OPINION — On Peace and Security in South Sudan, three recommendations made during the 5th Governors’ Forum that concluded on Monday and relevant to this article read as follows:
-Encourage the Presidency to expedite the training, graduation and deployment of unified forces.
-National Government provide food and other services to the cantonment/barracks, training and DDR centers.
-Conduct peaceful disarmament across the country.
Well, DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration) has been going on for years, in South (thern) Sudan, with various achievements and challenges.
As far as the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan R-ARCSS is concerned, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission RJMEC Interim Chairperson Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gitua who spoke at the Governors Forum, recommended that the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity “make financial resources available for the completion of the Transitional Security Arrangements, including graduation and redeployment of unified forces, as well as for DDR programmes.”
Also, earlier in 2019, after a meeting of the Parties to discuss the modalities of reconstituting the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Commission was launched in Juba, an IGAD statement noted that “the structure dynamics, especially the design of the DDR programmatic framework, and more importantly the integrity of the DDR Commission as an institution, will…determine the overall success of the DDR process.”
“A functional DDR Commission is central to the overall success of the integrated and cross-cutting transitional security arrangements” IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Amb. Ismail Wais said at the time.
A Brief History:
First, the then Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, 2005 which was based on the CPA, provided for establishment of DDR Commission “to expedite the process of incorporation and reintegration of ex-combatants into other regular forces, civil service and other civilian institutions and society.”
At Independence also, the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 also provided for establishment of Demobilization, Disarmament and Re-Integration Commission (DDR Commission).
UNMISS and others have been involved in DDR programs in South Sudan.
Peacekeeping.un.org writes: “United Nations peace operations are the leading international partner of national institutions implementing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration initiatives, designing context-specific programmes for members of armed groups.
Through a process of removing weapons from the hands of members of armed groups, taking these combatants out of their groups and helping them to reintegrate as civilians into society, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration seeks to support ex-combatants and those associated with armed groups, so that they can become active participants in the peace process. As an alternative path, allowing some ex-combatants to integrate formal uniformed services of the State allows their status to be regularized and ensures a close link between DDR and security Sector Reform.”
While in South Sudan throughout the years various challenges have been faced, including due to the armed conflicts and the process of building a unified national army, the R-ARCSS has made some provisions in relation to the DDR, such as on reconstitution of the DDR Commission, and others.
Some relevant provisions of the R-ARCSS:
– The Parties agree to the disengagement and separation of their forces, which are in close proximity, and the assembly and cantonment of their forces within thirty (30) days of the signing of this Agreement to enable registration of personnel, weapons and equipment accountability, screening, re-organization and/or disarmament and demobilization. Forces in cantonment shall receive non-military logistical supplies including food, shelter and access to medical care. (Article 2.2.2.)
-The Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-Integration of persons with special needs that are ineligible, or not willing to serve in the unified army shall commence at the beginning of the pre-transitional period and continue in parallel with the unification process. (Article 2.4.10).
-In addition to their other responsibilities, all security forces shall prepare for elections-related security tasks at least six (6) months before the end of the Transitional Period. (Article 2.4.11.)
On Lessons and Possible Solutions
Let me point out that despite DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration) has been going on for years, in South (thern) Sudan, with various achievements and challenges, I’m not aware of any legislation governing the process and or the Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-Integration Commission (DDR Commission) itself.
Back then in 2005, the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan only provided the following:
(1) The Southern Sudan Demobilization Disarmament and Re-integration Commission shall be established by the President of the Government of Southern Sudan to expedite the process of incorporation and reintegration of ex-combatants into other regular forces, civil service and other civilian institutions and society.
(2) Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President of the Government of Southern Sudan in accordance with the law.
(3) The structure, composition, functions and terms and conditions of service of the Commission shall be regulated by law. (See Article 153).
Meanwhile, at Independence in 2011, regarding DDR, the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan simply provided that:
(1) There shall be established an independent commission to be known as the Demobilization Disarmament and Re-Integration Commission.
(2) The Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President in accordance with this Constitution and the law.
(3) The structure, composition, functions and terms and conditions of service of the members and employees of the Commission shall be regulated by law. (See Article 149).
And as for the R-ARCSS, here, its relevant provision simply deals with reconstituting the DDR Commission.
Therefore, if at all there is a legislation governing the DDR Commission, let that legislation be improved (reformed) by the legislative assembly, to incorporate lessons from past DDR achievements and challenges, through a credible, inclusive and transparent process, for the good of South Sudan, its people and all involved. If there is no legislation, let one be enacted, also, through a credible, inclusive and transparent process, incorporating lessons from past DDR achievements and challenges, for the good of South Sudan, its people and all involved.
It is also worth pointing out that matters of training, graduation and deployment of unified forces, as per the R-ARCSS, are matters that should involve the parties to the R-ARCSS, through credible and transparent processes, and should not be limited to the Presidency as one of the recommendations at the Governors’ Forum suggest.
Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, a South Sudanese journalist, is the author of the book Freedom of Expression and Media Laws in South Sudan. Roger is also the Producer and Host of The Weekly Review: Making Sense of Relevant Topics and News. He has a background in law.
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