Message of the general secretary of the WCC to the churches and people of Sudan on the signing of the historic peace agreement between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Sudan People’s Liberation Movement on 9 January 2005
(Geneva, 17 January 2005)

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I extend greetings to the churches and people of Sudan in the name of Our Lord and Saviour who accompanies the people in times of difficulties to inspire them with the hope and assures them: “Behold! I make all things new!” (Rev. 21:5)

The World Council of Churches shares the joy of the people of Sudan on this happy and momentous occasion of the recent signing of the historic peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SLPA/SPLM):

The World Council of Churches congratulates the Government of Sudan, and the SPLA/SPLM leadership on the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. This is a significant event in contemporary Africa and indeed an occasion of great relief not only for the people of Sudan but also for all peace-loving people of the world. Over the years the ecumenical movement committed major resources and remained engaged in mediation initiatives that have contributed to the signing of the agreement. The WCC applauds the tenacity and resilience of the ordinary people of Sudan who have suffered much and now are looking forward to durable peace and stability.

We thank God for the enduring faithfulness of the leadership of the concerned parties and their commitment to work towards building confidence through the difficult period of negotiations. We express our gratitude for the efforts of the international community and affirm the solidarity of ecumenical partners in their pledge towards the restoration of the dignity of the people of Sudan through dialogue and negotiations. We appreciate and acknowledge the work of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for supporting and urging the peace process resulting in the signing of the agreement. We thank the Friends of IGAD - Norway, Italy, Great Britain, and the United Sates of America - for the sustained and generous support provided. The Council also recognises the hosting and facilitation role of the government of Kenya that provided a committed and farsighted leadership during the negotiation process.


The World Coucil of Churches (WCC) has had and continues to maintain an historic relationship with the churches and people of Sudan. Its approach to Sudan has been intensive, selective and focused. A review of the crucial moments and aspects of the WCC's action in Sudan over the years would highlight the following events and efforts:

  • Since early '60s, the WCC together with the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) was instrumental in mediating the Addis Ababa peace agreement signed in 1972. Unfortunately the war again resumed in 1983.
  • In 1994, the WCC facilitated the formation of Sudan Ecumenical Forum (SEF). This network brought together the Sudanese churches, specialized ministries (or church-related donor agencies), Catholic agencies and the AACC under the leadership and facilitation of WCC.
  • The SEF has played a major role in the area of advocacy with and on behalf of the Sudanese churches. The specific areas for the advocacy were the bombing of Southern Sudan, oil, and self-determination.
  • Because of the intensification of the war, the WCC in 1996 brought the Sudanese churches together to examine the situation. A document entitled “Here we stand united in action for peace” helped them to develop common position.
  • WCC also followed the ceasefire and peace negotiations going on under the leadership of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Serving as a special envoy, WCC staff member Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia served as the bridge between SEF, the Sudanese churches and the IGAD.
  • At the same time, the WCC was also instrumental in the facilitating cooperation between the SCC and NSCC and specialized ministries involved in relief and development aid via the two councils' round table programmes.
  • ACT International, a global alliance of Protestant and Orthodox churches and their related agencies founded by, and from the membership of, the WCC and the Lutheran World Federation, has played an important supportive role in Sudan in the area of humanitarian response.
  • The churches in Sudan worked towards a peaceable environment through lobbying and advocacy in which justice and reconciliation became inevitable. In this regard the World Council of Churches appreciates the exemplary leadership of the Sudan Council of Churches and the New Sudan Council of Churches on behalf of their member churches. In this endeavour they were supported, encouraged and accompanied by the Sudan Ecumenical Forum. The Sudan Ecumenical Forum established in 1994 by the World Council of Churches that brought together several ecumenical partners from around the globe, deserves special thanks for the unique role it has played particularly in the area of lobbying and advocacy during the last ten years.

    Sudan, the largest country in Africa, which borders nine countries, has been at war with itself since its independence in 1956. The positive impact of the Agreement will not only be for the people of Sudan, but also for the people of the nine neighbouring countries.

    The Agreement signed on January 9, 2005 brings a new life and a new hope to the people of Sudan. Peace in Sudan has not been achieved without sacrifice. All peace-loving people, nations, institutions, civil society groups must jealously guard and protect what has been achieved through careful diplomatic efforts.

    The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed includes the eight well-formulated and inclusive protocols including the ones on the division of Sudan's national wealth and power and the question of autonomy for the South. Under the terms of the Agreement a government of national unity will be formed for a transitional period of six years. During this time the South will be autonomous, and at the end of the six-year period a referendum will be held on the issue of a unified Sudan or secession of the South.

    There is optimism and confidence shared by all the concerned parties that this Agreement will bring a holistic, just and durable peace. The Agreement has been negotiated skilfully, cautiously and diplomatically. This optimism is based on the safeguard that the members of the African Union, and specifically the IGAD leaders and the Friends of IGAD and the international community are likely to provide. They have invested a great deal since 1994 and are bound to ensure that the Agreement is implemented in its spirit. The World Council of Churches will continue to accompany and support the Sudanese churches as they keep themselves involved in the implementation and monitoring of the Peace Agreement.

    The post-conflict period is going to be difficult. Given the historical background of the Sudan conflict and the consequences of being at war many years since independence, the challenges of attaining a just and enduring peace will be complex and wide-ranging but not impossible. Peace and stability will be achieved through a holistic and democratic process that embraces the civilian population at the grass-roots level together with the policy makers to attain long-term strategic objectives for social change.

    The important question is how prepared are the people of Sudan to move from a culture of war to a culture of peace? The situation requires vigilance and careful planning because the period after prolonged conflict can easily fall back in to renewed violence. It is hoped that the international community and as well as all stakeholders will guarantee that the dark clouds of the past do not overwhelm the present.

    As the parties concerned focus on the implementation of the Agreement there will be many risks and challenges. In order to overcome such risks and challenges the following need to be addressed in terms of confidence-building measures and to assemble building blocks for a post-conflict, economic recovery and reconstruction programme so essential for building peace:

    1. Set up a co-ordinating mechanism to ensure and facilitate the continued support and accompaniment by IGAD, the African Union and the international community.

    2. Establish a well-equipped and robust international peacekeeping force that is able to investigate reported violations of the Agreement and oversee its implementation.

    3. Set up a strong mechanism on the ground that can deter any violations of cease-fire and in case of violations respond swiftly and effectively.

    4. Ensure that all the people of the North and South Sudan irrespective of their political inclinations own the peace process and participate in it.

    5. Create an enabling policy environment for the local communities and vulnerable groups to re-establish their livelihoods through networks of civic and communal engagement.

    6. Ensure freedom of religion and worship.

    7. Ensure gender equality, property rights including communal land ownership.

    8. Guarantee equality of opportunity, including freedom from exploitation, slavery, and dependence on landlords and employers.

    9. Establish an inclusive political process that guarantees participation of all Sudanese citizens in the selection of their governments without recourse to violence or unconstitutional means.

    10. Ensure freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

    11. Establishment of all the institutions that have been agreed upon in the various protocols of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

    12. Formulate and adopt a new constitutional order that promotes pluralism and guarantees human and peoples rights as well as basic universal principles of liberty and freedom.

    May this occasion become the dawn of new life among the people of Sudan and the neighbouring nations. May they all learn from history and embark with confidence on this definitive path of peace. May God grant manifold grace and assurance for justice with prosperity to the people of Sudan. “Blessed are the peace makers - they shall be called the Children of God! “

    Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
    General Secretary