Resource Guide: South Sudan

Earlier this month, Americans celebrated the 235th anniversary of the country’s independence with picnics and fireworks displays. Just five days later, on July 9th, another country celebrated its Independence Day, except in this case for the very first time. That country was South Sudan. Here are links to some essential articles on this historic event, so that you can learn all you need to know about the world’s newest country.

Overview and Background

If you are looking for a good starting place – or simply want a brief and succinct overview of the key details – look no further than these two BBC features:

For even more background on the conflicts and events leading up to Sudan’s “divorce,” check out these two links:

  • The New York Times Topics Page for South Sudan provides a concise yet thorough history of the region from the 1950s to today, including information on the 2005 Peace Accord and recent developments and challenges. Here you can also find links to the latest New York Times news articles on the subject.
  • Bashir’s Choice, an article from Foreign Policy, explains how Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir’s choice to rule through violence and repression have shaped recent outcomes.

Finally, Sudan: One Country or Two? – an interactive map from the BBC – provides a graphic depiction of the differences between north and south.

The Role of the U.S.

In his blog entry Welcome to South Sudan! Nicholas Kristof notes the important role diplomacy played in managing the situation:

“Today’s peaceful separation is, in part, a triumph of diplomacy over war. … The situation is fragile and troubled — but still better than many expected a year ago, and it’s a reminder that diplomacy can be an incredibly powerful tool to avert humanitarian catastrophes.”

Two articles also explain how conservative Christian groups pushed for government action in Sudan, while Hollywood celebrities raised awareness of the country’s issues among the general population:

Independence Day

News coverage of South Sudan’s Independence Day depicts what happened on July 9th, and provides some general insights into potential future challenges.

The BBC, the New York Times and the Economist also share pictures of the celebrations that took place that day.

World Leaders Welcome New Nation (BBC News) gives an overview of some of the statements and reactions made by leading international figures.

Challenges Ahead: Implications and Analysis

There is a lot involved in creating a new country – choosing an anthem, designing currency and forming national sports teams are just a few. You can read more about some of these challenges in How Do You Set up a Nation? (BBC News)

However, South Sudan faces many even graver challenges: ethnic violence, armed rebels, low levels of economic development, conflict at the new border, dividing the oil profits, and the role of the army as the country’s mentality shifts from civil war to governance, among others.

In an interview with The Economist, Roger Middleton of Chatham House, an expert on the region, covers many of these challenges and how South Sudan can manage the high expectations its citizens have for the future.

These articles also analyze what South Sudan must overcome moving forward:

What implications does Southern independence have in “North” Sudan and for the rest of the world? Check out the following articles for some insights:

By Rebecca Somple, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Intern

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