4 December 2014

South Sudan’s return to violence in December 2013 poses questions about the quality of partnership between donors and fragile and conflict-affected states more broadly. The quality of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the thinness of donor appetite for risk combined to highlight the fatal flaws in the nascent South Sudan’s foundations.


Jeremy Astill-Brown
Former Associate Fellow, Africa Programme


Photo: Rebel Fighters in Upper Nile State / Reuters
Photo: Rebel Fighters in Upper Nile State / Reuters.


  • The conflict caught donors and many long-term observers of South Sudan unawares, and has led to a suspension of much development programming, in favour of humanitarian assistance to alleviate the effects of the violence.
  • There is an urgent need to return to development activity based on a new political partnership between the international community and South Sudan, one that seeks to address – rather than work around – the real obstacles to the realization of a peaceful, stable and democratic South Sudan.
  • In the future, donors will need to be much better at integrating their development and political activity; be able to manage a higher degree of political risk; avoid the temptation to work only on the ‘demand side’; and learn how to work with the political/security as well as the technical dimensions of the current context.