IPSS launches “State-Building South Sudan” book

2 March, 2023

IPSS (28 February 2023): The Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) launched Sara De Simone’s book, “State Building in South Sudan,” aimed to draw attention to the most recent and highly relevant publications dealing with peace and security issues in Africa and to promote academic debate and idea exchange among the peace and security community in Addis Ababa.

De Simone gave a brief presentation on her findings, emphasising the importance of South Sudan facing its challenges with strong international support.

The Minister Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan in Ethiopia, Akok Manyat Madut, took part in the event and raised the argument that the international community imposed its interests with their financial assistance and that the state-building process was co-opted. He said that the author took the opportunity to contextualise the arguments by giving examples of agency by South Sudanese actors. The South Sudanese then discussed the role of tribal fragmentation and differences within the political party pushes to renewed war.

Panelists from international organisations, the diplomatic community, civic organisations and academic institutions discussed South Sudan’s peace efforts from various perspectives and provided suggestions for the best course of action. Several issues were raised, including the relationship between political processes and economic development, the relationship between state-building, nation-building and peace-building, the rationality of the concept of state-building and the need for transitional justice.

During the event, it was stated that “this book is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding the complex dynamics that shaped today’s fragmented state structure in South Sudan, as it provides an unprecedented insight into both external and internal influences impacting peacebuilding processes.”

The book launch ceremony was moderated by IPSS Lead Researcher Leon Kukkuk (PhD).

About the Book

State-Building South Sudan: International Intervention and the Formation of a Fragmented State, written by Sara De Simone, examines the role of international interventions in the South Sudanese nation-building project since its conflict-ridden transition to independence in 2011. De Simone charted developments up to 2019. She examines how external actors influenced different aspects of state-building at each stage, beginning with pre-independence peace negotiations and progressing to steps towards forming a single unified state and, finally, peacekeeping operations. De Simone outlines a country that has found itself pulled between competing regional forces – both within and beyond its borders – that have conspired to prevent it from achieving its national goals, based on evidence from academic research, interviews with government officials involved in missions, and primary documents from relevant organisations. Finally, the author demonstrated how a lack of domestic ownership over state formation compounded the external influences imposed on South Sudan’s people and institutions, resulting in a weak state structure with little legitimacy or domestic support. De Simone argues that ongoing international engagement is necessary for lasting peace in South Sudan.