By James Okuk, PhD
As my part-time top boss at University of Juba, I would like to thank the Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Akec for keeping his private hobby of public writing. Many intellectuals of South Sudan and in many other African Countries abandon their hobbies when they become bosses. He needs to be appreciated and encouraged to keep up this consistency and freedom of expression.
What attracted my attention is Prof. Akec’s reference to St. Augustine and Thomas Hobbes to justify his apologetic defence of Juba’s suspicion and reservation on the awaited Regional Protection Force. I’m saying this because I have been a lecturer of “Comparative Political Thought” in the esteemed University of Juba since 2012, both to Arabic and English patterned students of the Department of Political Science.
The evolution of political thought, some of which are practiced in many countries to date, is an area I have admired with great interest. Thus, I must thank the electronic engineer, Prof. John Akec, for becoming an active participant in the classic political field, though. I would have wished to invite him to attend a special lecture on the context and content on St. Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Hobbes and Jean Bodin who had put forward some rigorous political thinking in the history of human governance, especially in regard to ‘Sovereignty and the Sovereign’ in time of ‘Peace’ and ‘War’.
Those great thinkers of the middle ages in Europe were concerned much about “Sovereignty of the Monarch”. This political situation was broadened and cemented by the Treaty of Westphalia (October 1648) that legitimised the limited European Nation-States’ Systems and Principles between the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of France and their respective Allies.
However, the French Revolution (known also as the people’s bread revolution) and the American Declaration of Independence (known also as the people’s land revolution) made the Westphalia Treaty irrelevant for constitutional liberalism and democratisation of the modern nation-states. The Centre of ’Sovereignty’ shifted from ’I the King for the State’ to ’We the People for the Nation’.
The sovereignty as far as St. Augustine and Thomas Hobbes were concerned was about “I the King” only with disregard to the centrality of the people and their dignified livelihood welfare. Is this what Prof. John Akec is trying to argue for South Sudan now?
Even Hobbes conditioned the necessity of the sovereign and the government on “not killing the subjects and also not instilling fear in them”. The Hobbesian Leviathan was for absolute peace and security of the people. Once the sovereign and the government break this condition, then they should immediately lose the value to continue ruling the nation in a state.
St. Augustine has also conditioned the sovereignty on ’Peace and Justice’, with permissible ’War of a Just Cause’, conducted through right intention, declared by a competent authority with good faith, and using proportional military force while discriminating the non-combatant citizens (i.e women, children, the elderly, the clergy, etc.) from the warriors of the sinful ’City of Man’ who are being punished by divine authority to repent and return to goodness of ’City of God’ for everlasting eternal grace. Once peace and justice is denied to the citizens, then the sovereign and government should be prayed upon for divine fire of deposition and salvation for a new replacement.
Jean Bodin defined sovereignty as “Absolute”, “Indivisible” and “Complete”, the attributes which are not nearer to the situation of the divided South Sudan on the power of their current government.
Therefore, Prof. Akec shouldn’t kindly misquote these intellectual historical giants to mislead the public about ‘sovereignty’ and how UN Protection Force is “Trusteeship” in another name. If the Prof. Is not yet aware and informed about the matter, let him now know that the UN Charter since the end if World War II in 1945 doesn’t allow ‘UN Trusteeship” for an independent state with full UN and other regional organisations memberships.
The UN Charter and AU Constitutive Act predicate the modern sovereignty on: a)Protection of the population without discrimination, b) Undivided loyalty of the citizens to the state, c) Enforceability of government powers in all the jurisdictional and integral territory, d) Cooperation with the UN and other international and regional bodies based on treaties, mutual recognition and other legitimate obligations, and e) Viability of the state and sustainability of its government among other nations.
Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (December 1933) is what has defined the modern and contemporary state, not necessarily the traditional medieval nation-state any longer. Article (1) defines a state as a person of international law that possesses a) permanent population (i.e, not Refugees or IDPs), b) a defined territory, c) government, and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.
Also the Westphalia principles of equality of states, non intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another state and "forgiving the sins of the past" are no longer practiced in vacuum, especially when the UNSC, in accordance with the UN Charter, defines a situation as ‘threat to international peace and security’ as it came out in Resolution Number 2304 (2016) and acts via a "peace-keeping" long-term strategy or "peace-enforcement" emergency response in accordance with the principle of "the Responsibility to Protect".
The Republic of South Sudan should not be made an exception on the evolution of the power of multilateral diplomacy and international relations. The Juba Varsity Prof. Akec has missed the intellectual goal that a professor shouldn’t afford to mess up with.
The Regional Protection Force and UNMISS-Plus is not and can’t turn into a formal trusteeship force in South Sudan because their mandate is clear and supplementarily limited to restoring the direly needed peace and security environment in the embattled country from all fronts.
That was why Juba signed a Joint Communique on 4th September 2016 with the UNSC Members who came to the country for first hand information and experience of the gravity of the situation.
Dr. James Okuk is reachable at email@example.com.