Shots in the Dark: The 2008 South Sudan Civilian Disarmament Campaign (HSBA Working Paper 16)

By
Adam O’Brien
Publications
Working Paper
Arabic
English

In  an  effort  to  consolidate  its  authority,  eliminate  rival  bases  of  power,  and reduce inter-tribal violence, the president of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) authorized the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and state author-ities to conduct a six-month civilian disarmament campaign across South Sudan from June through the end of November 2008. The campaign followed previ-ous local ad hoc civilian disarmament initiatives in Lakes and Jonglei States in 2006 and elsewhere before that.

This Working Paper reviews the implementa-tion of the 2008 civilian disarmament campaign, with a special focus on three states:  Lakes,  Western  Equatoria,  and  Unity.  Each  of  these  states  presents  a different set of security concerns and dynamics. The Working Paper finds that disarmament  was  generally  poorly  planned  and  sporadically  implemented in the three states reviewed, and had a minimal impact on security. The number of weapons collected is probably a small fraction of the total holdings in each of the affected communities. Most crucially, the decision-making process that led to the campaign, as well as its implementation, highlights concerns about GoSS governance and the ongoing need for reform within the SPLA.

Keywords: disarmament