Trade and markets in weak states are often discussed in relation with violence, security and peace-building. A case in point are marketplaces in the Sudan-South Sudan borderlands where communities separated by insecurity and hostility meet, not only to trade but also to negotiate and exchange information. This does not imply that establishment of such markets automatically results in peace and stability. Based on new empirical research on the Amieth market in Abyei – an area contested by the two Sudans – the author argues that such markets rely on security guarantees negotiated between a set of heterogenous societal groups and that the overall impact of such border markets is largely determined within a context of hybrid security governance. The conclusion emphasises that without a proper analysis of this context, external assistance to such borderland markets might just as well enable violent conflict actors as being a tool for peace-building.
Editorial Board member of the Centre for Peace and Development (CPDS) Journal, University of Juba, South Sudan.