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 appointed a drafting commission to write a permanent constitution.
Since independence, South Sudan has been involved in a civil war with at least seven armed groups who accuse the government of plotting to stay in power indefinitely and not fairly representing all tribes. Despite a a ceasefire agreement, signed in January 2014, the fighting continues with catastrophic consequences for the people of South Sudan.
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 supported the government of South Sudan during the permanent constitution drafting process, and will continue to work with parties seeking democratic reform during the peace negotiations and constitution drafting process.
- We will help empower women’s organizations to participate in the constitutional process.
The Transitional Constitution
In Summer 2011, Center personnel traveled to South Sudan to advise the legislative committee overseeing the drafting process for the Transitional Constitution. After meeting with various stakeholders (e.g. government officials and political party leaders, among others) the Center drafted a memorandum that provided comments on the Transitional Constitution, addressing issues related 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 Ministry 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
The process for writing the Permanent Constitution formally began in January 2012. Since then, 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. We have also been invited to meet with the Chairman of the drafting commission. Center personnel returned to South Sudan in fall 2012 to gather information for the white paper, and sent the paper to the Ministry in 2013.
Guiding Principles for Reform
In January 2014, in an attempt to prevent the fragile ceasefire from breaking and to take steps toward appeasing all of South Sudan’s conflicting parties, CCD personnel were asked by a group of CSO leaders in South Sudan to produce a memo of guiding principles for the ceasefire and constitutional reform process. The memo was drafted in February 2014 and contains an explanation of why the present conflict has constitutional roots, guidelines for the creation of an interim government, guidelines for resource management in the interim period, and guidelines for a constitutional reform process during the interim period.
The Center has also been invited on several occasions to meet and work with women’s organizations in South Sudan to help them advocate effectively for constitutional provisions to promote gender equity.