The Venture of Separatism: Lessons From the Secession of South Sudan


 World Report 2018: South Sudan | Human Rights Watch


This study examines the extent to which separatism in South Sudan led the failure of the state and its institutions and aims to draw lessons from this experience. In order to do so, this qualitative case study uses an empirical inquiry on the real problems that engendered immature separatism and subsequently a failed state in South Sudan. The approach of this study is constructivist in the sense that it considers a multitude of factors explaining the failure of Southern Sudanese separatism in its statehood and nation building enterprise. This study finds that culture and identity alone do not justify separatism, and that when culturally based separatism turns into a state, the state fails. The paper also examines and refutes single-point analysis arguments trying to explain state failure in South Sudan by reducing the causes to a single problem. It rules out the validity and reliability of single-point analyses. It starts with building the argument against the culturalist approach that holds culture as justifier for independence. It continues to probe the statist argument that blames the failure of the state on the actions of other states. It also examines the validity of the internationalist argument that posits with confidence that the international community was able to make the South Sudanese state succeed but did not. The study finally probes the institutionalist argument that holds military professionalism and other societal institutions key to explain the problem and offer its solution in South Sudan. The paper argues that the failure of separatism in South Sudan has much to do with structural development and modernization of society and its institution, that is, if the south were socially and institutionally modern enough to embrace statehood - which is a modern concept, it would be ready for a mature separatist venture and a successful state building process.

Keywords: Sudan, South Sudan, Separatism, Secession, Transnational Security, Culturalism, Failed State, Development

Harrak Srifi, Yasser, The Venture of Separatism: Lessons From the Secession of South Sudan (December 30, 2017). Available at SSRN: or


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