South Sudan SSR Background Note


Key Statistics

Population: 11.91 million (World Bank 2014)

Capital: Juba

Languages: English (official), Arabic (includes Juba and Sudanese variants), regional languages include Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zande, Shilluk

Major Ethnic Groups: Dinka 35.8%, Nuer 15.6%, Shilluk, Azande, Bari, Kakwa, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Dungotona, Acholi

GDP per Capita (current US dollars): 1,097 (World Bank 2014)

GDP per Capita PPP (current international dollars): 2,659 (World Bank 2014)

Security Sector Stats

Military: 185,000 (World Bank 2015)

Police Force: 50,000 (HSBA 2012)

Small Arms: The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in South Sudan is at least 720,000; The defence forces of South Sudan are reported to have 250,000 firearms; and Police in South Sudan are reported to have 48,200 to 67,200 firearms (Gun Policy 2015).

Military Expenditure: 1,083 million (SIPRI MilEx data 2014)

1. Introduction and General Background

2. Political Context

    i. Independence

    ii. 2013 Crisis

    iii. IGAD-plus Agreement

    iv. Status of Abyei

    v. Additional Internal Conflicts

3. Overview of SSR in the Republic of South Sudan

4. Sector Specific Overview

    i.  Security Management and Oversight Bodies

    ii. Defence Transfromation

       a. Sudan's People Liberation Army (SPLA)

       b. The Presidential Guard

    iii. Police Reform

    iv. Justice Reform

    v.  Prison Reform

5. International Support and Coordination

6. Upcoming Considerations

7. Acronyms

8. References

1. Introduction and General Background

Formed from the ten most southern states of Sudan in 2011, making it the youngest country in Africa, South Sudan has confronted numerous political, economic and social/ethnic struggles. Economically, the majority of South Sudanese have been reliant on subsistence agriculture; however the main source of government revenue is derived from oil which provides up to 60 % of GDP. A breakdown in cooperation with Sudan in 2012 rendered the oil industry temporarily non-functional, resulting in a complete economic collapse that the country is still recovering. Subsequently, in 2014 South Sudan was considered one of the least developed countries.

In addition to economic conflicts, border issues and ethnic tensions continue to strain ties. Home to over 11million  [1] people and 60 ethnic groups, these clan rivalries have spilled over into the political arena driving a number of political crises, most recently the 2013 crisis which erupted in violent conflict between the two largest ethnic groups in the country, the Dinka and the Nuer. Longstanding grievances with Sudan, a result of the 22 year civil war, have further exacerbated instability.

2. Political context

The two civil wars between Sudan and South Sudan fueled the violent legacy, mutual distrust, ethnic tensions and misuse of the security apparatus that continues to plague the country today [2]. Fighting spanned almost half a century, with an 11 year gap of peace, and it ended in January 2005 with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-brokered Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Prior to the CPA, territorial control of South Sudan was divided between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Under the CPA, the southern Sudanese were given the right to govern affairs in their region, and participate equitably in the national government. Additionally, all forces outside the SAF and SPLA were outlawed, making the SSDF, which was predominantly Nuer, illegal [3]

Soon after, John Garang, the leader of the SPLM/A and head of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), died in an airplane accident. He was succeeded by Salva Kiir, who changed the composition of the GoSS to become dominated by the SPLM. This move was resented by opposition groups, while the SPLM itself became increasingly fragmented over the manoeuvre for positions of power. During the six year interim period, armed groups such as the Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A), the SSDF, and the South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A), started gaining momentum. These groups created instability and inflicted heavy casualties on both civilians and SPLA forces. In order to pacify the situation, President Kiir announced the Juba Declaration of 2006 [4], which called for amnesty and integration of many of the opposition groups into the SPLM. President Kiir extended the call for amnesty following the general elections of 2010, the 2011 referenda, and in July 2014 [5]. This led to the incorporation of many of the SSDF, including its high ranking commanders, into the SPLA, ultimately resulting in the absorption of many high ranking officials, and a more ethnically balanced SPLA which was composed of more than half Nuer troops [6].

i. Independence 

On July 9, 2011, after 99% of the population voted for secession, the independence of the new nation of the Republic of South Sudan was officially proclaimed and the transitional constitution entered into force, cementing the political dominance of the SPLM. Additionally, from 2012 to 2013, the Republic of South Sudan signed nine bilateral agreements with the Republic of Sudan, primarily regarding security arrangements. Implementation began immediately with the withdrawal of troops from border areas.

Initially, integration of separate armed groups alleviated the instability created by conflict. However, with time, the diversity arising from the integration of armed groups exacerbated the lack of unity in the armed forces rather than acting as a unifying factor (ICG, 2014). Tensions increased when Kiir ethnicised the Presidential Guard. In addition, in July 2013, after a series of attempts to resolve leadership and voting disputes, President Kiir dismissed his Vice President Riek Machar, suspended Pagan Amum (senior negotiator in the country’s talks with Sudan and Secretary-General of the SPLM), and replaced most of the cabinet with 29 new ministers. The dismissal was seen as part of a power struggle within the ruling SPLM. Although these actions were within the President’s constitutional powers, they were undertaken in an extremely fragile security situation resulting from both internal and regional conflicts.

ii. 2013 Crisis

The political situation took a drastic turn when a boycott of Pagan Amum’s removal was held on 14 December 2013, and infighting within the SPLM erupted. President Kiir announced the following day that Machar attempted a coup d’etat, which Machar and his supporters denied. However, the fighting prompted Machar to declare himself leader of the newly formed SPLM/A in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), creating defections from the SPLA to the newly created SPLM/A-IO. Additionally, the infighting in the SPLM had a knock-on effect in the Presidential Guard, with Dinka elements targeting Nuer communities in Juba. The Nuer White army responded by engaging in systematic killings of Dinka members. As a result, widespread violence rapidly spread throughout the Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile regions [7]. Within the first seven days of conflict, over 1,000 people were killed (UNOCHA, 2014).

The conflict between SPLA and SPLM/A-IO continued throughout 2014—despite initial peace negotiations and a ceasefire in January 2014—and the first half of 2015, with fighting taking place in various states, particularly in the Greater Upper Nile and Equatoria regions, reportedly resulting in the death of at least 50 000 people and in internal displacement of over 2 million people (UN S/2015/655) as well as in over 600 000 refugees.

UN human rights reports on South Sudan have documented an increased trend in the arming of previously demobilised groups, the widespread perpetration of sexual violence by armed groups, the proliferation of weapons, and recruitment of child soldiers, increased landmine accidents and the use of cluster munitions (UNOCHA 2014). Public spaces such as mosques, schools and hospitals have been targeted [8]. The stockpiling of small arms from both parties has sparked international concern and sanctions [9]. The crisis has left rural towns ravaged by violence and created serious deterioration in food security and health, and has left an estimated 3.9 million people in need of direct assistance by October 2015 (WFP).

iii. IGAD-plus Agreement 

After several postponements of peace talks and parallel initiatives supported by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Arusha process (led by South Africa and Tanzania), the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan mediated by IGAD-plus (IGAD and key regional and international stakeholders) was signed between the warring factions on 17 and 26 August 2015 (UN S72015/700). The ceasefire was largely holding, with some flares of violent conflict in Central and Western Equatoria at the end of September and in Unity State during October 2015 (ICG/UNHCR 2015), allegedly due to a lack of full control over SPLM/A-IO. 

iv. Status of Abyei

The territory of Abyei has remained a contested site since the independence of South Sudan in 2011, contributing to mounting tensions between the two neighbouring countries. Composed of both the ethnic Ngok Dinka and the Missiriya, clashes between the two have led to violent confrontations and instability in the region. Notable amongst these clashes is the December 2013 violence between armed elements in the region, which resulted in the death of 150 people. While the Dinka expressed a strong desire to join South Sudan during an October 2013 referendum, no consensual decision has been made regarding the contested site. As of September 2015, Government of Sudan has maintained a police presence in Diffra which holds the last remaining oil fields in Abyei [10], while the SPLA only held small numbers of armed personnel, likely due to the violent conflict in South Sudan, and a number of violations of the Agreement occurred during 2015 [11]. Due to the attention geared towards the crisis within the GoSS, limited efforts have been made to restore the dialogue over the management of Abyei during 2015(UN S/2015/700).

v. Additional Internal Conflicts 

In addition to the current crisis, South Sudan continues to be threatened by a variety of internal insecurities. The country suffers from poor infrastructure, dispersed communities, some of the lowest literacy rates in the world, and large communications’ shortfalls (UNOCHA, 2014). Cattle raids between ethnic groups coupled with the proliferation of small arms in the country and the GRSS’s inability to control the violence have led to many deaths. While the production of oil has provided a window of opportunity for economic and social growth [12], future economic recovery, which is needed to provide social services, infrastructural investments and reform in the South Sudan, will be dependent on the ability of the GoSS, to achieve some form of peace and stability within the country.  The African Economic Outlook predicts that if the civil war that started in December 2013 is resolved and order and security restored, South Sudan has the potential to grow its GDP by as much as 7%-8% per year  (AEO, 2014).

3. Overview of SSR in the Republic of South Sudan

Since independence, South Sudan has faced numerous SSR challenges, which include professionalising the security sector, establishing ministries and parliamentary structures with the appropriate capacity for policy making and oversight, empowering civil society, and improving community safety and access to justice.

While the CPA did not include explicit provisions relating to SSR, article 16.3 uses language specific to SSR, underlining that the SPLA, as well as the SAF and the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) shall be regular, professional, and non-partisan armed forces and respect the rule of law and civilian government, democracy, basic human rights, and the will of the people. The transformation and reorganisation of the SPLA and notably its former combatants into professional military, police and other uniformed services was seen as critical to the implementation of the CPA. These services needed a clear delineation of their roles and responsibilities and appropriate systems of governance to ensure transparency, accountability and adherence to human rights norms and standards.It further states that the GoSS police and prison services should be made of personnel demobilised and transferred from the former SPLA [13]. External monitoring of the CPA is carried out by a UN mission under Chapter VI of the UN Charter (GoSS, 2011). The Transitional Constitutions of South Sudan echoes the same principles (AU, 2015).

In a report published in May 2011, the UN Secretary-General set out various SSR issues that needed to be addressed by the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). These included strengthening security within the framework of the rule of law and the creation of a national security policy. The mandate’s underlying resolution explicitly states that UNMISS is authorised to “[s]upport the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, in accordance with the principles of national ownership, and in cooperation with the UN Country Team and other international partners, in developing its capacity to provide security, to establish rule of law, and to strengthen the security and justice sectors (...)” and “[to support] the development of strategies for security sector reform (...)”(UN Security Council, 2011).

Overall a narrow conception of SSR has been used by the GoSS, decoupling reforms of the military, police, judiciary, and corrections, with the first being regarded as SSR, while all others have been attributed to a ‘rule of law sector’ (AU, 2015).

Due to the humanitarian crisis created as a result of the violent conflict, large scale SSR planning and programming has not been a priority. The government is struggling to maintain internal cohesion while ethnic tensions continue to mount against the perceived Dinka dominated administration. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have continued to advocate the need for SSR, but the focus has shifted towards containing the violence and protecting the population, particularly from famine. Therefore, while some reform programmes in the security sector have continued, most of the SSR programmes have been halted until some form of peace and stability can be achieved.

4. Sector Specific Overview

i. Security Management and Oversight Bodies

Following independence, the position of the Minister for National Security in the Office of the President was established. The Minister, who was also the Executive Secretariat for the National Security Council, was tasked with the role of developing South Sudan’s national security architecture. This included a national security policy, strategy and development plan that took on board the concerns at the central, state, and local levels. In 2012, the Minister of National Security had formed a drafting committee which developed a draft of the first National Security Policy (NSP), and in March 2013 the principal government security actors began a country-wide consultation process, which was intended to raise awareness of the NSP draft document, engage stakeholders in discussions on its content and ultimately to reach an agreement and develop a final draft. The final draft was completed in October 2013 and submitted to the Minister of National Security for his comments. The Drafting Committee had expected to reflect the former’s comments in the draft before submitting the final version to the Council of Ministers through him. The Minister however, who was new to the process, having being only recently appointed and with inadequate briefing, presented the document to the Presidency, who was considering it when the December 2013 crisis broke. The Drafting Committee continues to explore the possibility of making final arrangements to submit it through the rest of the process: Council of Ministers (for their consideration and approval); and then to the National Legislative Assembly (for adoption).

The influence of the military seems to permeate politics, governance and public life, as a significant percentage of elected leaders are former military (AU 2015). Within the Legislative Assembly, the Specialised Standing Committee for Defence, and Security and Public Order were established and several CSOs both at capital and state level have been active in providing checks and balances to the SSR process. Additionally, the GoSS adopted its South Sudan Development Plan 2011-2016 (SSDP) in August 2011, in which it identified good governance, transparency, a balance of power, and a zero-tolerance corruption policy as its first pillar (GoSS, 2011) [14]. In order to improve the whole-of-government approach to addressing national priorities, the SSDP outlined a need for an increase from the baseline in institutions that both articulate and implement national priorities. There has also been an additional call for the increase of capacity in legislative assembly’s ability to effectively and efficiently conduct oversight functions by increasing the number of bills passed into law annually as well as developing a statistical capacity building indicator that will provide accurate and up to date information for the government.

Since the eruption of the most recent crisis, CSOs have continued to voice their opinion on the violence, leadership and SSR programmes of South Sudan, calling on both parties to stop the violence and act in the interest of stability. A variety of conferences were held, in which issues discussed included the constitution, economy, SSR, and humanitarian assistance, as well as national reconciliation, justice and healing.

ii. Defence Transformation

a. Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)

The failure to reconcile political and military grievances during the civil wars with Sudan cemented the mistrust and lack of cohesion that has fuelled the latest crisis. As a result, the lion’s share of SSR attention has been focused on the defence sector which made up to 40 per cent of the national budget (AU 2015). Before independence, the Juba Declaration, the 2008 SPLA Defence White Paper (World Bank, 2011) and the SPLA Act of 2009, acted as key strategic documents for outlining the path of reform. The Juba Declaration integrated separate armed groups into the SPLA while the SPLA Defence White Paper sets out a process for the development of a professional defence sector including how it should operate, and how it should be structured and managed. The aim was to make it effective, efficient, accountable and transparent. The SPLA Act addressed issues related to the then Southern Sudanese security environment, the mission and roles of the SPLA, policies for it operating in a framework of democratic governance and oversight, as well as its development into a force that was appropriately sized, affordable and effective.

Re-established in the 2011 constitution, the SPLA was intended to be “non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, regular, professional, disciplined, productive and subordinate to the civilian authority as established under this Constitution and the law”(GoSS, 2011). With the creation of a code of conduct and a military court, the objective of the SPLA was to:

  • Promote constitutional order and the rule of law,
  • Protect, defend and secure South Sudan’s boundaries and the people within it from external threats,
  • Support disaster relief.

In 2012, the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs (MoDVA) started its first review of the defence budget. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) was instrumental in supporting this process. However, since the cabinet had been dissolved, the evaluation process has stalled.

South Sudan’s strategic transformation plan for its military, entitled “Objective Force 2017”, looked at the development of the army over a five year period, with the goal of reducing the number of troops, which was estimated to be 200,000 in 2012, to a total force strength no larger than 119,000 by 2017. In 2013, the GoSS Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RSSDDRC) moved forward with Phase 2 (UNMISS, 2014) of its DDR programme envisaged for 150,000 ex-combatants: 80,000 from the SPLA and 70,000 from other national organised forces [15]. The goal was to create a sustainable reintegration of 50,000 ex-combatants at a time into civilian life through training and the establishment of work brigades. The programme’s pilot phase began in April 2013 with the launch of the new reinsertion training centre in Mapel; however, instability along the border with Sudan coupled with tensions arising from contentious issues such as oil, disputed territory, inter-communal fighting, and insurgencies casted doubt on the government’s readiness and willingness to demobilize (HSBA, 2013).

The inability to successfully implement SSR, establish oversight mechanisms, and demobilise armed forces has been a significant factor in the outbreak of the crisis (BICC, 2013).  Currently, the success of the IGAD-plus agreement is also highly dependent on the way DDR will be implemented going forward. The defence sector remains inflated and based on a patronage system, in which units are grouped by ethnicity. This engenders greater loyalty to the Unit commander, than to the SPLA, which, coupled with patterns of defection within the SPLA, has hindered the ability of the SPLA to work as a cohesive force.

b. The Presidential Guard

Although the Presidential Guard (PG) is considered to be a sector within the army, it serves and answers uniquely to the President of South Sudan as opposed to the military high commander. In 2013, Kiir drastically increased the number of PG, changing the composition by integrating a high number of armed and well organised Dinka youth, known as the gelweng and titweng. In the past, the gelweng and titweng served as community defence forces and were commonly known for raiding the cattle of neighbouring territories. They became substantial actors in the 1990s during a brief oil conflict in the Heglig area, capturing Kiir’s attention [16]. Since the latest crisis erupted, the PG has been divided into two warring factions, the Nuer and the Dinka, with the Dinka initially targeting Nuer communities in Juba one day after the proclaimed coup. This was instigated after the President commanded that the PG unarm their troops, then commanded that the Dinka sectors rearm themselves, sparking distrust and infighting within the PG. Reports from witnesses cite serious crimes committed against civilians, including abduction and murder. Despite international sanctions against the PG commander, Marial Chenuong, reform in the PG has yet to take place. Given that the intent of the PG was to serve as a force that protects the President and the city against coups, the proclaimed coup legitimized Kiir’s justification for increasing the number and dependence on the PG. Subsequently, reform within this sector seems difficult to foresee until reconciliation processes and peacebuilding efforts take hold in the wake of the IGAD-plus mediated Agreement.

iii. Police Reform

Under the 2011 Constitution, the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) was established and tasked with the role of upholding the rule of law and providing protection for its citizens. Under the supervision of the Minister of the Interior, the SSNPS was responsible for the training, maintenance of professional services, deployment and recruitment of all police services throughout South Sudan as well as coordination on a state and national level. However, the police have struggled to properly uphold these tasks and police reform remains far behind that of defence reform. Largely composed of former SPLA soldiers, the SSNPS has struggled with issues regarding corruption, abuse of power and are widely distrusted by the general population for human rights violations. The GoSS Ministry of Interior (MOI) adopted a police reform plan in 2011 to increase and develop its capacities, notably its size, and broaden its area of activities across South Sudan. Following on from this, the SSNPS General Inspector developed a strategic action plan for reform as well.

The police force’s target was to improve its overall capacity, with a focus on training and on improving illiteracy rates, which presently sits at 70%, contributing to incomplete reports, misfiling and a general disregard for paperwork. The SSDP indicated significant numbers of police trained and initiatives such as community policing and joint operation centres that have commenced as a milestone. Additionally, a community work forum was established to enhance collaboration between communities and the police through expansion of police patrols within residential areas, and the construction of police posts closer to the community. However, while the number of police in the SSNPS has increased with many redeployed former SPLA, at the local level there is a shortage of police personnel on the ground. With regard to gender, about 25 per cent of SSNPS are female, but who are often relegated to low administrative roles (AU, 2015).

Other security actors such as the SPLA and the National Security Services (NSS) have taken on police mandated duties. Due to the SSNPS’s inability to reach certain areas, the SPLA has detained persons in SPLA-run detention facilities. Additionally, while the NSS does not have arrest or detention authority except in extraordinary cases affecting national security, the NSS have detained civil society activist, businesspersons, NGO personnel, journalists, and perceived opposition figures [17]. There is no law regulating the NSS, and authorities have rarely been investigated despite accusations of excessive force and torture (US State Department, 2013).

Although the recent conflict has hindered SSR development overall, modest efforts are still underway by UNMISS. In the first half of 2015, the UN Mission initiated a sensitization programme for over 100 SSNPS personnel, which addressed issues of community policing, building trust and confidence, human rights, child protection, sexual and gender-based violence and respect for diversity (UN S/2015/656).

iv. Justice Reform

Established as independent, responsible for the training of judiciary personnel, and tasked with the role of advocating and implementing constitutional law and the maintenance of professional standards, the Judiciary is both an important asset and one in need of reform. Under Security Council Resolution 1996 (2011), UNMISS was mandated to help establish the rule of law and strengthen the security and justice sector. The South Sudan judicial system suffers from a lack of physical, institutional and human capacities and is incapable of acting independently, relying heavily on traditional courts and on customary laws as opposed to those established in the Constitution. Therefore, the transition to an adequate level and breadth of human rights stipulated in the Constitution will take time. Judicial structures are under developed with access to justice and law enforcement limited across the country. To cope with the backlog of cases, Special Courts [18] have been established in some locations, but for these to function effectively, further logistical and security considerations would have to be implemented. In addition–given the collapse of justice institutions in the context of the latest crisis–concerns remain about the independence of the judiciary and access of women to justice services nationwide.

In a report drafted on 18 December 2013, the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ) highlighted the need for the institutionalisation of the separation of powers; the establishment of sufficient numbers of adequately resourced courts; law reforms; the building of an independent judiciary and the establishment of an independent legal profession with a sufficient amount of personnel employed throughout the country as well as a nation-wide legal aid system [19].

Since June 2014, UNMISS and the Justice Advisory Section (JAS) have been pivotal in guiding the legal and justice actors at the national and state levels, especially in terms of criminal proceedings. The aim is to foster more confidence in the criminal justice system by making the system more accountable and transparent (UNMISS, 2014). Additionally, since 2013 UNMISS mobile courts have rendered 438 court judgements (UNDPKO, 2014).

The IGAD-plus mediated Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan of August 2015, calls for creating a hybrid AU-led court staffed by South Sudanese and judges of other African nations. The court will have the authority to try genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious crimes that violate international and Sudanese law committed since the latest violent conflict began.

v. Prison Reform

In addition to judicial reform, UN Security Council Resolution 1996 (2011) highlighted the need to establish a safe, secure and humane prison system and end prolonged and arbitrary detention. Despite previous efforts, the penitentiary system still faces many difficulties, attributable to several causes, including the latest crisis, lack of infrastructure and case backlogs (UN S/2015/655). Existing prisons in South Sudan, particularly outside of the capital, are in poor condition, and require major maintenance and overhaul in lighting, health care, transport and communications, recreational facilities, as well as access to clean drinking water and sanitation. In some cases, prisons mix convicted offenders with pre-trial detainees, as well as juveniles with adult population. Prison officers are currently inadequately trained. Additionally, the high level of illiteracy has produced poor and inconsistent record keeping practices, revealing the need to professionalise the staff. Despite these facts, the Prison Service facilities have established mechanisms for civilian oversight and monitoring, often allowing UNMISS and NGOs into the prison. In contrast, the SPLA detention facilities have shown resistance in allowing independent monitors to access the facility. The NSS, which holds both military prisoners and civilians without legal authority, has rarely, if ever, has allowed for independent monitors (HRW, 2013) [20]

Since 2012, UNMISS has contributed to prison reform through programmes aimed at training and teaching of staff at the Prison Academy in Lologo, Juba. These graduates have since gone on to locally train prison officers from across South Sudan, with further technical assistance provided by Corrections Advisory Section (CAS). Under the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI), CAS has provided support to the government of South Sudan in establishing safe and secure human prison systems through technical assistance and the mobilization of resources for long term capacity building and infrastructure development (UNMISS, 2014). Additionally, CAS supports the judiciary in establishing prisoner review boards, prisoner case review processes, daily mentoring to prison staff, capacity development support, and provides management tools and training (DPKO, 2014).

5. International Support and Coordination

International donor support to SSR in South Sudan has been significant, both before and after independence. UK and US support have laid emphasis on the defence sector, while UNDP support has concentrated on rule of law and crisis prevention (including the reintegration element of DDR). UNMISS includes an SSR section, supplementing its more established work on police reform, rule of law, and DDR. When the section was fully established by 2012/13 UNMISS played a critical role in SSR building on some earlier efforts of the previous mission, UNMIS. UNMISS held a series of advisory and training sessions with diverse security sector actors (uniformed and non-uniformed) especially in enhancing South Sudan’s capacity in National Security Policy/Strategy making, and in Monitoring, Oversight  and Accountability matters. In pursuit of this critical goal, UNMISS supported a nation-wide consultative process to build consensus towards a national narrative on a collective vision around which to develop their desired security sector. The latest crisis demonstrates the need and importance of such nation-wide consultative process to secure a national vision to achieve sustainable peace in South Sudan.

From 2005 to 2011, during the interim period, coordination at the technical and programmatic level was improved. Monthly meetings to share information and plan ways of enhancing overall support were held between the international actors working in the defence sector up until the recent outbreak of violence. Furthermore, the MoDVA included in its transformation plan the inclusion of a Directorate for International Cooperation, with the purpose of leading the coordination of all international support to defence. Donor support to the broader development sector was to a large extent coordinated by the Joint Donor Office until September 2013 when the office closed [21]. Presently, many donor countries and organisations have shifted focus towards establishing a successful peace treaty, implementing a ceasefire and peace-building process. UNMISS, UNDP and OCHA, in addition to donor support from the US and UK, are presently focused on humanitarian assistance, having placed nearly all international development assistance towards SSR on hold.

6. Upcoming Considerations

SSR challenges for Africa’s newest independent nation state have been further complicated by the latest crisis. Overall, South Sudan has had a very long history of instability pre-dating independence which has affected its ability to provide social services independently, improve its human resources, resolve ethnic and political tensions and successfully implement security sector reform. However, professionalization of its security sector, oversight and management, and demobilisation and integration of the armed services is desperately needed in order for South Sudan to become a more stable and secure state. Until the IGAD-plus mediated Agreement is no longer violated, it is difficult to foresee any major SSR policies being implemented and/or given priority. 

7. Acronyms


BICC Bonn International Center for Conversion OCHA United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
CAS Corrections advisory section ROLSISO Rule of Law and Security Institutions Support Office
CSO Civil Society Organisation RSSDDRC GRSS Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission
CPA Comprehensive Peace Agreement SAF Sudanese Armed Front
DDR Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration SPLM/A Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army
GoS Government of Sudan SPLM-IO Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition
GoSS Government of South Sudan SSDF South Sudan Defence Force
GRSS Government of the Republic of South Sudan SSDP South Sudan Development Programme
ICJ International Commission for Jurists SSDM/A South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army
IGAD Intergovernmental Authority on Development SSLM/A South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army
JAS Justice Advisory Section SSNPS South Sudan National Police Service
JIU Joint Integrated Units SSR Security Sector Reform
MoDVA Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs UNDP United Nations Development Plan
MoFEP Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning UNMIS United Nations Missions in Sudan
MOI Ministry of the Interior UNMISS United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan
NSP National Security Policy UNPOL United Nations Police
NSS National Security Services    

[1] World bank data (2013); For details see

[2] The first civil war occurred from 1954-1972. The 17 year long conflict resulted in death of over half a million people. It was resolved during the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement, which signaled the first step towards Southern Sudanese autonomy. Due to the gradual undermining of southern autonomy, the second civil war between to the regions broke out in 1983. This war, which is the longest civil war in African history, lasted 22 years, killed 2 million people, and displaced 4 million Sudanese.

[3] Tensions began arising between the SPLM and the SSDF in 1991, while still fighting for independence from Sudan, John Garang’s unilateral decision making ruptured the SPLA forces, causing many to defect and create separate armed groups, including Riek Machar. The Bor Massacre, Marchar’s forces alongside other separate armed forces killed 2,000 Dinka’s in Bor. This fractured the southerners not only politically but along ethnic lines as well.

[4] Juba Declaration on Unity and Integration between SPLA and SSDF


[6] Prior to the Juba Declaration, the SPLA was believed to be predominantly Dinka based. 

[7] An ethnic component also exists with this fighting. Machar is Nuer and Kiir is Dinka. A great deal of the support and targeting has been based on the ethnic lines as a result.

[8] Notable amongst these attacks was April 21, 2014 the attack on a mosque, hospital and church in Bentiu, which left hundreds of civilians dead and many more wounded.

[9] An Executive Order by President Obama EO 13664 was signed by the President on April 3rd , 2014, and it is a broad and flexible EO, which gives us the authority to target not just commanders but those directly engaged in violence and those who are providing material support to the forces that we see directing the violence, including those who are targeting UN peacekeepers or those delivering humanitarian supplies. Presently, Peter Gadet and Marial Chanuong are being sanctioned. 

[10] This act violates terms of the 20 June, 2011 Addis Ababa Agreement.

[11] Subsequently after SPLA withdrawal, Missiriya forces attacked the village of Nyinchuor legitimizing Dinka fears of future targeted assault.

[12] The GDP is expected to rebound by 40% in the FY 2013/2014. This however comes after a dramatic drop in production which greatly damaged the economy in 2012.  Muvawala, “South Sudan 2014.”

[13] Their transfer must indeed rely on setting up effective criteria for entry into those services, establishing appropriate vetting procedures and delivering awareness training on their new roles and responsibilities.

[14]The four pillars are listed as: Good governance; Increased prosperity; Enhanced quality of life; Safety and security. “South Sudan Development Plan 2011-2016,” Government of the Republic of South Sudan  (August 2011).

[15] Other national forces included police, prison, wildlife services, and the fire brigade

[16] Some have suggested the numbers ran into the thousands for the PG. “South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name,” ICG N°217, (April 2014); “Preventing full scale war between Sudan and South Sudan,” ICG Conflict Alert , (April, 2012).

[17] This includes two UNMISS officers. 

[18] ISSAT interview with South Sudan Governor May 2011.

[19] To see all the recommendations please read: “South Sudan: An Independent Judiciary in an Independent State?” ICJ   (2013).

[20] Technically speaking, the NSS is not authorised to hold detention services and are, with the exception of unusual circumstances, not authorised to arrest civilians.

[21] This included representatives from six donor countries: UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Canada. 

8. References

Liebig, Stefan. “Security Sector Reform. Conference Report, 28-29 November 2007.” (21 January  2008).

Muvawala, Joesph. “South Sudan 2014.” African Economic Outlook (2014).

“A Summary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.” Conciliations Resources, (2006).

“Human Security Baseline Assessment for Sudan and South Sudan,” HSBA Working Paper, Small Arms Survey (July 2013).

“Security sector reform in South Sudan has failed – at least for the moment,” Bonn International Center for Conversion. (December 2013).

“South Sudan: The Dawn of A New Nation?” Journal of International Peace Operations . Vol. 6 No. 3 (November-December 2010).

“South Sudan’s Critical Response Plan,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (June 2014).

“South Sudan Country Report.” Asylum Research Consultancy (January 7, 2013).

“South Sudan Development Plan 2011-2013.” Government of the Republic of South Sudan (August 2011).

“South Sudan: A civil war by another name,” International Crisis Group Africa Report N°217 /(April 2014)

HRW: Hope for Justice for South Sudan (October 2015).

Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan, United Nations (August 2015).

Report of the Secretary-General on Abyei, United Nations (September 2015)

Final Report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, African Union (October 2015)

Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (August 2015).