Briefing – Peace agreement in South Sudan: Ambitious but hard to deliver – 02-02-2016

Peace agreement in South Sudan: Ambitious but hard to deliver

02-02-2016

In August 2015, under considerable international pressure, a peace agreement was signed in South Sudan: it aimed to end the violent civil war that had broken out two years earlier. The conflict was caused by a number of entangled factors that can be boiled down to a struggle for power and oil in a devastated country. Soon after gaining independence in 2011, the rivalry between the two main leaders, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, that had been subdued, erupted again. In July 2013, President Kiir dismissed Vice-President Machar. The following December, ethnic conflict erupted within the army, tragically spreading to the civilian population and leading to a humanitarian catastrophe. The 2015 peace agreement is an important benchmark towards peace and reconciliation, as it addresses the main issues: establishment of an inclusive government; demilitarisation and reinsertion in civilian life of a large number of well-equipped militias; proper mechanisms for transitional justice and reparation; immediate measures to facilitate humanitarian access; and a consistent programme to redress the economy. Nevertheless, progress towards implementation of the peace deal is slow: key structures such as the transitional government and the ‘hybrid’ court have not yet been put in place. Building confidence between the current head of state and his main opponent is a challenging task for international mediators.

In August 2015, under considerable international pressure, a peace agreement was signed in South Sudan: it aimed to end the violent civil war that had broken out two years earlier. The conflict was caused by a number of entangled factors that can be boiled down to a struggle for power and oil in a devastated country. Soon after gaining independence in 2011, the rivalry between the two main leaders, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, that had been subdued, erupted again. In July 2013, President Kiir dismissed Vice-President Machar. The following December, ethnic conflict erupted within the army, tragically spreading to the civilian population and leading to a humanitarian catastrophe. The 2015 peace agreement is an important benchmark towards peace and reconciliation, as it addresses the main issues: establishment of an inclusive government; demilitarisation and reinsertion in civilian life of a large number of well-equipped militias; proper mechanisms for transitional justice and reparation; immediate measures to facilitate humanitarian access; and a consistent programme to redress the economy. Nevertheless, progress towards implementation of the peace deal is slow: key structures such as the transitional government and the ‘hybrid’ court have not yet been put in place. Building confidence between the current head of state and his main opponent is a challenging task for international mediators.