29 Oct 2020


"Non-Paper" View On South Sudan Inclusive Political Process

“The international community’s support for an inclusive political process in South Sudan depends on these principles being met..."

In a discussion meeting in London, on Tuesday March 28, organised by “Ghidam – Let’s move forward”, under “South Sudan: Reconciliation and Rebuilding, Prospects for Inclusive Dialogue”, Chris Trott, UK’s Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan, shared the following note:



“Non-Paper on South Sudan and Inclusive Political Processes

This note draws on international best practices to outline the kind of inclusive political process which is needed to reinvigorate the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.


“There is no one-size-fits-all model. In addition, many issues must be determined in consultation with the South Sudanese people.


“However, we can outline the criteria for what we think comprises a constructive inclusive political process or national dialogue.


“The international community’s support for an inclusive political process in South Sudan depends on these principles being met. This support would be sequential and contingent on initial triggers and a positive trajectory. It would be reviewed regularly as the situation on the ground evolves.


“8 Key Principles:


1. A conducive environment is contingent on improved security. All parties to the conflict must respect a cessation of hostilities. Moreover, all parties should ensure humanitarian access. Otherwise, equal participation of all parts of the population is not possible. As a first step, the Government of South Sudan could agree to the freezing of military action in certain areas as a confidence building measure.


2. Safety and freedom of expression of participants is paramount. Without this, it is impossible to create a conducive environment for an inclusive political process. Members of the opposition, human rights defenders and the media are particularly vulnerable. President Kiir in launching his National Dialogue guaranteed the safety of participants. Harassment, detention and intimidation

of opponents, including human rights activists and media, is incompatible with a national dialogue intended to build national consensus. .


3. An inclusive political process must be impartially led. The process will involve multiple levels, from a high-level political process at the national level to dialogues held at state and local levels, which focus more on communities and local grievances. A lead convenor will be vital at the national level to ensure coordination and to drive the process forward at key stages. That convenor can be an individual or an organisation (s), national or international; but must be

credible and able to secure the participation of a wide group of stakeholders.


4. A new inclusive political process must support (not replace) the Peace Agreement. It is for the South Sudanese people to define the specific mandate and goals of such a process. However, it would inevitably address issues of fundamental national concern embodied in ARCSS. As such, it is vital that the guarantors of ARCSS have a clearly defined and agreed role both during the process and in approving the recommendations which emerge from the process. This would help to safeguard the Agreement and prevent manipulation by any parties.


5. An inclusive political process means both including representation from the main conflict parties, and going beyond them to represent wider South Sudanese society. Representatives must include a range of constituencies such as political parties, affiliated and unaffiliated armed groups, refugees, IDPs, organised civil society, youth, women, business, religious, diaspora and tribal elders. Groups can be heavily politicised and even the best selection procedures can be manipulated by power-holders to ensure their control over the process. Correctly balancing who takes part in the process, and how much influence specific groups have, will have a major impact on its legitimacy and success. Legitimacy also rests on ensuring participation means an impact on decision-making.


6. Location matters. We respect the need for this to be a South Sudanese-owned process and that as much of the process should take place inside South Sudan as possible. However, many of the South Sudanese opposition have already stated they would not return to Juba under current conditions. Shuttle diplomacy or locations outside the country easily accessible to a number of participants will be necessary in initial stages to complement activity inside South Sudan.


7. Clarity of rules and preparation is important. The process will be dynamic and evolve over time. A national level process could be more focused around the ARCSS with a smaller, but still representative, set of stakeholders. Other local level processes may be longer-term and aim to both feed into the national level process and to address more localised grievances. There is still a need for a preparatory process which reaches agreement on the overall agenda, mandate and outcomes as well as rules and procedures for dialogue and decision-making.


8. The broader public must be kept informed and be able to feed in throughout the process. It is not enough to have participants who represent key interest groups in discussions. There must also be mechanisms to allow the wider South Sudanese public to be involved in both the local level and national level processes. Delegates can be mandated to hold consultations with the groups that they represent, and provided with support for outreach.”


Note: Panellists were: The Right Reverend Bishop Anthony Poggo (who delivered the keynote), Peter Biar (Founder and Director of Centre for Strategic Analysis and Research), Chris Trott, Sarah Pickwick (Senior Conflict Adviser at World Vision UK) and Dr Pamela Lomoro (Panel Chair, Ghidam Committee). The meeting was at the University of Westminster, London.   

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