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A view of the graduation ceremony for 493 newly trained police officers, former Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers, trained with the assistance of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). UN Photo/Tim McKulka

SSR Country Snapshot: South Sudan

South Sudan is a newly formed, low income state under stress.  Security sector reforms started in 2005. -


SSR Snapshot: Table of Contents

1. SSR Summary

2. Key Dates

3. Central SSR Programs/Activities

4. Key Funding Commitments

5. Major International Donors

6. Major Civil Society Stakeholders

7. Key Domestic Government Actors

8. Central Challenges

9. For More Information


1. SSR Summary

In addition to ongoing tensions with the Sudan, the legacy of the conflict with the North, which is said to have claimed at least 1.5 million lives, has left the newly established South Sudan and its population of approximately 8.2 million with widespread poverty, inequality and poor infrastructure.

While the conflict seemingly came to an end with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) on January 9, 2005, tensions with the North and general insecurity persists.  In 2011, in accordance with the CPA, the January 2011 referendum resulted in an overwhelming vote in favour (nearly 98 percent) of independence which was formally declared on July 9 2011.

Since 2005, South Sudan has embarked on a widespread security sector reform (SSR) process.  Key priorities include: improve police training and performance, improve oversight of the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), demobilization and/or integration of former combatants into the army, justice sector reform and the provision of basic security.

While tremendous progress has been made to date, South Sudan remains heavily dependent on the international community and donor funding.  On the ground the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which replaced the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in 2011, remains the principal actor guiding and supporting SSR activities in the country.  In addition to the UN and it various organs, the World Bank and various development agencies have also provided funding for a number of SSR related programs.  Additionally, in 2012 a new disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) program was established under the South Sudan DDR Commission, with the initial target of 4,500 ex-combatants to be demobilized in the first quarter of 2012 (SSDDRC 2011).  However, if the target of a total force strength of no more than 120,000 is to be reached by 2017, as many as 90,000 combatants may need to be demobilized making DDR among the chief components of the overall SSR process in South Sudan. 

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2. Key Dates:

  • Signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (January 9, 2005) ending the second Sudanese civil-war.
  • Referendum on Independence (January 2011), 98 percent voted in favour.
  • Official declaration of independence (July 9, 2011).

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3. Central SSR Programs/Activities:

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS): Established in 2005 and was responsible for police training and DDR in South Sudan.  Following the referendum, UNMIS ceased its operations on July 9 2011, the same day South Sudan declared independence.

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS): UNMISS replaced UNMIS in 2011 and has since been extended until 2013 with an operational budget of (1 July 2012 - 30 June 2013) of US$876,160,800.

The Justice and Security Sectors Advisory and Coordination Cell (JSSACC): Established in February 2010 in cooperation with the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI). The JSSACC’s primary function is to provide policy guidance to UN actors involved in the justice and security sector.

National DDR Coordination Council (NDDRCC) and South Sudan DDR Commission (SSDDRC) (See below): Government bodies that oversee disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR)  in South Sudan. The primary actor in the DDR process in South Sudan is the UN through UNMISS and the UNDP.  Phase 1 of Demobilization began in 2009 and was completed in 2011 under the UN Mission on Sudan (UNMIS) with a total of 12,525 demobilized (UNMISS, 2013).  Phase 2 which begun in 2012, is expected to have a total caseload of 150,000 “SPLA 80,000 and organized forces 70,000 (UNMISS, 2013).” The target for the first quarter of 2012 was the demobilisation of 4,500 ex-combatants.

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4. Key Funding Commitments:

  • UNMISS Operational Budget (1 July 2012 - 30 June 2013) of US$876,160,800 (UNMISS, 2013).
  • The DFID 2009-2012 Peace-building Program for South Sudan had a total budget of £5.5 million, and addressed the following areas:
    • Civilian peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution
    • Reintegration and SALW control
    • Security system management and reform
    • Child soldiers (prevention and demobilization) (DFID, 2012).
  • The DFID (2009-2013) Security Sector Development & Defence Transformation has a total budget of £16,778,245 which as of late 2012 - £14,296,761 has been spent.  The stated purpose of the project is to transform the SPLA into an affordable, professional, disciplined army operating under and accountable to democratic civil control, and to support development of broader civilian GoSS security decision-making architecture (DFID, 2013).
  • World Bank- Multi-Donor Trust Fund for South Sudan is a project of thirteen donor states and the World Bank with a total of $541 million which as of March 2012, over 90% has been dispersed.  While the Trust Fund has been spent on a variety of activities and sectors, the security sector has received $37 million USD and state and peace building activities have received an additional $12 million USD (World Bank, 2012).

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5. Major International Donors:

  • The World Bank (WB)
  • United Nations (UN)
  • Joint Donor Team (JDT)
  • Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF)
  • Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA)
  • Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  • Norway (Norway- South Sudan)
  • Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)
  • Department for International Development (DFID)
  • The European Union (EU)
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • German Development Service (DED)
  • German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
  • Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID)

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6. Major Civil Society Stakeholders:

Since at least 2005, civil society in South Sudan has been growing and has received significant attention and assistance from donors.  In 2011, the “First South Sudan Civil Society Convention” took place in Juba, which saw the creation of the South Sudan Civil Society Alliance (SSCSA) – the first umbrella NGO/civil society organization in the country (FSS Civil Society Convention, 2011).

However, in spite of this progress, Journalists and human rights advocates/groups still regularly face significant levels of harassment, intimidation and unlawful detentions (UN, 2012).  A few notable civil society actors in South Sudan include:

Justice Africa, The Civil Project (2012-2013)Justice Africa’s Civil Project in South Sudan aims “to strengthen South Sudanese peace and democratic processes through the engagement, support, and promotion of civil society.”  To achieve this, the program focuses its attention on the creation of pluralism, democracy, accountability, social justice, rule of law and human rights, “in order to build a coalition of civil forces in South Sudan that can promote and defend this agenda and pave the way to long term peace” (Justice Africa, 2013)

The National Democratic Institute (NDI)Since 2004 the NDI has been active in both Sudan and South Sudan and receives significant support and assistance from USAID.  From 2004 until 2011, the NDI primarily focused on the brokering of the CPA followed by the implementation of the agreement and the holding of the 2011 referendum.  From 2012 until present, USAID comtinutes to partner with NDI and its partners to “ strengthen citizen-government cooperation; improve citizen participation to positively engage government in key political and democratic processes such as the development of a permanent constitution; strengthen public awareness of democratic principles and processes; and strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to engage with communities, government officials and other key stakeholders in advancing peace-building and democratic processes” (NDI, 2013).

New Sudanese Indigenous NGOs Network (NESI Network)Active in the North and South, the NESI is a network made up of 67 local member organizations which operate in a number of sectors in South Sudan. NESI aims to strengthen the role of civil society in political processes by: Building effective networks; Strengthening the Network’s members; Pooling financial and human resources; and providing a focus for civil society in areas such as human rights, advocacy, and conflict based on natural resources. NESI works to involve civil society in the peace process and advocates for a greater role for civil society in decision-making processes.

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7. Key Domestic Government Actors:

Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs: Responsible for ensuring security over South Sudan’s territory, and for ensuring external security.  A fifteen point list detailing the specific priorities can be found on the Defence Ministry’s website.

Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA): After independence was declared in 2011, the SPLA became the regular army of the South Sudan state.

Ministry of Justice: Currently the Ministry of Justice has a number of ongoing projects including: the establishment of the Institute for Legal Studies, the establishment of the Customary Law Center, an Assessment Study of ten states to identify training and staffing needs for both legal counsels and support staff, and the establishment of a Law Library.

Ministry of Interior: Responsible for the provision of internal security.  The Ministry oversees: the police, prison system, fire brigade, private security actors, and the issuing of firearm licenses.  The specific functions of the Ministry of Interior are highlighted in a seventeen point outline on the Ministry’s website.

Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA 2005): Outlined two main national bodies to manage DDR processes in South Sudan.  The National DDR Coordination Council (NDDRCC) and the South Sudan DDR Commission (SSDDRC).  For their formal structure, the SSDDRC is guided by the vice-president and is responsible for day to day operations.  The NDDRCC is primarily responsible for “policy formulation, oversight, review, coordination and evaluation” (GoSS, 2012).

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8. Central Challenges:

Significant tensions remain between the North and South on a number of issues, most notably in the oil rich and disputed territories dividing the two states.  In particular, the disputed region of Abyei remains a significant political issue and a strong potential catalyst for the outbreak of armed conflict between the North and South.

In the security sector, the South Sudan justice system is widely cited as in need of strong reforms.  For example, a Human Rights Watch report in June 2012 characterized the South Sudan justice system as being marked by “flawed processes, unlawful detentions, and dire conditions” which “…reflect the urgent need to improve the new nation’s fledgling justice system” (HRW, 2012).

On the ground, the DDR of ex-combatants remains an incomplete, if not slow, process.  If the target of a total force strength of no more than 120,000 for the SPLA is to be reached by 2017, as many as 90,000 ex-combatants may need to be demobilized.

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9. For More Information:

Snowden, John A (2012) “Work in Progress: Security Force Development in South Sudan through February 2012” Small Arms Survey, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.

A 56-page document analyzing the development of security decision-making structures and the evolution of the security forces, in particular the South Sudan army (SPLA) and South Sudan Police Service (SSPS).

The Stimson Center (2012) “UN Police, Justice and Corrections Programming in South Sudan a Compact Case Study” Stimson Center, Washington DC.

This short case study examines the current state of police and justice reforms and includes useful information on the relevant terms of the CPA, Security Council decisions, the current political situation and coordination between donors.

Reeve, Richard (2012) “Peace and Conflict Assessment of South Sudan 2012” International Alert, London.

This 78-page report was commissioned by Pact and funded by the UK Department for International Development and is an assessment of conflict and peace-building in South Sudan, conducted between June 2011 and March 2012. It analyzes how the end of the six-and-a-half-year formal Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) process with Sudan has impacted peace and conflict in 2011–2012 and going forward.

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If you notice any information that needs to be updated in this SSR Country Snapshot, please let us know at [email protected].