Sudan, Divided: Addressing the Primary Challenges to the South’s Development (part 1 of 3)

Tuesday, August 9, marks one month since South Sudan’sofficial independence and international recognition as Africa’s 54th state. Asthe new nation begins to form its policies on development issues, itsleadership and citizenry must successfully overcome several obstacles. If thefledgling nation is to surmount its history of protracted violence and denial ofcivilians’ most basic rights, the development of South Sudan must be aconstructive and inclusive process. The international community must remainapprised of – and involved in – South Sudan’s progression toward stability and state building. This is the first post in a three-part series that will address themajor questions central to South Sudan’s development. Check back later thisweek for the second and third posts.

Human Rights and Sustainable Development

Flag of South Sudan

Following the admission of South Sudan as the UN’s 193rd member state on July 14, the South Sudan flag was raised outside the United Nations headquarters, joining the flags of all other member states.

How can South Sudan ensure its state building process and fundamentalpolicies are sound, sustainable, and based on human rights principles?

South Sudan faces substantial challenges to development,which largely stem from social and economic concerns. These issues must beaddressed in South Sudan’s earliest legislative and policy actions, to ensurethe South Sudanese population has opportunities for financial stability, accessto public services, and a strong prospect for lasting peace. The world mustsupport South Sudan as the nation takes its first steps towards sustainabledevelopment.

A foremost economic concern is that oil generates nearly allof South Sudan’s domestic revenue. According to arecent article on The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog, the nation’soil resources will only last between eight and 22 years. Thus, the implicationsof South Sudan’s poorly diversified economy are worrisome for its developmentprogress even in the short-term. Consideration must be afforded to the ways inwhich current revenues can be used for robust and positive change, as well asto identifying novel opportunities for economic strengthening.

The potential impact of these economic issues (and how theyare addressed) on civilians’ livelihoods is compounded by the already alarmingdearth of public services. In South Sudan, development is starting near groundlevel. The country has some of the lowest social indicators worldwide, andproposals for short-term or unsustainable solutions should be viewed withcaution. It is imperative to support South Sudan in strategic, long-termplanning, to ensure its fragile economy is strengthened and made sustainable,and that a rights-based approach is used in building the nation’s fundamentalpolicies and public programs.

Only through strong political action, grounded in humanrights principles, will the world’s newest nation truly flourish. South Sudan’sleaders must firmly reject policies that could lead to further oppression orsuffering of citizens.

Emily Winter is a graduate student and programs intern at PHR.

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