The euphoria that followed south Sudan's January vote for independence was quickly overshadowed by the emergence of at least seven armed south Sudanese movements. These southern militias are fighting, not the government in Khartoum, but rather the soon-to-be sovereign southern government in Juba. With less than two months until the south declares independence, the insurgencies are proving to be an intractable problem for the southern government and its military wing.
Redrawing the Lines: The Pitfalls of New States
Despite the international community's experience of the past 20 years, the process by which a new state is born remains a perilous one. Just weeks before its imminent independence, South Sudan is facing military threats to its long-term stability from both outside and inside its borders. In Kosovo, diplomatic gridlock and ethnic divisions continue to undermine that new nation's claim to sovereignty. And in new states born of war, the international community must change its approach to economic reconstruction to better address the specific needs of post-conflict environments.
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For all the ways that Kosovo's declaration of independence on Feb. 17, 2008, was a seminal moment, it changed little. To be sure, it marked the beginning of a fundamentally new phase in Kosovo's political life and led to material as well as symbolic changes in its international status. Yet many of the underlying political challenges and divisions that made Kosovo such a political flashpoint in Europe in the first place remained in place.
The experience of the past two decades provides ample evidence that economic reconstruction is a critical aspect of the multipronged transition to peace and stability in post-conflict environments. However, the international community's development-as-usual approach to reconstruction, combined with its failure to develop a realistic comprehensive strategy, has resulted in many countries struggling to stand on their feet during the transition to peace.