Liberal Peacebuilding and the Two Sudans
When South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, its emergence as Africa’s newest nation-state was greeted with enthusiasm throughout much of the world. South Sudanese independence represented, for many, the successful resolution of conflicts that had wracked the region for decades and conformation that international intervention — and the liberal peacemaking processes it imposed from outside—offered the best hope for solving perpetual wars on the continent. “This is a beautiful day for Africa,” glowed President of the UN General Assembly Joseph Deiss. “This is a remarkable achievement, a longstanding conflict has been stopped.”
But the supposed success of the Sudanese peace process was anything but according to John Young, a longtime analyst and researcher of Sudanese politics. In his new book, The Fate of Sudan, Young argues that American-led international interventions over the past decade in Sudan fostered a peacemaking process which created a new state — South Sudan — but failed to address longstanding concerns of those groups excluded from the process. The result, according to Young, were weak authoritarian states in the north and south, a fragile peace between them, very little democracy, and populations in both countries who continue to suffer. Worse still, these problems and the unresolved issues left hanging by the CPA will likely lead to further crises and continuing conflict in the years to come.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Young about his views on the peace process, the flawed theory that undergirds it, alternative approaches that might have produced preferable outcomes, and what he sees as the fate of Sudan.