New “Enough Forum” Report – “A Way Out?”

 

This blogpost is about a recent paper published by the Enough Forum. Presented by the Enough Project, the Enough Forum is a platform for dynamic discourse engaging critical issues, challenges, and questions among thought leaders, field researchers, and policy experts. Opinions and statements herein are those of the authors and participants in the forum, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy recommendations of the Enough Project.

Today, the Enough Forum published a new paper “A Way Out? Models for negotiating an exit plan for entrenched leadership in South Sudan.” The author of the paper, whose name remains confidential due to security reasons, states that the outbreak of conflict in Juba, in July 2016 rendered the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) dead, as one of the principal signatories of the agreement former First Vice President Riek Machar fled the country. The South Sudan government led by President Salva Kiir, however, insists that the peace agreement is still alive, yet the humanitarian situation in the country worsens. This paper focuses on select case studies where leadership responsible for the sparking, evolution and/or escalation of various conflicts were induced to exit the political scene through negotiated measures as a means to resolve the conflicts. The measures covered include:

  1. The offer of Asylum
  2. The offer of Amnesty
  3. Financial Leverage: The offer of incentives or disincentives

 

First, the paper explores how asylum was used in the cases of conflict in the Gambia, Liberia and Tunisia where leaders of these nations, Yahya Jammeh, Charles Taylor, and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali respectively, were successfully coerced to step away from power and suggests possible countries of exile that could be provided as options for the South Sudan leadership. The offer of amnesty is then explored through the lens of the resolution of the conflict in Colombia involving the FARC, and President Juan Manuel Santos’ government, as well as the conflict in Haiti involving the armed forces under Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras. In these regions, a hoard of crimes and human rights abuses were committed, but a form of amnesty was granted on condition that power was relinquished. Finally, the paper looks into financial leverage as a way to induce the departure of the warring leaders in South Sudan, and again looks at Haiti, and Uganda as case studies. This financial leverage can be in the form of disincentives such as frozen assets or incentives in the form of stipends to support a life in exile.

The paper then delves into the host of challenges that are bound to be encountered in applying each of these measures. For instance in the case of asylum, there is no guarantee that the leaders will cease to meddle in South Sudan and her issues or uphold the stipulations of their offer of asylum. Furthermore, granting amnesty for crimes and abuses committed can seem to encourage a culture of impunity and deny the victims of abuses some form of closure. Also, providing financial incentives to leaders who have pillaged their countries could potentially leave a country struggling for survival. Despite the challenges presented, the use of these models, play the immediate role of inducing that exit from the political scene, bringing an end to the conflict escalation.

The case studies presented in this paper are those where these measures have worked and have often been used together to create an exit package depending on the uniqueness of the conflicts, and the leaders behind them. Moreover, a host of international and local pressures have often played a crucial role in inducing these exits, particularly the threat of military force from international bodies. The paper also acknowledges that the use of these measures will not necessarily bring an end to the conflict in South Sudan, particularly if the process is hijacked by equally problematic leaders or if a power vacuum is created. The premise of this paper thus, is solely to serve as a platform for conversation and to recommend possible tools that may be useful exit models, if the implementers and guarantors of the South Sudan peace agreement decide to use a negotiated exit strategy to bring an end to the conflict in South Sudan.