Douglas Johnson, who brings more wisdom to Sudan than most outside experts, gave a lecture in Canada on this theme. Like all his work it is well worth reading.


South Sudan’s Experience At Peace Making

Bertrand Russell Peace Lecture
Symposium on Conflict and Peace-building in South Sudan
The 22nd Annual Ghandi Peace Festival
8 November 2014. MacMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Source: Gurtong Published

South Sudan 6


It is a privilege to have been asked to speak
here today on such an important subject.  I feel particularly honoured
that the invitation was initiated by the South Sudanese Community
Groups in Canada, to come to speak with them about their country when
they know it far better than I do.  This is not the first or the only
connection between MacMaster and South Sudan.  I bring greetings from
Prof. Alfred Sebit Lokuji in Juba, a 1976 MacMaster Political Science

I am not sure that I am the best person to speak about peace making in
South Sudan since my own efforts at peace making, first as a resource
person at the Karen talks on the Three Areas, and then on the Abyei
Boundary Commission, have so spectacularly failed to make peace.  Yet,
perhaps we can learn as much from past failures as past successes.

I was in Juba two weeks ago participating in the Rift Valley
Institute’s annual series of lectures at Juba University, whose theme
this year was historic peace negotiations.  Three sets of negotiations
were examined:  the 1972 negotiations that led to the Addis Ababa
Agreement, the 1999 Wunlit people-to-people peace conference, and the
2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  The discussions focused as much
on the implementation of these agreements as on the negotiations that
led to them.  The choice of case studies is evidence that South Sudan
does have experience at peace making, but the question that confronts
us all is whether this experience is relevant to the conflict that is
threatening to tear South Sudan apart today?

There are some unpleasant and uncomfortable truths that confront us
about that conflict, which we must acknowledge if there is any hope of
returning South Sudan to peace.  The first is the scale of the
devastation inflicted on a civilian population who are not party to
the political struggle.  The second is that whatever the sequence of
events that began the fighting, both contenders for power bear
ultimate responsibility for its spread, both are culpable for massive
human rights abuses.  These abuses have been documented by independent
investigations and are beyond dispute.[1]  The third is that as the
cycle of revenge killings spreads to communities uninvolved in the
initial conflict a comprehensive resolution will have to involve more
than just the political actors and offer some form of restorative
justice to all who have been affected.

In this lecture I will try to answer the question I have posed by
first briefly outlining South Sudan’s experience in peace making, then
looking at the legacy of war as a contributing factor to the current
conflict and the missed opportunities to deal with that legacy during
the interim period prior to independence, then analysing the
contribution of the diaspora in promoting either conflict or peace,
and finally suggesting how the experience of South Sudanese might be
harnessed towards creating a space for peace.

South Sudan 7

The Experience of Peace Making

I was introduced to South Sudanese methods of peace making nearly
forty years ago, when I attended an intertribal meeting of chiefs in
what is now Jonglei state.  The chiefs had to deal with outstanding
matters left over from the recently-ended civil war.  Cattle had been
seized and girls abducted by local forces aligned with either the
government or the Anyanya.  Because of the Amnesty Act that
accompanied the Addis Ababa Agreement the government was unable to
address crimes committed by either side during the civil war, but
people still wanted their cattle back and their girls returned.  The
discussions were often heated as the aggrieved parties presented their
case.  Throughout it all the elderly retired court president of the
area sat in front, still wearing the insignia of his former office,
puffing away on his pipe.  When everyone who wanted to speak had had
their say he finally spoke up and proposed a solution.  The government
could not force the perpetrators to return the cattle to their
original owners or the girls to their families, nor could it levy
fines.  But the requisite number of cattle could be collected by the
government and sold at auction, and the money collected used for the
development of the district.  As for the girls, any who now had
husbands and children would have their unions recognized through the
exchange of bridewealth with their families.

This compromise, which strictly speaking lay outside normal practice
in customary law, did at least have the advantage that even if the
plaintiffs would not have their cattle back, neither would the
defendants continue to benefit from them.  There was another,
unspoken, aspect to this solution:  a court judgement brings no
resolution if it cannot be implemented, but what the chiefs had agreed
the government would help them implement through its administrative
officers and police.

The process I witnessed was something that all South Sudanese
understood very well.  It was based on the pre-colonial system of
arbitration that had become more formalized and structured during the
Condominium period under the British.  What the British “hakuma”
(government) had introduced was a hierarchy of courts, a record of
judgments and precedents, a more regular means of implementing
decisions, plus an expansion of the court system beyond sections of
the same tribe to include regular inter-tribal meetings between
neighbouring groups.  It was the main way that feuds were not only
ended, but prevented from starting.  The system of customary chiefs’
courts continued under the Northern Sudanese administrators who came
after independence, by Southern Sudanese administrators after the
Addis Ababa Agreement, and by the SPLA in the liberated areas during
the second civil war.

Perhaps the most remarkable application of the court system during the
second civil war was in the 1999 Wunlit conference.  Following the
1991 split in the SPLA fighting was promoted primarily along ethnic
lines.  Prior to 1991 the border region between the Dinka of Bahr
el-Ghazal and the Nuer of Upper Nile had been reasonably stable and
peaceful, the border chiefs on either side being in touch with each
other to try to contain cross-border cattle rustling.  After 1991 both
factions of the SPLA mobilized civilian forces in the region against
each other, the main targets being the civilian population base of the
opposing sides.

There was in effect no “hakuma” – no government – to intervene to
organise inter-tribal meetings or enforce the law because the
competing “hakumas” of the SPLA factions were themselves responsible
for orchestrating the violence.  It was the churches, through the New
Sudan Council of Churches, who took the initiative to promote a
people-to-people peace process to bring the civilian communities of
the border region together to take the civilians out of the war.  In
so far as the Wunlit conference of February-March 1999 was a success,
it was less to do with the meeting itself as the months of preparation
that led up to it.

With the assistance of the UN Operation Lifeline Sudan the NSCC was
able to bring Nuer and Dinka chiefs out of South Sudan to meet in the
neutral location of the UN logistics base at Lokichokkio, Kenya.
There the chiefs were able to compare their experiences and come to an
agreement to exchange visits and persuade their people to participate
in a conference to be held in a secure location in Bahr el-Ghazal.  It
was the sight of the chiefs coming to “enemy” territory, so to speak,
that convinced many that peace between their communities was possible,
and indeed that it was coming.  Although the leadership of both
factions of the SPLA were sceptical about the initiative, Commander
Salva Kiir Mayardit of the mainstream SPLA agreed to provide security
and Mario Muor Muor, the former director of the SPLA’s Sudan Relief
and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA) was put in charge of preparing
the site at Wunlit.

At the conference between twelve hundred and fifteen hundred ordinary
people participated along with the chiefs and expressed their
grievances openly and forcefully.  This was all part of a cathartic
process that helped each community to understand the other and agree
to reconcile.  A covenant was agreed and signed by 318 persons.[2]

Wunlit as a process of people-to-people peace making must be
considered a partial success insofar as it did involve the active
participation of people at the grassroots level, and it did bring some
peace and stability to the border region before the civil war ended.
But the process could not be repeated in Jonglei state, where it was
most needed, because of the obstruction of the break-away faction,
then still allied with the Khartoum government.  And the full number
of border courts agreed in the covenant have still to be established
due to lack of effective support from the Government of South Sudan
and the state governments during the interim period prior to
independence.  This partial success demonstrates the important role of
the “hakuma” in implementation.  Where the “hakuma” is absent or lax
in its responsibilities, full implementation even of popular
agreements is not possible.

In the immediate post-war period a very similar process employing
cross-border customary authorities did bring a measure of stability
and peace along the north-south border between South Sudan and Sudan.
During the war the Misseriya and Rizeigat Baggara had acted as
militias (murahalin) for the Khartoum government against the Malual
Dinka of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal.  During the interim period following
the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 both Baggara
communities could no longer rely on the use of force to gain access to
seasonal pastures in the Malual Dinka territory.  In two peace
conferences in 2008 and 2010 the Malual Dinka confronted first the
Misseriya and then the Rizeigat over acts of violence committed during
the war, including not only cattle rustling but the abduction of women
and children, as well as continuing clashes in the dry season pastures
following the end of the war.

In both conferences there was the active participation of ordinary
persons as well as the customary authorities of the Malual, Misseriya
and Rizeigat.  Each conference, too, had the active support of
government authorities, including the Government of National Unity
(GoNU) in Khartoum, the Government of South Sudan in Juba, the local
government authorities of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state, international
agencies such as USAID, UNMIS, and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, as well as international and national NGOs such as PADCO
Sudan, PACT Sudan and Swisspeace.  As in Wunlit members of each
community aired their respective grievances openly and forcefully, and
as in Wunlit this enabled the communities to reach an understanding
about how they had damaged each other, and reach at least a partial
reconciliation.   Not all issues have been fully resolved,
particularly between the Malual and the Rizeigat, but a working
arrangement over shared pastures was agreed and has largely been

What are the lessons of these three different people-to-people peace
processes?  First is the importance of the customary authorities – the
chiefs courts of the Nuer and Dinka, the Nazirs and Omdas of the
Misseriya and Rizeigat – in providing a forum and a method for open
debate and reconciliation.  Second is the active participation of the
people, and not just the customary authorities, in framing the debate
and formulating a resolution.  Third is the participation of external
agencies, whether the churches, international and national NGOs, and
even international governmental agencies as facilitators and
moderators.  Fourth and finally the importance of government
authorities and institutions not only in guaranteeing and facilitating
the process, but in the implementation of agreements.

South Sudan 2

Lessons of the Addis Ababa Agreement

These were very local peace agreements, but South Sudanese have
experience of peace making at the national level as well.  The 1972
Addis Ababa Agreement was the result of negotiations between the Sudan
government and the armed opposition of the Southern Sudan Liberation
Movement (SSLM).  Now that the government of South Sudan is in a
parallel situation of fighting and negotiating with its own armed
opposition, what lessons can be drawn from the 1972 negotiations?

First, external support for the negotiations was important.  As with
Wunlit, the actual negotiations were preceded by several months of
preliminary approaches and meetings between representatives of the two
parties, in this case facilitated by external agencies, the World
Council of Churches (WCC) and the All Africa Council of Churches

Second, when the two delegations finally met they entered into the
negotiations with a serious intent and were committed to reaching an
agreement; neither party was negotiating to play for time on the

Third, the role of the chair to the negotiations, Cannon Burgess of
the AACC, was strictly that of a moderator, not a mediator.  He was
there to keep the negotiations on track, at times summarising points
made in order to move the discussion on, at other times asking the
delegations to clarify their positions, refusing to allow discussion
to be side-tracked, sometimes breaking for prayer to allow tempers to
cool, and finally sharply reminding them that the discussions could
end in failure.  At no time was he expected to provide drafts for the
two sides to accept and sign.

Fourth, the role of the Ethiopian government was more indirect.  It
offered a safe and neutral venue for the talks.  The Emperor, Haile
Selassie, gave his advice only once, and only when appealed to by both
sides.  He delivered his opinion diplomatically, but unambiguously,
and his position as a respected elder statesman of Africa meant that
what he said mattered, and could be accepted without coercion.

Fifth, there were other southern Sudanese “stakeholders” present as
observers.  They played no direct role in the formal negotiations, but
had an influence on the delegates in informal discussions outside the

Sixth, all texts of the final accord were drafted, discussed, and
agreed by the negotiating delegations in their committees, rather than
drafted and presented by an external mediator.

And finally, though many in the SSLM were not happy with the
compromises contained in the final agreement, the leadership ratified
it because of the overwhelming support for the agreement that they
received from the people of South Sudan.[4]

The contrast between the 1972 negotiations and those currently
stumbling along in Ethiopia is sharp.  The commitment to negotiations
by both parties today is in doubt, as the dry season begins with more
violations of an agreed ceasefire.  The position of the third party to
the talks – the former detainees – is ambiguous.  The impact of
external agencies, such as IGAD, and the interventions of the
mediators, has often done more harm than good.

South Sudan 5

The Legacy of War and the Missed Opportunities of the Interim Period

Before the last century warfare between South Sudanese communities
tended to follow certain basic rules.  Fighting was between armed men.
Women and children might be captured, but by and large women, children
and the elderly were not the targets of fighting.  On those rare
documented cases that I know of when they were killed this was either
out of severe revenge or an aberration.

As a result of the change in warfare in the last civil war this rule
is frequently ignored.  The reasons for this are complex and have to
do with the way in which the civil war morphed into total war, where
civilian populations became prime targets of armed groups.

Part of this had to do with the Khartoum government’s militia strategy
where they recruited tribal militias (from both the north and the
south) specifically to attack the civilian support base of the SPLA.
Not only were livestock stolen and crops destroyed, but women and
children were abducted or killed.  It wasn’t just the Khartoum
militias who behaved in this way.  The SPLA, too, attacked the
civilian communities from whom southern militias were recruited.  The
areas hardest hit by these tactics were Jonglei state, where the
activities of the Murle militia in the 1980s provoked a violent
reaction from the Lou Nuer and the SPLA, and Unity state, where
murahalin and Nuer militias were used in the ethnic cleansing of the
oil fields.

The split in the SPLA intensified the ferocity of these attacks.  The
assault on Bor in 1991 was carried out by three groups:  the SPLA of
the Nasir faction, Khartoum’s Anyanya II now allied with that faction,
and Lou Nuer civilians of the so-called “White Army”.  I was working
with Operation Lifeline Sudan at the time and saw the photographs
taken by the UN team that entered Bor in the aftermath of the attack:
the body of an old man shot in the back as he tried to run away, young
boys tied to a tree with their heads bashed in.  I do not know who
perpetrated these specific atrocities:  SPLA, Anyanya II or White
Army, but there was no way that these victims could be considered
combatants, and I was deeply disturbed when a spokesman for the Nasir
faction tried to justify these killings to me, and when one of the
Nasir commanders dismissed civilian deaths merely as “regrettable”.

The fragmentation of the Nasir faction into a number of competing
forces[5] meant that there was no unified command that could exercise
some control over commanders in the field and impose discipline on
their troops.  This is why the Wunlit conference was so important, and
why it was very unfortunate that it did not lead to further
people-to-people processes in Jonglei state.

The interim period of 2005-2011 was the right time when an expansion
of the people-to-people process could have taken place throughout
South Sudan, and especially in Jonglei state.  Unfortunately there was
no systematic policy of reconciliation, no attempt at reconciliation
between the SPLA and civilians, and no sustained effort to reconcile
formerly opposed communities.  This was to have especially dire
consequences in Jonglei where military solutions were applied to the
problems of disarmament and the cycle of raids and counter-raids.

Jonglei had been the site of some of the worst militia activity during
the war, and there was an urgent need to promote reconciliation
between the different civilian populations that had supplied the
militias.  This did not happen, and when the Murle continued their
cattle raids on the Lou Nuer and the Bor and Kongor Dinka this set off
an escalating cycle of revenge attacks, especially between armed Murle
and Lou civilian groups.  Both parties continued to rustle cattle, but
increasingly their targets were other civilians, with a rising scale
of atrocities including decapitation and the evisceration of pregnant

What was particularly tragic about Jonglei is that on those few
occasions when representatives of the opposed communities were able to
meet together they discovered that they had basically the same
grievances:  about a local justice system that no longer worked, about
the lack of access to dispensaries, schools and markets, about the
lack of any development of water resources in grazing areas to reduce
dry season tensions.  These were all failures of both the state and
national governments, but rather than bring pressure on the government
to address their grievances, they turned on each other.

South Sudan 4

The Role of the Diaspora

What has been the response and role of the South Sudanese diaspora
throughout these developments?

The South Sudanese diaspora are spread across the world, having come
out of Sudan at different times during twenty-two years of war, and
with different experiences of that war.  The earliest members who came
out at the beginning of the war were often persons with education and
skills that enabled them to gain employment in their host countries.
As the numbers of South Sudanese refugees grew the refugee
resettlement schemes brought increasing numbers out of the refugee
camps in Africa mainly into the United States, Canada and Australia.
In the US the diaspora at first organized themselves into pan-South
Sudanese associations, but as numbers grew and refugees were located
around the country they tended to organize themselves into
associations from specific homelands or language groups, and various
Equatorian, Dinka and Nuer associations tended to emphasize local
identities, rather than a national identity.

There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with cultural
associations where persons can gather to speak their own language,
maintain contact with home and share common problems.  But the
tendency also has been to perpetuate divisions from home, rather than
reinforce South Sudanese solidarity.  The run up to the 2011
independence referendum did provide the basis for a common purpose,
but since independence, and especially since the events of last
December, that common purpose has been difficult to maintain.  A South
Sudanese friend of mine in Australia tells me that South Sudanese
there remain deeply divided, even within communities of the same
language group.

Because of their access to the internet the voice of the diaspora has
been particularly loud.  Most websites dealing with South Sudan today
are set up outside South Sudan.  Most of the articles and comments
posted are posted by persons living outside South Sudan.  The websites
often post news items, but because there seems to be no consistent
editorial oversight much of it is opinion presented as fact,
statements unsubstantiated by evidence.  Comments on chat sites,
Facebook and websites such as Sudan Tribune quickly descend into trash
talk, seemingly copied from American sporting figures, littered with
obscenities and even threats of physical violence.  The comments often
react to who a person is assumed to be, rather than what a person has
actually said.

Accusations posted on the internet are picked up, circulated and
embellished.  I remain sceptical of the truth of unsupported
accusations.  When I was working as Assistant Director for Archives
before the war I managed to negotiate a grant of ten thousand dollars
from the Ford Foundation for equipment and supplies.  It was not long
before a jealous colleague submitted a report to a member of the
Southern Assembly accusing me of embezzling ten million dollars.  The
young man had just got excited and kept on adding zeroes.  In some
ways I was flattered, because janubiyinroutinely accuse each other of
corruption, and this suggested in a very backhanded way that somehow I
was accepted as a janubi.  But despite the fact that this and other
accusations against me are completely false, they still circulate
after thirty years and are accepted uncritically by many.

It is not yet clear to me what impact the diaspora have had or can
have on events inside South Sudan, but there are some worrying
examples of incitement and deliberate disinformation.  I do not intend
to condemn all South Sudanese in Canada by the examples I am going to
cite, since the initiative of South Sudanese Community Groups in
organizing this conference is a very positive development.  If South
Sudanese in Canada are aware of the two examples that follow, I would
be very interested to learn what their response was.

During the fighting between Nuer and Murle in Jonglei a South Sudanese
resident in Canada represented himself as the spokesman for the Lou
Nuer White Army.  He posted on the internet a number of press releases
which in effect urged South Sudanese in Jonglei to go on killing each
other, and even made threats against specific members of the Jonglei
state government.  I understand that the Canadian government was
concerned about these actions that they even considered extraditing
this person.  In the reversal of fortunes and opinions so common in
South Sudan, this person is now claiming to speak on behalf of a group
now allied to the Juba government and regularly post pictures of
himself in the company of the president he once denounced.

Perhaps we should not worry too much about the activities of a
self-important egotist.  But another person who identifies himself as
“a concerned South Sudanese living in Canada” has recently posted on
the diaspora South Sudan News Agency website a long piece entitled
“The Gurtong Trust-Peace is a revenge preaching and killing Machine:
why are the Norway, the UK and the Swiss’ Governments’ Foreign Affairs
funding it?”  In it he makes the following accusations:  that the
Gurtong Trust Peace and Media Project “topped the list” of “the
planners and promoters of the Juba Nuer Massacre” last December; that
Gurtong preaches revenge killing against the Nuer; that the word
“Gurtong” is Dinka for Revenge War; that the director of the Gurtong
Trust, Jacob Akol is a Bor Dinka who featured in a “so called ‘Bor
Massacre’ documentary” and is intent on revenge.  The alleged purpose
of this article was to persuade Gurtong’s funders – which he
identified as the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UK and
the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to cut off funds to the Gurtong
Trust.  The article has been picked up and reposted in a number of
other South Sudanese websites.

For the record, I have known Jacob Akol for forty years.  He is a
BBC-trained broadcaster and has had a long career in journalism.  He
published an account of his own life as a refugee during the first
civil war and a collection of his own articles in two books published
by the Pauline Press.  He is not a Bor Dinka, but comes from Bahr
el-Ghazal.  He did not feature in a documentary about the Bor Massacre
and has never even heard of such a documentary (nor have I).  The word
“Gurtong” is not a Dinka word but an Anuak term describing a
peace-making ceremony when a spear (tong) is ceremonially blunted –
something that is explained on the Gurton website.  Gurtong has
published no article advocating revenge killings, and the author of
the piece cited no such article.  Finally, of the governments the
author claimed was funding Gurtong one of them has never funded
Gurtong at all.  Jacob Akol has posted a lengthy refutation of these
libels, but as far as I know none of the websites that carried the
original article have published his rebuttal.[6]

The wildness of these claims caused one commentator to ask, “I wonder
what it is about Canada that causes so many refugees there to think
and behave so strangely.”  The toxic lies broadcast by the “concerned
South Sudanese living in Canada” cannot just be the result of
ignorance.  This is not misinformation but disinformation.  The real
intended audience of this piece is not the donors of Gurtong – they
clearly will not be persuaded by such false allegations – the real
audience is other South Sudanese in the diaspora and at home.  One can
only speculate on the motives of the author in traducing a South
Sudanese organization whose main purpose is and always has been to
promote understanding and peace among all South Sudanese.  The only
likely outcome of such libels being uncritically accepted by other
South Sudanese is to prolong war rather than promote peace.

What can people in the diaspora do to counter this negative influence?
They can organize umbrella groups that keep various diaspora
organizations in contact with each other, to explore common
backgrounds and experiences and rediscover a common purpose, in spite
of political differences.  As individuals they can counter the hate
speech that spills out onto the internet, not so much through more
webchat but through personal dialog with anyone known to promote hate
speech, and by support to anyone who is a victim of hate speech.  But
above all to be committed to respecting the common humanity of their
fellow South Sudanese whatever their origin.

South Sudan 1

Restorative Justice and People-to-People Peace

The circle of violence in this current war is expanding.  We hear of
Mabaan in Upper Nile now forming their own defence force to fight the
Nuer.  Refugees from Sudan’s war in Blue Nile state have been
returning home from the refugee camps in neighbouring Upper Nile,
fearful of attack by SPLA-in-Opposition forces who have passed through
Blue Nile to attack the area of Renk.  The peace established between
the Rizeigat and Malual Dinka is being threatened by other
SPLA-in-Opposition forces passing through Mile 14 and regrouping in
Eastern Darfur.[7]

It is evident to me that the prolonged negotiations between the
warring parties going on in Ethiopia will not, and cannot by
themselves restore South Sudan to peace.  Unlike the 1972 Addis Ababa
negotiations we have yet to see evidence that the two opposed parties
are negotiating with serious intent; rather they seem to be playing
for time.

The obstacles to a lasting peace are not confined to the political
ambitions of the leaders of either side.  I think the main obstacle is
the trauma that so many South Sudanese have now experienced at the
hands of their leaders and the forces that are supposed to protect
them.  At a meeting in London last month a woman from Malakal stood up
and asked me “how can we live side-by-side with these people again?”
Her answer was that she could not:  let them stay in their own area,
was her solution.  Clearly she did not consider the people who invaded
Malakal fellow citizens any more.  Nuer in living in Juba could ask
the same question.

In the woman’s answer to her own question lies the danger of
federalism, as it is currently being debated in South Sudan.
Federalism in itself is neither a bad idea nor unworkable, but in so
far as many South Sudanese conceive of it as meaning withdrawing into
their home areas there is the danger that it would promote de facto
segregation rather than national unity.  A peace agreement that merely
tinkers with the structures of government and the distribution of
offices will not address the trauma that threatens to divide South
Sudanese from one another.

But, as David Deng of the South Sudan Law Society recently asked, “I
wonder whether there’s not some opportunity here.”  His answer was
that peace has to be approached in a holistic manner.

The peace process, he said, has to go beyond the major players, who
are largely unaffected by the horrors of the violence.  There is a
need to engage combatants, survivors, and those living in
conflict-affected places.  The question civil society now faces is how
to incorporate those who are uninvolved at the formal level and, at
the same time, are most affected by violence.[8]

The South Sudan Law Society has issued a number of working papers
dealing with issues of working with a traumatised population and
establishing transitional justice that are well worth serious
consideration.[9]  What will be needed is a real people-to-people
process.  It is not enough to approach a donor organisation to fund a
meeting of 300 or so people, fly in a bishop and a couple of ministers
to bless the meeting and then fly them out again.  This will require
the type of real long-term engagement between communities that
preceded Wunlit, and the type of sustained implementation that was not
followed up after Wunlit.

All of this is hypothetical as long as there is no end to the current
fighting.  But how to make the parties serious about negotiating

The diaspora communities in different countries have been and are
being wooed by representatives of the warring parties seeking their
public support.  It is natural for you in the diaspora to be concerned
about what is happening in your own country, especially as it affects
your home areas and your own families.  It is also natural, in these
circumstances, to want to take sides.  But when you are approached by
these representatives you can pose to them a series of questions to
determine their commitment to a peaceful resolution to the conflict
that they – and not you – initiated.  These might be all the more
effective if posed to persons you consider to be your leaders.  Such
questions might include:

Are you committed to a national dialog leading to a national
constitutional convention before new elections are held?

What role do you see for civil society groups and community leaders in
a national dialog?

Are you willing to commit yourself to a peace even if it does not
involve you, or the leader of your party, holding a position in

What steps will you take to help restore peace between the
communities who have been affected by this war?

What restitution to the peoples who have suffered violence from your
forces will your group commit itself to?

Will you and the leaders of your group submit yourself to some form
of transitional justice or a truth and reconciliation process?

And of course the question we all would like to ask, but to which we
will probably never get a truthful answer is:

How many people are you willing to see die so that you can hold onto
or seize power?

Public opinion can have the power to influence leadership.  Just as
public support for the Addis Ababa Agreement reinforced the commitment
of the leaders of the SSLM to stand by it, so the public voice of the
diaspora can be mobilized to put pressure on the warring leaders to
put the nation before political ambition.  Publicly withholding
support until the leadership demonstrates a genuine commitment to
peace can be more effective than signing up to an insincere
declaration.  Your opinion does matter, and now is the time to make it
known.  Your voice does count, and now is the time to make it heard.


South Sudan 3


[1] South Sudan Human Rights Commission, Interim Report on South Sudan
Internal Conflict, December 15, 2013 – March 15, 214. United Nations
Mission to the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS): Interim Report on
Human Rights: Crisis in South Sudan, 2/21/2014, and  Conflict in South
Sudan: A Human Rights Report, 8 May 2014.

[2] “Wunlit Dinka-Nuer Peace Documents” (partial copy available from;
NSCC, The Story of People-to-People Peacemaking in Southern Sudan,
NSCC, 2002; John Ashworth, “The People to People Peace Process”, paper
presented at the Rift Valley Institute 4th annual series of Juba
University lectures, “Negotiating Peace in South Sudan: historic
agreements and their lessons for the future”, 23 October 2014; Mark
Bradbury, John Ryle, Michael Medley, Kwesi Sansculotte-Greenidge,
Local Peace Processes in Sudan, RVI, 2006

[3] Martina Santschi, Report: Dinka Malual–Misseriya Peace Conference,
11-14 November 2008, Aweil, Southern Sudan, Swisspeace, April 2009;
Communiqué: Dinka Malual & Rizeigat Peace Conference, January 22nd to
25th, 2010, Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State.

[4] Douglas H. Johnson, “The 1972 Addis Ababa Negotiations”, paper
presented at the Rift Valley Institute 4th annual series of Juba
University lectures, “Negotiating Peace in South Sudan: historic
agreements and their lessons for the future”, 22 October 2014; Joseph
Lagu, Sudan, Odyssey through a State: from Ruin to Hope, Omdurman:
M.O.B. Center for Sudanese Studies, 2006, p. 259.

[5] Douglas H. Johnson, “The Nuer civil wars”, in Günther Schlee &
Elizabeth E. Watson (eds), Changing Identification and Alliances in
North-east Africa, vol. II, Oxford & NY: Berghahn Books, 2009: 31-47.

[6] Gurtong Is Not “A Revenge Preaching & Killing

[7] “The Mile 14 Area”, Human Security Baseline Assessment for Sudan
and South Sudan,

[8] South Sudan: Is Peace Possible? voices from civil society, January
2014, Rift Valley Institute Meeting Report, Nairobi Forum, Friday 10
January, 2014: p.2.

[9] David K. Deng, “Truth and Dignity Commission: proposal to
reconcile the many truths of South Sudan from 1972 to the present”,
Working Paper, South Sudan Law Society, August 2014; “Trauma, Healing
and the Plight of Displaced Persons in South Sudan”, Peace and
Justice.  A Newsletter by the South Sudan Law Society (SSLS), November