United Nations Peacekeeping in South Sudan

Oct 1, 2019 – Dongkeon Kim

  • Abstract and source of information
  • Background of South Sudanese civil war
  • United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
  • Factors that prolong dispute
  • Ways to use this resource effectively

Abstract and source of information

This article will provide some thought for students to understand UN’s effort to provide human security in South Sudan. This is not only limited to personal security, but also food security, health security, and etc.
This can be used as a study material for community and individual, mostly to those who have interest in International Relations: Liberalism theorists, and Conflict Resolution theorists.
Also, words are put in very simplified form, which could be easily accessible for middle to high school education.

What to expect from learning:
– Students can use this resource to learn about the impact of UN efforts on human security in conflict zones. It can also be an opportunity to study and broaden their thinking of how to approach long-standing conflicts despite UN intervention.
– Recognizing that conflict resolution does not end with an act of making a peace agreement, further efforts should be made to understand the root cause of the problem and present new directions to resolve the conflict.
– They must understand the other types of human security and human needs in conflicting area, further researches are recommended.

Resources used for this article
한국국방연구원 (Korea Institute for Defense Analyses)- http://www.kida.re.kr/index.do
United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)-

South Sudanese Civil war

In South Sudan, two years after independence, civil war began as a result of power struggles between leaders, which is leading to the present. South Sudan’s president and vice president, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, were leaders of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) who led the struggle for independence.
After the independence, Machar, who remained in the second position, often threatened President Kiir’s power. And President Kiir’s preemptive action was the beginning of the conflict. On July 23, 2013, President Kiir accused the entire cabinet, including Vice President Machar for attempt of coup d’état.
On December 14, 2013, during the SPLM National Liberation Council meeting, a conflict broke out between Salva Kiir’s followers and Vice President Riek Machar’s followers. The next day, a high-intensity war broke out near the presidential forces and dozens died.
However, contrary to the Kiir administration’s intentions, the conflict of leadership spread across South Sudan. President Kiir is the Dinka, the largest tribe in South Sudan (15% of the population), and the former Vice-President of Mazar is the Nuer, the second largest tribe (10% of the population).

United Nations Mission in South Sudan

UNMISS’ objective is to consolidate peace and security, and help establish conditions for development in the Republic of South Sudan, with a view to strengthening the capacity of the Government of  South Sudan to govern effectively and democratically and establish good relations with its neighbours.

UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) / https://unmiss.unmissions.org

Personal security
UN peacekeeping troops and civilian police personnel are deployed to promote safe movement of population in their community. More broadly, UNMISS work to protect civilians, create conditions conducive to aid delivery and both monitor and investigate human rights abuses.
Food security
UN Food and Agricultural Organization (UNFAO) distributes seeds, tools for planting, and fishing kits. They also provide food vouchers that can be exchanged at market, improving access to nutritious foods.
Health security
UNMISS peacekeepers work to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance, such as food, clean water, shelter and healthcare.

To look for more information,

Factors that prolong dispute

There are many interpretations about South Sudan issue, but here are some examples of factors that prolong the dispute.
(1) With over 20 years of experience in the struggle for liberation with the Sudanese government, both sides believe that negotiating condition for political resolution is achievable if opponent is exhausted.
(2) The proliferation and distribution of small weapons has created tendency to depend on violence for problem solving.

Despite the fact that there are continuous effort of signing a peace agreement, the biggest problem is that sporadic engagements are leading to creation of refugee, famine, and ethnic retaliation. Since South Sudan is firmly concerned with the issue of national sovereignty, even UNMISS efforts to monitor and implement peace agreements are limited by the South Sudan’s refusal and restriction.

Ways to use this resource effectively

In fact, it is very common in Africa that disputes emerge from the power struggles become conflict between ethnic groups. A small dispute between the powers that resulted from the conflict of interests promotes division by race and religion, leading to bloodshed among civilians, which expands and reproduces endless hatred and violence.
The South Sudan case is a notable study in that it illustrates the problems that African countries face in their development after decolonization and independence. If so, we can raise more specific questions in terms of peacekeeping.

To educator or advocate seeking to use this resource:
– This article only informs short summary of South Sudanese Civil war and UNMISS’ mandate to this crisis. Hence take the information provided here to acknowledge the issue and what has been deployed to mediate the situation. If you are willing to explore and learn about South Sudanese Civil war, they have very complicated and ongoing dispute, and you can find decent amount of resources online.
– You may share this to your students or colleagues to raise some questions or make debate. And here are some recommended questions:
▶ Does military dispatch help create peace?
▶ What are the limitation of UN?
▶ What is human security, and why is it so important?

Author and references of photo used
Dongkeon Kim (Student in Global Affairs B.A., George Mason University)
This research has been made for the course lectured by Professor Romano [https://scar.gmu.edu/profile/view/11531]