, Volume 92, Number 6

Steven C. Roach
Since the warring parties to South Sudan’s civil war (2013–15) signed a peace agreement in August 2015, South Sudan has endured a series of setbacks and clashes that have threatened the fragile peace process. This article examines many key factors affecting the peace process, including rampant corruption, military factionalism, gross human rights abuses and ineffective foreign intervention/pressure. It shows that the past and present failure to structure accountability at the institutional level drives the instability and distrust that has limited the political dialogue and consensus needed to implement the peace deal. To frame this issue of accountability, the article distinguishes between core (essential) and peripheral (self-serving) objectives of promoting accountability. In doing so, it seeks to devise and apply the logic of this dynamic of accountability and to explain the unexpected outcomes of South Sudan’s conflict. It argues that, rather than transforming the conditions and hostile relations of South Sudan’s situation, international demands for accountability continue to fuel the volatile tensions between international authorities and the various factions inside the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). The central conclusion the article draws is that instead of signifying the official beginning of the end of the conflict, the peace agreement has wedged itself between the core and peripheral objectives of accountability, thereby setting the stage for further stalemate and increasing distrust among domestic and international authorities.

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