Sudan and South Sudan

Archive Profile

2014 Country Profile

Since the July 2011 referendum which separated Sudan from its southern territory, now known as South Sudan, both states have been preoccupied by internal armed conflict with the relationship between the newly formed neighbours defined by hostility and suspicion which periodically threatens to erupt into full-scale war. Throughout most of 2013 and 2014, Juba and Khartoum turned inward to face security threats at home and confront the domestic fallout from declining economic growth due to falling oil prices further weakening economies stymied by recurrent armed conflict. The result is a fragile détente supported by a September 2012 agreement to establish a buffer zone to span the border, but few steps have been taken to delineate the border and each side continues to suspect the other of nurturing unrest within its borders by supporting rebels in the territory of the other. The unresolved status of the resource rich enclave of Abyei also colours relations with both sides choosing neither to concede their claim, nor to act to resolve the territorial dispute. The African Union (AU) through the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and its liaison offices in the region as well as the UN mission in Abyei and the office of UN Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan have carefully managed the uneasy peace that currently reigns between the East African nations.

The first shot of South Sudan’s civil war was fired in Juba on 15 December 2013 and thrust Africa’s youngest country into intense armed conflict that has resisted regional mediation and shaped the domestic and international politics of South Sudan and Sudan. Though South Sudan has been riddled with low intensity armed conflicts waged by local rebel groups and intercommunal fighting before and since independence, the outbreak of violence in December 2013 found the UN mission- The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) grossly unprepared and demanded a dramatic shift in mandate as the mission struggled to rebuff attacks against civilians and peacekeepers and humanitarian workers became victim to escalating violence throughout 2014. With the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the region security and development body leading a stuttering mediation process characterised by multiple failed commitments to ceasefire, UNMISS found itself responsible for protecting civilians as violence escalated and a devastating humanitarian crisis continued to unfold displacing over 1.4 million people by mid-2014.

In Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir’s regime continued its protracted battle against a range of armed coalitions and militia in Darfur and the volatile regions of South Kordofan state and Blue Nile known as the ‘Two Areas’ with the humanitarian situation further deteriorating as a result of frequent violence and limited humanitarian access to conflict-affected areas. In January 2014, as pockets of intense conflict shaped the political space, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) announced its intensions to hold a national dialogue. This emerges as the mission in Darfur confronts allegations of covering up human rights abuses while relations between the joint AU and UN mission and the state have worsened with the regime demanding the mission’s withdrawal. However the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to suspend the case against Al-Bashir for alleged abuses committed in Darfur due to lack of Security Council support to pursue the investigation has fuelled fears that Khartoum will intensify its search for a military solution to quash domestic revolt.


The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) set the terms for the 2011 referendum ending the decades long civil war and began a complex transitional period that included diplomatic efforts from a host of international bodies with particular attention paid to the region by the UN, AU and EU who aided the states to address the multiple security and development questions that emerged from Sudan’s break up. The CPA was signed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLM/SPLA) the major Read More...

Key developments

The border between the two states is of keen strategic importance for both and comprises some of the region’s most fertile land which could be important to the new state’s fledging economy and Sudan’s economic future after the loss of significant oil interests following the secession. Armed border communities aligned to the belligerents also have a significant effect on the internal political and security dynamic.[Craze, J (2014) Contested Borders: Continuing Tensions over the Sudan–Sout Read More...


Security in Sudan and South Sudan is intractably intertwined and domestic insecurity greatly shapes how the East African states respond to each other and inter-state hostilities. The last two years have seen each state turn inward to face a range of threats posed by rebel groups, ethnic militia and intercommunal fighting in the absence of adequate state institutions for security and dispute resolution. Nevertheless, trouble at home also provokes each state to look outwards with suspicion to find Read More...

More than a year after South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, Sudan and South Sudan remain embroiled in border disputes, while conflict in Sudan’s South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur states persists, creating a challenging environment in which the nine international peace operations deployed by the UN, AU, and EU operate.

Peace agreements that remain the basis for ongoing negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan saw little forward movement in 2012 as deadlocks persisted. An intensifying dispute over the Abyei area and oil agreements nearly escalated to full-scale war between the two countries in April 2012. Tension was slowly diffused through UN and AU-mediated agreements reached in September, including on oil revenues. However, for much of the year, both countries suffered the consequences of oil-related austerity measures. In addition, these agreements have yet to be implemented, leaving the potential for renewed violence in 2013.

Deteriorating security in South Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan worsened humanitarian conditions and further increased instability. Ongoing clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebel group intensified in the latter part of 2012. Ethnic conflict in Jonglei state in South Sudan un-derscored the extent of security reform necessary to stabilize the country.


The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) settled a decades-long conflict between Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/SPLM). In order to support implementation of the CPA, coordinate humanitarian assistance, promote human rights, and protect civilians, the Security Council authorized the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in March 2005. The six-year interim period of the CPA ended after the CPA stipulated referendum, which resulted in secession for South Sudan in July 2011. Read More...

Key developments

Sudan and South Sudan Tension between Sudan and South Sudan, which escalated to the brink of war in April 2012, remained high throughout the remainder of the year due to unresolved issues including citizenship, oil revenue, and border demarcation. After the closure of UNMIS, issues relating to the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states were incorporated into mediation efforts by the UN and AU on the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, further complicating negotiations. Read More...


While negotiations on various peace accords between Sudan and South Sudan continued throughout 2012, very little progress was made and peace operations in the two countries continue to struggle against fragile political and security realities. Looking ahead, domestic issues in Sudan may further limit the government’s commitment and capacity to implement the various agreements. Growing civil unrest over the economy and other government practices resulted in protests in July and in December, and Read More...