Peace- and Nation-Building

Fostering peace and human security through inclusive governance, dialogue and reconciliation

In South Sudan, December 2016 marked the three-year anniversary of a civil war in which tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions have been displaced, half the population has become severely food-insecure, and the economy approached virtual collapse. The war was initially prompted by a struggle over power within the ruling SPLM/A. However, it has since developed into a complex mix of intertwined conflicts rooted in land disputes and access over grazing areas for cattle, deep tensions over ethnicity and identity, and growing competition over resources and power at the centre. A peace agreement brokered by the regional Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) and signed by the main warring parties in August 2015 has failed to bring stability. Meanwhile, a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU), formed in early 2016, faces a major crisis of legitimacy after one of its key constituents declared the resumption of hostilities in the aftermath of renewed fighting in the capital Juba in July 2016.

Through the Human Security Division (HSD) and SDC, Switzerland is committed to pursuing its peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan. In light of recurrent crises and continued fragility, it has adopted a flexible approach focusing on the following key areas:

(1) Foster spaces for genuine and inclusive dialogue:

  • HSD supports the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) in rolling out its Action Plan for Peace (APP). SSCC is widely perceived as central to South Sudanese peacebuilding processes. It engages a wide range of actors in discussions to define a peaceful vision for the country, be it behind closed doors or in public consultations with communities. 
  • HSD also works closely with traditional authorities. In a country where the Government continues to face major difficulties reaching communities, traditional authorities will continue to play a key role in governance, justice, conflict mitigation and service delivery at the local level.

(2) Where possible, support viable and equitable options towards nation-building:

  • Switzerland provides expertise and support to broader efforts related to governance, accountability, reconciliation and nation-building. This includes participation in discussions related to the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH); collaboration with relevant UN agencies working on combating impunity in South Sudan; and academic and civil society debates on constitutional reform, governance, and federalism for example.

(3) Ensure greater conflict sensitivity among donors and implementing partners intervening in South Sudan:

  • Switzerland recognises that long-standing assistance in South Sudan has sometimes had limited effect. In some cases, the work of the international community has fed into the conflict. Switzerland is committed to ensuring that its interventions in South Sudan do not cause harm, and conflict sensitivity is one of its core principles of engagement. To further underline this commitment, Switzerland supports a multi-donor initiative (CSRF) intended to bring greater conflict sensitivity into our work.