South Sudan: Statebuilding, Violence and Militarism

Dan Watson//International Relations//21st of January 2015//3-4pm//Arts C133


In 2011, South Sudan formally separated from the Republic of Sudan, following decades of civil war. In the run-up to independence, analysts declared South Sudan to be little more than a “failed state in the making”, given widespread armed violence and extreme underdevelopment. Despite vast quantities of aid being poured into the country by Western donors, and the hope that South Sudan’s sizeable oil reserves would be able to kick-start development in the impoverished territory, the new country lurched from crisis-to-crisis during the first two years of its independence, only for all-out civil war to erupt in December, 2013.

This talk focuses on the internationally-supported ‘statebuilding’ process in South Sudan, which was expected to establish viable state institutions in South Sudan prior to its independence, which could in turn manage insecurity whilst overseeing equitable development. After providing context on the wars which gave birth to South Sudan, this talk will critically assess the international statebuilding project, and advance an alternative explanation for South Sudan’s dismal fate, based on the framework of ‘militarised statebuilding’. This framework captures the tormented relationship between war and state power in South Sudan, whilst exposing the misguided assumptions inscribed into international statebuilding theory and practice.


Dan Watson is in the final year of his PhD in International Relations, which focuses on the relationship between violence and statebuilding in South Sudan. Before starting his PhD, Dan studied Politics at Sussex University, and took his MA in Conflict, Development and Security at the University of Leeds.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s