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International Alert - What peace and Whose? Envisioning a more comprehensive, more stable peace in South Sudan and Sudan


International Alert

What peace and Whose?

Envisioning a more comprehensive, more stable peace in South Sudan and Sudan

Richard Barltrop February 2012

Executive Summary

This paper explores some profound questions about peace and peacebuilding in South Sudan and Sudan, with the aim of fostering debate about what can be done to build a more comprehensive and more stable peace within and between the two Sudans.

Underpinning the paper is the concept of positive peace as understood by International Alert. This is a concept of peace as a dynamic state within which conflicts and differences are managed peacefully, without violence, rather than neglected or suppressed. In line with this concept, the paper uses a framework of five fundamental factors of conflict and peace in order to explore the present nature of peace in South Sudan and Sudan and future possibilities. These factors are:

  • Power: how power is held and used;
  • Economy: how the economy is structured and who benefits;
  • Fairness: how fair and effective are the law and its implementation;
  • Safety: the degree to which people feel or are safe;
  • Well-being: the quality of people’s lives.

Peace Past and Present

Since Sudan became independent in 1956, peace or the absence of civil war has been the exception rather than the rule. The most obvious shortcoming of the first peace, after the Addis Ababa Agreement in 1972, was that it failed to prevent the return to civil war; an obvious shortcoming of the second peace, after 2005, was its failure to prevent the continuation of the conflict in Darfur or to help resolve it. However, below the national level, alongside their positive effects and impact, there were many other shortcomings to each peace and people’s experience of peace. These included:

  • Discontent about political representation and power being used in a predatory and exploitative way;
  • Regional economic inequalities remaining large, and unemployed youth being easily mobilised in militias;
  • Little being done to advance reconciliation, truth-telling or justice, and opportunity still being closely tied to patronage and identity;
  • Public suspicion and fear of the security forces, and violence and insecurity still common (e.g. in Blue Nile, Darfur and South Kordofan, and Jonglei, Lakes, Unity and Warrap);
  • Access to basic services remaining poor, and some minorities and groups feeling marginalised.

These shortcomings of peace in the past are essentially still the shortcomings of peace in the present in South Sudan and Sudan. This comes despite the changes in context, of one country becoming two.

By the same token, however, the context for peace and peacebuilding has potentially improved. With the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) having passed its formal end, the two countries have an opportunity to look forwards and consider what could be done to build a fuller, more positive peace. What kind of peace do the leaders and people of South Sudan and Sudan want to build for themselves now, and how can they best do this?

Future peace

A key step, and a change from the way about which peace has traditionally been thought in both Sudan and South Sudan, would be to develop a process of discussion, or “visioning”, about visions for future peace in each country and what a shared vision of peace would be. A visioning process can give people an opportunity to overcome the political factors which constrain their ability to find peaceful solutions to today’s problems. It can also help to build consensus about and support for addressing underlying issues and factors of conflict which otherwise may continue to go unaddressed. In developing a shared vision for peace, it can be helpful to ask questions and to identify some principles for peacebuilding; for example, who is responsible for peace in South Sudan and Sudan, and who needs to be involved for a deeper, more stable peace to be built?

Answers to these questions should come first and foremost from within South Sudan and Sudan, for example as part of dialogue and discussion which leads to a statement of principles for peacebuilding. Considering the history and recent experience of peace in South Sudan and Sudan – and the shortcomings of peace today – some principles for future peace in the two countries are surely key.

Firstly, peace in each country should be for all, not just a minority or a majority. Secondly, peace and peacebuilding are important not only within each country, but also between the two. Lastly, peacebuilding should encourage change. This may be the most difficult principle or idea for parties in South Sudan and Sudan to accept, and still more difficult to put into practice. However, to build a more comprehensive and more stable peace entails changes: changes in goals, changes in how the issues which cause conflict and prevent a more complete peace are addressed, and changes in behaviour and action.
conclusions and recommendations

The paper concludes by making three broad recommendations to those in South Sudan and Sudan who are concerned to build a more comprehensive and more stable peace, and to those in the international community who are concerned to support their efforts. These are:

  • Use a positive peace framework to define goals and measure progress. To be successful, peacebuilding should use a framework of positive peace, which will highlight what changes in institutions, attitudes and behaviours will bring about a stronger and more comprehensive peace, rather than simply containing the conflicts of today.
  • Promote a visioning and sustained dialogue process about peace. A sustained and inclusive process of dialogue, framed around developing a broadly shared vision or set of visions for long-term peace, could build consensus and support for addressing the factors of conflict which otherwise go unaddressed.
  • Dialogue and advocacy to identify how the economy can best support long-term peace. The economic dimension of peace has long been neglected. By combining research, discussion and advocacy on key economic sectors such as infrastructure, land and oil, or cross-cutting issues such as corruption, equity, and cross-border trade, it should be possible to develop a process which leads to positive change in economic governance in South Sudan and Sudan – change which is beneficial to all parties and which reduces the risk and incidence of conflict.

The full report can be downloaded here:

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International Alert - What peace and Whose? - Envisioning a more comprehensive, more stable peace in South Sudan and Sudan - Richard Barltrop February 2012
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