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The South Sudan peace agreement and modalities for building trust

This joint event aimed to generate ideas to identify policy implications for further engagement and further interaction on South Sudan following the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (RARCSS).

News

13 March 2019

On 6 March, IPSS in partnership with United States Institute of Peace (USIP) hosted a “Consultative Working Group Meeting on South Sudan”. This joint event aimed to generate ideas to identify policy implications for further engagement and further interaction on South Sudan following the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (RARCSS). This is the second event co-hosted by the two institutions aimed at creating a platform to generate new ideas on the drivers of conflict in the Horn of Africa.

 

The opening remarks were delivered by Dr. Kidane Kiros, Director of IPSS and the discussion was moderated by Ms. Michelle Nidaye, Director of the Africa Peace and Security Programme at IPSS and Head of the Tana Forum Secretariat.

  

The general discussion reflected on:

  • The South Sudan peace agreement - areas of divergence and recommendations;
  • Reflections on an ISS study on the perceptions of South Sudanese refugees on the conflict;
  • The political dynamics and upcoming elections in 2022 and modalities of building trust within, with regional actors and donors; and
  • Emphasis was placed on the need for sustainable peace in South Sudan.

 

The South Sudan peace agreement - areas of divergence and recommendations

It was recognized that the overall timeline for peace agreements is always shorter than the number of tasks that need to be achieved and often the establishment of a roadmap does not necessarily mean people know how to implement them. However, custodians of peace agreements tend to be focused on immediate issues, which tend to have a backlog effect. The country's security arrangements are of increasing urgency and unmentioned is when the power-sharing government will be formed, or whether the deadline around the constitutional reform process or the committee formation will be met.

 

Some of the elements mentioned for successful power-sharing included: reflecting on what worked with the previous government and the setting of a clear agenda; comprehensive formal and informal dispute resolution mechanisms; the oversight role of the international community; and establishing South Sudanese citizens as guarantors of the agreement. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) should also be guarantors with a clear buy-in from its Member States to ensure regional stability.

 

Reflections on the ISS study on perceptions of South Sudanese refugees on peace and conflict

The study, entitled “Whose power are they sharing anyway”, shows that about 2 million refugees are yet be consulted on the implementation of the peace agreement. The study carried out field visits in Gambella (Ethiopia) and Adjumani (Uganda) where about 100 respondents expressed a high degree of frustration with their personal situation and the IGAD peace process, claiming that the focus was on power-sharing rather than other root causes of the conflict. The respondents highlighted that as refugees, they tend to be followers of internal security dynamics rather than influencers. There is a need for greater inclusion and participation of refugees in all processes as they are part of the guarantors for the sustainability of the peace agreement.  

 

Modalities for building trust within South Sudan, with regional actors and with donors

There was consensus that for the implementation of the peace agreement, there is a need for inclusivity and for all local stakeholders to address the changing dynamics. In particular, recognizing that the survival of the agreement is fundamental to the African Union, the national, regional and international political will in South Sudan need to converge. Although it was agreed that the people of South Sudan need to own the peace agreement, building trust with the citizenry and regional and international stakeholders ought to be prioritized by the new leadership.

 

Since the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) 2005-2013, there has been growing scepticism from diverse stakeholders including the international community, nevertheless, the international community should embody a holistic approach of support from political, financial, and humanitarian perspectives.

 

However, it was also mentioned that the narratives on funding could be premature as the implementation of the peace agreement is still at its foundation. Participants commended the national dialogues and the ongoing commission of inquiry. The international community was also commended for continued efforts to ensure justice and accountability in South Sudan. Optimism was placed on the realization of a hybrid court for transitional justice.

 

Political dynamics and 2022 elections

Overall, participants highlighted that the possible issues to challenge the implementation of the peace agreement include:

  • SPLM undergoing structural change because of the deepening polarization between leaders at the community level and the lack of separation between party and state institutions. Here, there is a need for capacity building of state institutions;
  • Power sharing and the economic resources to support the patronage network that underpins not just South Sudan but the region;
  • A significant increase in tribalism as a political issue. This is playing out in numerous ways: boundary disputes, refugees, etc.;
  • The relationship between South Sudan and regional players as they are also part of the guarantors of the peace agreement;
  • International multilateralism;
  • Lack of transparency and accountability as current leaders have both profited and been held responsible for the atrocities;
  • The postponing of the election due to the current political conditions;
  • Possible donor and stakeholder fatigue;
  • The limited ability of change and justice given the current makeup of power.

 

The agreement has taken five years to reach its current stage and there is a need for collaboration among all stakeholders to support South Sudan in the implementation of the peace agreement. The region is tired of volatility and is moving towards regional integration. In conclusion, one statement can describe the results of the workshop - “the people of South Sudan need a chance to live in peace”. 


Click here to access the IPSS South Sudan conflict insights (category: peace and security report).

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