Sudd Institute ‘Peace and Stability’ Policy Series kicks off— with a view on Inclusivity in the Addis Peace Talks
The Sudd Institute Peace and Stability Policy series, with UNDP support, featured its first paper entitled ‘South Sudan’s Crisis: Stalemate in peace process is deadlier than the war itself’, presented by Prof. Jok Madut Jok. The event coincided with the second anniversary of Sudd Institute’s formation.
Prof. Jok’s lecture began with discussion on the factors that have led to the current political stalemate, and provided an opportunity for representatives from political parties, civil society, the diplomatic corps, UN representatives, academia and media to share views about the heavy price that the country has paid due to the ongoing conflict and to suggest ways for moving forward. The conflict in South Sudan has resulted in massive destruction and displacement, and the country is at risk of the worst famine in years due to the disruption in the planting season.
Presenting his paper, Dr. Jok stated, “Trust is no longer strong. The war has taken a lot of toll on people’s ability, patience about security, hope for stability, investment and infrastructure, or even hope for representing the country in sports events. There is a cloud of doubt surrounding progress of the peace talks in Addis Ababa. The people of South Sudan are left in a continuous dilemma of who to believe between the government and the SPLM/A in opposition leadership in their counter-accusations. Peace talks have become ‘talks about talks’ and avenues to political power”. Summarizing the need for collective coordination and cooperation in the international community and among East African nations, Prof. Jok concluded, “Peace can come only if South Sudanese want it.”
Discussants James Okuk, Juliana Bol and Edmund Yakani along with other participants emphasized the need for all parties to adhere to cessation of hostilities agreement and for inclusivity of grassroots and home-grown solutions as the raw materials needed for the peace talks that would ultimately lead to reconciliation, truth and peace building.
UNDP Country Director Balazs Horvath stated, “The youth represent 70% of the total population of South Sudan and they need to be an integral part of the peace process.” He pointed to the support that the country had received in the past months from the international community, and the numerous visits from the highest levels representing government and organizations to support peace. However, while the international community can offer to help, ultimately South Sudan as a sovereign country would have to resolve its own problems.
U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan, Ms. Susan Page reiterated the strong support of the international community in terms of food and medicine. She stated, “Despite the support, development aid and food is not able to reach people because of the ongoing man-made disaster in the country.”
After the violent conflict of mid-December 2013, UNDP has re-assessed its programme to take into account the impact of the crisis. As part of peace building and reconciliation support, UNDP in South Sudan is collaborating with civil society, while continuing to build the foundations for longer-term development through the country’s institutions.
Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, UNDP South Sudan firstname.lastname@example.org