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Developments in Sudan and Prospects for Democratization

21 June 2023
13:15-14:30 EST
ECOSOC Chamber, UNHQ, New York

On April 15th, 2023, tensions between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF)and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) turned into fighting, escalating into a severe armed conflict that has engulfed the country in what risks turning into a large-scale civil war. The warring factions took power together through a military coup on October 25th, 2021, which upended a fragile democratic transition that started after the removal of long-time ruler Omar Al-Bashir. The situation is deteriorating rapidly, hundreds have been killed, and a chaotic situation has engulfed the country. In the capital city, Khartoum, essential services have been primarily interrupted, threatening to generate a vast humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands have fled the country during temporary truces, but thousands more are expected to flee as the war progresses. International efforts to stop hostilities have been unsuccessful until now.


Two months since the conflict began, Sudan is now facing a full-blown civil war, largely fought in urban centers across the country, in a sustained form of warfare that is unprecedented in Sudan, at least not for decades. Civilians have been forced to remain in their homes for weeks and are facing increasingly hotter temperatures, lack of water, electricity and dwindling food supplies, and few and insufficient opportunities to seek safe haven and refuge. Humanitarian access is almost non-existent and evacuation to neighboring countries remains difficult with the airports closed, few routes by road, several checkpoints without guarantee of safety of passage, reports of lootings and kidnappings and the death of hundreds of civilians. The conflict situation is facing the potential risk of being exacerbated by external actors siding with one or the other side in the conflict – providing the hallmarks of developing into a violent proxy war.


With this background and the ongoing conflict threatening the lives of civilians, plunging Sudan into all-out armed conflict which has not been seen in the country for over two decades, there is an urgent need to cease hostilities, to return to dialogue and to forge a way out of the current crisis based on political negotiations. Key among the priorities will be the negotiations concerning the security sector, the positioning and process for integration of the RSF into the SAF within a clear timeline, and a swift transition to civilian-led government in Sudan.


This briefing aims to provide insights into current developments in Sudan and past context, what unfolding events may mean for lasting peace and democratization, and implications for international actors, including the UN and regional actors such as IGAD and the African Union.





  • Dr. Annika Silva-Leander, Head of North America and Permanent Observer to the United Nations, International IDEA

Opening Remarks:

  • Dr. Djeyhoun Ostowar, Deputy Head of Political Affairs Section, Mission of the Kingdom of Netherlands to the United Nations


  • Dr Sami Saeed, Head of the Sudan Programme, International IDEA
  • Dr Suliman Baldo, Executive Director of the Sudan Transparency and Policy Tracker
  • Mrs Maha Tambal, Civil Society Activist, Sudan



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