Use of force & governance: Is the use of force necessary for good governance in South Sudan?

By: David Deng Chapath, Kampala, Uganda, FEB/08/2017, SSN;

The readers of this article may find it odd for combining force and governance as the co-existence of the two is not always seen clearly in a democratic society. According to the Constitution of South Sudan, South Sudan is a democratic country that must respect human rights and democratic principles.

When we talk of human rights as seen in the above paragraph, we are simply talking of the respect of personal liberties and freedoms, and that is the reason why the use of force is not frequently observed in democratic country.

However, where the country is in chaos as we see in the case of South Sudan, then there is a need for the use of force to reform the people in order to maintain law and order, which means that the use of force is necessary in South Sudan.

It is due to the above arguments that we can give the meaning to the recent statement of the president of South Sudan in which he declares that force must be used against those who rape women and girls.

In the recent press report that was shown live on the television, President Kiir while he was in Yei called for execution of Soldiers who rape civilians as a human rights abuses in South Sudan. The statement has earned him praise and criticism from different circles.

Therefore, in this article I intend to take the statement of the president on the execution of rapists as the entry point to tell the public that the use force and governance are related and necessary in South Sudan if South Sudan is to achieve law and order and the rule of law.

In doing that I will first define force, then the governance, the importance of force in the process of governance and then I will conclude by recommending to the president on how he can use force without being held accountable by the international community.

As pointed out in the above paragraph, I now begin by defining what is meant by the term “force”. It should be observed onset that there is no clear definition of force as used by the government.

In simple language, it’s any action that changes the direction of objects to the desired direction. In relation to our case, force in governance is a process of establishing a new state or government through the use of force, which is also sometimes referred to as conquest theory.

In general, force occurs when a person or a group of people take control of an area, such as a state, and make everyone in that area or state follow their rules and beliefs. For example, if the leader is to be successful, then he or she must come up with a policy and rules and then make everyone in the country abandon their old ways and adopt new rules and if they insist on old ways, then force must be used to ensure that they obey the new rules.

When the rules as discussed in the above paragraph are obeyed and applied consistently and without discrimination, then we talk of the rule of law. By the rule of law, I mean the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials.

It is important to note that lack of the rule of law can be found in both democracies and dictatorships, for example because of neglect or ignorance of the law, and the rule of law is more apt to decay if a government has insufficient corrective mechanisms for restoring it as seen in the case of South Sudan.

Importantly, the nature of law does not determine the rule of law but what determines it is the political will coupled with the observance of the laws of state. Hence, a law may be bad but if there is a political will to do what the law requires as guided by human rights then there will be no arbitrariness and people will even respect the law because of its certainty.

When there is a certainty of the law, the rule of law will prevail. Where there is a rule of law then democracy and human rights are respected. The respect of the two means that there good governance.

Good governance cannot be achieved unless there is an effective government, which is a body whose sole responsibility and authority is to make binding decisions in a given geopolitical system by establishing laws. Binding decisions are made when the government has enough power to implement the decision strictly. This can only be established when there is force.

In relation to the above, good governance is achieved through the legitimate use of force. Hence, good governance refers to the way the rules, norms and actions are structured, sustained, regulated in order to ensure accountability in the government.

In order to achieve rule of law and good governance that will result into the respect of human rights and democracy, there must be the use of force. For instance, state of emergency is declared in order to legitimize the use of force by the government.

As seen above, the importance of force is that without force there will be no rule of law and law and order. This is because the government is not able to control the citizens. In a country like South Sudan, there is a need for the use of force to maintain law and order.

The presence of law and order indicates the presence of the law of rule and good Governance. Good governance is ultimately concerned with creating the conditions for ordered rule and collective action. In that respect, it must be observed that the outputs of governance are not therefore different from those of government but it is rather a matter of a difference in processes.

In fact, the political theorists define the government in term of force as the formal institutions of the state and their monopoly of legitimate coercive power. In this respect, coercive power is in other word a legitimate use of force. Therefore, the government like that of South Sudan is supposed to have the ability to make binding decisions and capacity to enforce them if its decisions are accompanied by force in case of the failure by those affected to implement such decisions.

However, the problems of South Sudan have been caused by the failure of the Government to use force, and instead, the president always resorts into pleading with citizens and politicians no matter how clearly they are wrong. Hence, people grow horns and put themselves above the law and consequently cause chaos as they wish.

What the government of South Sudan should understand from today onward is that to be a good government the leaders should not be good or soft but they must be ready to use force where necessary to instill fear in trouble makers and then with time introduce the rule of law and democracy when some reforms have taken place.

It is upon the above fact, the government is understood to refer to the formal and institutional processes which operate at the level of the nation state to maintain public order and facilitate collective action.

Nonetheless and as I have already pointed out above, the absence of law and order in most part of South Sudan is due to the fact that the president is not willing to use force against the citizens which corrupt the system thus taking advantage of his good heart.

When I talk of corrupting the system I mean any bad works perpetuated by some citizens that affect majority of South Sudanese negatively.

In reality, a country like South Sudan will never develop without the rule of law and to ensure the rule of the law, there must be force. Hence, force is necessary in South Sudan to control people and to reform them. The fact is that in the country where there is no rule of law, it is stronger group that rules the minority and with time the other stronger group rules the weaker and the cycle goes on and on indefinitely.

In summary, in South Sudan, the President is not respected because they see him not a threat since he does not use force. The overall consequences of the failure to use force by the president are the anarchy, corruption, power struggle, land grabbing and disappearance of judicial system and finally the demise of the rule of law and democracy.

It was good that president realized recently that there is a need for the use force to stabilize the country. A country where everybody is above or equal to the government does not develop or progress as people will not obey the orders. In that regard, there is a need for military rule in South Sudan to ensure that reform and transformation of the citizens are achieved.

However, my advice to the president is that he should look for proper legal advisers to advise him on what to say in the public that affects international law or human rights law. This is because many human rights organizations are out there to do business with what the leaders say in regard to human rights and use of force. Hence, they are likely to take the words out of context although the president well intends it.

NB//: the author is South Sudanese Students staying in Uganda and can be reached through:

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