ACCORD has been working with South Sudanese stakeholders over the past 12 years, and opened its first in-country office in April 2012 as part of its South Sudan Initiative (SSI). Recognising the potential for conflict between the Sudan and South Sudan and within South Sudan itself, the SSI's sustainable peacebuilding approach unites several strategic programmes designed support to the South Sudanese people in meeting the challenges of the post-independence period. ACCORD actively works at the national, regional, and grassroots levels throughout South Sudan to promote peace, reconciliation, and peacebuilding initiatives.
The Republic of South Sudan became Africa's newest country on 9 July 2011, marking a formal split with its northern neighbor, the Republic of the Sudan. South Sudan (644,329 sq. km) is roughly the size of France but has a low population density, with its total populous comprising an estimated 8.3 million. From 1955-72 and 1983-2005, the Sudanese government and various rebel groups (led by the Sudan's Peoples Liberation Army) engaged in a series of violent and all-encompasing wars. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was forged and ratified in 2005 between the Sudanese government and the SPLA, paving the way for a January 2011 referendum on the independence of South Sudan.
In April 2011, ACCORD entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South Sudanese government's Ministry of Peace and CPA Implementation (now reconfigured as the South Sudan Peace Commission), which was renewed in November 2012. This formal collaboration between ACCORD and the Peace Commission allows for the institution to coordinate its initiatives with and help facilitate the continued implementation of South Sudan's 2011-13 strategic objectives and policy frameworks for peace and reconciliation. ACCORD's continued commitment to South Sudan has led to the development of long-term relationships with key stakeholders, including the African Union, the United Nations, international governmental and nongovernmental partners and civil society organisations representing women, youth, media, trade unions, traditional leaders, business associations and academic institutions.
Over the first year of the SSI, ACCORD has engaged in a number of important activities, which have included: surveying and collaborating with the existing mechanisms conflict sensitive planning and development, conflict management, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding; coordinating the efforts to develop a standardized conflict management training toolkit; providing conflict management, mediation, and negotiation trainings to South Sudanese, officials, diplomats, civil society leaders, lawyers, and paralegals, and United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) civil affairs officers; and conducting research engagements related to the implementation of the CPA and local land conflicts.
The deployment of core staff for the SSI in Juba has allowed for ACCORD to garner enhanced understanding of the current environment in the country, allowing the institution's staff members to better conceptualise programme activities that are responsive to the context. Increased and regular interaction with key stakeholders and decision-makers in government, with civil society actors and with representatives of the international community present within and beyond Juba, has enhanced the opportunities for cooperation, partnerships and collaboration among the various stakeholders towards the ultimate goal of promoting peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan.