On 9 July, South Sudan becomes the world’s youngest state following one of Africa’s longest and deadliest civil wars. As such it faces many challenges – 90% of the population live below internationally defined income standards; 92% of women cannot read or write; one out of every seven children dies before their fifth birthday; and few children complete primary school.
As the South becomes independent, both the North and South will face a number of socio-economic challenges which require the early mobilization of the international community to ensure the development of two viable states and to consolidate the peace attained, despite recent military clashes along the border.
On 13 June, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission convened an informal joint event “Promoting Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Sudan and South Sudan“ to highlight the importance of development to peace; the need for effective international support to Sudan and South Sudan and the importance of regional cooperation.
Two panel sessions were held under the themes “Development and state-building priorities in South Sudan” and “Promoting durable peace and sustainable development in the Sudan and South Sudan: A regional perspective“.
The event featured statements by many high-level representatives including the President of ECOSOC, Lazarous Kapambwe; Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, Eugène-Richard Gasana; President of the General Assembly, Joseph Deiss, Deputy Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro; Permanent Representative of the Sudan to the United Nations, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman; and Vice-President of Southern Sudan Riek Machar.
Acknowledging that this meeting takes place at a critical time, many speakers conveyed the importance of capacity building in South Sudan and the need for efficient international cooperation and support. They also underscored the need for political stability and basic security for development, as well as the importance of national ownership and an inclusive and participatory approach to governance to restore confidence and create legitimacy of the new state.
“It is well recognized that economic and social development can only occur if basic security is provided. At the same time, a successful and rapid implementation of economic and social programmes could help to stabilize the fragile security situation. This is why this joint special event between our two bodies is so important,” said Lazarous Kapambwe, President of ECOSOC, in his opening statement.
Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly, also recognized that the UN and the international community face a historic moment, “in a few weeks, a new State will formally declare its independence and will become a Member of the United Nations. This is a remarkable achievement, and we must spare no effort to ensure that this process is a success. This is critical, not only for the history of Sudan and of its people, but for the entire region and the continent,” he said.
Shortly after 9 July, South Sudan is expected to become a member of the UN, making the total number of member states 193. At this time, the new state will also have a development plan ready to highlight its needs to the international community.