EU pressure has had limited impact on the Sudanese government, but South Sudan made progress towards independence. Chad rejected EU efforts to preserve the UN peacekeeping force on its territory.
The EU primarily engages in conflict management in Sudan through financial and diplomatic support to the UN-commanded peace operations in Darfur and South Sudan and funding for humanitarian aid to both regions. The EU also supports the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) pursuit of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for war crimes and genocide. The UK and Nordic countries have the greatest investment in Sudan’s affairs.
2010 was a tense year, with widespread predictions of major violence in South Sudan after the referendum on secession in 2011. National elections in late April were an important test of stability. The EU sent monitors but withdrew those based in Darfur shortly before the vote, citing safety concerns. The EU found heavy irregularities in the poll in general, which resulted in a sizeable victory for Bashir. With the primary focus on South Sudan, less attention was paid to events in Darfur. UN peacekeepers there were subjected to frequent attacks, while the Sudanese government placed heavy restrictions on humanitarian workers. Efforts to mediate between Khartoum and Darfuri rebels in Doha went nowhere. By contrast, steady low-level violence failed to disrupt progress towards the January 2011 referendum in South Sudan.
EU support for the ICC case against Bashir had limited impact, as African governments rejected the indictment. Bashir traveled to Kenya with impunity in August. However, a European threat to walk out of the EU-Africa summit in Tripoli in November if Bashir attended persuaded the Libyans to ask the Sudanese leader to stay away. Nonetheless, Europe’s ability to affect developments within Sudan appeared limited.
In Chad – where France drives European policy – the EU backed a UN peacekeeping force deployed to replace EU troops in 2009. However, at the insistence of the Chadian government and despite European objections, this force was removed at the end of 2010 – a further sign of the EU’s limitations.