Action needed to stop South Sudan becoming a “failed state”

The world’s newest nation, South Sudan, will be at risk of becoming the next failed state without the support of the international community, a House of Lords committee has warned.

In a report published today the Lords EU foreign affairs sub committee called on the European Union to work with the United Nations, African Union and United States to resolve urgent issues that could threaten the country’s stability when it separates from the North on 9 July.

Celebrations after the southern Sudanese voted in January in favour of a split from the north have been followed by fighting in the oil region of Abyei, and there are concerns that disputes over South Kordofan and the Blue Nile State could escalate.

The Commitee has urged the EU to work with the international community to resolve these conflicts in order to prevent "the turning point" of South Sudan’s independence becoming a "missed opportunity for peace" after decades of civil war.

In addition the conflict in Darfur and east Sudan, and disputes between the North and South over debt, borders, citizenship and the sharing of oil revenues, will have to be resolved to secure the future of South Sudan.

There is also an urgent need for the the EU to establish structures it needs to play a constructive role in the new country such as helping it receive international assistance and tackle corruption. 

The 70-page report, The EU and Sudan: On the Brink of Change, also outlines the detabilising effect that disbanding the south’s militia, SPLA could have on the country and urges the EU to play a "constructive" role in tackling this and other issues that could threaten the country’s future. 

Despite the fact that South Sudan is regarded as a "test case" for the effectiveness of its new External Action Service, it lacks a significant presence in Juba as yet:

The EU needs to act faster if it is to be successful, starting by getting an effective head of delegation in place in Juba as soon as possible.

The report concedes that the EU will not play a lead role in the country, but focuses on its scope for influencing policy and developing the justice system as well as continuing its aid programme.

Northern Sudan, which faces loss of oil revenues as a result of the split, should continue to recieve aid, despite  its continued failure to cooperate with the International Criminal Court and should be encouraged to support a successful independent state in the South, the report advises.

The chairman of the Committee Lord Teverson, who will be at the Frontline Club on 13 July said that the situation had moved "from peace and celebration over the decision to separate Sudan, to violence and distrust" only weeks before independence:

We are now facing the real risk of Africa’s newest nations becoming its most recent failed state. While the EU doesn’t need to be the lead operator in order to make an important contribution to both North and South Sudan, it must continue applying resources and attention to Sudan if the independence of South Sudan is to succeed. The situation on the ground is so complex and unstable, particularly in Abyei, that without urgent action for from the international community, the humanitarian conditions will only deteriorate further.