Tag Archives: cessation of hostilities

Monitoring South Sudan’s ceasefire

In the last five years, international monitors in South Sudan have documented more than 100 violations of the country’s numerous cease-fire agreements. A new analysis of the monitors’ data published from April 2014 to August 2018 demonstrates how the conflict changed as the government’s military position strengthened. The statistics also show that the pace of monitoring violations and completing investigation reports significantly slowed over time. Following the September 2018 peace agreement, further incidents of violence have regrettably occurred, and the monitors’ most recent reports have only disclosed some details of those events. To improve their effectiveness, monitors should be more transparent and detailed, and seek to lessen the time it takes to conclude investigations and report findings.

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Twenty problems with the December 2017 cessation of hostilities agreement

Twenty problems with the December 2017 cessation of hostilities agreement

Later this evening, a cessation of hostilities agreement (CoHA) between the government of South Sudan and eight South Sudanese armed groups comes into effect.  The agreement, signed in Addis Ababa and mediated by IGAD, was welcomed by many South Sudanese and the international community (see statements from the AU, Troika, and EU).

The African Union Chairperson called the CoHA a ‘critical first step in the efforts to end the senseless conflict and carnage that has been unfolding in South Sudan since December 2013.’  This CoHA, is, however, the eighth agreement since January 2014 to speak of ending hostilities.

While I’d like to be hopeful about this agreement and join in the optimism of these statements, this CoHA is entirely conventional.  It is thus likely to be dogged by the same problems that have seen past agreements fail.

All cessation of hostilities and ceasefire agreements depend on three factors to succeed:

  1. the will to implement;
  2. the ability to investigate, verify and deter violations;
  3. and, the means to avoid escalating minor breaches of the ceasefire, so that, for example, one undisciplined soldier firing a rifle doesn’t cause a full scale battle.

This CoHA falls short on all three counts.

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Chronology of cessation of hostilities and ceasefire agreements, 2014-15

  1. January 23, 2014: Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and creation of a Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM)
  2. May 5, 2014: Recommitment on Humanitarian Matters in the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement
  3. May 9, 2014: Re-dedication of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
  4. August 25, 2014: Cessation of Hostilities implementation matrix signed by the GRSS; circumstances of the SPLM/A (IO)’s signature are disputed.
  5. November 9, 2014: Re-dedication of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and agreement of implementation modalities matrix by the GRSS and SPLM/A (IO).
  6. February 1, 2015: Recommitment to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and its implementation matrix
  7. August 2015: Permanent Ceasefire agreed