South Sudan

December 2013

What is happening in South Sudan? Nine years on from the signing of the Comprehesive Peace Agreement (CPA) – which ended decades of conflict between southern insurgents and the Sudanese government in Khartoum – and three years after the independence vote, South Sudan is again in the grips of violence. After weeks of clashes, over 1,000 people have died and nearly 200,000 displaced.

What went wrong? The creation of South Sudan took place amidst great hope and optimism, but nation building, for the world’s youngest country, has not been an easy undertaking. Researchers at the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) have closely followed South Sudan, through its fight for independence and as it struggles to build itself into a nation.

Now, ODI reflects on the recent events – and those further back in history – to better understand what has happened in the country, and what it means for the future.

In a new opinion piece, Sara Pantuliano argues that donors and other international actors should question the adequacy of their support to the transition and take a hard look at the policies they supported, the misleading narratives of progress, and the type of aid programmes they funded and carried out in South Sudan. She calls – as she has done all along since the signing of the CPA - for greater analysis of power relations, causes of vulnerability and drivers of conflict, to better understand the underlying tensions in South Sudan and meaningfully support the transition.

Earlier in 2013, we published Humanitarian Exchange 57: South Sudan at a crossroads, which emphasized existing humanitarian challenges in the country, including ongoing conflict in Jonglei State, as authors debated whether it was too early to shift from humanitarian to development programming in South Sudan.

Dating even further back, Aiding the peace: a multi-donor evaluation of support to conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities in southern Sudan 2005–2010, released in 2010, warned of unresolved drivers of instability, including fears of discrimination along ethnic lines, stressing that donor and aid agency focus on development may not bring about greater peace or reconciliation.

These issues were also highlighted in an ODI Opinion in 2009 by Sara Pantuliano, who argued: “transitioning from war to peace is not a technical exercise, but a highly political process”, emphasising the need for aid programming and policies to be based on better understanding of the complexity of the situation in South Sudan.


Donor-driven technical fixes failed South Sudan: It’s time to get political

9 January 2014 - Sara Pantuliano
What has gone wrong in South Sudan? As the country today marks the ninth anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended decades of conflict between southern insurgents and the government of Sudan and paved the way to independence, South Sudan is experiencing another wave of violence and conflict – this time within its own borders.

Humanitarian negotiations: engagement with armed groups in Sudan and South Sudan

Event - 10 October 2013 14:00 - 15:30 (GMT+01 (BST))

This event will examine the role of humanitarian negotiations with state and non-state armed groups in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Jonglei State. Interviews with armed groups, the results of field research and practical experience in humanitarian engagement, with armed groups will be shared with the audience as speakers discuss whether these negotiations contributed to a stronger and more effective humanitarian response in the region.

Humanitarian Exchange 57: South Sudan at a crossroads

Publication - May 2013
Humanitarian Practice Network
This edition of Humanitarian Exchange, co-edited with Sara Pantuliano, focuses on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan, the world’s newest state. In July 2011, the people of South Sudan voted for independence from Sudan in a largely peaceful referendum. Although much has been accomplished, the humanitarian situation remains extremely fragile. Conflict and violence affects hundreds of thousands of people, and up to five million will need food and livelihoods support this year.

South Sudan at a crossroads: humanitarian response in a changing context

Event - 22 May 2013 11:00 - 13:00 (GMT+01 (BST))

Much has been accomplished in South Sudan in recent years, but has the humanitarian situation in the world’s newest nation improved? This event will launch edition 57 of the Humanitarian Exchange on South Sudan, which examines from different perspectives the drivers of continuing humanitarian needs in the country and how humanitarian, development and government actors interpret and respond to these.

Juba calling: what next for South Sudan?

Event - 14 March 2012 11:00 - 13:00 (GMT+00)

Following the decision in January to shut down its oil production, South Sudan's government has introduced austerity measures to compensate for the loss of revenue. Juba has announced that spending on everything except salaries will be halved.
This event, jointly organised by HPG and the Associate Parliamentary Group on Sudan and South Sudan (APG), brings together panels in London and Juba (via videoconference) to explore the urgent humanitarian challenges which lie ahead for the world's newest nation.

Aiding the peace: a multi-donor evaluation of support to conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities in southern Sudan 2005–2010

Publication - December 2010
Jon Bennett, Sara Pantuliano, Wendy Fenton, Anthony Vaux, Chris Barnett and Emery Brusset
This evaluation examines the international community's efforts to support conflict mitigation and peace-building as well as to provide peace dividends to the southern Sudanese people in the period following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.