United States Strips Funding From South Sudan Peace Observers

On Friday, July 15th, the U.S. government announced that further funding for CTSAMM and R-JMEC, two peace monitoring bodies in South Sudan, will be ceased. Citing a lack of engagement of the Sudanese government with the peace process and political stagnation as reasons for the withdrawal of funding, Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Ned Price said that “the United States… [has] decided to end U.S. assistance for peace process monitoring mechanisms, effective July 15th, as we assess our next steps.” Price went on to highlight the lack of a professional South Sudanese military tasked with the protection of South Sudan’s citizens and the failure of political leaders to implement crucial electoral legislation in-line with the peace agreement. President Kiir, other regional leaders, and local organisations have expressed grave concerns about the withdrawal of funding and have appealed to U.S. partners to reconsider their decision.

Sudan is historically a politically unstable region plagued by war, famine, and extreme poverty with various failed integration processes and ethnic disputes being primary influential factors in the region’s instability. 2013 saw Sudan plunge into a civil war after a political struggle between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar which resulted in Machar losing his Vice-Presidential position. Violence broke out between presidential guards from two separate ethnic groups, the Dinka and Nuer, with the Dinka supporting Kiir and the Neur supporting Machar. With five years of civil war, violated ceasefire agreements, and failed attempts at achieving a peaceful resolution, came an estimated 400,000 death toll and up to four million displaced people. In 2018, the final cease-fire agreement was signed between Kiir and Machar and a peace agreement, known as the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) followed soon, establishing a power-sharing structure in South Sudan.

CTSAMM and R-JMEC function as two vital peace monitoring organisations currently operating in South Sudan. CTSAMM is tasked with monitoring an end to hostilities via a Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement as detailed in Chapter II of the agreement. It is the parent organisation of the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission and the National Constitution Amendment Committee and provides a mechanism by which real-time reports of political developments can reach influential bodies that can then intervene if deemed necessary. Similarly, the R-JMEC reports to the U.N. Security Council, African Union, and other bodies involved in the South Sudan peace process.

It is clear that progress on the implementation of many components of the peace agreement has not been robust enough and complacency on the part of regional leaders has resulted in political stagnation and a lack of engagement with peace brokering bodies. However, it is crucial that the U.S. does not withdraw funding for the CSTAMM and R-JMEC without a clear and decisive plan to re-route funding to other more productive and progressive organizations that will ensure the safety of the citizens of South Sudan. The people must feel that the political and economic powerhouses of the world are committed to the progression of the peace process in South Sudan and adequate support must be provided to the bodies that are committed to making it happen. The U.S. must reconsider and reverse its decision to strip funding for the CSTAMM and R-JMEC or outline a clear and divisible alternative to prevent the deterioration of the peace process. To withdraw funding without a tangible plan for an alternative is irresponsible and a direct threat to the level of peace has existed in South Sudan since the signing of the ARCSS