South Sudan

A Promising Peace Deal Reached in South Sudan

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When small, politically defined areas break away from larger nations or controlling empires, the process often involves simmering unrest that eventually spills over into violent conflict.

Depending on the reaction of the “parent” entity, the disaffection may be resolved and the smaller party brought back into the fold. Or the rebellion may be crushed and the participants jailed or prosecuted.

Often, simmer turns to boil, attempts at resolution fail, and the two sides find themselves in the midst of a war that ends if and when the smaller entity prevails and establishes its independence.

But typically, within a generation, the newly independent nation becomes embroiled in civil conflict as different factions strive to put their own stamp on the new national identity. How will the nation’s army be established and led? How will its government be structured? How will its constitution or charter be drafted?

A form of this common pattern has played out in South Sudan, currently seven years old and the world’s newest nation. In 2013, soon after establishing its sovereignty, the new government tumbled from disagreement to deadly violence. Thousands were killed during this period and four million were displaced, half of whom fled the country into the neighboring states of Sudan and Uganda.

The Khartoum-based peace negotiations taking place at the end of this violent era have been largely facilitated and supported by several entities, including the governments of these two neighbor countries, the UN, and the East African Regional Body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

On Sunday, a major breakthrough in the peace process occurred, with President Salva Kiir and his chief rival, Riek Machar, signing a deal alongside members of other opposition factions.

As explained by David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Mr. Kiir will retain his position while Mr. Machar will be named the first of five vice-presidents.

Residents of Juba, the capital city where the deal was reached, celebrated in the streets on Sunday night. This weekend marks the end of five years of brutal conflict and a major turning point in the development of the new nation. Learn more here and join us as we follow these unfolding events.


A State-Owned Oil Company Funding Violent Action in South Sudan

As anxiety grows in the United States and across Europe related to conflicts of interest in government, rising authoritarian power structures, challenges to checks and balances, and concerns about corporate intrusion into policy decisions, we sometimes make note of a connection or a potential lever of influence and wonder if such a lever can be easily pulled, and by whom. Can a corporate CEO join an advisory commission and persuade policy makers to deregulate his or her own industry? Can a high- profile political leader maintain influence and ownership in a private business? Can CEOs alter their business strategy based on the political climate of the times?

Recent events suggest that all of these can and sometimes do happen. How the global community responds will depend on the specifics of the situation, but for now, we present the question of the moment: can state-owned private company channel revenue into a military organization or private militia? And what circumstances facilitate this kind of corruption?


South Sudan

On July 9th, 2011, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation after seceding from Sudan, and its leaders faced a series of immediate challenges, including development needs and a difficult recovery from 50 years of almost continuous conflict. At that point, South Sudan lacked formal institutions and a tested and proven policy-making structure, but it had (and still has) the benefit of significant oil wealth. Very soon after independence, as often happens in newly-established nations, South Sudan became mired in a civil conflict that has placed its development and economic future in peril.

As of this year, new reports suggest that a state-owned oil company is now being leveraged to fund this ongoing civil war. The company, called Nile Petroleum, appears to be handing over funds to politicians, military officials, and companies owned by these people and their family members. Approximately $80 million of these funds, specifically between 2014 and 2015, have been used to arm and finance a private militia that is not only perpetuating the nation’s civil war, but may be committing war crimes and atrocities as well.

According to The Sentry, the respected investigative group that produced the reports, the most expedient way to stop these atrocities is by convincing the United States and the European Union to cut off the fund recipients’ access to international banks and foreign currency. As long as government leaders can siphon oil company funds into offshore accounts, they can continue to use these funds for personal gain. 

Contact us to learn more about the state of South Sudan and what may be gained and lost as this conflict plays out and more detail emerges regarding the relationship between the newly established government and the country’s oil sector.