SSR-RC Blog Archive

Switching Gears from Concepts to Implementation: Defence Transformation in South Sudan By: Stephanie Blair | South Sudan | Dec 14, 2012

The South Sudan is a creation of decades of violent conflict spearheaded by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). This new country is defined by this struggle for liberation. In the last three years, the world’s newest country has managed an election, a referendum and celebrated its independence. As a result, it is a highly militarised society where the SPLA is the main (strongest) pillar of government.

Efforts to support defence transformation have been done in a highly politicised, complex and competitive environment, overshadowed by unresolved tensions with Sudan and oil revenues not yet realised. Yet, much has been achieved. There are now policies and documents in place that set out the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) transformation path. This has been a very clearly defined period of conceptual development for the organs of national security, including the Ministry of Defence and Veteran’s Affairs (MODVA), the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS).

Yet, it is also clear that this phase has come to an end and the GRSS is moving into a new phase to implement these policies, continuing its defence development and transformation.

It is clear that the defence pillar is far ahead of other security actors, including the police, parliament specialised committees and civil society organizations capable of providing oversight and accountability. A countrywide consultation phase will soon discuss the draft National Security Policy. However, there is not yet a formally constituted national security architecture. South Sudan has not yet debated on what national security model they wish to implement. The main reference point for this issue is the Constitution, which currently conflates national security with national intelligence functions.

Questions and challenges still remain. Should international efforts continue to support defence transformation? Or should support for this fledgling state switch to a human security focus, tackling wider insecurity that plagues everyday life?

Stephanie Blair is a Senior Associate at the Security Governance Group

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