The world’s newest country, South Sudan, acquired statehood on July 9 as a result of a partition of Sudan that was strongly encouraged by the U.S. (over many years) and ultimately by the EU as a last resort for ending civil war between the largely-Arab north and the sub-Saharan south.
Traditionally, the international community has been hesitant to support secession, viewing it as a destabilizing precedent in other parts of Africa and even in European countries with separatist tensions. The case of Kosovo marked a break with this traditional stance that the West justified by invoking the special circumstances of Serbian oppression in ex-Yugoslavia.
Similar logic – the need for partition as a last resort – was applied to war-torn Sudan. The new country, with its capital Juba, was immediately recognized by Sudan, the U.S. and other major powers, including all 27 EU member states. (In contrast, lingering concerns have prevented recognition of Kosovo by Serbia and by a handful of EU member states.) In statements accompanying recognition, the EU urged Juba to build a democracy, respecting universal values and freedoms.
The outcome is expected to give the U.S. (and Europe) an important new ally strategically located in East Africa in the southern part of what was Africa’s largest nation.
The EU and the U.S. will now be called upon to aid South Sudan in achieving stability thanks to strong economic and political ties with the West. It will be a peaceful case of “nation building” – with good prospects for success. South Sudan has oil and other resources to spend on building its new state from the ground up, but the new country will need sustained international attention to ensure that simmering tensions in the region do not erupt along its borders.
By European Affairs