Sudan peace agreement & referendum: What does it take to achieve peace?

January 19, 2011

Students create a "peace web,"consider the situation in Sudan through discussion and a video clip, then reconsider what it takes to achieve peace.

Students will:

  • share their associations with the word peace
  • come up with a definition of the word peace
  • watch a video clip about the 2005 Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement and its aftermath 
  • connect what is said in the video clip to the current referendum in south Sudan
  • discuss the role of the international community

Social and Emotional Skills

  • comparing different perspectives of peace
  • listening to people from a war ravaged country
  • exploring the importance of trust in contentious relationships
  • stepping into the shoes of someone from South Sudan

Materials needed:

  • board or chart paper for a "peace web"
  • agenda on the board or chart paper
  • quotes from the video clip and useful abbreviations handout
  • video clip from Rebuilding Hope:
  • handout with relevant abbreviations and quotes from the clip above about peace

For the teacher

For background information on Sudan:
BBC: "Country profile of Sudan":



Peace Web 

(10 minutes)

Ask students for their associations with the word "peace" and record their ideas graphically on a web chart. Making webs often stimulates creative thinking. To make one, write a core word, in this case "peace," in the center of the board or on chart paper and circle it. Student associations with the core word are written so that they radiate out from the center. Related ideas can be grouped.

Encourage associations while energy is high. Ask open-ended questions to simulate groups that are having a harder time to get or keep going. As energy tapers off, ask students to read what's on the web and ask some or all of the following debrief questions:

  • What do you notice about the web? 
  • Are there generalizations we can make about what's on the web? 
  • Based on the words in this web, can you try to come up with a definition for the word "peace"?

Check Agenda 

(5 minutes)

Check agenda and share with students that today you'll be looking at the largest country in Africa: Sudan. Ask if any students know of Sudan.

Sudan us a quarter the size of the US, but home only to 44 million people (the US has a population of over 307 million). It is a country that was devastated by decades of civil war. Then, in 2005, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between the government in the North and the People's Liberation Movement in the South. The fighting stopped for the most part, but peace is still a long way off.

As part of the peace agreement, it was agreed that there would be a referendum (popular vote) in which the people in the South could opt for secession (withdrawal) and independence from the North.

Sudan recently held that referendum, which has been in the news.

Definition of REFERENDUM according to Merriam-Webster 
1 a : the principle or practice of submitting to popular vote a measure passed on or proposed by a legislative body or by popular initiative 
b : a vote on a measure so submitted

Definition of SECESSION according to Merriam-Webster
... 2 : formal withdrawal from an organization

Definition of INDEPENDENT according to Merriam-Webster 
1 : not dependent: as 
a (1) : not subject to control by others : self-governing (2) : not affiliated with a larger 
controlling unit ...
d : showing a desire for freedom ...


Rebuilding Hope Video Clip 

(10 minutes)

Watch the Rebuilding Hope clip about how people in South Sudan feel about the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was supposed to end decades of civil war between the North and the South. The recent referendum was part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. While watching, ask students to pay attention to and take notes based on the following questions:

First 3:11 minutes:

  • What do the various people interviewed say about peace? 
  • What do they think is needed for true peace to come about? 
  • Are they saying this exists in South Sudan? Why?

3:11 - 10:13 minutes:

  • What are the underlying reasons for the North and the South not being at peace despite signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005?
  • Why is Abyei such a flashpoint?


Peace Web Part II 

(10 minutes)

After students have watched the clip, ask them to take another look at the "peace" web that they created at the start of the lesson and consider the following two questions:

  • Having listened to the people of South Sudan, can you think of anything that might be missing from the web? 
  • Having listened to the people of South Sudan, would you like to change their definition of "peace" in any way?

See the handout at the end of this lesson plan, which includes are relevant quotes from the clip to jog students' memories. Or you might write these quotes on the board or on chart paper for students to read themselves. 


Group Discussion 

(10 minutes)

As the woman at the start of the Rebuilding Hope clip implies, peace is much more than the mere absence of war and violence. Encourage a discussion about this with your students if they haven't touched on it yet. Consider some or all of the following questions as you discuss what it would take to have true peace between the North and the South.

  • Why do the people in the South think the government in Khartoum is not serious about implementing the CPA?
  • Do the people in the South trust the government in the North? Why? Why not?
  • Do you think trust is important when trying establish peace after decades of war and destruction? Why? Why not?
  • Based on this clip, what do you think your vote might have been if you were living in the South?


(5 minutes)

At the end of the clip, several people express their concern about the future of South Sudan. Koor Garang, a Sudanese refugee and nursing student in the US, shares the following:

"In the nursing training that I went through, you give the patient the medicine and you stand there to see if the patient is taking the medicine, right? The same [should be true with the] US. The US did help them [the North and the South] to sign the peace, but to let them sign the peace and step back, it's like giving the patient medicine and walking away."

A similar message was recently shared on Huffington Post by Karak Mayik, who heads Women for Women International's Sudan Program ("A New Year, A New Beginning: Stand with Our Sudanese Sisters Today" in Huffington Post, January 7, 2011):

"Stand with us when we stand for peace this January. We are strong, but we cannot do it alone. It is time for a new beginning in South Sudan, and it cannot be achieved without the 3 Ps for women - Prevention, Protection and Participation. Prevent a return to war. Protect women from violence. Enable women to participate in the decisions and processes that will define their future and may define a new country in the heart of Africa. The women of South Sudan will show you that when we are free from violence and able to participate in the decisions that affect us - as the referendum in January most certainly will - we are the commanders of nonviolent forces that will usher in a new era of peace and stability at last in a land that sorely needs it."

  • What do Koor and Karak say about the role of the U.S. and the rest of the international community?
  • What are your thoughts about this?



Useful abbreviations:

NCP - National Congress Party, in North Sudan
SPLM - Sudan People's Liberation Movement, in South Sudan, and
CPA - Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005 between the NCP and the SPLM

Quotes from the Rebuilding Hope video clip about peace:

Woman at the start of the clip: "Life in our area hasn't changed since peace has come. We're not running to the bush and we're not being shot but nothing else changed in our lives. There has been no improvement."

Zakaria Mading Deng - SPLM Activist: "People have been fighting because they were looking for justice and equality and freedom."

Barnaba Marial - Minister, government of South Sudan: "That they have peace, that they have clean drinking water, they have medicine for their children, that their children are going to school, that they have a shelter over their heads that they full security is guaranteed and that they have their freedom they have their dignity after all that they are human beings. These are values that you can fight for and we fought for them and that's what we're trying to do."

Jervasio Okot - Minister of Regional Cooperation: "Usually in Africa when peace is signed, peace is signed ....but the implementation is a different thing."

Rudolf Deng Majak - Bishop of Wau: "And with the CPA expectations are very high. Everybody thinks that the CPA is going to resolve everything but of course the CPA doesn't resolve anything by itself, alone. It is the people when they are given the capacity to rise and help themselves ... they will make the CPA, as it were, the blood and flesh."




Marieke van Woerkom is an educator and trainer who works with Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. She has helped young people and adults around the world learn skills to resolve conflict and foster cross-cultural understanding.


This lesson was written for TeachableMoment.Org, a project of Morningside Center. Wewelcome your comments. Please email us at