Northern Sudan signed a peace deal with forces allied to South Sudan on Tuesday. The agreement builds off of earlier peace-making efforts, including trips to Indonesia's war-torn Aceh Province and Kenya to study ways to resolve entrenched conflict.
Just days before South Sudan becomes the world's newest country on July 9, forces loyal to the semiautonomous region's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) have been sucked into clashes with troops loyal to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted at the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
On Tuesday, though, Mr. Bashir's Islamist-dominated Northern government signed a peace pact with with the SPLM's northern branch.
The agreement fell short of calling for a cease-fire in the border state of South Kordofan – the scene of heavy recent fighting that security experts say could reignite the decades-long civil war that killed some 2 million people before it ended in 2005 – but it does lay out a framework for shared governance of tumultuous border areas.
There is no shortage of skepticism as to whether such a pact will bring peace to the area, but it builds off of earlier efforts, including trips to Indonesia's war-torn Aceh Province and Kenya to study ways to resolve entrenched conflict.
Given the current fighting, it's easy to dismiss the US-funded trips as an abysmal failure. But the participants in the innovative effort to help conflict-ridden countries learn from each other say they feel as if they were participating in the one last chance to find peace – and that they very nearly achieved it.