This op-ed, by board member John Prendergast, originally appeared on The Daily Beast.
South Sudan’s belligerents have signed a peace deal, but it is far from certain that the brutal 20-month civil war is over. If the next steps the parties take are simply to restore the status quo that existed before the war’s eruption, the odds are wildly in favor of a return to deadly conflict. However, if the implementation of the agreement is seen as a chance to restart the construction of a viable state in the world’s newest country, dismantling the violent kleptocracy that it’s become since independence in 2011, then South Sudan has a chance for peace.
There are monumental obstacles at multiple levels to peace in South Sudan. But the biggest challenge is the nature of the state itself. In its short life as a nation, governing institutions have been hijacked for personal enrichment and advancement by rival factions of military and civilian officials.