South Sudan

Map of South Sudan (courtesy of wikicommons)

Background

After a civil war that lasted 22 years, South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. A peace agreement had been reached in 2005 between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the government, which laid out a schedule for a referendum to decide whether or not Sudan would be split into two states. In January 2011, 99% of the South Sudanese voted for independence (UNICEF, 2016) and the Republic of South Sudan was officially created on 9 July with Salva Kiir as its president.

Current situation

However, tensions which had been set aside during the push for independence but were never resolved, rapidly resurfaced between the 60 different ethnic groups, particularly the Dinka and SPLM on the one hand and the Nuer and SPLM In Opposition (SPLM IO) on the other. Additionally, Riek Machar, who had been appointed by Kiir as Vice-President in 2011, vocally criticised Kiir’s leadership in 2013 on a trip to New York (Reuters, 2013) . Kiir responded by dismissing Machar, as well as 28 of his ministers. In December 2013, tensions escalated to a civil war when Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup . More than 1,000 people were killed within the first week and 100,000 were displaced (Human Rights Watch,2015) . Despite various attempts to reach a peace agreement, the civil war lasted between 2013 and 2015 and although it theoretically ended with the “Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan”, tensions are still present and are responsible for widespread civilian displacement while populations remain at risk of mass atrocities. On 11 November 2016, Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, released a media briefing in which he concluded that there was potential for a genocide to take place (UN 2016). Today, there are still 7 million that require assistance, and in March 2018, nearly 50% of the population was still facing hunger. Furthermore, in the coming months, there is likely to be a 40% rise in the population fronting stark food uncertainty in the post-harvest period (Mercy Corps, 2018).

Implications

At the individual level
In light of the clashes between government forces and armed rebel groups and the human rights abuses associated, around 2 million South Sudanese were internally displaced as of mid-2017 (UNHCR 2018). In addition, over 2,437,290 have taken refuge in neighbouring countries (UNHCR 2018). Additionally, the amount of casualties remain unclear but ‘ten of thousands have been killed’ (The New York Times 2018). Gender and sexual based violence is also widespread as women and girls have been gang-raped and abducted (Amnesty International, 2016). The use of child soldiers is also common (Human Rights Watch 2018). Large parts of towns and living infrastructure such as clinics, hospitals, and schools have been looted, destroyed, and abandoned.

The country has also faced extreme food and nutrition uncertainty to the point that the UN had to declare famine in South Sudan in February 2017. Even though the country was no longer classified as being in famine as of June 2017 thanks an increase in aid, the UN has warned that the situation remains alarming (The New York Times 2018). The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) estimated that “in January 2018, 5.3 million people (48% of the population) are estimated to be facing Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) acute food insecurity, out of which 1 million people are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity” (IPC 2018).

At the state level
South Sudan has only been independent for 7 years and 5 of them were spent fighting. It has thus been considerably destabilised by the various conflicts and is facing not only a political crisis but also an economic and societal one. Additionally, the country’s high amount of IDPs and refugees from neighbouring countries like Sudan (as of mid-2017, it hosted 276,900 Sudanese refugees) is creating extra challenges for the government (UNHCR 2018).

At the regional level
The current crisis has grave implications for the horn of Africa. Due to South Sudan’s position as a regional oil producing country, further conflict could close transnational energy corridors throughout Central/East Africa and negatively impact prospects for regional stability. Additionally, as of 28 February 2018, 2,437,293 have taken refuge in neighbouring countries mainly Uganda (1,037,898), Sudan (767,425), Ethiopia (428,928), Kenya (103,039) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (90,003) (UNHCR 2018) putting pressure on these countries (Relief Web, 2016).

At the global level
The international community has deployed a lot of resources in South Sudan, and in particular has played a central role during the independence process. It is however failing to assist this new state. International aid is also getting rarer considering that more than 85 humanitarian workers have been killed since December 2013 (GCR2P 2018).

What has the international community done about it?

The United Nations
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was created in 2011 via the Security Council Resolution 1996. UNMISS was “to support the Government in peace consolidation and thereby fostering longer-term state building and economic development; assist the Government in exercising its responsibilities for conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution and protect civilians; and help the authorities in developing capacity to provide security, establishing the rule of law, and strengthening the security and justice sectors in the country” (UNMISS 2018). In 2016, Resolution 2304 extended the UNMISS mandate and authorized UNMISS to use “all necessary means to carry out its tasks”, which included the protection of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian assistance (UNMISS 2018). Currently, around 14,581 troops are deployed (UN Peacekeeping 2018). The UN and its various agencies have also been heavily involved in the delivery of humanitarian aid. In 2016, UNHCR alone spent USD 126 million in the country (UNHCR 2018). This year’s budget for UNMISS is USD 1,071,000,000 (UN Peacekeeping 2018). In 2016, UNHCR alone spent USD 126 million in the country (UNHCR, 2018). However, the UN has been criticised for failing to authorise an arm embargo and protecting the South Sudanese.

The European Union
EU humanitarian aid reached €82 million in 2017, of which 30% of it went to life-saving nutrition support (European Commission, 2017). The European Union is one of the biggest support in South Sudan when it comes to humanitarian aid. The European Commission has made more than €423 million accessible in response to the humanitarian emergency since the fighting started in December 2013 (European Commission, 2017). Its funds provide food support; health and nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene interferences; education as well as refuge and fortification for the most defenceless people. Provision is delivered to diminish the occurrence of malaria and to counter an increase in measles cases and epidemics such as cholera and Hepatitis E. A group of European Commission specialists are based in the country. They communicate with associate associations, manage response exertions with both EU and non-EU donors, and narrowly screen progresses as well as the effective use of EU humanitarian finances.

In December 2013, after the outbreak of the crisis, the EU reorganised how it would assist South Sudan going forward. The EU began to concentrate on the support of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Arbitration and its armistice appliance. In addition to this, it focused on food security and humanitarian operations, which involved payments of over €100 million per annum. The EU is now an observer to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS), in order to move forward peace arrangements (European Union External Action, 2016).

Key declarations by the European Union and EU member states

European Union. 2018. Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/168. Accessed 4 March 2018.
This council decision published in the Official Journal of the European Union amends council decision 2015/735 that implemented sanctions against individuals in South Sudan. This decision introduces Paul Malong (SPLA), Michael Makuei Leuth (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and Malek Reuben Riak (‘Deputy Chief of Defence Staff and Inspector General of the government’s army’) onto the sanctions list for ‘serious violations of human rights’.

The Council of the European Union. 2018. Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/164. Accessed 8 February 2018.
This article in the Official Journal of the European Union details new sanctions made against three individuals in South Sudan, as an extension of Regulation (EU) 2015/735. Paul Malong, former Chief of the General Staff of the SPLA, has been sanctioned for committing ‘serious violations of human rights, including the targeting and killing of civilians and extensive destruction of villages’. Michael Makuei Leuth, Minister for Information and Broadcasting in South Sudan, has been subject to restrictive measures for having ‘obstructed the political process’ and limiting freedom of expression. Malek Reuben Riak, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff and Inspector General of the army, has also been sanctioned on the grounds of responsibility for a 2015 government attack in Unity state, in which there was the ‘systematic destruction of villages and infrastructure, the forced displacement of the local population, the indiscriminate killing and torturing of civilians, the widespread use of sexual violence’ and the recruitment of child soldiers.

European Commission. 2018. South Sudan. Accessed 1 February 2018.
This is the a summary of the EU’s relationship with South Sudan, as part of the EU’s International Cooperation and Development department. It goes through the principle contributions from the EU, including €285 million (2010-2011) by the European Development Fund, and €77.6 million via the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. South Sudan is also the recipient of ‘EU Humanitarian aid funding’, ‘EU’s Food Security’;’Non-State Actors Programmes’; ‘the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace’ and ‘the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights’.

European Commission. 2017. EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. Accessed 8 February 2018.
The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, more specifically the Trust Fund for Stability and Addressing Root Causes of Irregular Migration and Displaced Persons in Africa have set up a ‘Health Pooled Fund’ of €20 million for South Sudan. The aim is to improve infrastructure surrounding health, and an increase in ‘access to nutrition services and to ensure the availability of essential medicines’ is anticipated.

German Federal Foreign Office. 2018. Federal Foreign Office on South Sudan Peace Talks. Accessed 24th February 2018.
A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson for the German government issues a statement welcoming the second round of peace talks in South Sudan under the supervision of the regional organisation IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development).

HM Treasury and Office of Financial Sanctions Implications. 2018. Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets In The UK. Accessed 24th February 2018.
A detailed list of individuals that face financial sanctions from the British government.

HM Treasury and Office of Financial Sanctions Implications. 2018. Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets In The UK. Accessed 24th February 2018.
A detailed list of individuals that face financial sanctions from the British government.

European Commission. 2018. South Sudan. Accessed 1 February 2018.
This is a fact sheet from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations sector of the European Commission. It details the financial aid that the EU has provided to South Sudan, notably €423 million in humanitarian aid since 2013. In 2017 €192 million was dedicated to the crisis surrounding food security, health and refugees.

U.K Parliament. 2017. Sudan and South Sudan. Accessed 24th February 2018.
Various Lords including Lord Ahmad and Lord Alton, amongst others, give an assessment of the ongoing crisis in South Sudan in light of recent developments.

European Union. 2015. IMPACT South Sudan. Accessed 1 February 2018.
This resource details a project led by the EU, specifically funded by the The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, called IMPACT. It is aimed at ‘funding training for teachers and teacher educators’ for which the EU, United States International Development Agency and UK will contribute €120 million from 2016-2020. This initiative is a foundational approach to progress in South Sudan, based around the fact that ‘quality primary education is especially important in reducing ethnic tension and discrimination, and ultimately in building the foundations for inclusive economic growth and development, and contributing to peace and stability in the country’.

European Commission. 2015. Eliminating Violence Against women in South Sudan through Women’s Empowerment, Access to Legal rights and Legal Literacy. Accessed 1 February 2018
This project was aimed at increasing ‘the capacity of local civil society actors to defend and advocate for women’s rights’ and ran from 2013 until 2015. It was funded by the EU, whilst being implemented by New Sudan Women Federation NGO, and cost €263,158.

European Commission. 2015. Peace and Stability Quick Impact Fund Phase II: Promoting Security and Stability at the Sudan-South Sudan Border and other Conflict Areas within South Sudan. Accessed 1 February 2018.
This project was an EU financing agreement geared towards ‘delivering quick impact peace building projects in partnership with national, state and local actors, non-government organisations and community-based organisations’ in South Sudan. The EU spent €4 million on this action, and it was in implementation from 2014 to 2016. It was enacted in partnership with the International Organization for Migration.

European Commission. (2015). Commission Decision 1294. Accessed 4 March 2018.
This report details the European Commission’s decision to provide financial support to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and their ‘Monitoring and Verification Mechanism’ programme in South Sudan. The principle aim of this decision was to monitor ‘Special Envoys on the Parties’ compliance with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement… and the subsequent cease-fire Agreement signed between the two principals’.

The Council of the European Union. 2015. Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/740. Accessed February 2 2018.
This council decision was released in conjunction with the Council Regulation 2015/735.
The decision is led by a prohibition on ‘the sale, supply, transfer or export of arms and related materiel of all types’ from Nation States to South Sudan. It also delineates ‘travel restrictions and asset freezes’ against Santino Deng and Peter Gadet.

The Council of the European Union. 2015. Council Regulation (EU) 2015/735. Accessed February 2 2018.
This is a sanction implemented in 2015 that banned ‘provision of certain services – freezing of funds and economic resources – prohibition to satisfy certain claims of certain persons, entities and bodies’. Santino Deng (SPLA) and Peter Gadet (Nuer militia) were the individuals sanctioned for, amongst other things, violations of human rights and infringement of political processes and agreements.

European Commission. 2013. SOUTH SUDAN – Strengthening the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Democratic Governance in South Sudan. Accessed 2 March 2018.
A decision made by the commission to transfer funds from the European Development Funds to South Sudan to contribute to ‘implementation of the EU Single Country Response Strategy for South Sudan 2011-2013’ and the UN ‘Strengthening Democratic Governance in South Sudan programme’. It also dedicated funds from European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights to assist NGOs in progressing human rights.

European Parliament. 2012. Sudan and South Sudan. Accessed 2 March 2018.
This is a resolution published in the Official Journal of the European Union in which the European Parliament urged good relations between South Sudan and Sudan, including the ‘cessation of aerial bombardments of South Sudan’, the protection of human rights in both countries and a stop to ‘inflammatory rhetoric’.

UK Government. 2011. Export Control (Sudan and South Sudan) and (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/2925). Accessed 8th March 2018.
This resource provides an updated account of the export controls implemented over South Sudan by the British Government.

European Commission. 2011. Annual Action Programme 2011 for Sudan and South Sudan. Accessed 4 March 2018.
This resource details the EU’s contribution to the Annual Action Programme which included the following annexes: Sudan Food Security Programme; South Sudan rural development programme; Strengthening democratic governance in the Republic of South Sudan; Primary education retention programme; Improved management of education delivery; Strengthening Sudan Health Services and Better Health for South Sudan. The contribution was capped at €132 million.

European Commission. 2011. EU Single Country Strategy for South Sudan 2011-2013 – Aligned with and in support of South Sudan’s 2011- 2013 Development Plan. Accessed 2 March 2018.
This ran from 2011-2013 and was developed to work with the South Sudan Development Plan. It was the strategy behind €200 million worth of EU commitments to ensure ‘comprehensive, continued service delivery, peace, state and institutional capacity building through visible programming with demonstrable results’.

British Government. 2008. Export Control Order 2008 (SI 2008/3231), as Amended Under Schedule 4, Part 2. Accessed 8th March 2018.
Document detailing export controls put in place by the British government over South Sudan.

Key statements and resolutions from the United Nations

United Nations. 2018. Statement from the President of the Security Council. 31st January 2018. Accessed on 3rd February 2018.
The Security Council expresses concern about the 2.7 million internally displaced persons in Dafur, and demands that all involved in the conflict in Dafur create conditions which permit the safe and voluntary return of these people.

United Nations. 2018. Statement from the President of the Security Council. 14th December 2017. Accessed on 3rd February 2018.
The Security Council expresses concern that there are 7.6 million people in need of humanitarian aid and 6 million with inadequate food supplies. It condemns attacks on civilians and the military use of schools and hospitals, and states that those responsible must be held accountable to prevent this crisis from continuing.

United Nations. 2017. Resolution 2386. 15th November 2017. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
This resolution encourages efforts towards improving relations between Sudan and South Sudan through peaceful means, and stresses the urgency humanitarian situation, particularly in Abeyi and continued sexual violence against women. It also resolves to maintain the current number of troops at 4,791, and to decrease this on 15th April 2018 unless the mandate is extended.

United Nations. 2017. Resolution 2352. 15th May 2017. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
A statement that the borders of Sudan and South Sudan will not be moved by force. It also expresses support for the work of the African Union, and strongly encourages their continued engagement.

United Nations. 2017. Statement from the President of the Security Council. 23rd March 2017. Accessed on 3rd February 2018.
The Security Council articulated unease at the famine which has been acknowledged in South Sudan, and the more extensive food uncertainty. It requested the instantaneous elimination of all obstacles to UNMISS and benevolent aid.

United Nations. 2017. Statement from the President of the Security Council. 23rd March 2017. Accessed on 3rd February 2018.
The Security Council expresses alarm at the famine which has been declared in South Sudan, and the more widespread food insecurity. It demands the immediate removal of all obstructions to UNMISS and humanitarian aid.

United Nations. 2017. Resolution 2340. 8th February 2017. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
This resolution commends the work of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), and expresses approval for the decision to extend the Panel’s mandate by one year.

United Nations. 2017. Resolution 2327. 16th December 2016. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
The UN express deep concern for the escalation in ethnic and gender-based violence, and the fragility of the state’s security. It also expresses hope that the government of South Sudan will cooperate with the UN Security Council, Secretary-General and the AU.

United Nations. 2016. Resolution 2318. 15th November 2016. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
This resolution focuses primarily on the humanitarian needs of South Sudan, particularly condemning the sexual and gender-based violence and violence against children. It emphasises the need for aid in the Abeyi region, its humanitarian situation and the residual threat of land mines.

United Nations. 2016. Resolution 2304. 12th August 2016. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
Condemning all human rights violations, including attempts to create terror with attacks on schools, hospitals and places of worship. It demands that the permanent ceasefire agreed on 11th July 2016 is implemented, and extends the UNMISS mandate until 15th December 2016 and increases the troop ceiling to 17,000.

United Nations. 2016. Resolution 2296. 29th June 2016. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
An expression of deep concern at the insecurity of Darfur and the rebel attacks occurring there, and the particular threat to women and children. It also calls on donors to help provide financial resources. Continued concern for the displacement of persons and denial of humanitarian aid.

United Nations. 2016. Resolution 2290. 31st May 2016. Accessed on 2nd February 2017.
A demand that the rebel groups cease to deny access for humanitarian aid supplies and workers, and condemns the crimes against humanity that have been committed by rebel groups.

United Nations. 2016. Resolution 2287. 12th May 2016. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
This resolution expresses concern over the Abeyi area and its lawlessnesss, and urges all parties to try to refrain from any activity which would exacerbate the existing tensions in this area.

United Nations. 2016. Resolution 2280. 17th April 2016. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
An extension of the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 1st June 2016.

United Nations. 2016. Resolution Adopted by the Human Rights Council. 23rd March 2016. Accessed on 3rd February 2018.
Emphasises that the state has primary responsibility for protecting the rights of its citizens, and expresses deep concern about the prevailing humanitarian crisis, as well as the reduction in democratic spaces and of freedom of expression and association after an increase in attacks on journalists.

United Nations. 2016. Statement from the President of the Security Council. 17th March 2016. Accessed on 3rd February 2018.
The Security Council expresses alarm at reports of SPLA personnel entering UNMISS sites and firing on civilians, and stresses that these attacks are unacceptable and may be considered war crimes. It also stresses the need for perpetrators of attacks to be held accountable.

United Nations. 2016. Resolution 2265. 10th February 2016. Accessed on 2nd February 2018.
An emphasis on the need for violence to end, particularly that which is directed towards women and children.

United Nations. 2015. Resolution 2241. 9th October 2015. Accessed on 3rd February 2018.
An extension of the UNMISS mandate to 15th December 2015.

United Nations. 2015. Resolution 2230. 14th July 2015. Accessed on 3rd February 2018.
An extension of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Forces for Abeyi (UNISFA)

United Nations. 2015. Resolution 2228. 29th June 2015. Accessed 3rd February 2018.
An extension of the mandate of UNAMID until 30th June 2016.

United Nations. 2014. Resolution 2179. 14th October 2014. Accessed 3rd February 2018.
An extension of the mandate of UNISFA to 28th February 2015.

United Nations. 2014. Resolution 2173. 27th August 2014. Accessed 3rd February 2018.
An extension of the mandate of UNAMID for a further 10 months until 30th June 2015.

United Nations. 2013. Resolution 2109. 11th July 2013. Accessed 3rd February 2018.
An extension of the mandate ofs UNMISS to 15th July 2014.

United Nations. 2013. Resolution 2104. 29th May 2013. Accessed 3rd February 2018.
An extension of the mandate ofs UNMISS to 30th November 2013.

United Nations. 2011. Resolution 1996. 8th July 2011. Accessed 3rd February 2018.
This resolution established UNMISS for a period of one year with the intention to renew it if necessary, and to consist of up to 7000 military personnel and up to 900 civilian personnel.

To learn more

Alison Giffen. 2016. “South Sudan”. In Oxford Handbook for the Responsibility to Protect, edited by Alex J. Bellamy and Tim Dune, 857-876. Oxford University Press.
This chapter in the Oxford Handbook for the Responsibility to Protect focuses on the crisis in South Sudan. Giffen starts by outlining the background to the current crisis which feeds directly in the origins of the current conflict. The main focus of the chapter is the outlining of risk factors which identify when a country is prone to atrocities and how to take the necessary steps to prevent mass atrocities. The chapter outlines the lessons to learn from UNMISS and the application of R2P. Firstly, assessment and planning is crucial to shaping the peacekeeping missions mandate, resources, and deployment. These in turn should be bases in part on an analysis of risk factors for atrocities. Secondly, it highlights the critical nature of assisting the government in helping them to fulfil their responsibility to protect, but balances this with an assessment of the risks and dangers of state-building exercises. Finally, the chapter demonstrates that the correct analysis and assessment of risk factors learned through previous interventions and mandates in South Sudan can help the planning for worst-case scenarios and prepare peacekeeping mission in preparing for them.

European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. 2016. ECR2P annual lectures: 2016 lecture Professor Alex Bellamy: Implementing R2P: Progress, Challenges and the Next 10 years. 8 December 2016. Accessed 20 February 2018.
In the first annual lecture held by the newly established European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Professor Alex Bellamy discussed the operational challenges the global community face in implementing the principle of R2P. In this lecture, Professor Bellamy highlights the international responses to major crises since 2009 including South Sudan.

Amnesty International. 2017. Report: Sexual violence in South Sudan. 28 July 2017. Accessed 20 February 2018.
Amnesty International reports that sexual violence is ‘rampant’ and occurs whenever civilians come into contact with armed personnel (governmental or rebel armed forces for example) during military attacks on villages, searches through residential areas, or through road checkpoints. Amnesty also highlights the fact that South Sudanese law does not criminalise torture, crimes against humanity or genocide. Therefore, perpetrators of sexual violence cannot be prosecuted. Additionally, there remains a stigma against the victims of the crimes resulting in further abuse at home, and they are often too ashamed to seek medical care.

Amnesty International. 2017. South Sudan: “Do not remain silent”: Survivors of Sexual Violence in South Sudan call for justice and reparations. 24 July 2017. Accessed 20 February 2018.
Amnesty International working in collaboration with South Sudanese human rights defenders compiled this report which assess the scale and impact of sexual violence in South Sudan. The report highlights that thousands of South Sudanese have been subjected to sexual violence such as rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, sexual mutilation, torture, castration, and forced nudity. The report also provides an in-depth account of the historical background to the conflict, sexual violence, and dynamics of gender. This report concludes that sexual violence occurs when criminals are capable of taking advantage of the lawlessness, climate of impunity, and the culture of violence against women and girls.

Human Rights Watch. 2018. South Sudan: Warring parties break promises on child soldiers. 5 February 2018.
Human Rights Watch expose that the South Sudanese armed forces and armed opposition groups continue to recruit child soldiers breaching their commitments to stop. The report provides numerous first had accounts from across the country demonstrating how the government and armed opposition groups capture and force children into their armed forces.

This brief was put together by the ECR2P interns Colum Dillon, Ciara Miller, Sarah Rakotonirina, Milo Thrumble and Lucy Ward under the supervision and with the assistance of Dr Eglantine Staunton.

Last updated on 7 May 2018.