Peace and stability in South Sudan

Women carrying their belongings in northern South Sudan are passed by a soldier Women carrying their belongings in northern South Sudan are passed by a soldier © Siegfried Modola/Reuters

This is a presentation of “Peace and Stability in South Sudan: Challenges and Recommendations” released by the International Center for Transitional Justice in June 2019.

In June 2019, Saferworld released a research report called Peace and stability in South Sudan: Challenges and recommendations. The report aimed to summarize key takeaways on community safety and challenges to peace. The briefing summarized findings from eight roundtable discussions that were held at the state-level between July 2017 and February 2019. The report was released to reflect the perspectives of participants on ways to improve peace and stability in South Sudan. 

The roundtable discussions that informed the report took place in Aweil, Bor, Juba, Rumbek, Tonj, Torit, Wau, and Yambia and included local and state authorities, heads of military and police forces, United Nations agencies, community-based organizations, and community members. These discussions were held as efforts to improve safety and security in light of the outbreak of civil war and violence in South Sudan. Starting in December of 2013, a civil war has been ongoing in South Sudan. A peace agreement was signed in August 2015, however, increased violence broke out in July 2016, and conflict spread to formerly peaceful parts of the country. Currently, the society of South Sudan faces high inflation rates, high levels of gender-based violence or GBV, and increased polarization along ethnic lines in addition to violence from the civil war.  

It is necessary to understand the terms safety and security in the context of this briefing. Saferworld defines security as “protection of people and their assets from violence or theft,” and safety as “the protection of people from harm” including harm from accidents. The report identified the following key safety and security challenges: Ineffective law enforcement and justice delivery at state and local levels, the spread of small arms and light weapons, land and border disputes, cattle raiding, economic hardship, high levels of crime, GBV and limited gender equality, and breakdown of social cohesion. 

The most prevalent challenge was found within the category of “Ineffective law enforcement and justice delivery at state and local levels,” as seven out of the eight localities where the discussions took place highlighted these problems. Within communities, there is mistrust between the police and surrounding communities. This mistrust is fueled by community reports of arbitrary arrests and detention for long periods with no trial. The lack of adequate capacity within the justice system is also reflected in the limited number of judges assigned at the state and county level. These issues seemed to impact some of the other categories of challenges as well. For example, the report stated that harmful gender norms negatively impact women and girls’ access to justice which can foster gender-based violence. Participants identified GBV as a pressing case of insecurity in South Sudan due to the high numbers of sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and forced marriages, as well as the persistence of gender inequality.

Saferworld presented recommendations as well in this publication. For the issue of ineffective law enforcement, recommendations include police training in community-based policing, clarification of police and court roles and responsibilities by the National Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to mitigate the possibility of overlapping power, and the conduction of dialogue between community members and security providers. 

Other highlights of the key safety and security challenges include the threat of violence from unauthorized possession of small arms and light weapons that was exacerbated by the lack of a clear policy for peaceful disarmament, the tensions arising from the creation of more counties and lack of clear land demarcation, and the prevalence of food insecurity and lack of access to basic services such as healthcare and education. Two overarching recommendations for these challenges are implementing adequate policies to protect against cattle raiding, gender-based violence, and misuse of land agreements and encouraging community members, local governments, and state governments to work together to increase awareness of these issues and further discuss solutions.



Original report available here:


Author: Cecilia D'Arville; Editor: Shrabya Ghimire

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