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O'Brien, Adam. 2009 ‘Executive Summary.’ Shots in the Dark: The 2008 South Sudan Civilian Disarmament Campaign; Working Paper No. 16, p. 10. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. 1 January

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Executive Summary

Despite the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), insecurity remains pervasive and multifaceted in South Sudan. Pastoralists continue to clash over cattle and access to resources. Relations among ethnic groups have become politicized, fracturing the diverse demographic landscape with mistrust and competition. After decades of war and proxy arming by all sides, firearm ownership is widespread.

Struggling to transform itself from a rebel movement to a representative government and civilian-controlled army, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) has been slow to consolidate control and deliver a peace dividend. The army suffers from a lack of command and control over poorly disciplined soldiers, who are periodically a source of grievance to the people they are tasked to defend. Courts and customary chiefs lack capacity to mediate disputes. Local security forces are under-equipped and stretched thin. The market for small arms thrives with strong demand and supply, undermining stability and threatening the fragile peace.

As part of its campaign to consolidate its power and improve security, the GoSS has from time to time engaged in civilian disarmament. During the first half of 2006 the SPLA conducted a forcible civilian disarmament operation in northern Jonglei State that collected 3,000 weapons. But the campaign was ethnically focused (on the Lou Nuer) and politically motivated, not based on community-level security dynamics. The approach was militaristic, poorly planned, and included few security guarantees. For these reasons, some of the target community rebelled and more than 1,600 lives were lost in the ensuing battle. The Jonglei campaign turned into one of the bloodiest military actions in South Sudan since the end of the second civil war and failed to improve long-term security.

[GoSS = Government of South Sudan; SPLA = Sudan People's Liberation Army]

ID: Q5203

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