The 2018 South Sudanese Peace Agreement: A Litmus Test of Coercive Mediation

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The signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (RARCSS) in September 2018 raised debate not only about its added value to the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) but also the effectiveness of style of mediation pursued by mediators. Although there are divergent views on whether the RARCSS will deliver sustainable peace or reach the same fate of ARCSS, these views can be grouped into realists and idealists. While realists see RARCSS as practical way to end the enormous suffering faced by the people of South Sudan, the idealists see RARCSS as a “bad peace,” as it fails to address the root causes of conflict that may be a recipe for another cycle of violence. Between these two extreme views of realists and idealists are the middle ground group “idealism with realism” that sees opportunity in transforming this “bad peace” into “good peace” by working from within and creating space for civicness in governance rather than continuing with armed opposition or non-violent diplomatic opposition.

In assessing these expectations and views, the article attempts to review the RARCSS with provocative question of whether ARCSS has been revitalized or deadened and whether RARCSS will be sustainable as it was concluded through coercive mediation. These two questions can be adequately answered by comparing the process, the content and the outcomes of RARCSS in relation to ARCSS and the 2005 Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The article is organized into five sections, including this introduction section. The analysis of the process of RARCSS is presented in Section 2, while its content is discussed in Section 3. The outcomes of RARCSS are presented in Section 4, while main conclusions for finding a common ground between idealists and realists are discussed in Section 5.

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Luka Biong Deng

Director Centre for Peace and Development Studies, at University of Juba, South Sudan
Luka Biong Deng (DPhil) is professor of practice for security studies at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. He specializes in national security strategy development, the security-development nexus, and security sector reforms. He is currently conducting research on the links between migration, food security, conflicts and youth in Africa; the link between military expenditure, military professionalism, human security, development and conflict in Africa; and the devolution of the security-development nexus to the national level in Africa.

Dr. Kuol is a global fellow at Peace Research Institute Oslo and a fellow at Rift Valley Institute. He is also South Sudan Alumni Ambassador of the Institute of Development Studies in the United Kingdom.

Prior to joining the Africa Center, Dr. Kuol served as director of the Centre for Peace and Development Studies and associate professor of economics at the College of Social and Economic Studies at the University of Juba in South Sudan. He was also on the teaching staff of the Faculty of Economics and Rural Development at the University of Gezira in Sudan. He was a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Development Studies in the United Kingdom. He served as Minister of Presidential Affairs for the Government of Southern Sudan and as National Minister of Cabinet Affairs for the Republic of Sudan. He has also worked as a senior economist for the World Bank in Southern Sudan.

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