Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 02/2012

South Sudan on the Eve of Independence. Assessing the Viability of the World's Newest State

Berenika Stefańska

July 2011

The Polish Institute of International Affairs


As South Sudan declares independence on July 9, the justified atmosphere of jubilation can be matched only with the mounting anxiety over the new state’s ability to handle a myriad of political, security, economic and social challenges. Some of these problems—dire humanitarian situation, ubiquitous underdevelopment, over-reliance on raw minerals and natural resources for government’s income, anaemic state institutions competing for power and influence with the tribal structures, and ongoing border disputes with neighbours—are typical of many African countries, yet no quick fixes are readily available. It remains to be seen to what extent the international community, which already played a role in bringing about a resolution to the decades-long conflict in 2005, will be able to support South Sudan in steering through troubled waters of the first years of independence.