Reference : Seeking 'truth' after devastating, multi-layered conflict: The complex case of transi...
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Seeking 'truth' after devastating, multi-layered conflict: The complex case of transitional justice in South Sudan
Owiso, Owiso mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF) > Law Research Unit >]
Conference on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law: Challenges Ahead
05-09-2019 to 07-09-2019
Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI)
[en] transitional justice ; truth commission ; South Sudan ; accountability
[en] Barely three years after seceding from Sudan following five decades of armed struggle against systematic marginalisation and oppression, South Sudan descended into a protracted civil war from 15 December 2013 when President Salva Kiir and Deputy President Riek Machar fell out. The signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan on 17 August 2015 after almost two years of devastating conflict thus signalled hope for the beginning of the long process of reconciliation and social (re)construction in South Sudan. This hope was, however, short-lived when, barely eleven months after the signing of the Agreement, Kiir and Machar fell out again and the civil war continued. Again, the concerted efforts of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, supported by the African Union and other international stakeholders, secured a recommitment to the 2015 Agreement by Kiir, Machar and a host of other splinter rebel groups on 12 September 2018 in the form of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-Agreement). The conflict was characterised by widespread and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law possibly amounting to international crimes committed by all parties to the conflict, most of which have been painstakingly documented by multiple entities including the African Union Commission of Inquiry into South Sudan, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of internally Displaced Persons and civil society organisations. In order to deal with the legacy of the conflict, the R-Agreement provides a transitional justice roadmap for South Sudan which includes proposals for the creation of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (the Commission), the Compensation and Reparation Authority and the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (Hybrid Court). The objective of this paper is to examine the potential of the Commission to contribute towards sustainable transitional justice solutions in South Sudan, based on contemporary standards and practice of transitional justice. The paper adopts (i) a historical approach in order to understand the context of truth-seeking in South Sudan and history’s influence on the R-Agreement’s transitional justice provisions, and (ii) descriptive and analytical approaches in examining the proposed design and operation of the Commission. The paper also draws inspiration from truth-seeking experiences in other countries and explores possibilities for learning. Notably, South Sudan is still restive and as such, the analysis in this paper is set against the background of a society caught in the uncertain and ambiguous state between conflict and post-conflict. Therefore, while exploring its key objective, the paper also grapples with the complex question of when a society can be considered to be ‘ripe’ for transitional justice intervention.
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