Closing Declaration of the Conference on “The Role of Civil Society in the Constitution-Making Process in Sudan”
Nairobi / Kenya, June 3 to 6, 2013
Being aware of the overall national crisis and historical impasse currently experienced by Sudan, characterised by totalitarianism, internal wars, and tribal conflicts in many states; and of the serious political polarization, acute economic crisis, grave human rights violations and acute divisions that threaten the unity of the whole country; and,
Recognizing that this crisis has been escalating since the dawn of independence, and that previous attempts to solve it have featured violence, insurgency, military coups and bilateral agreements, without ever rationally addressing the root causes of Sudan’s crisis; and,
Believing that the establishment of the State on the basis of the monopoly of power, centralization of decision-making, and a lack of recognition of and respect for pluralism, including cultural, ethnic, and religious diversities were and still are the main threats to the unity of the country and its stability, and precipitated the secession of the South, dividing the country and weakening its resources and potential; and,
Recognising that the national crisis has reached its peak, a stage which cannot be overcome without a new national contract that goes beyond the current challenges and builds the foundations for a better future that achieves democracy and pluralistic participation in making a constitution that is based on equal citizenship, equitable development and service provision under democratic rule that is based on justice, fairness, rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power; and,
Building on initiatives undertaken by civil society actors inside Sudan, representatives of various civil society organizations called for this conference in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi from 3 to 6 June 2013, convened by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and their partners, in the presence of Sudanese experts and international observers, to discuss the process of making a constitution and the principles on which the future Sudanese State should be established.
A number of papers and presentations addressing the drafting process and the content of the constitution were set forth, followed by fruitful discussions, leading to consensus on some issues, as well as disagreements on other issues that will require extensive debate in the future.
The delegates emphasized that constitution-making is not just a technical work that leads to the formulation of a legal document, but is rather a process requiring comprehensive, collaborative, and transparent social dialogue that excludes no one, and leads to a consensus to establish a democratic state. This should be adopted in a comprehensive document that looks to the future and avoids the shortcomings of previous Sudanese constitutions which were not based on a consensus.
The delegates express their appreciation of the efforts and initiatives undertaken by civil society towards forming a strategic vision for constitution-making in Sudan. They stress that the creation of a suitable environment, including an end to the armed conflicts in the country and guarantees of public freedoms, are essential pre-requisites to achieving a democratic constitution through comprehensive dialogue.
Nevertheless, it is the duty of civil society to play an educational role in order to develop a democratic constitution that includes the following principles:
- The establishment of a state that is based on peace, stability and national unity.
- The founding of a pluralistic democratic system of governance that respects ethnic, religious, cultural and other diversities in Sudan and ensures public freedoms and equality before the law, along with equal protection and benefit of the law, and lays the appropriate foundations for good governance.
- Ensuring all human rights and freedoms, interpreted in accordance with international and regional human rights standards, treaties and covenants.
- Providing affirmative measures for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Sudan’s conflict affected regions.
- Ensuring women’s rights on the basis of equality, citizenship, gender equity, eliminating of all forms of discrimination against women, and undertaking all necessary measures for their advancement.
- The realization of the principles of transitional justice, the establishment of its mechanisms, taking all required legal and procedural measures to ensure the rights of victims in knowing the truth, ensuring the principle of accountability and an end to impunity, guaranteeing the non-recurrence of crimes, reparations and the establishment of mechanisms for social peace.
- The achievement of social justice and equitable distribution of wealth and power, and confirmation of the social responsibility of the state.
- Achieving equitable and sustainable development in order to achieve social and environmental peace.
- Ensuring and protecting the right to thought, conscience and religion.
- Establishing an appropriate federal system under a unified Sudan.
Delegates also agreed that civil society has a national and historical responsibility to achieve a strong unity around these principles and to work towards their implementation, developing strategies and mechanisms to widen dialogue around them.
Issued on June 6, 2013
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