The reality of women’s lives in the midst and aftermath of war poses a challenge to the notion that reconciliation is a linear process. For women, violence does not end, nor does it decrease, after the signing of a peace accord.
When Blood and Bones Cry Out, Pg. 157
Contrary to conventional thinking, the signing of a peace agreement does not mark an end to a war or suffering, especially to women. According to John Paul Lederach and Angela Jill Lederach, this suffering extends to post-conflict period. Though the Lederachs wrote the quotation while describing violence against women in West Africa, its truth reflects the condition of women in many post-conflict societies. To most people including peacebuilders, the image of war is synonymous to a young man with an automatic weapon, fighting for women, who will be struggling to care for a child, mourning the dead, fleeing or being sexually abused. This is an assumed reality devoid of practical reality which according to Lederach[i] and as we will see below is something different.
In the midst of war women bear the brunt of the conflict; they face the danger of sexual assault and rape, get abducted and forced to marry rebels and if one escapes that fate, the whole responsibility of caring for children and the elderly falls on her. Others endure the pain of watching their children forcibly recruited into the army and sometimes witness those children dragged back into the villages to execute the remaining family members. Women also have to bear the pain of seeing their children being used as sex slaves at night and fighters during the day. Others have to sit by and watch their husbands and/or their fathers being taken away and in most instances these men get killed, and buried in unmarked graves. This perhaps explains why in some post-conflict countries such as Angola and Mozambique, widows accounted for half of the adult population. This suffering may not catch the attention of leaders or receive any acknowledgement as people tend to assume they know what women go through in a conflict. The reality is that every woman goes through a different experience.
The other reality is that women are also active combatants in a war, whether voluntarily or by force. They fight alongside men, taking every risk that comes with war. This has been experienced in many wars in Nepal, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka as well as in other countries in Africa such as Algeria, Eritrea, Mozambique, Namibia, and South Africa. War being conceived, planned and fought as a manly affair, these women often face more risks than their male counterparts. Those who may not be in active combat, serve as cooks, messengers, couriers of arms and ammunitions and bomb ‘planters’. Lederach has drawn our attention to this often ignored image of women in active combat, which goes contrary to the victim image that people have come to identify with women.
Lederach uses war aftermath to refer to ‘post’ war/conflict, which is the period immediately after the signing of peace accord, and including the reconstruction activities that follow. How does this stage affect women? Reading Lederach’s quote, one gets an understanding that women’s participation in war and its consequences on them never get acknowledged. Notwithstanding this omission, women are always at the forefront fighting for peace, often very active in civil society and peace movements that have brought conflicting parties to a negotiating table. Yet despite this, they are often neglected in the post-conflict situation; excluded from peace talks, denied opportunity to participate in disarmament and demobilization exercises (Liberia is a good example of this), and being locked out of post-conflict reconstruction. This is not surprising given the assumptions people make on the women’s role in the midst of war. These negotiation processes often result in settlements that do not benefit women. These experiences of women do not fit within the linear process of reconciliation designed from a male perspective of war.
Pre-conflict and (during) conflict attitudes toward women usually resume in the post-conflict period. This complicates the lives of many women. For instance, since most economic programs (including disarmament and reintegration) are designed from a male perspective of war, they only target men hence excluding women who needs them most. Society overlooks the fact that most women do participate in war or conflict and that some women head households having lost their husbands in war, they are in this case, the sole breadwinners of their surviving children and the elderly. The jobs they may have held during the war while men were fighting now reverts to men as part of reintegration or such related programs. In addition to this, women have to deal with their ‘broken’ sons and daughters who return from the bush. That is the reality of women that according to Lederach, challenges the notion of reconciliation as a linear process.
We can infer the meaning of reconciliation as used by Lederach as both a goal to achieve and a process. Ideally it is meant to prevent war or a conflict from reoccurring. It is meant to bring about the healing of survivals, restore justice through reparation of past injustices, build non-violent relationships among people and communities and promote acceptance by the former parties to a conflict of a common vision and understanding of the past. Most importantly, it aims at enabling victims and perpetrators to live well together. Conventionally and according to Ledarach’s quote, it seems that people think of reconciliation as process that happens in stages, moving from A to B or phase one leads to phase two, but the reality is that this kind of reconciliation is not practical and is not easy to achieve. Furthermore, it assumes the roles women play in conflicts hence, does not acknowledge the reality of women’s lives in a conflict. This perhaps explains why these processes often fail, an example that comes to mind is Liberia and its disarmament exercise that excluded women even after the crucial contribution of women that led a peace agreement. This exercise failed and was rescued by women.
The linear aspect of reconciliation tends to focus on the immediate impact of the conflict while ignoring the impact of the small conflicts that lie beneath the main conflict. Often, these conflicts must be addressed first to create space for dealing with larger conflicts. For instance, linear reconciliation may not treat the cases of women who are raped in war or conceived in war and who have to raise children born of war as a priority (or put them anywhere in the first phases). They may not give space for these issues in the first phase of reconciliation as they will probably dealing with such issues as disarmament or demobilization. But how can we talk of nation building when half or more than half of the population is carrying the burden of a whole nation? Failure to address issues affecting women leads to their extreme suffering, which may be worse than what they went through during the war. You can imagine a widow in need of compensation for the death of her husband but getting turned down by the government for lack of a law to address this consequence of a war. How can anyone then claim that a peace accord signifies an end to suffering? People might put down their automatic weapons as a sign of peace but the suffering of women does not stop as they are haunted by different weapons.
Lederach’s quote rings true in the contemporary society and at a time when peacebuilders have access to a wealth of information and research about the reality of women’s lives during and after (post) war. It calls for peacebuilders to evaluate their programming habits and assumptions to capture these realities. It also calls upon policy makers to reconsider their perceptions about women’s roles in conflicts. Understanding a woman’s unique position in the midst and aftermath of war will definitely lead to true reconciliation.
[i] Though the book is written by John Paul Lederach and his daughter Angela Jill Lederach, the quote under discussion is in the part of the book written by Angie Jill Lederach. The reader will be right to assume that Lederach as used in the essay refers to Angie Jill Lederach
“One way to understand cycles of violence and protracted conflict is to visualize them as a narrative broken. A people’s story is marginalized or, worse, destroyed by the dominant culture, and this act, meaning, identity, and a place in history are lost. This is the deeper challenge of peacebuilding: how to reconstitute, or restory, the narrative and thereby restore the people’s place in history. For many of us who come from outside the settings of protracted violence or are from cultures that have not had their stories destroyed, we have perhaps a hard time understanding this notion of peacebuilding as a narrative restored.” The Moral Imagination, pp. 146
Protracted conflicts are forgotten conflicts which are seemingly irreconcilable and violent. They have become hopeless cases with no possibilities for resolution. Some of these conflicts have spurn decades, compelling actors to develop rigid narratives about them. Often, peacebuilders look at these conflicts from a political, economic, geographical or social lens omitting the distinctive quality of these conflicts as a peoples’ broken narrative.
Narratives are stories people tell themselves, about themselves and in relation to the “other’. They define them as a people and explain their collective identity in this world. More importantly, they explain a people’s entitlement to a place in this world. Narratives serve as reservoirs for a people’s collective memory; they orient a community to what was, what is and what should be. They give a people a sense of immortality (even though they are not immortal) by connecting them with the past, future and present. Elders are the chief custodians of narratives. As the oldest members of a society, they have an immediate link to the dead. They carry narratives and pass them to younger generations, hence, through this process, a people’s past gets to live in the present through narratives. Therefore, a narrative is like a chord, in a form of a circle, that ties a people to their past, which is paradoxically before them since they know it. This awareness helps them to envision the future. As long as a people’s narrative is undisrupted, they enjoy a peaceful existence.
Narratives, just like life, can be threatened, trampled on, abused, or worse broken. Ideally, different narratives should coexist; live side by side, every one in its own spot. Unfortunately, the narratives people tell themselves can sometimes portray unfounded superiority that tower over other narratives. Such narratives break a people’s history by challenging their claim to a place in this world. Such threats can take a form of genocide, which seeks to completely wipe out a people’s narrative from the world or they can take a form of invasion or war, which disrupts or breaks a people’s narrative. Whenever this happens or is even anticipated, people rise to defend their narratives, hence the many wars and conflicts around the world.
Sometimes, narratives occupy a divine place in a people’s lives perhaps due to their ability to connect people to their past, present and future. In a protracted conflict, people are aware of the decisions made in the past that have impacted or caused the current conflict. They are also aware that decisions they make will definitely affect future generations. Understanding this concept as a peacebuilder boosts one’s chances of a finding a lasting solution to a conflict. However, it is challenging for a peacebuilder who has never had his or her narrative broken to understand this concept. One should begin by visualizing a people’s past in order to identify its potentiality for a peaceful future.
Peacebuilders are trained to analyze conflicts and design solutions so as to build sustainable peace. Unfortunately, their training sometimes blinds them from seeing what lies before them – a people’s past, which often explains the current conflict. Many a times, often with good intentions, peacebuilders design projects based on proven theories of change. But what they fail to grasp is the importance of narratives in understanding the root causes of conflicts. Sometimes, those who are able to grasp the importance of these narratives, are reluctant to take into account the uniqueness of ‘time concept’ in a people’s narrative, that is, the past living in the present etc. This process has nothing to do with science or technical expertise of a peacebuilder, it takes creative imagination.
A peacebuilder must visualize and understand a people’s broken story in order to help them restory. Whereas it is understood that a peacebuilder cannot fix the past, one can however provide a space for people to make discursive shifts. This is perhaps the most challenging task in peacebuilding – to have different voices (narratives) on a table, listen to each other, deconstruct the dominant conflict narrative and create an alternative relationship story. This is not the same as simply asking people to forget their narratives and embrace a new one, it is rather a process of helping them understand how their lives can be enriched or constrained by each other’s narratives. It is helping them acknowledge the power of imbalance in their narratives. It is helping them understand deeper meanings in their narratives that cause conflicts.
Reading about a people’s past in history books is not enough, peacebuilders must go a step further and position themselves in a people’s timeline and immerse themselves into a people’s past in order to understand a people’s fears and insecurities. To gain access to a people’s collective memory, is to live their live. It is this kind of access that enables one to visualize how past decisions have come to affect future generations. Some narratives bear a stamp of a people’s blood and sacrifice, it is not enough to read them, one has to live them, albeit imaginatively.
Such is the importance of understanding narratives in protracted conflicts. The story is at the core of the conflict. Mediating between contesting narratives gives hope for a peaceful society and it is a creative process.
John Paul Ledarach (2005) The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace (New York: OUP)
To think about justpeace is to think about social movements and political protests, at least in the context of my country. To say that these movements are a major component of peacebuilding process in Kenya is an understatement, they set the agenda for peace. I am neither suggesting that they are the most important stakeholders in peacebuilding, nor mean that their activities can substitute those of other humanitarian organizations, rather my argument is that they have set the trend in peacebuilding and curved a path for other organizations to follow. They have broken the ground and made it possible for humanitarian organizations to operate. I define social movements as those organizations which focus on specific political or social issue with an aim of resisting or supporting a certain social change. This excludes grassroots organizations, NGOS and other organizations engaged in humanitarian or long-term peacebuilding projects.
Social movements advocate for justice, which is often neglected by humanitarian organizations perhaps because of their neutrality clauses. Social movements have been at the forefront advocating for justice for victims of violence. The phrase ‘no justice, no peace’ means a lot to victims of violence especially in places where ethnic cleansing or structured violence has occurred. Often humanitarian organizations and other organizations engaged in peacebuilding, design their projects without considering the justice element. This is understandable given that the whole concept of justice is complex and can be relative, hence organizations especially international humanitarian organizations normally do not want to be entangled in this. The nature of social movements enables them to fill this gap. Actually, some of them exist for the very purpose of advocating for justice or some cause.
Social movements have sometimes stepped up to fight against governments that have barred peacebuilding organizations from operating within their territories. For instance, when the Kenya government sought to restrict NGO foreign funding to 15% of their operating budget, it is the social movements that took to streets to protest this injustice. People may not expect a UN agency or organizations such as World Vision or CRS or any other International humanitarian organization to do this even though they will desire to. The nature of their operations and their mandate may not allow them. But an organization like PEN International or its local chapter can take to the streets to advocate for the safety of poets or journalist because that it is its mandate – it exists to solely defend such rights. There are thousands of such organizations that may not plan for a project in grassroots or build a hospital or school or design a program to train youths on economic empowerment for sustainable peace etc. But they will be there when a right is violated. They will resist by holding protests and demand for retribution. These protests often create an enabling ground for peacebuilders to operate.
Despite the above argument, social movements can jeopardize peacebuilding efforts especially when they employ violent approaches in their activities. Violence often begets violence. It is less surprising then that often governments are known to react violently to social movements that engage in violent protests. These has sometimes led to massacres, hence reversing whatever gains peacebuilding organizations have achieved or hoped to achieve.
Sometimes social movements are just tools used by opposition parties or foreign governments to disrupt government operations. Whenever that is the case, regardless of whether the said governments are democratic or non-democratic, negative consequences are bound to ensue. In those moments, governments usually kick out all humanitarian organizations or pass draconian laws that resist operations of such organizations. If social movements can keep to nonviolent protests, research has shown that the gains will be much more.
Social movements and peacebuilding organizations are not necessarily cut from the same piece of cloth but their combined efforts brings the necessary uniformity in building sustainable peace. The awarding of 2015 Nobel Peace Prize to Tunisia’s Quartet, a mix of civil society groups – labor, business, human rights and legal groups – whose leaders became mediators between Tunisia’s Islamist and secularists and saved their country from civil war, goes a long way to prove that social movements are instrumental in peacebuilding.
Civil society is a term used in varied ways in different countries or contexts. Mary Kaldor in her 2003 lecture defined civil society as a “platform inhabited by activists, NGOs and neoliberals, as well as national and religious groups, where they argue about, campaign for (or against), negotiate about, or lobby for the arrangement that shape global developments.” This definition includes virtually all organizations distinct from government and business. The notion of civil society has changed over time since the Aristotelian age when they were characterized by social contract to the time of Hegel, Marx and Engels when civil societies were considered as a theatre of history and they were linked up with the idea of state perhaps till the 70s and 80s when they cut this link. Towards the beginning of 90s, civil societies transcended state boundaries and linked with other like-minded organizations in the world. The existence of International law and legislation made this connection possible. Since then, they have been involved in a lot of initiatives including activism and humanitarian aid among others.
Whether civil societies have successfully engaged in peacebuilding is debatable and furthermore it depends on a person’s idea of peace and how he defines civil society. If peacebuilding is, as extrapolated by Appleby and Laderach, a process of building constructive human relationship and if by civil societies we mean the list of organizations highlighted above by Kaldor, then the results is both positive and negative. Whereas it is important to acknowledge the constructive work some organizations have and are doing in various communities, it is also important to note the damaging consequences of some of these organizations. Cecelia Lynch has asserted in her paper on Neoliberal Ethics, the Humanitarian International, and Practices of Peacebuilding that humanitarianism weakens political accountability. Why will states strive to protect their people if humanitarian organizations can do the job? This attitude has opened avenues for corruption especially in developing countries.
Part of peacebuilding efforts is to help in the reconstruction of societies emerging from conflicts. This role might include strengthening institutions of governance, upholding the rule of law and promoting democracy. It is therefore ironical that civil societies are being criticized for their hierarchical beauracratic structures that often undermine the peacebuilding efforts. Lynch has pointed out how globalized donor relationship has shaped the humanitarian international’s increasing hierarchical and sophiscated use of market-based tools. Local NGOs and other community organizations that often rely on funding from the Humanitarian Internationals have had to tailor their narratives and fit their projects within the requirements of the Humanitarian Internationals as opposed to the real needs of a society.
Even those organizations that usually focused their activities on the short-term e.g. humanitarian relief, are now engaging in long-term activities. This has led to worlds some writers have referred as Peaceland (Severine), Humanitarian International (Lynch), and Aidland among others. In a way this are worlds inhabited by peacebuilders and the people who need peace. Often, the relationship among these actors is not constructive. With this kind of reality, how can any person hope that civil societies are contributing to sustainable peace in societies where they work?
Despite the above challenges, I do believe civil societies have a major role to play in building sustainable peace. But they will have to change their strategies. As Severine writes, everyday practices that may seem mundane to peacebuilders do affect the peace process. It is time to go back to the basics, when civil societies ruled, as Kaldor notes, based on the consent of individuals. This can be achieved when civil societies start listening to local people instead of imposing projects or trying to decide on what is good for the people.
“The combination of hard power and soft power may ultimately prove to be the most efficient and sustainable long-term counterterrorism strategy.” George Lopez and David Cortright
Last summer I wrote an article (attach link) in the wake of terrorism attacks in Kenya, the worst one being the Al-Shabab attack at Garrissa University in northern part of Kenya, which claimed lives of 147 students. I argued that Al-Shabab has become sophisticated and that they were more interested in terrifying Kenyans and instilling fear than even killing. Their acts, which I compared to a drama performance because of their dependence on an audience, rely on the media for success. Often our media and now the ever present citizen journalism has played into the hands of terrorists, fulfilling their greatest need: publicist.
This example illustrates the changing nature of modern terrorism. From time to time I do read the official magazine of Isis, Dabiq, I can’t help noticing how the magazine has evolved since its inception, it has adapted to the best communication strategies of any successful organization. This demonstrates the incorporation of terrorism as a brand that can inspire loyalty and a sense of pride. This kind of terrorism has gone beyond what the US was fighting against in Afghanistan and in other places. This type of terrorism is headquartered in a state (not in the conventional definition of the word) and has a wide network of ambassadors and envoys in radicalized young men and women in various countries. Other terrorists are harbored in failed states where soft power cannot apply. A good example is the Al-Shabab militants in Somalia.
The fact that modern terrorists, have crafted states of their own, and the fact that they have networks of young men and women, who have been brought up in excellent communities but lured into terrorism either by fancy recruitment campaigns or have been radicalized gradually, makes the fight against terrorism the most difficult task of our century, which leads to my major concern: How can we fight an enemy that is now part of us and sometimes in states that he controls? Can anybody really talk about soft power in regard with this enemy?
When fighting terrorists in places such as those controlled by Al-Shabab or ISIS, it is hard to imagine that a non-military solution. As much as peacebuilders want to imagine that we can appeal to the humanity of terrorists or whatever means the cosmopolitans advocate for, the reality of the many beheadings of innocent people calls for a ‘ hard solution’. I am not implying that only military solutions can counter terrorism, I am suggesting that the military is an important component of this process and sometimes it is the only means. I understand that often military solutions have failed to achieve sustainable peace. I think if strategic peacebuilders can work with the military and incorporate the peacebuilding elements in military operations, peace might have a chance.
Having a UN agency devoted to counterterrorism as Lopez and Cortright suggests, may not solve the problem. I believe the UN as it is constituted has the capacity to deal with this scourge, if members especially the p5 can put politics aside. The various existing UN agencies, can be coordinated to achieve their mandate, which ranges from issues of education, human rights, environment etc. This agencies can help create the much needed ‘peace culture’. I think the complication of fighting terrorists in this century is as a result of anarchical nature of the world, whereby no any one nation commanding absolute authority. In the absence of this absoluteness, every nation plays politics that are beneficial to their national interest, and only intervene in those conflicts that threaten its national interests. A clash of interests can easily lead to an active or Cold War. A strong nation, which we can also refer to a Super Power, will be expected to champion human rights and protect the vulnerable communities by dealing with any less power that may want to interfere with peaceful existence of another nation. The realist assumption here is that the strong nation will not threaten the security of other nations. But this kind of state is difficult to achieve, as nations always want to upset the balance of power in their favor. Hence, the UN comes in as the legitimate international authority that can give the necessarily international coordination and policing. A well functioning UN can go along the way in helping counter terrorism.
A good way to judge anything is by its history and assuming that is the case, the recently signed Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan will fail. President Kiir was under intense pressure to sign the compromise accord amid the US threats of imposing sanctions if he failed to do so. This agreement, the seventh since war erupted, was mediated by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Already there are complaints by the South Sudan’s Armed Opposition Faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) that the government of President Salva Kiir has violated the ceasefire by attacking them in oil rich states of Upper Nile and Unity. It is clear that the Government of South Sudan lacks political will of commitment to respecting the ceasefire agreement and implementing the peace deal they signed on August 26.
The 21 month conflict in South Sudan broke out in December 2013, when a split within the security forces in Juba escalated into a violent rebellion led by Dr. Riek Machar, who commands the loyalty of SPLM-IO. Although the dispute that led to the civil war was primarily political, ethnic targeting, communal mobilization and spiraling violence quickly led to horrid levels of brutality against civilians. President Kiir’s ethnic Dinka people are pitted against Machar’s Nuer. Various reports indicate that over ten thousand South Sudanese people have been killed in the fighting and more than 2 million people have been displaced. Serious human rights violations have occurred in which children have been raped and burned alive.
As the International community deliberates on last week’s move by Russia and Angola’s to delay the imposition of targeted United Nations sanctions on key South Sudan government and rebel leaders obstructing peace in South Sudan, one wonders what happened to this once considered major U.S foreign policy success story. Three US presidents, Clinton, Bush and Obama, worked to birth this new state in the world. But now the collapse of this world’s new nation might end up being a case study in the limits of American power as the U.S government’s state-building efforts hasn’t yielded sustainable peace. In the absence of substantial national interests, the US has not been at the forefront in bringing peace to South Sudan. It is then less surprising that the US government ignored the mutual enmity that was boiling within the ethnically polarized South Sudan.
At the beginning of violence, the US government made it clear that they will not support the overthrow of a democratically elected government, however, it remained reluctant in supporting the very democratic government against the rebels. This ‘do no harm’ attitude and the lack of assertiveness may have fueled the violence.. Worse, it weakened the US ability to influence events.
To say that the US has lost leverage in South Sudan is an understatement, the reality is that IGAD and the US supported peace agreement that was signed last month by rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar and President Kiir amid US threats may not lead to sustainable peace. Every conflict in South Sudan has in the past approached in the same way with the same solution, which is usually twofold: share power and integrate militias. Justice is sacrificed for the sake of short-term “peace”. From the start South Sudan was set for failure. At independence the country had virtually nothing save for oil, which is also a major cause of conflicts.
The US may have succeeded in bringing the government and rebels on the negotiating table and leading them to sign the peace agreement, albeit through threats of sanctions, there is little hope that continued sanction threats will be fruitful given the fact that both Sudan and South Sudan government have demonstrated that they can lobby some UN security council members to veto such efforts. Indeed relying on sanctions is problematic, first, by their very nature, sanctions are perceived negatively, hence difficult to implement. Second, convincing all permanent members of UN Security Council to endorse sanctions is not easy. The process is usually politicized.
This peace agreement is not even a perfect solution for the conflict, but it is the best shot the South Sudanese government and the international community have to build sustainable peace. The agreement proposes a start of new constitutional process, formation of various commissions and most importantly a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to help address historical grievances like the bitter history between the Dinka and Nuer which continues to influence conflicts. Though the US ability to influence events in South Sudan has dwindled, a fact that has been explained in Foreign Affairs magazine by Cameron Hudson, who worked on South Sudan Policy in both Bush and Obama administration.
Despite these drawbacks, the US is the only one that can pressure South Sudan leaders to implement the peace agreement. Unfortunately, the US has anchored its foreign policy on South Sudan on humanitarian terms, which in itself in insufficient in strategic peacebuilding.
Last year during a Foreign Relations Senate Committee hearing, Mr. Booth, the former US envoy to South Sudan, highlighted that US will create a mechanism to monitor and verify compliance with the peace agreement. Any such mechanism should go beyond imposing sanctions and practicing coercive diplomacy. These tools are not sufficient either in achieving sustainable peace in South Sudan.
The US should push for a wider mandate to United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNAMISS). Currently, its mandate places it second to SPLA, which limits their capability to protect civilians. In addition, rather than working through proxies or military contractors, the US government should consider beefing up its presence in South Sudan perhaps deploying military advisers to work alongside South Sudan’s military and to help integrate rebel and government soldiers. While it is understandable that military advisers may not do much in transforming the ethnic identities of various soldiers, they can help them embrace discipline and respect for human rights.
Neighboring nations taking sides in this conflict should be held accountable by the international community. There should be monitoring of the movement of weapons in South Sudan. As the UN Security Council discusses imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan, they should consider doing the same to countries fueling conflicts in South Sudan.
The International Criminal Court should work with the African Union Commission of inquiry to begin investigations on individuals who have committed crimes against humanity. Involving ICC will curb further violations of human rights.
South Sudan is a major beneficiary of the US Foreign Aid, hence, the US government can use the opportunity this aid provides to advocate for strong institutions of governance in South Sudan. They should also seek to empower ordinary citizens economically. The people of South Sudan have been on the run close to a century, first with Khartoum and now the civil war. It is time the international community helped them settle down in the place they call home.