For all but 11 of the 48 years since its independence in 1956, Sudan has been engulfed in civil conflict. The conflict between the North and the South erupted one year before Sudan gained its independence in 1955.
The war that the government of Sudan and the Sudan's People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLAM/A) recently ended, erupted in 1983, following the breakdown of the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement. The root causes which propelled the war included disputes over resources, power, the role of religion in the state and self-determination.
The ensuing 21-year conflict devastated a significant part of Africa's largest country and deprived the rest of stability, growth and development. The Sudanese people have paid a terrible price. More than two million people died, four million were uprooted and some 600,000 people sought shelter beyond Sudan's borders as refugees.
The nature and size of the country's problems have frequently overflowed into neighboring countries and brought misery and insecurity to the region.
Over the long years of war, there was a plethora of attempts by various external actors, including neighboring states, concerned donors and other states, as well as the parties themselves, to bring the conflict to an end. However, the immense complexities of the war and the lack of political will prevented its earlier resolution.
In 1993, the Heads of State of the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) became involved in the latest initiative to bring the parties together. This was the beginning of a long process that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.
The United Nations (UN) closely followed and supported the regional peace initiative under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The Secretary-General's Special Adviser, Mr. Mohamed Sahnoun, and other senior officials represented the UN at summit meetings of the IGAD countries, and carried out consultations with regional governments and organizations in support of the peace process. They also took part in meetings of the IGAD Partners Forum, composed of donor countries and organizations supporting the IGAD peace process and assisting the regional organization to enhance its capacity in several areas.