No Good War, No Bad Peace, for South Sudan

Posted: December 27, 2015 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Featured Articles, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Umba Peter Bosco, Istanbul, Turkey

IGAD peace deal in limbo

IGAD peace deal in limbo

December 27, 2015 (SSB) — Conflicts are never easy to start. Neither is the achievement of peace. When conflicts escalate and become violent involving the use of weapons, death, destruction, suffering and displacement characterize the conflict environment. One of the most profound convergence points of peace and conflict scholars is that, war is not a solution to peace but the reverse. Wars that end with zero-sum outcomes creating winners and losers are likely to recur especially when the loser re-organizes for revenge to overcome the humiliation and losses encountered. In this case, a peaceful end to a conflict is preferable.

So, why are some elements within the SPLM and SPLM – IO as well as in splinter groups such as those led by General Peter Gadet and certain individuals unhappy with the August peace agreement? The simple answer I give to this question is that, these elements are benefiting from the conflict and have waxed their ears in order not to hear anything about the August 2015 peace agreement. They are aware that peace can never be achieved through war as can be confirmed by their public statements especially by President Salva Kiir and his counterpart Dr. Machar condemning the war.

Although most peace processes do not produce the best peace agreements that address all the needs and interests of the disputants at once, conflict resolution scholars agree that there is no perfect peace agreement. It is rather the implementation process: how it is implemented based on the implementation modalities, whether or not it is well financed, as well as clearly set goals that determine whether a peace agreement is good or bad. This line of argument is supported by Stefan Wolff, a scholar of contemporary conflicts who argues that there is no good war, but there is also no bad peace. What matters in peacebuilding, therefore, is commitment and determination by key stakeholders who are tasked with implementation of a peace agreement.

Jody Williams, a Nobel peace laurate argues that peacebuilding requires more than just prayers and meditation. Fundamental actions must be undertaken by peace activists and all those who love peace if they want to live peacefully in their countries. Yet key institutions that are well financed and led by capable and visionary leaders must also be set in place to lead people through the long journey of peacebuilding.

The daunting task of peacebuilding requires the participation of local, regional and international partners with leverage to facilitate the implementation of programs outlined in a peace agreement. Further, coordination between leaders and their followers is key in peacebuilding processes. As Stefan Wolff and May El-Khalil have put it; peacebuilding is both a marathon and long journey whose end should not be expected in the short-run.

Unless conflict parties move away from maximum demands to compromise and start to recognize each other’s needs, the marathon never ends and the journey continues. Further, getting stuck into values, labels and symbols such as territory and power endangers peacebuilding and the process of implementing peace agreements. Hence, it is crucial for conflict parties to pay attention to the substance of an agreement rather than the values, labels and symbols.

Lastly, conflict parties should be prepared and ready to return to the negotiation table if the implementation process stalls. It is not enough to rely on local efforts and institutional design to build peace. Instead, more efforts should be focused on building capable, determined, visionary and trusted leaders that local citizens can follow. Moreover, leaders should be able to provide channels through which citizens can freely access resources and basic services such as health facilities, learning institutions, security and protection and water so as to live dignified lives.

Jody Williams further cautions states against arming themselves for the purpose of security and peace. Rather states should utilize public resources reasonably by investing in education, health care, water, infrastructure and jobs in order to make every citizen secure and feel free from any sorts of fear and threats against their lives.

As South Sudanese wait for peace to happen, they should realize that hope without endeavor, as Jody Williams has stated, is meaningless. Hence, no peace will ever come from hope, but action like that taken during the 2011 referendum in which the people of South Sudan overwhelmingly voted for secession would make sense in the search for peace.

To conclude, in the words of Stefan Wolff, “A cold war is not as good as a cold peace. But a cold peace is still better than a hot war.” My appeal to all South Sudanese and leaders is that, we should not be misled to believe that the August 2015 peace agreement is bad. We should not wait for the agreement to give us good peace on a silver plate. It is a nightmare if you ever think so.

Further, no one should be misled to think that the agreement is bad unless he or she is unaware of the repercussions of the conflict. Just as the conflict has cost the people of South Sudan their lives and property, peace will also cost us our commitment and determination. Therefore, both war and peace are not as easy to execute and achieve respectively as you may think, but as long as we accept the August 2015 agreement as it is, peace is possible.

The author studies conflict analysis and resolution at Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey and can be reached at

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

  1. Joe says:

    This cartoonist sure got these two fools (Kiir and Riek) real good. And Bosco, you are exactly right, that’s what they will do. They will ruin this peace deal just like they started it. They should face justice.


    • Dear; my father of the country south sudan ,and borther of peace deal ,ilike all you because the peace will helping our peoples in south sudan ,you should like each other the more you like what you are master that is life of all south sudan , and very excellency workers for all state of south sudan 28 , iam very happy because in future iwill helping the country for development of our be lovely south sudan, love peace ,because our peoples both side the dies, also love will building our country south sudan all, and GOD BLESS SOUTH SUDAN ,AND BLESS YOU ALL, THANK YOU BY; LOVELY SON OF SOUTH SUDAN NAME ; MONYDENG JAMES NOI ,


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