Land Reform and Conflict in South Sudan: Evidence from Yei River County

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Following South Sudanese independence in 2011, land reform became a major aspect of state building, partly to address historical injustices
and partly to avoid future conflicts around land. In the process, land became a trigger for conflicts, sometimes between communities with
no histories of “ethnic conflict.” Drawing on cases in two rural areas in Yei River County in South Sudan, this paper shows that contradictions in the existing legal frameworks on land are mainly to blame for those conflicts. These contradictions are influenced, in turn, by the largely top-down approach to state building, which has tended to neglect changes in society and regarding land resulting from colonialism and civil wars.

Peter Justin

PhD Student, African Studies Centre at Leiden University, the Netherlands
Peter Justin (born in Yei – South Sudan), is a PhD candidate in the ‘Grounding Land Governance’ Programme, a collaborative effort of the Africa Studies Centre Leiden, the Faculty of Development Studies of the University of Science and Technology in Mbarara, Uganda, the Centre for International Conflict Analysis and Management at the Radboud University, Nijmegen, Wageningen Disaster Studies, and a series of other institutes and NGOs.

Within this programme, Peter is responsible for the research project in Southern Sudan. He investigates how land reforms and decentralization on land governance in Southern Sudan is being implemented in a context where the state has been largely absent in the past. His research explores how decentralization develops in the interaction between the emerging land governance by the state and ongoing local land governance processes. The project includes a combination of ethnographic and action researches.

Peter Justin has been involved in a number of action researches in Southern Sudan under the project “Oil and Peace in Sudan”, a collaborative project of IKV Pax Christi, The European Coalition on Sudan and the Sudan Council of Churches. Prior to that, he has been working for different Research Institutions, including Upper Nile University in Sudan.

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