African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur, 2008-07-21-2009-10-29


The African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur (AUPD) was mandated as an independent body by the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) on July 21, 2008 and re-mandated in February 2009. It began its work in April 2009 chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. The AUPD’s mandate was to look into issues of peace, justice, and reconciliation in Darfur and to recommend measures to address issues of accountability and combating impunity. The AUPD held public hearings and conducted interviews in Darfur and Sudan with over 3,100 stakeholders to understand their views, analyses, fears, hopes, and opinions of “Sudan’s crisis in Darfur.” The PSC adopted the report on October 29, 2009.

History of African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur

The African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur (AUPD) was mandated as an independent body by the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) on July 21, 2008 and re-mandated in February 2009. It began its work in April 2009 chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. The office of the panel was located in the African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AUPD’s mandate was to look into issues of peace, justice, and reconciliation in Darfur.

The AUPD’s mandate occurred following the issue for the Warrant of Arrest on July 14, 2008 against Omar Hassan Ahmad al Bashir for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The panel was to examine the situation in Darfur and submit recommendations to effectively and comprehensively “address the issues of accountability and combating impunity, on the one hand, and peace, healing and reconciliation, on the other” (Report of the African Union Panel on Darfur).

The panel initially had three months to complete its mandate but it was extended for two additional months. During this time, they held public hearings and conducted interviews with over 3,100 stakeholders. These stakeholders included the President of Sudan, villagers, displaced persons in Darfur, government officials of neighboring countries, members of armed movements, refugees, and civil society organizations. They sought stakeholders’ views, analyses, fears, hopes, and opinions of “Sudan’s crisis in Darfur.” Separate sessions were held for political parties/tribal leaders, members of civil society, and internally displaced persons. Before presenting the final recommendations, the panel held an additional round of meetings with stakeholders to present their initial recommendations and acquire feedback. Meetings and travel were organized with the assistance of the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation (DDDC) and the United Nations‐African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

The panel’s final report advocated that a solution to “Sudan’s crisis in Darfur” should “be found through the people of Sudan taking ownership of the process and the solution” (African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur: Q&A, 2009-11-12). They made recommendations based on three pillars of peace, justice, and reconciliation. The recommendations emphasized that the only successful process was one that included all of the stakeholders. Their final assessment was that “Sudan’s crisis in Darfur” could only be successfully resolved as part of a national Sudanese settlement. The AUPD also recognized the reciprocal influence between the proceeding efforts of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan (particularly the national elections scheduled for April 2010 and the referendum on self-determination in south Sudan to be held in January 2011) and the crisis in Darfur.

The AUPD’s final recommendations were submitted in the report Darfur: The Quest for Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation to the PSC on October 8, 2009. The PSC adopted the report on October 29, 2009 at the 207th meting at the level of Heads of State and Government at Abuja, Nigeria. Following the report’s acceptance, the PSC issued a mandate to three members of the AUPD, former presidents Thabo Mbeki, Pierre Buyoya, and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, to establish the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel to oversee the implementations of the AUPD’s recommendations.