Recent fighting in South Sudan -- marked by evident war crimes and crimes against humanity -- must be resolved through an inclusive peace process, according to an Enough Project field dispatch authored by Enough Co-Founder John Prendergast.
South Sudan Field Dispatch: Peace Still Possible Despite Apparent War Crimes
Washington, D.C.— Recent fighting in South Sudan -- marked by evident war crimes and crimes against humanity -- must be resolved through an inclusive peace process, according to a newly released Enough Project field dispatch authored by Enough Co-Founder John Prendergast. The report, based on interviews in South Sudan and site visits to places where mass atrocities appear to have occurred, documents the impact of fighting between government and opposition forces and allied militias.
The report, “Peace Must Come Soon”, documents the aftermath of violence in the towns of Bor and Juba, with eyewitness accounts from displaced civilians and others on the scene. Heavy fighting and targeted attacks have displaced over 900,000 people, and the International Crisis Group estimates that over ten thousand have been killed since fighting broke out in December.
Now, the bulk of the fighting is taking place in the Greater Upper Nile region, including in Unity, Jonglei,and Upper Nile states, comprising all of South Sudan’s significant oilfields. While the conflict was sparked by political disputes, the report states that the mobilization of forces by politicians on the basis of ethnicity has fueled and deepened inter-communal conflict. Recruitment of soldiers, including a large number of child soldiers, has continued even after the now-collapsed cessation of hostilities agreement, with a mass mobilization of Nuer militia in Greater Upper Nile and the launch of the government’s recruitment drive throughout South Sudan.
Report author John Prendergast says:
“Though the warring parties disagree strongly about the initial spark for the war, it is clear that actions taken by both is prolonging it. Mass recruitment, often on the basis of ethnicity, the use of child soldiers, ethnic-based targeting, and other actions are deepening the divides between communities and making reconciliation more difficult. It is urgent that this war ends at the negotiating table in Addis and not on the battlefield.”
As negotiations stall in Addis Ababa, the report argues for the preparation of a more inclusive peace process that addresses governance, accountability and reconciliation, security sector reform, and regional interests, citing the crucial role of civil society, political parties and regional partners in consultations and decision-making. Additionally, the report emphasizes the U.S. and international community’s role in supporting negotiations by deploying incentives and pressures to leverage the warring parties toward peace.
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, South Sudan’s government and opposition forces signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Following weeks of intense mediated talks, this agreement is just the first step on South Sudan's long road to a durable peace. Violence in South Sudan began in late December, and negotiations had been deadlocked over the issue of 11 political detainees, whom opposition forces, led by former Vice President Riek Machar, wanted to be freed before discussing a ceasefire.
John Prendergast, Enough Project Co- Founder, says:
"Though important, the signing is just a small first step on a long road to peace. If an inclusive peace process is not constructed that seeks to address root causes, the conflict will continue, with deadly consequences."
Akshaya Kumar, Enough Project Sudan and South Sudan analyst, says:
"In South Sudan, the hardest negotiations are still ahead. Even if all combatants lay down their arms as a result of today's agreement - which is far from guaranteed - a sustainable resolution to the crisis will require an inclusive national dialogue around the country's governance framework, a commitment to accountability and security sector reform."
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go towww.enoughproject.org.