Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: South Sudan New Nation

South Sudan New Nation

  • On July 9 2011, the Republic of South Sudan will join the community of nations. The birth of the Republic of South Sudan has suffused a conflict-ridden part of the world with euphoria. South Sudan, whose eight million people comprise Christians and followers of other African religions, voted in a referendum in January 2011 to separate from the Arab-Muslim dominated north Sudan. The referendum itself was the culmination of a 2005 peace treaty that came after a four-decade long armed struggle by the south Sudanese, backed by the United States and other western powers, in which more than a million people are estimated to have been killed. Foreign dignitaries will converge on its capital, Juba, to watch the new country raise its flag and inaugurate a first President, Salva Kiir Mayardit.

  • On the day of its birth, South Sudan will rank near the bottom of all recognised human development indices. It has the world's highest maternal mortality rate. Estimates of illiteracy among the female population exceed 80 per cent. More than half of its people must feed, clothe and shelter themselves on less than a dollar a day.

  • At the same time, South Sudan has remarkable potential. With substantial oil reserves, huge amounts of arable land and the Nile flowing through its centre, South Sudan could grow into a prosperous, selfsustaining nation capable of providing security, services and employment for its population.

  • Alone, South Sudan cannot meet these challenges nor realise its potential. Doing so will require partnership a full (and on-going) engagement with the international community and, most especially, South Sudan's neighbours.

  • First and foremost, the new leaders of South Sudan should reach out to their counterparts in Khartoum. Strong, peaceful relations with the North are essential. A priority for both countries is agreement on their common border, sustainable relations to ensure both states can benefit from the oil revenues in the region, and cross-border arrangements to continue their strong historical, economic and cultural ties.

  • Ironical as it seems, having achieved a hard-fought liberation from Sudan, Africa's 54th nation is now almost entirely dependent on the good wishes of the parent country for its well-being. This is the big challenge facing the new country. South Sudan has inherited the bulk of the undivided Sudan's oil wealth, with which it hopes to transform its present poor economic conditions. It has already generated investment from the world's major economic powers. But the oil refineries are located in Sudan, as is the seaport from which the oil is exported. The pipelines that take the oil to the port are laid across the length of the north.

  • South Sudan must also reach out to its other neighbours. Across the globe and in Africa, especially the trend is towards regional partnerships. South Sudan will be strengthened by becoming an active participant in the regional organisations of East Africa and developing durable trade and political ties throughout the continent.

  • Finally, South Sudan must reach out to its own people. It must find strength in diversity and build institutions that represent the full constellation of its broad geographic and ethnic communities. The basics of any modern, democratic state must be guaranteed: Free expression, full political rights, inclusive institutions that extend benefits to citizens of rural areas as well as regions affected by conflict.

  • The United Nations is committed to assisting the government of South Sudan meet its many responsibilities.

  • It has proposed a new United Nations mission in South Sudan: To help build the institutions that the country needs to stand on its own.

Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India