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“Hijacked State”: New Report Charts the Structure of South Sudan’s Violent Kleptocracy

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“Hijacked State”: New Report Charts the Structure of South Sudan’s Violent Kleptocracy

Posted by Enough Team on February 13, 2019

In-depth report urges U.S. and international measures to counter corrupt elites and provide leverage for lasting peace

Washington, DC – In a major report released today, the Enough Project provides an in-depth look at South Sudan’s system of violent kleptocracy, detailing how the country’s leaders have enriched themselves while corrupting government institutions, stoking violent conflict, committing mass atrocities, and causing famine.

The report, “A Hijacked State: Violent Kleptocracy in South Sudan,” describes a violent competition for the spoils of power, and charts the origins and formation of a deeply corrupt system that affects nearly every economic sector, its extent and reach, and its deadly cost.

Brian Adeba, report co-author and Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “The advent of peace requires more than the silence of the guns. Although a peace deal was signed in September, it falls short of addressing the root cause of conflict. To avoid a return to destructive conflict, stringent measures must be in place to bolster accountability and stymie the destructive corruption that incentivized war.”

John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry, said: “Removing the massive rewards of violent, competitive corruption is critical to sustainable peace in South Sudan.  U.S. policymakers and international partners should use the full power of the U.S. dollar and the international financial system—on which South Sudan’s leaders rely almost exclusively—to target these leaders’ finances and the corrupt international networks that enable them to continue to wreak horrors on the South Sudanese people.”

While U.S. and international financial pressures have begun, the report points out that more is needed to alter the incentives toward lasting stability and peace in South Sudan.

Report recommendations:

To counter corrupt actors’ continued atrocities—waging war, violating peace agreements, and comprehensively hijacking, abusing, and stealing from South Sudan and its people—the report recommends the following:

  1. Use network sanctions to counter peace spoilers and human rights abusers. The international community, with U.S. leadership, should continue to develop and implement a coordinated strategy to counter conflict financing in South Sudan—making it prohibitively difficult for bad actors and their enablers to move illicit funds and criminal proceeds through the international banking system—by implementing a series of consistent pressures, such as those outlined below. This process has been underway since September 2017 and has included actions by the United States, Canada, the European Union, Australia, and the U.N. Security Council. This process should continue to develop with the following:
    • Implement network-focused sanctions.
    • Broaden existing sanctions.
  2. Deploy anti-money laundering measures to disrupt illicit financial activity. In addition to sanctions, the international community—in particular the U.S. government because of the primacy of the U.S. dollar—must deploy anti-money laundering measures to combat the laundering of the proceeds of corruption by South Sudanese kleptocrats and their networks. When elites move funds obtained through corruption into the formal financial system, they are engaging in money laundering.
  3. Bolster the South Sudanese judicial system. International partners should support South Sudanese judicial institutions and jurists to ensure the Hybrid Court for South Sudan is established and given the capacity and independence that will be required for it to be effective. This includes providing protections for victims and witnesses of crimes and countering a climate of impunity for atrocity crimes and financial misdeeds by ensuring the court maintains a robust docket.
  4. Promote transparency and good governance. South Sudan should prioritize building the capacity and safeguarding the integrity of judicial and governance oversight institutions, as well as ensuring these agencies are fully funded and staffed. Priority institutions for technical capacity include the National Auditing Chamber, the Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Public Accounts Committee in the National Legislative Assembly.
  5. Support civil society and journalists. Leaders and donors should not only hold South Sudanese leaders to their treaty-bound public commitments to promote an empowered civil society, but also directly increase their own support of South Sudanese civil society actors’ efforts to hold their leaders accountable. The international community must also ensure that an independent media is able to function in a safe environment.

Click here to read the full report.

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact please contact: Greg Hittelman, +1 310-717-0606, [email protected].


The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at