Opinions

Welcome to the Opinions section.

This page is designed to provide the users a platform to express their views on various issues affecting the DDR programme in South Sudan, both positive and negative.

Please email them to Info@ssddrc.com for publishing.

 

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Impacts of South Sudan’s DDR Programme on the East Africa Region

As underpinned by 2008 financial meltdown, the world is becoming a small village. Activities in one country have direct impacts on another. DDR programme that address human insecurity; foster favorable conditions for regional trade; and curb small arms and light weapon (SALW) proliferation in the Republic of South Sudan has both tangible and intangible repercussions on the East Africa Region.click here to read more...

It is commonly known notion that human security is necessary for national, regional and global stability. If security issues in south Sudan are not properly addressed, it leads to mass displacement of people.  Many of the people will more likely seek refuge in East Africa Region because of geographical proximity putting more pressures on the scanty resources there.  For instance, recent inter-communal fighting in Jonglei State, South Sudan led to mass exodus of people. Tens of thousands of South Sudanese's refugees from Jonglei fled to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya. This camp is also ‘flooded’ with new arrivals from Somalia. Safety permits people to explore ways of establishing permanent settlements, homes or businesses, a peaceful condition in which the DDR Commission aiming to create with the help the Government of  the Republic of South Sudan, East African Region and the international partners....

Secure environment also is a prerequisite for productive regional trade. Lack of fear of physical harm to individuals and properties enhance Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and as mentioned above, it is a catalyst for people willingness to settle in their chosen careers. The vibrant business communities in Nairobi, Kampala, Dodoma and other capitals in the Region could converge on South Sudan if secure environment prevails. With just six years of relative peace in South Sudan, there are over a million persons from the neighboring countries in South Sudan doing all kinds of businesses. National DDR Commission is constitutionally mandated to poster conditions for sustainable regional investment prospects by disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating the former soldiers into the communities of returns. The core of successful reintegration of ex-combatants is training on livelihood skills. The individuals who are well-trained and making decent livings would be less likely to take up arms or associate themselves with rebel groups. The recurrent conflicts that have ‘plagued’ the Continent since 1960s is the result of idled youth who are easily prey on.

The idled young people are not only vulnerable to individuals with unorthodox ‘political agenda’ but also criminal armed gangs. The proliferation of lethal weapons, mostly small arms and light weapons (SALW) has become more acute and less controllable since the end of the Cold War in 1989. The manufacture and trade in small arms is a lucrative business, mostly controlled by mercenaries and private companies. The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) of South Africa reports that Africa alone has suffered close to six million fatalities over the past 50 years or so due primarily to SALW.  Considering our wide and porous borders, all of the regions have to be wary that the proliferation of SALW in South Sudan directly or indirectly affects our neighbors and even the whole world.

Such are the implications of the Republic of South Sudan’s DDR Programme on the East African Region that International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC) based in Nairobi, Kenya hosted symposium on “opportunities and challenges of peace and security in South Sudan” on November 1st, 2012. Attending this symposium, I was impressed with the level of awareness on peace and security issues in South Sudan.

Hence, I would like to share with all the donors, friends of South Sudan, Government officials, DDR readers, an important abstract below on the topic of “Reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction in South Sudan” by Mr. Philip Mwanika, IPSTC Researcher.

“Attaining or realising stabilization in a post conflict context requires policy makers to manage multiple competing social and economic challenges. In a post-war environment, the synchronization between the return to peace and the construction of a new environment is a major challenge. Since building peace requires more resources and time than stopping war, peace-building remains often stalled by lack of resources. Whereas reconstruction after short war or conflicts can rest on remaining structures and institutions, the problem is more complex after protracted conflicts where structures, institutions, and skills have disappeared: beyond the technicalities of reconstruction, a whole society needs to be reconstructed.

South Sudan Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process is a case in point, where disarmament and demobilisation processes that were informed by the need for stability outpaced the economic recovery and job creation processes and tends to push the recently demobilized combatant into illegal and sometimes violent activities thus denying the society the benefits of peace dividends.

Given the history of the prolonged armed conflict in Sudan (South Sudan) and the offshoots of conflict- namely, the refugees, internally displaced persons, disrupted local economies and livelihoods, and a huge number of ex combatants and armed civilians- one would question whether this is the ripe moment for the ‘’R’’ component of the DDR to be put into play. Reintegration is a complex issue that requires not only the availability of ‘’jobs’’ but also to have matching expertise to run the emerging economy. After 22 years of war (and 6 years of peace), South Sudanese population still shows a deficit in skills and education that would be the condition sine qua non for starting a new economy.

Despite efforts of the South Sudanese authorities and the international community, Southern Sudan is still a highly armed society and violence remains endemic. This situation elicits a great deal of concern related to the enabling environment for the ‘’R’’ to take centre stage in the polity.

Provided the local social and economic situation in South Sudan, what form or architecture of reintegration should concerned stakeholders adopt to actually provide a positive momentum to genuine State-building and reconstructing of society? This is linked to a more general consideration in relation to the timeline conundrum between peace building and effective reconstruction – the latter being largely defined by the state of reintegration, economic and social systems or dilemmas faced. These are the guiding questions of this study.

As an essential component of a DDR process, ‘’Reintegration’’ of former combatants remains a cornerstone of post-conflict reconstruction and is an indicator for effective peace-building.

The DDR process in South Sudan had a slow start after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).Further, efforts of the international community in the transition period the followed the signature of the CPA focused at disarming militias, rather than constructing new structures to reintegrate former combatants. Efforts were put on the ‘’DD’’ components by both the municipal South Sudan authorities under the auspices of the South Sudan Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (SSDDRC), and by international partners coordinated by the integrated United Nations DDR Unit (IUNDDR). However, analysis of events and the state of affairs in South Sudan tends to show that the ‘’R’’ (Reintegration) component of process requires strategic attention.

Violence is still part of the daily life in many parts of the country, and a still highly volatile environment is observed. Resources and centrifugal forces continue to shape violence and remain central factors of South Sudan’s political landscape. Today, most important for the’’ Reintegration’’ stage are the development of education, of infrastructures, national construction projects, incentives for business creation led by a clear national strategy.

At the moment, South Sudan’s national question is overshadowed by several interlocking conflicts that all involve struggles for rights, economic opportunity and matters of ‘low politics’. Local level grievances tend to put the national questions in the background and tend to promote a piecemeal approach to larger issues.

How South Sudan addresses these questions, and addresses the dilemma between stability and reconstruction by combining traditional solutions with internationally accepted processes is the subject of this study.”

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Why the South Sudan Eagle Must Shed its Feathers for it to Fly Even Higher!!!

By

William Deng Deng 
Chairperson 
The Republic of South Sudan Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RSSDDRC)

In my many years as an international civil servant with the United Nations in many post-conflict countries, I have had the rare opportunity to witness and to get intimately involved in planning, co-ordinating and implementing national social-security sector stabilization interventions and programmes. Restoring peace, stability and development after years of protracted war is an enormous task for post-conflict governments and societies.click here to read more...

For more than 10 years,I had the chance to work for the United Nations in post-conflict areas in Africa and during those years I worked very hard with both national and international actors to try to reverse the conflict into a positive agent of change. My area of specialization was to help the fragile states to restore its security apparatus and to stabilize communities throughout multiple interventions at different and parallel levels.However, this long and tough journeys had never diverted my mind and my heart away from my beloved country, and during my few moments of liberty, I was thinking of the tremendous effort that need to be deployed to trickle down the peace that was just signed in Naivasha to reach all communities across our beloved Nation: The Republic of South Sudan.

These security sector interventions are better known in our lexicon as the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) processing of ex-combatants into a civilian life and/or mode through a deliberate social-engineering transformation process.DDR is a post-conflict and early peace-building tool largely used by the United Nations and other Development Agencies to help post-conflict societies to demilitarize in order to create an enabling environment for peace-building and socio-economic reconstruction. Therefore, DDR is NOT a tool for conflict resolution, but a way that helps nations to “consolidate” a peace that is almost impossible to be fixed by a formal signature of piece of papers.

There are many imperatives, both socio-political-economic and security sector that drive and inform the DDR process in a post-conflict country.These imperatives are different and difficult depending on the method, environment and context through which the conflict/war and social upheaval is (was) resolved. The Republic of South Sudan is a case in point. His Excellency, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President and C-In-C of the Republic of South Sudan Armed Forces has instructed me, immediately after the overwhelming positive voting for an independent South Sudan back in January 2011 to start a new DDR tailored to our needs and aspirations. As a Government, we had reached a consensus over the inadequacy of the CPA DDR programme that was not meant to respond to the specific needs of our comrades in the national organized forces. It was also insensitive to the economic realities in Southern Sudan during the CPA transitional period.

One of main success factors for any DDR program according to the international norms and standards is national ownership. I also think that this is not enough unless the process is “nationally owned and led” in order to create a “demand driven” process that responds to the needs and aspirations of our DDR candidates and their communities of returns.  Government leadership of the programme will also ensure the alignment of the DDR programme to the post-conflict country’s socio-political-economic transitional and transformational policies and programmes.

The key imperative and ingredient of a successful DDR programme/process being to draw in, develop, engage and excite the hosting civilian superstructure into accepting the universal need for security-sector harmonization and rationalization without compromising their security/safety needs.

Most importantly though, is to plan, formulate, package and implement the DDR process as an all win-win equation for the two most important stakeholders; the ex-combatants and the hosting civilian communities/population. In other words, DDR is itself a “bottom-up” socio-economic development plan that ensures a mutually reinforcing nexus of security and development. Foreign Investments and other “top down” development interventions are not likely to kick in unless we have a maximum security, social stability and basic working skills for our population.

The lack of national, cultural, social and economic sensitivity has been the bane of many DDR processes and programmes in many post-conflicts had always been a major challenge for a successful DDR to ripe its fruits. This is partly due to a lack of awareness by the donor communities with the local contexts while they insist to implement “one-size-fits-all” type of programme. In many cases in Africa, this flawed approach had led to poor programmatic results and surmounting frustration both among the donor communities themselves and the recipient countries as well. Nevertheless, donors’ contributions remain indispensable to support these complex and costly programmes particularly when post-conflict economies are lacking the sufficient resources to undertake a huge reconstruction agenda where everything is a priority.

In South Sudan, I must hasten to acknowledge and appreciate the support provided by both United Nations-our primary partner, and other bilateral donors to the DDR programme during and even after the CPA period, without which we wouldn’t have been in position to determine our expectations versus the possible means of support by the international community.

For this support, we are immensely grateful and forever indebted to this show of international solidarity.  It is very much appreciated and I, on behalf of the people and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan wish to put on record our deepest gratitude.

In my DDR process/programme experience, I have had to explain, rationalize and articulate the background, context and environment behind the DDR programme, but never have I heard such a poetic and neat exposition as I heard recently from one of my State DDR Directors as to what the Republic of South Sudan DDR is all about.

Referring to the South Sudan as an Eagle, the mighty and beautiful bird that is part of our Country’s new Court of Arms, the Director encapsulated and captured the Republic of South Sudan’s urgent need for a comprehensive DDR process/programme thus, I paraphrase.

‘’ South Sudan is like a thirty-year-old Eagle that must shed its weight (feathers) if it wants to live up to be seventy years old, and must sharpen its talons and its beak to soar high into the sky and live up to be a hundred years old. If it (the Eagle) does not do any of the three things, then, it shall die at thirty years.’’

Unlike many other such articulations and expositions about the DDR that I have heard, indeed, been the author of, in my DDR engagement, implementation and planning; I have never heard a DDR process/programme so poetically articulated and rendered.

The DDR programme in the Republic of South Sudan is indeed about shedding the excess weight (feathers) of the security sector in particular, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) and other national organized forces as they are composed now. They are (feathers) an Albatross on the neck of the country and potentially a mill stone that can, unless, jettisoned sink our new Republic in the murky waters of a security sector behemoth and or monster.

The security sector reforms in our new Republic must as a matter of national security down-size, rationalize and harmonize before we can realistically talk about reaping the Peace Dividend;  that we so earnestly desire and aspire for as a country and as people. There are no two ways about, the choices are few and far between, the die is cast- the Republic of South Sudan must shed off the security sector excess weight, if you like, or the South Sudan Eagle risks the prospect of sinking on its own weight

If the DDR process/programme in South Sudan is not intelligently initiated, planned and implemented, the Eagle could die – a prospect too frightening to contemplate for the people of the Republic of South Sudan, the region and the world at large.

The leadership of the Republic of South Sudan is more than fully aware of the dire consequences of an ill-planned and implemented DDR programme would entail. Further, the leadership is fully committed and determined to mitigating any untoward and unintended ramifications and fully appraised of the risks in such a national undertaking in such a sensitive realm of national  entity and the threat such an undertaking, if haphazardly  implemented without due and particular attention and reckoning.

In the first instance, and of paramount and cardinal importance is to sensitize, inform, educate and endear the DDR process and programme to the first stakeholders, the ex-combatants that this national programme is for their own best and national interests, before seeking the buy-in of the people of the Republic of South Sudan who will be the hosting communities (superstructure and architecture)

In the second instance is to ensure that the Republic of South Sudan, like its Eagle as envisioned in the Court of Arms is well disposed, prepared and empowered to protect the people, the territorial integrity and sanctity of the Motherland that so many millions of our heroes and heroines shed their blood for.

It is a solemn undertaking, pledge and honour;  and if need be, a prize we are ready to pay to ensure that the Eagle of South Sudan will not die at thirty years of age after more than fifty years of Supreme Sacrifice  to gain our Independence and Sovereignty.

The DDR process and programme is the beginning of a new journey for the South Sudan Eagle as it seeks to stay focused, and soaring high in its search for peace, restoring hope, and accelerating socio-political and economic development for its people that they so earnestly deserve that they so earnestly and dearly paid for.

We, at the Republic of South Sudan Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RSSDDRC), the specialised Institution arm of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan are passionate, committed; and determined to do our national duty and honour for the South Sudan Eagle to soar high, and fly and live for a millennium, with our talons and beak sharpened to defend the sovereignty of our Motherland.

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Why the Visit to the Juba Military Hospital Calls for Deeper National Reflection

By

William Deng Deng

Chairperson, RSSDDRC

South Sudan has survived over the years through its citizens sacrificing their lives to defend their rights and for protecting the sovereignty of the new Nation.  The recent border fighting in Heglig is a heroic national duty, supreme sacrifice and testimony to this with many casualties such as the wounded now lying in beds at the SPLA Military Hospital, Juba attest to.Read More..

The wounded heroes were carrying out a national duty that some of their comrades paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives and hence the DDR Commission as part of its national duty and in solidarity to the cause and to support those nursing wounds, organized a visit to the Juba Military Hospital to offer our support and encouragement in what I would call ‘the institution visit’.

My Deputy, Comrade Majur Mayor Machar and I led many staffers from the DDR Commission’s Headquarters to the SPLA Military Hospital on a nice Saturday morning April 28, 2012.  The cool breeze was flowing and the weather was cloudy, combination that naturally set the mood for national reflection, introspection and deep soul-searching. Though the visit was to console, show support and offer moral and material support to our war-wounded, it was also one of happiness.

 

In the ward of Military Officers


However, the happiness vanished as we entered the ward of severely wounded soldiers as the reality, the pain and the horrors of war stared us in the face. Our soldiers narrated to us how the horrific wounds were inflicted upon them by the enemy.   My team and I visited three other wards before we entered into the designated place for military officers who were lying in beds but in high spirits. “Our spirits are high because we believe in the cause”, one of them told us. Finally, we went to the ward of those carrying minor injuries where my little speech was repeatedly interrupted with morale boosting slogans “SPLA Oyee, SPLA Oyee, South Sudan Oyee, South Sudan Oyee”

 

 

Briefing the gathered crowd and the media after the Visit


We ended the visit by holding a briefing session attended by the hospital employees, military personnel, DDR staff, media outlets and the general public. On this briefing session, I handed over DDR staff’s generous gifts of items valued over twelve thousand South Sudanese Pounds (12,000) and a cash donation of ten thousand (10,000 SSP) to the Deputy Director of the military hospital.

After sharing this emotional experience of our brave men and women, I reminded the audience about the urgent need to properly address the violation of South Sudan’s territories. To my mind, the visit to the SPLA Military Hospital calls for deeper national reflection on the way forward, in particular with regard to our security/military and diplomatic engagement, initiatives and negotiations to reflect our new status as an independent sovereign state.

The images of the suffering of these poor wounded soldiers brought back to me very painful emotions, scars and horror scenes from the time most of us served in either Anya-nya 1 or in the SPLA as young soldiers.

Back in the seventies when I was moving around our beloved land on foot, I had never felt the suffering because I had a dream in my heart like all my comrades. We were happy to fight bravely an enemy who insisted to deny our existence and our basic rights as citizens of the Historical Sudan.

Our pride as South Sudanese was our inner energy that kept our flame burning and glaring in the eyes of the ‘Jellabas’ and our leadership was clever and wise enough to bring our cause to the world and step by step was able to make friends who continue to sympathize with our cause. Even among the Arabs, the traditional friends of Khartoum, many countries became more and more convinced that a divorce between the North and the South is merely unavoidable to end this miserable war. Remember, Egypt was the second country to recognize the Republic of South Sudan on July 9, 2011.

Remember too, that Sudan was also the first among the countries who recognized our independence. Have we thought about the economic repercussions of our independence on Sudan and how much they were relying on our Oil? Seemingly, many of us took the easy road of continuing blaming Khartoum while forgetting that we became an independent State with all what this might entail in terms of responsibilities and liabilities towards our African neighbors, our friends and the international community as a whole.

Today, Heglig crisis has revealed some serious shortcomings in the way we deal with our external affairs, particularly the unresolved issues with Khartoum. We have seen how the world has reacted and turned its back on us when we decided to “use our emotions” to resolve our problems.

In the process, we may have over-reacted, perhaps over-reached ourselves and possibly we may have miss-calculated and; perhaps we were pushed into a trap and we need to be more cautious, prudent and diplomatic and take much care next time. Our African brothers, close friends in the West were and are shocked when they see us reacting in such a way that have put all of them in an untenable diplomatic and embarrassing situation, not vis-à-vis Sudan as such, but because they would find themselves, if they continue to support us blindly, in contradiction with the principles of the African Union Constitutive Act and the United Nations Charter, to which the Republic of South Sudan is also a member. Let’s recall some of the principles of the African Union:

  • Respect of borders existing on achievement of independence through such appropriate means as may be decided upon by the Assembly;
  • Prohibition of the use of force or threat to use force among Member States of the Union;
  • Non-interference by any Member State in the internal affairs of another;
  • Peaceful co-existence of Member States and their right to live in peace and security
  • The right of Member States to request intervention from the Union in order to restore peace and security (i.e. The African Union may request the intervention of the UN Security Council since the AU lacks the means to do this)

Until July 8, 2011, only Khartoum was held accountable in front of the African Union to ensure that she respects those principles. But as of July 9, 2011, Juba is also accountable vis-à-vis the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. In other words, WE became “responsible” for ensuring the maintenance of peace and security within our own territories and along our borders. No matter our perception, we are bound and must abide by rules and procedures set in those international instruments. It is true and indisputable that Khartoum continued breaching these international instruments by continuing bombing our territories and by continuing supporting some South Sudanese militias to destabilize our internal security. This is of course part of their strategy to keep us underdeveloped as this will prevent us from adding more investments to develop our oil fields so that we continue relying on them to export our oil.

It is critical and justifiable so that we must protect our territorial integrity, the lives and properties of our citizens and residents in our country, for that is our primary duty and cardinal calling. And indeed, the reason why we fought for over fifty years, lost millions of our people to win our Independence and national pride and dignity as a free united people. This we must do and shall continue do so with all our might, energy and commitment; but we must do so with the benefit of hindsight, foresight, pragmatism and realism for failure to do so would be catastrophic, painful and counter-productive. This is the bitter lesson and truth of our recent past in relation to the border clashes with Sudan. It was an apt lesson on how not engage the international community, our friends and supporters in seeking international diplomatic and political support.

W must guard against being too easily manipulated and provoked to lose our moral, political, diplomatic and military high ground for to do so will lead to the current perception that the people, the government and leadership of the Republic of South Sudan are the aggressors and war-mongers. This perception is not borne out by facts and history or records, but has gained currency perhaps more so because of our failure to engage, explain and locate our diplomatic initiatives and offensive in the realm of real politic both regionally and internationally. We have allowed the Government of Sudan to take the initiative, the offensive and the diplomatic, political and military high ground if not the moral compass, a very saddening prospect that a mutual friend of the people and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan were aghast. He said “you have made President Bashir and his Government look, feel and smell like Angels.”

As we seek to engage the international community in a new diplomatic initiative and offensive under the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations to resolve our differences and disputes with Sudan, we must guard against allowing and leading the international community into believing that we are not worthy of their trust in our negotiations. We must be prudent, cautious, realistic and pragmatic in that what we seek is that which is rightly ours and justifiable; and in the best interests of our people, our struggle, our martyrs, our heroes and heroines and not for any other purpose and or agenda, for to do otherwise would not be tenable.

End of Part One of this Article, the Second Part of this Article which will be published in the next Edition. Note. The views and opinions expressed in this Article are solely the Author’s and do not in any way reflect the official position of the Government and Leadership of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan.

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