The Center in South Sudan
In January 2011, South Sudan held a peaceful and transparent referendum to decide between unity or independence from the central government of Sudan as called for by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the country’s decades-long civil war in 2005. The result of the referendum, according to the South Sudan Referendum Commission, was 98.8% in favor of separation. South Sudan officially declared independence on July 9, 2011, and a transitional constitution was ratified. The President has recently appointed a drafting commission, which will write a permanent constitution over the course of the next several years.
The Center’s South Sudan program consists of three primary goals:
- We advised the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs of South Sudan during the Transitional Constitution drafting process.
- We will support the government of South Sudan during the permanent constitutional drafting process.
- We will help empower women’s organizations to participate in the constitutional process.
The Transitional Constitution
In Summer 2011, Center personnel went to South Sudan to advise the new Government during the drafting of their Transitional Constitution. We drafted a memorandum which provided comments on the Transitional Constitution, addressing a series of issues relating to the concentration of executive power. The memorandum was circulated to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and to the leadership of the Parliament. We also met with the Speaker and Legal Counsel of the Parliament to discuss the issues raised in the memorandum.
During the drafting of the Transitional Constitution, Center personnel worked with the Directorate of Legislative Affairs of South Sudan to help monitor the drafting process and produce reports which captured the proceedings.
A Speakers’ Forum convened in June 2011, bringing together members of state legislatures and the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs at state level to discuss governance during the transitional period. Center personnel worked with the Directorate of Legislative Affairs to convene the forum and report on it, and also worked with individual state legislators as they were thinking through their recommendations for the Transitional Constitution. A final report of the forum’s proceedings and recommendations was circulated to the state legislators and government officials in Juba.
The Permanent Constitution
Center personnel have been asked by the South Sudanese Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs to write a white paper on various constitutional aspects of governance after the transitional period, in order to inform their decision-making. The white paper is currently in progress. We have also been invited to meet with the Chairman of the drafting commission.
The Center has been invited to meet and work with women’s organizations in South Sudan to help them advocate effectively for constitutional provisions to promote gender equity. We expect to travel to South Sudan early in 2013 to work on these projects.