Joint Administration & UN Trusteeship insulting but not outlandish

BY: Kuir ë Garang, CANADA, MAR/28/2014, SSN;

South Sudan’s young scholars, Nhial Tiitmamer and Abraham Awolich, wrote a remarkable policy update paper for their weekly review for The Sudd Institution on March 11, 2014. In that paper, Nhial and Abraham presented arguments against two different proposals presented by ‘South Sudanese analysts’ as possible ways forward for South Sudan.

The said two methods are UN Trusteeship and a Joint Administration by South Sudanese and selected international bodies.

These suggestions are presented as part of restructuring, institutionalizing and anchoring of South Sudan as a nation with functional structures, institutions and policy framework.

UN Trusteeship was proposed on January 6, 2014 in ‘African Arguments’ by Hank Cohen, a former US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs. The joint administration was proposed by Princeton Lyman (et al), a former US envoy to South Sudan and Sudan. Lyman is now with United States Institute for Peace.

While I’m not going to recommend any of the proposed methods, I’d like to caution readers and policy writers against any rush to dismiss the proposals without their proper appraisals.

Sadly, I’m not going to appraise the two methods; however, I’m going to vaguely show how such methods would be advisable for South Sudan as far as institutionalization and development ambience are concerned.

Policy advisors, like The Sudd Institute, would be better placed if they comprehensively present both sides of any policy situation in order to afford the readers an avenue to consume chiefly con-contextualized policy positions.

The manner in which Nhial and Awolich dismissed the two suggestions they focused on, without presenting any would-be benefits of such undertakings, is a policy angle I’d not advise.

I would advise that the authors present the pros and cons first before settling for what they believe is their preferred policy advisory; in this case, the rejection of the said governance and administrative proposals.

While the authors have agreed with the proposers on some points (especially with Lyman), they’ve not dwelled appropriately on the merits of both the Trusteeship and the Joint Administration.

Proper policy advisory would present the merits of the two methods comprehensively before the presentation of the arguments as to why they’d not work in South Sudan.

Protecting a failed System vs. Building a strong and functional system

There’s no question that South Sudan has adequate manpower to build strong institutions for a prosperous way forward. And with no doubt, the best way to bring change and long-term prosperity to any given country is to make sure such parameters are internally generated.

Externally generated success modalities sideline the internal creativity and frustrate long-term sustainable development.

However, the problem in South Sudan is not manpower per se and I agree with the authors. It’s the political atmosphere, institutional capacity and maturity. But one has to ask oneself.

Do we have a conductive atmosphere and a strong institutional soundness that can allow educated South Sudanese to effect the required change?

If not, then what are the indications that this would be effected anytime soon?

The authors know very well that South Sudanese leadership has failed miserably to establish institutional capacities that make a nation functional.

What are the causes of this failure over the last eight years? Why would the authors believe the leadership that has failed over the last eight years will all of a sudden build institutional capacities that would allow development of institutional professionalism?

It’s Einstein who once said that doing something over and over again in the same way and expecting a different result is madness.

The authors will have to convince us that there has developed an appreciable change in Juba for development of independent and functional institutions. Otherwise, a depressing, stagnant and failed merry-go-round is a support to the intransigent elites and a support for a failed system.

Creating ‘Enabling Conditions’ for South Sudanese

UN Trusteeship and Joint Administration (if necessary) would not discount South Sudanese contri-bution and their place in charting a new, development-conscious and transparency-friendly South Sudan.

In a word, Educated South Sudanese would still be central to all development initiatives and leadership.

Whether it was in East Timor or Namibia, the citizens of those countries were never left out. What UN officials did was to act as impartial guidance and expert voices together with their indigenous counterparts. Citizens have a say regarding the methods to be established.

Even with South Africa occupying Namibia illegally after UN deemed its mandate over with the end of the League of Nations, UN, through UNTAG, still found it imperative to allow South Africa to administer elections with UN supervision.

Martti Ahtisaari, then the UN Special Representative for Namibia, made sure all the stake holders were involved in not only the elections process but the transitional process.

What they would do, in the case of South Sudan should that be absolutely necessary, is to create the atmosphere that would allow educated and knowledgeable South Sudanese to effectively contribute to national development.

The culture of favoritism, nepotism, rampant corruption and inter-tribal animosity would be checked by a neutral guiding voice given a specified period of time. This period would still be agreed upon by South Sudanese politicians and the guiding body (UN or otherwise).

As the authors note very well that “inflated political egos, ethnic politics, and lack of peaceful political culture” are “the root of the current violence.” Keeping those in mind, what are the indications that these attitudes have changed (or will change) among the ranks of South Sudanese ruling elites?

What are the indications that the current leadership will create ‘enabling conditions’ for development of across-the-board institutional strength?

What has the government done so far to give South Sudanese some hope that governance, accountability and rule of law will be the face of our new South Sudan?

We have to remember that the UN Trusteeship or any Joint Administration would not be the sole brains or the manpower behind the country’s development. They would only act as impartial facilitators of development and transition.

The onus would still be on the citizens to take advantage of the conducive atmosphere otherwise nothing would change.

So, whether or not South Sudan changes for better if placed under such administrations rests solely with South Sudanese.

‘Wounded Egos’ vs. South Sudanese Future

I rather see my people live in peace and looking forward to a prosperous nation in which they use their potential for the betterment of the country regardless of who brings it. What I’d reject is perpetual dependency on others.

However, we can’t put our egos before our national interest. We are a new nation; a nation on transition. Besides, we have a ruling political party that is trying to shed the scales of militarism. These are things that need time.

However, we need help to make sure such a transition is made possible within a reasonable time.

We should not be worried that the world would see us as incapable of taking care of our affairs. We are not incapable but we have obstructive conditions that are frustrating our ability to show our national capacities.

In a sense, we need appreciable humility to accept conditions that’d ensure we actually show the world that we are able.

I understand, as Rüdiger Wolfrum argues that “Such intervention from the outside faces the di-lemma that by influencing or even by taking over governmental authority, either totally or partially or to establish new governmental structures for that territory in turmoil such intervention interferes with the right of self-determination of the respective population to decide on its political and eco-nomic future.”

“However,” Wolfrum adds, “without assisting activities from the outside the popu-lation would not be able to exercise its right of self-determination due to the lack of representative institutions.”

What’s best for our nation should take primacy over our would-be wounded egos. Part of being a decently educated population is the ability to see when something isn’t working and being able to humbly look for an enduring solution.

We need help, serious help, and it’s up to us to wisely know how to fish out the best solution for our people with the help of people who are willing to help us.

UN Trusteeship and Joint Administration would be a possible alternative because:

• The current South Sudanese administration has not created and is not capable (or unwilling) of creating a conducive atmosphere for South Sudanese with skills to contribute toward national development.
• There’s no any impartial development champion or practical promoter of development. Devel-opment initiatives are outlined but not followed through.
• Financial issues: South Sudanese go for months without being paid and no one is held account-able. Embezzlement of public funds is acknowledged but not punished.
• Media Institutions are tightly controlled and intimidated. Without any free press, the people lose their voice.
• The national constitution is not adhered to by its very custodians; only cited if the leadership feels it helps them. The culture of belligerent militarism is the attitude leading the country in-stead of the national constitution.
• The current administration is encouraging the development of the country as a nation of a single opinion dictated by the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Different opinions and perspectives are either vilified or seen as views of enemies of the state. The merits of different opinions are not even considered.
• Protection of civilians is not a government priority and this creates a culture of mistrust and tribal feuds. The strength of the nation is perceived as the government rather than the people.
• The leadership doesn’t feel it’s accountable to South Sudanese. Decisions are made without being explained and those who suffer are the average South Sudanese. The government works for itself rather than for South Sudanese.
• Leaders see themselves as unquestionable demi-gods. This is not good for good governance, development and the average South Sudanese. Good leaders are supposed to be questioned.
• Praising the president is one of the ways of landing a high-paying job. Criticizing the president jeopardizes one’s job. This atmosphere prevents truth from being told and people, who have different opinions but can benefit the country, are shut out of leadership positions.

Word of Advice

I’m not going to recommend any of the two methods because South Sudanese need to be given a second chance to prove themselves; however, I’d want us to be conscious of our shortcomings. The culture of dismissiveness is what’s killing our people.

I’d like to advise Nhial and Abraham, as people working for one of South Sudan’s respected
scholarly institutions, to be wary of the dismissive attitude among South Sudanese intelligentsia and ruling elites.

We are a proud populace, however, we should be very careful regarding the detriment excess pride can engender.

Nations don’t fail because there are no educated people in the country. Nations fail because of the nature of the political culture in the country. Without any enabling conditions, no amount of education and creativity can help.

I would also advise the authors to avoid the developing culture in South Sudan in which ideas are dismissed without prescribing a viable alternative. If they dismiss the two methods and believe that South Sudanese can actually bring about these enabling conditions, then they also need to present an alternative administrative and political framework and how it would bring about this enabling conditions. As policy advisors, the authors should not only talk about the what? but the how?

The how should be presented step-by-step with clear time-frame, the governance mechanics, the mechanics for the avoidance of past mistakes and the central, unifying political figures to make the methods both plausible and efficacious.

Institutions become functionally strong and respectable if they are led by people who not only know how to identify problems, but also how to solve them with vivid appreciable transparency and competency. This, South Sudan lacks!

Consequently, I see the two proposed administrative methods as not ‘outlandish, but as necessary insults.

a Kuir ë Garang is a South Sudan poet, author, independent publisher and political analysts living in Canada. He’s the author of “South Sudan Ideologically” and “Is ‘Black’ Really Beautiful?”

NB: PDF copy of the article is available here:


  1. Mr. Kuir Garang it is apparent that your concerns is to keep the leadership of Kiirler (Kiir). This government has lost ultimate legitimacy to continue governing South Sudan. This government should not be given any chance to continue killing innocent people.

    South Sudanese SPLM government lead by Kiirler has failed because of his lack of political will to resolve this political crisis. Tribalism has masked and distorted Kiirler’s comprehension of the problem.

    Kuir Garang, it is over. No more chance for him. We don’t want to go back to the same den of wolves to kill south sudanese people again. Garang, if Kiirler is a national person, even if he has committed all these mistakes, as other world leaders do, he MUST resign and go.

    It is incomprehensible, Garang, for Kiirler to invite foreign troops only to protect oilfields on the expense of the people. Kiirler said “he is not going to relinquish some of presidential powers to accommodate Dr Riek.”

    Kiirler is a bunch of ill-full feelings against Riek and Nuer. Kiirler’s major concern is to be the president (Bany Koc leader) without understanding the meaning and purpose of a president.

    I will join my voice to that of Edward Lino and Oyet Nathaniel who said Kiirler (Kiir) must resign to give peace a chance to prevail in our beloved country. Kiirler has failed the nation.

    South Sudan is unlucky. It falls in Kiirler’s uncaring hand!!!!!! Useless man (Kiirler).

    • Dmajak says:

      Southsudan jam, don’t call our leader useless man, kiierless or killer. You don’t know more about this man but I cannot blame you because you are from Congo or Uganda. You can respect him he is one who spent more 30 years.

      • Dmajak
        Respect starts from the individual. If you respect yourself, people will respect you in return. Kiirler is useless because of his ploy to kill innocent civilians in cold blood has reduced him to zero. He doesn’t deserve my respect and the respect of any decent south sudanese. “He MUST go to hell”

        Dmajak, you are masked with that disease of tribalism of dinkanism of Warap. Edward Linoe is a dinka. He condemned your Kiirler and courageously asked him to appologise to the nation and resign. Look at you, the triabalist, corrupt and stupid just like his kiirler president. Useless fellow like his silly, idiot massacer. What does it forfeit Kiirler if he spent 50years fighting against the arabs and in the end kill innocent citizens for being Nuer? Kiirler is nothing but a jeolous stupid uneducated and greedy stooge.

        If Bashir is not allowed to attend the EU-Africa submit for killing the Darforians, Kiirler should not even be invited because he killed innocent Nuer in cold blood. Genocidal president!!!!!

        Dmajak, you and Kiirler have failed and deserve no poltical mercy.

        I am not from Congo, nor Uganda. I am a south sudanese who believes in democracy, justice, transparancy, and rule of law.

  2. Michael Abu says:

    Mr. Kuir, it is not right time to criticized the policy which was just being drafted and on the process of implementation. When every policy is drafted and implemented, there have to be what is known as pilot period and after the pilot period is ended without success, then the policy analyst will review the findings. if the policy implication is found to be a failure then the policy analyst will replicated the process and look for better ways which can improve the policy.
    In your case, you have just criticized the policy which you did not event test it validity and that how we South Sudanese fail our people. We don’t appreciate anything that come out of other people minds and share it with them if doesn’t come from me or you. Doing in my way not your way is what is killing us. There was what and how in this policy when the two policy drafters put it together. Also, you have to know that two fine citizens are professional as well as your self. They might be wrong as human being, but they can be given a benefit of a credit for offering themselves to try something different which was never done fore. Also, the government can be given a credit for trying to looking answers from professionals whom the government always don’t want to deal with them. So, be appreciative to our brothers who wrote the policy and don’t be negative to the policy which is not test yet.

  3. Dmajak says:

    Good job Kuir, you have touched every thing in this article and i think our problems are within Splm especially Leadership because they don’t believe in the opinions of the people in the street and how their families are suffering or facing insecurity. Our leaders feel like when their families and relatives have all needs and wants are satisfied , but that is not they feeling of average citizens. Many of them sleep without food or shelter , but our leaders ‘ families feed their families and have leftover. They also driving nice cars and children attend better school overseas. This thing get to change otherwise we will have no country call South Sudan. We need to work together as one people to change that. Some of us put a blame on Dinka tribe, but we should blame politicians not a tribe

  4. Defender says:

    Good piece of comparative analysis, Kuier. The current debate around way forward for South Sudanese is filled with hope. However, any modalities that are envisioned, must for sure, exclude those who have run our country aground. This way, new thinking will emerge and allow for clean slate to build institutions of governance without looking at the last nine years as a point of departure. The reason being is that those who have been part of the current system, failed to realize their place within the political discourse but thought of themselves as one. This way, no matter how effective they are in understanding the issues presenting, their compromised position, put their effort at the crossroad of genuine reform.

    Using Namibia as a preferable example, will for sure, auger well for incorporating national talents in the building the dilapidated institutions of governments that are currently transpiring across all sectors of our governments. The national and states government are shell of what real institutions of government look like. Thus, creating a true national government that is representative to the cadre of people in the country with the expertise of the UN is very important. The aim of this interim period should be create institutions of government that will enable South Sudanese to build INSTITUTIONS, INFRASTRUCTURES and coin a new IDENTITY that is conducive with ideals of a state that we hope to see. Because the current government has not looked at, nor sought to the address these three I’s that are important to the stability of any functioning state. Instead it focused mostly, on addressing issues of power, through piecemeal peace negotiations with rebels, as a result reducing the power of state and institutions of government into amalgams of personal interests that are protected by the ever increasing ethnic powerbase, disguised as true peace.

    The current peace agreement that was signed with the Yau Yau group is another example of the government trying to divide and rule by creating these pockets illusive realities, while undermining the same in nationally. These are type of realities that the government wants to create to argue that it is really genuine about peace and inclusion, in an open and democratic space.

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