sudan
The topic of political representation and participation of both the minority and women in national issues has elicited keen interest from many scholars who previously had given this important topic a wide berth. As Kallas Kristina noted in her conference research paper, the political participation of most national minorities in most decision-making processes, especially on issues directly affecting the minority have come to be considered a key litmus test to the democratic systems of countries all over the world; thus need to carry out conclusive studies on the topic. The author would like to justify the recent need to carry out conclusive studies on the topic by referring to the works of a reputable research scholar from McMaster University-Karen Bird who acknowledged in his research work that it has been a common observation for political representatives to be drawn from the elite strata of societies. Even after having articulated that the common concern relating to political representation called for national legislatures to be demographically representative of the many diverse classes of a country’s citizens, Bird went ahead to insist that even in cases where “free” elections are held and representatives chosen, it is often claimed by many that most legislatures remain “unrepresentative” especially in the numbers relating to ethnic minorities, women, less-educated and the poorer social classes. This has in turn called for increased critical debates on the minority topic to try to and address the highlighted shortcomings in modern societies.
Political Representation & Participation Of National Minorities In Sudan
Table of Contents
In this case study essay paper, the author, drawing from the above perspective and also having undertaken an academic course on the rights and discriminations accompanying the lifestyles of minority groups across the world, decided to initiate a case study to expound on the themes of this useful humanitarian topic. The paper will aim to review the political representation and participation of national minorities in the decision-making processes of nations. For the provision of objective and factual findings, the author specifically selected Sudan as the paper’s country of case study. In selecting this country, the author was motivated by the fact that the national minority (who mainly occupy the Southern part of the country) have been one of the most disadvantaged and disparate minority groups in Africa as a whole. To add, due to political, social and legal factors, this minority Christian group from the Southern has continued to be marginalized by the dominant Muslims from the Northern part of this largest African country.
To help the reader(s) understand Sudan’s viscous cycle of under-representation for its minority groups, the author adopted and implemented the following themes under the scope and structure of this case study paper.
The paper reviewed a number of sub-topics and concepts closely related to the representation and participation of national minority. To start with, of keen interest to the author was the definition of the ‘term’ minority as was articulated by various researchers. Succeeding this stage was a look at two minority group across the World. In identifying and highlighting the misrepresentation and discrimination on the two selected minority samples, the author concentrated on the most ‘disadvantaged’ and disparate minority groups across the world. The author then gave a detailed analysis of the political misrepresentation scenario facing the minority group in Sudan.
Following this was an argumentative analysis of the normative minority rights as sourced and documented in the Sudanese national laws, International Treaties and Human Rights Committee Cases. Furthermore, the author critically analyzed how the national minority in Sudan had been politically represented or participated in the identified documented laws/treaties/cases.
In the next phase, the author gave a critical legal analysis on the compliance of the identified national and international laws and treaties. In the end, the author reflected on the core findings as was derived from the case study themes.
The existing texts on the topic of national minority have completely failed to arrive at an accepted generation description for the term national minority. Instead, these texts have gone ahead to suspect that most states are not wishing to define the concept , so as to slow down the work on the minorities question or even bring it to a complete halt. What is evident is that there have been great fears on the self-declared unitary states for many centuries that a generally accepted definition might rekindle the constant regional claims of misrepresenting their national minorities; claims which these states have spent the better part of their independence time fighting. The lack of a general definition has caused legal difficulties that have led to the continued suffering of national minorities across the world.
Despite the absence of a clear definition, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, during the 1993 gathering in Geneva, came closer to proposing a universal acceptable definition for the term national minority when it stated that the term referred to individuals in states who:
“a). Resided on the territories of those state and as such theuy were citizens thereof;
b). Maintained firm, long standing and lasting relationships/ties with those states;
c). Displayed distinctive ethnic, reliogious, cultural or linguistic characteristics;
d).were sufficiently representative, despite being outnumbered by the rest of the citizens.
e). Were motivated by concerns to preserve or gather together that which constituted their common identities, including their traditions, culture, their language or their religion”.
It has been alluded that the difficulties in constituting a general definition has accounted to international instruments evading the ‘minority problem’. Instead, they have confined themselves to identifying the term by its ethnic, religious and/or linguistic characteristics.
Though this paper will narrow down to the minority case in Sudan, the following are two samples of the increasing cases of discriminated and/or misrepresented minority groups across different parts of the world. The difficulty scenario facing these groups has been exacerbated by the absence of a legally binding definition which ‘pressure’ groups could have utilized to fight for their rights.
These are the most disadvantaged and disparate minority group that inhabit the two states of Hungary and Roma in the Europe. The Roma issue has become more salient both on the domestic and international political agenda since 1989. This was the period when the fall of the communism led the resurgent of ethno-nationalism cases across affected regions. The Roma make legitimate claims of under-representation that include amongst others the branding that they are unfit to rule. More so, The Romans have experienced mistrust with non-Romans thus leading to their historical exclusion from political rights.
The WWII saw a lot of immigrations (mainly from Russia) inhabit the large portions of the non-native Latvia and Estonia. These immigrants have been denied basic political rights in these two Baltic countries thus leading to many scholars classifying the democratic systems in the two nations as ‘ethic democracy’. & 
V. A look at the Sudanese National Laws, International Treaties and Human rights Committee Cases that make Mention of Rights of National Minority
This was a 260 page peace agreement signed between the Sudanese government in the North and the Southern Sudan Rebels (the marginalized national minority group). The background to this signing had seen Sudan engulfed in a civil conflict for a period of 11 years as a result of the minority discrimination and marginalization. This peace accord initiative was initiated and overseen by the United Nations Mission for Sudan (UNMIS) and was finally signed on 1st January 2005 in Kenyan.
The signed CPA mandated incorporation of all militias in the country’s two armies (Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) to the Northern territory and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the South). To add, the accord called on the parties to collaborate on resolving national issues. The United Nations Peace Support Mission was to play the overseeing role.
This international treaty was first documented on December 16, 1966 and amended in 1992. The treaty, in its Article 27, states that in the states in which ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities existed, persons belonging in such minorities were not to be denied the rights, in communities with the communities of other members of belonging to their group, to sufficiently enjoy their acquired culture, to practise and profess their own religions, or to make use their own languages.
This treaty was documented on 7th September 2007. In its article 3, the declaration states that indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination and as such, they are free to determine their political, economic, social and economic development statuses. The excerpts in the additional articles 4, 10 and 26 restate the above normative rights by splitting down the categories of the identified statuses.
4. Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities
It was a further development of the ICCPR which the UN General Assembly adopted in the period of December 18, 1992. This declaration had 8 articles stressing on the need of states to uphold national minority rights. The declaration postulated that states needed to adopt appropriate legislative or other measures in protecting the (rights of) existence of minorities within their respective territories.& 
This declaration was documented in the year 1948 and its article 21 emerged to be very relevant in advocating for the rights of the national minority. The article’s paragraph 21 stated that all persons had the rights to participate in the governments of their countries, directly or through freely chosen representatives (British Information Services (2008). The rights to free and fair elections and an equal access to a state’s public service were also articulated in chapters 2 and 3 of this declaration.
Abundant evidence is all over to justify Sudan’s reluctance and backtracking in upholding the signed CPA and other minority rights protection (international) instruments; for which it is a member. To bring out the country’s failed mission in incorporating and protecting the rights of its minority groups in the South, the author chose to provide a juristic critical analysis of the facts as presented in the country’s failed constitution system, courts and judgment systems, the human rights bodies’ reports and other UN special reports on the status of events in the Muslim dominant African state.
The year 1989 saw the overthrowing of Sudan’s democratically elected head of state by the current long-serving ‘powerful’ Lieutenant General Omar Al-Bashir. The change of regime saw the then newly created 1985 constitution being suspended. Moreover, the new regime disbanded all trade unions as well as the country’s political parties. The new government (that was composed mainly by the Northerners) announced suspicious and ‘post-determined’ presidential and parliamentary elections in the December of 1993. These elections were universally boycotted by major opposition parties, especially those from the minority south. Allegations of electoral fraud and government interference were the real causes of boycott. Al-Bashir’s party emerged victorious with a total of 240 parliamentary seats out of a maximum of 340 in these deeply flawed national elections.
Tellingly, subsequent elections in the year 1996 saw a repeat of a flawed electoral process. This process allowed the Al-Bashir’s government (which was formed by the Muslim majority from the North) to distribute three quarters of plum government, security, judicial, academic, trade unionist, professional and media job opportunities amongst themselves.
Efforts by the Turabi minority group that formed a small part of the government to introduce a constitution amended in the year 1999 (to reduce Presidential powers) saw President Al-Bashir disband parliament 2 days to the voting of the bill. The subsequent elections of December 2000, 2005 and 2010 have been deeply flawed to the extent that international observers did not see the need to implement their observatory roles.
According to the research efforts of Sidahmed Abdel Salam, the Sudanese judiciary (locally known as POGAR) has 4 types of courts namely the regular (civil and criminal), military, specially mixed security courts and the tribal courts. Not incorporated under the above is the Islamic Law which was silently drafted and implemented in the Muslim northern part of the country. Referring to Burr and Collins works, the authors founded out that there have been justifiable allegations that the minority non-Muslims from the South have been unlawfully arrested and prosecuted under the Islamic law.
The human rights groups have amassed a lot of evidence to justify that the Sudanese Government remained extremely poor in protecting or representing the political rights of the minorities. The following is a closer review of these reports:
This humanitarian agency has written uncountable reports on the violation of rights of the minority in Southern Sudan in the last 3 decades. A review of recent report that called on the African Union to prioritize protection of minority civilians in the country provided damning and damaging facts on the status of marginalization and war crimes by the Sudan’s government. In this report, published on June 23, 2011, the agency claimed that the Sudan’s government had raided a displaced camp (Zamzam). According to the report, 37 people were innocently arrested and the little property as possessed by the minority population that inhabited the camp was looted by the government soldiers.
In the subsequent report published on June 24th, 2011 decrying the increased insecurity for the displaced minorities in the Southern region of Sudan (Kordofan), this humanitarian agency brought to our attention that the Sudanese Government had continued to engage in high altitude civilian minority bombing and indiscriminate attacks.
In its 2002 report assessing the progress made by Sudan in addressing human rights issues, the report noted that the human rights situation in the Southern African country remained grim. The report expounded on its findings by stating that the country’s government maintained in full force a state of emergency that suppressed opposition to the now ruling National Congress Islamist party (Human Rights Watch Group 2002).
This report was written in 2006, only two years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by the two feuding partners in Sudan. The report established that the CPA was already showing signs of strain as from its first year of implementation. The main reason given for the straining CPA was that the ruling party lacked the political will and blessing from the Southern minorities to successfully implement the peace agreement. To be specific, the ruling party had begun to implement the agreement in bad faith thus leading to its southern partner becoming a weaker and non-effective implementing partner.
From the studies conducted above, the author, in summing up, confidently asserts that the national minority treatment in Sudan constitutes a demanding and complex case study scenario. This is because Southern Sudan has witnessed rampant cases of minority rights violation as well as broader human rights violation-that included to a greater extend committing of war crimes by the Northern Khartoum government. These violations include amongst others cultural assimilation, economic and political marginalization, slavery abduction, aerial civilian bombings.
After a review of the many human rights group reports, and the unending violation of the documented national minority rights protection by the Sudan Government, the United Nations was left with no alternative but to call for a seceding vote in the January of 2011. The results of this vote, which were published in February of 2011, revealed that an estimated 98.83 minority voters in the South voted to secede from their Northern counterparts. This decision has in turn created increased uncertainty and instability in the country considering that the independence of the South would mean that most of the country’s lucrative resources, key amongst them oil, will have to be reverted back to the control and care of the marginalized minority Southerners. If and when the proposed secession will mature into “real independence” remains to be seen/told.
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 Kristina Kallas, Political Participation of National Minorities in Decision-Making Process: Cases of Estonia and Latvia, A Conference Paper Presented at the International Workshop Focusing on Effective Political, Economic & Social Participation of Minorities (Forum Minority Research Institute, 29 – 30 September 2008) 1.
 Karen Bird, The Political Representation of Women and Ethnic Minorities in Established Democracies: A Framework for Comparative Research, McMaster University, http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/pnorris/Acrobat/stm103%20articles/Karen%20Bird%20amidpaper.pdf (accessed 29 June 2011).
 Ibid, 2.
 Scott Appleby R., The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), 63.
 Bronwen Manby, Citizenship Law in Africa: A Comparative Study (NY: Open Institute Foundation, 2010), 3.
 Martinus Thio, Managing Babel: The International Legal Protection of Minorities in the Twentieth Century (Leiden, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2003), 188.
 Florence Benoit, The Minority Question in Europe: Towards a Coherent System of Protection for National Minorities (Germany: International Council of Europe, 1996), 12.
 Henrard, Kristin, Devising an Adequate System of Minority Protection: Individual Human Rights, Minority Rights, and The Right to Self-Determination (The Hague :Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2000), 18.
 Rachel, Murray, The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and International Law (Oregon, USA: Hart Publishing, 2000).
 Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly, Documents: Working Papers, 2006 Ordinary Session (First Part), 23 -27 January 2006, Vol. 1: Documents 10711, 10712, 10715-10769 ( Strasbourg Cedex: Council of Europe, 2006), 234.
 Florence Benoit, 13.
 Gaetano Pentassuglia, Minorities in International Law: An Introductory Study, European Centre for Minority Issues (Strasbourg Cedex : Council of Europe 2002), 109.
 Aidan McGarry, Who Speaks for Roma? Political Representation of a Transnational Minority Community (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010), 33.
 Ibid, 34.
 P. Jarve, Ethnic Democracy and Estonia: Application of Smooha’s Model, ECMI Working Paper ( Flensburg: European Centre for Minority Issues, 2000).
 V. Pettai, Emerging Ethnic Democracy in Estonia and Latvia in M. Opalski (ed.) Managing Diversity in Plural Societies: Minorities, Migration and Nation Building in Post-Communist Europe (Ontario: Forum for Eastern Europe, 1998), 15-32.
 UNMIS, The Background to Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement, http://unmis.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=515 (accessed June 30, 2011).
 Julian Warczinski, The Comprehensive Peace Agreement Sudan 2005: An Example of Successful Peacebuilding? (Germany: GRIN Verlag, 2008), 2.
 James Summers, Peoples and International Law: How Nationalism and Self-determination Shape a Contemporary Law of Nations (The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2007), 4.
 Darrell Addison Posey & Graham Dutfield, Beyond Intellectual Property: Toward Traditional Resource Rights for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (Ottawa: IDRC, 1996), 182.
 Slovak Šamorín, The Minority Question in Europe: Towards a Coherent System of Protection for National Minorities, www.minelres.lv/reports/albania/albania_NGO.htm (accessed June 30, 2011).
 Council of Europe, Human Rights In International Law: Basic Texts. 3rd edn (Strasbourg Cedex : Council of Europe, 2007).
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948-1949) Report, Article 21, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a21 (accessed June 30, 2011).
 Roel Meijer, Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement (USA:Columbia University Press, 2009), 145.
 Augustus Richard Norton, Civil Society in the Middle East (The Netherlands: BRILL, 2001), 165.
 Jamie Stokes, Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East (USA: Infobase Publishing, 2009), 658.
 Bernard J. Hibbitts, Jurist World Law: Sudan, http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/world/sudan.htm (accessed June 30, 2011).
 Karl R DeRouen & Uk Heo, Civil Wars of the World: Major Conflicts Since World War II (California: ABC-CLIO, 2007), 748.
 Abdel Salam Sidahmed, Politics and Islam in Contemporary (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1996), 104.
 Millard Burr & Robert O. Collins, Revolutionary Sudan: Hasan al-Turabi and the Islamist State, 1989-2000 (The Netherlands: BRILL, 2003), xiv.
 Amnesty International (a), Document-African Union Must Prioritize the Protection of Civilians in Conflict Situations, Amnesty International Public Statement, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/IOR63/002/2011/en/78a59751-37e4-4ed1-b32d-8743a8a21e44/ior630022011en.html (accessed June 30, 2011).
 Amnesty International (b), Sudan: Insecurity Persists for the Displaced in Southern Kordofan, Amnesty International Public Statement, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR54/020/2011/en/1f5bd0e1-cd5e-4834-98ef-56473462ad63/afr540202011en.html (accessed June 30, 2011).
 ICG 2006, Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement: The Long Road Ahead, Africa Report No 106, http://protection.unsudanig.org/data/south/CPA/ICG%20-%20Sudan%20CPA The%20Long%20Road%20Ahead%20%28Mar06%29.pdf ((accessed June 30, 2011), 3.
 Chris Chapman, Why A Minority Rights Approach to Conflict? The Case of Southern Sudan, www.minorityrights.org/download.php?id=483 (accessed June 29, 2011), 1.