Cross-border peace markets, 1990-2005


Cross Border Peace Committees/Markets, 1990-2005

Project Summary

Community initiated and managed Joint-Border Peace Markets and Joint Border Courts along the n0w Sudan-South Sudan border.

Problem Addressed

Lack of peaceful coexistence between communities on either side of the SAF-SPLA conflict line; inter-community divisions exacerbated by the first and second war; lack of access to trade and commodities; need for peaceful migration of livestock.


Northern Bahr al Ghazal (Abien-thou, Warawar, Majok Yinh-Thoiu, Rum Aker, Gok Machar), Abyei/Warrap (Agok, Turalei), Unity (Mayom, Pariang).

Key Communities

Dinka (Ngok, Malual, Panaru), Nuer (Bul, Leek), Misseriya Ajaira (particulary Awlad Kamil, Awlad Omran, Mezagna), Rezeigat (East Darfur), Fellata.


1990- ongoing

Other actors

Joint Peace Committees, SSRRA, SPLA, SAF

Dinka and Misseriya

Project Description

In 1990-1991, following years of devastating conflict and displacement in the border regions, a number of border communities from both sides of the conflict lines came together and agreed rules for trade and peaceful livestock migration. The agreements tended to have the following characteristics:

  • A civilian managed and weapon-free joint market.
  • A security guarantee from local military authorities.
  • A Joint-Border Court composed of senior traditional leaders from all communities, tasked with settling issues that arise involving members of different communities.

The initiative was fully led and owned by communities and demonstrates that when cross-line communities recognise their own mutual interests are stronger than those that divide them, it can be possible to cooperate and build strong relationships.

Key Lessons

Community-led people-2-people dialogue processes can result in powerful relationships that break conflict cycles.

Local peace processes require implemented security guarantees from military forces if they are to avoid returning to conflict.

Trade and access to resources can be strong connectors rather than dividers.

International support must be provided carefully not to disrupt balanced local initiatives.

South Sudanese conflicting communities do not necessarily have good information about each other. This can be a barrier to progress.

Traditional justice mechanisms can be adapted to suit local needs during nationally led conflicts.

Quotes from People Involved

“Our peace was made in 1991 under this tree between Malual and Misseriya and it has been cemented by the blood of both our communities, and we still meet here under this tree in our Joint Court - Sultan Deng Luol, Chairperson, Joint Peace Committee, Warawar

“We agreed rules for the migration and trade and as long as these are adhered to we will all have peace- Rizeigat Peace Committee member, Gok Machar

What's Next?

In 2016, Peace Markets and Joint Peace Committees are active in Northern Bahr al Ghazal, Unity and Upper Nile states.

They are strongest in Northern Bahr al Ghazal where the state government has since independence used all its organs to guarantee the community agreements and where external actors have done much to resource the activities.

In Unity State, markets at Mayom, Abiemnom and Pariang have been running though conflict related interruptions are common.

In Upper Nile State the establishment of the new state of South Sudan undermined existing formal cooperation between State Government structures now in two different countries, which had knock on effects to activities such as vaccination. The conflict in South Sudan has taken a terrible toll on community arrangements for peaceful coexistence.

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