The absence of state administration, both during the colonial period and since independence, defines this region. But when limited administration has existed, whether from the formal state or from various armed groups that operate there, it has been marked by continued competition over natural resources and land use between traditional chiefs, cross border traders, and rebel leaders. Inhabitants themselves have also played various roles in civil and proxy wars here. While a large economic development project failed to bring much needed assistance to the region, the recent discovery of gold has led both to conflicts and to newfound wealth.
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South Sudanese renditions fall afoul of international law and pose legal risks for security sector professionals implicated.
South Sudan’s police force, the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) faces numerous challenges as it seeks to provide internal security across the counties. The SSNPS’ size, force structure, command and control, and current deployment is difficult to ascertain since the ongoing conflict has led both to the integration of previous militia members and to widespread defections. Training for the SSNPS has been marred by abuse and sexual violence scandals. Finally, the force suffers from cronyism in promotions, reportedly widespread substance abuse, and a culture of impunity. A clearer delineation of the police and the army’s roles is required. Donor efforts to address similar problems in the Army have relegated the police to a secondary priority.
While much of East Africa suffers from food shortages due to drought, in South Sudan, it is conflict, rather than lack of rain, that has been the cause of a widespread humanitarian disaster.
Ethnically based violence, rape, and hate speech attributed to the government warrant investigation, according to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.
A spike in political violence since mid-2016 has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in South Sudan since its decades-long civil war with Sudan.
Three years of civil war have left South Sudan on the cusp of full-scale genocide. The only remaining path to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity is through an international transitional administration, writes Africa Center Director Kate Almquist Knopf in a new report.
“South Sudan is not on the brink of state failure. South Sudan is not in the process of failing. South Sudan has failed,” Africa Center Director Kate Almquist Knopf testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the crisis in South Sudan.
Reestablishing stability in South Sudan will require addressing the fundamental drivers of the recurring conflict. Civilian actors who derive their legitimacy from means other than guns need to be given a voice. This should be complemented by peacemaking processes at the community level, demilitarization at a societal level, and security sector reform countrywide.
Majak D’Agoot calls for confronting South Sudan's dominant “gun class,” which inhibits genuine political dialogue and consensus-building.
South Sudan has failed to create the basic institutions of a state, resulting in civil conflict and a massive humanitarian catastrophe. Temporary external administration is required to restore South Sudan’s sovereignty.
Dr. Luka Biong Deng, formerly the Minister of Presidential Affairs in South Sudan discusses the challenges and prospects for peace.