In need of a critical re-think: Security sector reform in South Sudan

Release date: 2016-09

Past attempts at security sector reform (SSR) and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) in South Sudan have made no significant contribution to ‘right-sizing’ the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and were unable to sustainably change South Sudan’s security apparatus. Taking into account lessons learned from previous DDR and SSR attempts, this Working Paper provides hints as to what the key aspects are that need to be re-considered to improve on security sector transformation in South Sudan. The authors argue that DDR and SSR, if not reinvented and reconsidered in a more radical way, are very unlikely to lead to significant change. The government of South Sudan (GoSS), and the SPLA and SPLA In Opposition (SPLA-IO) in particular, continue to function as highly centralized patronage systems. The country’s military is used as a tool to secure the position of key individuals, advance the interest of particular ethnic groups, and to bring wealth and status to their members. Without breaking these patronage networks and addressing the power nodes, any attempt at security sector transformation will be bound to fail.