Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
O'Brien, Adam. 2009 ‘Executive Summary.’ Shots in the Dark: The 2008 South Sudan Civilian Disarmament Campaign; Working Paper No. 16, p. 11. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. 1 January
Two years after the Jonglei campaign, on 22 May 2008 GoSS president Salva Kiir issued an Operational Order (equivalent to an executive decree or directive) calling for comprehensive civilian disarmament across all ten states in South Sudan. Supported by the SPLA, state governors were tasked with collecting all civilian weapons within a six-month window that closed on 30 November. If fully implemented, it would have been the largest such exercise ever conducted in South Sudan, involving thousands of soldiers with a completely open mandate and an authorization to use force in response to non-compliance.
Based on fieldwork in five states, this Working Paper reviews how President Kiir's order was implemented between June and November 2008, and provides a preliminary assessment of some of its security impacts. The absence of robust baseline security indicators in many states and the paucity of data collected by the main actors limit the number of conclusions that can be drawn.
This Working Paper is thus intended as a snapshot of an ongoing process that captures the core dynamics of civilian disarmament and outlines future trajectories.
Key findings include the following:
- The disarmament campaign was poorly planned, highly decentralized, and inadequately supported by the GoSS. Lacking an overarching policy or clear legal framework, implementation was erratic and outcomes widely diverse. Five out of the ten states largely ignored the directive. State officials in Warrap reported that 15,000 weapons were collected, but it has not been confirmed that all of these weapons were obtained during the June–November period. No other states where research was conducted have formally announced yet how many arms were amassed.
[GoSS = Government of South Sudan; SPLA = Sudan People's Liberation Army]