International Alert has recently launched a paper that explores some profound questions about peace and peacebuilding in South Sudan and Sudan, as a contribution to the debate about how to build a more comprehensive and more stable peace within and between the two Sudans.
Using International Alert’s peacebuilding framework, the paper explores the strengths and weaknesses of peace in South Sudan and Sudan in the past and the present. It argues that despite the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 and the peaceful secession of South Sudan in 2011, underlying factors of conflict have remained unaddressed within both countries. Indeed, peacebuilders and peacebuilding efforts in and between the two countries too-frequently get trapped into dealing with only the problems and crises of today – not the longer-term underlying causes – and thus fail to develop and work towards a clear vision of a peaceful future. Peacebuilding is necessarily long-term in nature. But each new, temporary crisis makes it hard to focus on the future, or to overcome the underlying factors which prevent sustainably peaceful solutions being found.
Noting examples of other countries and their respective conflicts and peace processes, the paper explores in very broad terms the prospects for future peace and peacebuilding within and between Sudan and South Sudan. It suggests new ways in which peace and peacebuilding might be approached, in particular a peace visioning process, and an approach to dialogue, oriented towards bringing about change. Based on Alert’s research in South Sudan and Sudan over the past two years, and our experience in other peacebuilding contexts, 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.
Alert also conducted a separate Peace and Conflict Assessment of South Sudan in the second half of last year, commissioned by DFID and Pact, and we expect to publish this in the second quarter of 2012.