South Sudan: A Functioning State or a Failed State!!!

By Hon James Pui Yak,

Eating leaves of trees, water Lillies, reptiles, roots while starving more than 50, 000 children may die from hunger, million displaced and more than half of the country's population live in poverty as Salva Kiir government invest billions of US dollars in military to fight the war(Photo: Africa Review)

Eating leaves of trees, water Lillies, reptiles, roots while starving more than 50, 000 children may die from hunger, million displaced and more than half of the country’s population live in poverty as Salva Kiir government invest billions of US dollars in military to fight the war(Photo: Africa Review)

April 27, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — There is too much controversy across the political spectrum surrounding the current status of south Sudan as to whether it is a functioning or a failed state. The so called government and its proponents believe South Sudan is still a functioning state since the government is very much in control of the country territorial integrity and more over the government institutions still performs some of their public duties in a normal and an ordinary manner.

On the other hand some critics including prominent political figures from the opposition side contends that South Sudan is a failed state because the government is losing its grip on the country security in addition to its outright failure to provide the necessary functions that qualifies it to be a government.

While the third group including some experts on South Sudan politics says the country cannot be designated a failed state status because initially there were no proper institutions in place that could be said to have failed, inasmuch as the whole system is arranged in an atavistic and haphazard way it therefore render it a no system at all according to this group.

But in order to tackle this central conundrum it is imperative to put the country into its proper perspective first by explaining the necessary conditions that make a country a functioning state and then secondly highlight the situation that turned a country into a failed state.

Certainly, by outlining the two scenarios mentioned above the reader would have been equipped with adequate knowledge that shall enable him/her make an independent judgment as to whether South Sudan is a functioning or a failed state and which of the three cited arguments carry the day.

Finally, the author shall posit some insight into the contemporary situation in the country following the political turmoil engendered by the armed confrontation between the government and the opposition forces in the aftermath of Dec 15, 2013 Juba massacre.

Conditions that make a country a functioning state                                                 

A country is said to be a functioning state when it carries out all or most of these ten core functions listed and explained here under.

Rule of law: perhaps the most crucial function performed by the state is law making (establishing the rules by which the society operates). Laws define both the powers and limits of the state and the people within that state. In any particular territory, one can judge the degree of the rule of law by the extent to which the state is constituted by formal rules to which people actually adhere.

Monopoly of the legitimate means of violence: control over the use of violence brings three distinctive processes together. The first is the establishment of the monopoly over the means of destruction and the use of force, the second is the establishment of the legitimacy needed to subordinate violence to decision making, and the third is the use of force according to certain rules against the citizens of the state who challenge its legitimacy.

Administrative control: administrative control should be managed by the government professionals who are accountable to the citizenry and recruited through an open process. They achieve control by organizing a state territory, functionally and spatially via a unified body of rules and practices.

Sound management of public finances: it is the vehicle through which state can realize public goals. Efficient collection and allocation of resources among contending priorities turns ideas and aspirations into concrete outcomes. The record of the state activities lies most clearly in its budgets, which is both the medium and the message. The budget brings the rights and duties of citizenship into balance.

Investment in human capital: investment in human capital is the key to the formation of the middle class in the country. As professions emerged, spurred on in part by the expansion of universities, they became critical to social mobility. Economic productivity and growth now depend on an educated and healthy population.

Creation of citizenship rights through social policy: when the state uses social policy as an instrument for the establishment of equal opportunities, the social fabric created can lead to a sense of national unity and a shared believe of a common destiny. Social policy turns the state from an organization into a community of common sentiment and practice. The nation – state subjects become citizens.

Provision of infrastructure services: adequate transportation, power, water, communications and pipelines all underlie the state’s ability to provide security, administration, investment in human capital and the necessary conditions for a strong market economy.

Formation of a market: the state support the creation and expansion of the market through three major measures: setting and enforcing rules for commercial activity, supporting the operations and continued development of the private enterprise, and intervening at times of market failure.

Management of public assets: the state’s capital is not just made up of money but also a huge array of assets ranging from fixed assets such as land, equipments, buildings, cultural heritage to natural capital – forests, rivers, seas, minerals to intangible assets such as licenses to operate service and manage the radio spectrum or to import or export of goods. The way these assets are put to work for collective good is a marker of the state’s effectiveness.

Effective public borrowing: public borrowing which is a basic foundation of the banking system is critical to operation of the financial sector. The state has always played a central role of public lending institutions and the creation of the instruments of public lending and borrowing.

Conditions that turns a country to a failed state

A country becomes a failed state when it failed to perform the aforementioned core ten functions and the resultant conditions that would inevitably follow if the government failed to perform those functions are hereby explained below.

The country’s leadership embrace authoritarian model of governance and vested all hopes and power in the state. Some could not agree on the rules of the game for exercising public power and fell into conflict.

Relations between the rulers and the ruled are tensed, poverty become entrenched, and a distinctive category of ultra poor emerges.

Civil wars are extreme illustrations of the failure of politics. Overt hostility takes an immense toll on daily life, destroys a country’s accumulated stocks, and inflicted a terrible cost on economic opportunity.

The country’s leadership time and again has rejected stewardship of the public good in favor of zero – sum political games and accumulation of personal and family wealth.

Tensions and cleavages along ethnic, religious, race and class lines are exacerbated. At times the consequences can be tragic, leading in most extreme cases to ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Wide spread migration to neighboring and other country as the war displaced people from their homes to become either internally displaced persons IDPs in their own country or sought refuge to other countries.

Failure of the country to translate the latent assets into active flows of resources and connections that could save and transform the lives of millions

The state becomes the key obstacle to the realization of aspirations of millions of people to be active participants in a world that is both prosperous and secure. Therefore, in so doing the government deny legitimate opportunity to the poor. Every day is a missed chance to remove the gaps and Marshall Assets that would address the basis of poverty. Enable people to create stocks of capital and links to the flows of knowledge and wealth.

The contemporary situation

The following conditions formed the contemporary situation in south Sudan especially in the aftermath of the outbreak of the internal conflict following the Juba massacre in 2013.

Clear absence of the rule of law, arbitrary arrest, media intimidation, rampant killing, and robberies are the order of the day in south Sudan.

Physical and human Security is virtually nonexistence in the three states of the greater Upper Nile in addition, to some part of greater Bahr el Gazal and greater Equatoria.

Pervasive corruption is the bane of the country economic growth. Poverty is becoming entrenched instead of the government working toward its eradication.

The government had completely failed to provide some basic services with the money it obtain from the oil proceeds but instead uses this money to buy weapons and mercenaries to fight its war.

Ethnic and tribal cleavages had increase and are polarizing the political situation further in the country seriously eroding by the day social fabric of the country population.

The country leadership is becoming increasingly authoritarian and as such individual human rights are infringed by the country security apparatus with total impunity.

The country’s leadership instead of using politics as a platform where power is peacefully transferred from one party to the other then politics became a catalyst for ethnic hatred and social divisions.

Massive displacement of people throughout the country where they live in UN protected camps not to mention large number of the population that took refuge in Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and other far away countries within the region and beyond.

In conclusion, having outlined all those conditions that make a country a functioning or a failed state and further highlight the contemporary situation in the country, the ball is in the reader’s court to provide his/her own judgement on the current status of south Sudan as a country. taken together the conditions mentioned in the failed state plus the current situation in the country place south Sudan within states that have what is called the sovereignty gap a phenomenon created by a failed system. But remember the corollary thesis is that when a state failed to perform those functions expected of it as a functioning state, it then would have no any other designation apart from that of a failed state.

The author can be reached at

  16 comments for “South Sudan: A Functioning State or a Failed State!!!

  1. ater
    April 27, 2015 at 1:10 am

    It is apparent that you in person and some few misguided Nuer elements ,who post their articles/opinions or whatever you call it,truly lack patriotism and nationalism as shown through many weird things they write often about their own country.No matter whichever wicked pictures you painted on S.Sudan ,you naturally remain a South Sudan national and the whole world is watching your dark hearts through many unimaginable things you wish happen to your people,such writing is equated to washing your dirty lenient in public.Showing pictures of your people grazing isn’t it a great shame enough on you or seeking sympathy from the world viewers.God refused to let you succeed in your coup attempt due to dark hearts you embodied and wanting to wipe out other tribes off S.Sudan’s face,remember whatever you wish happen to your people ,will happen even if wish them eat human flesh God will grant it to you, and will face the wrath posting all this rubbish on your supposed website.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GatNor
      April 27, 2015 at 4:01 am

      Majority of the Nuers are on the right track and on the path of change for betterment of South Sudan. What about the rest of the country lets for get Nuers for a second, where are they in comparison to Nuers. Their head is deep up Kiir’s butt my friend.


      • Abuchook
        April 27, 2015 at 1:43 pm

        Dear Respective Readers,

        Please Do not be misleading by idiots group of this site such as GatNor and many blind others who can not see far enough away from their own judgment.

        Here’s factual history Information about our beloved country of South Sudan and Riek please read this article piece:

        Riek Machar left SPLM/A in 1991 and he stayed in Khartoum for 11 years when Dr Garang was fighting in the bush . Dr Garang negotiated the birth of South Sudan at  Naivasha in Kenya . The birth of South Sudan was a result of 6 protocols. Which protocols did Riek sign? Riek is not  a signatory to any protocols that give birth to South Sudan . Riek is a traitor in the history of South Sudan and Garang is  hero with confident . So attributing the independence of South Sudan to Riek is stealing of Medal.

        Thank you very much.


        • GatNor
          April 27, 2015 at 8:03 pm

          Such a lier. you think we don’t have documents to refer to… The union of garang and machar force let to cpa. any signature missing and you would not have the union, cpa and ultimately not south sudan. logic with that you dump f*ck.


    • Abuchook
      April 27, 2015 at 6:32 am

      Mr. JAMES,





      • GatNor
        April 27, 2015 at 9:20 am

        If it was a Nuers leader that was the president carrying out ethnic cleansing massacres around different locations around Juba that horrible Dec/2013, we would all condemn it regardless of who was being target it not only that but he/she would be ask to resigned at once much like Kiir now.

        Whether any idiot wants to make it a tribal quarrel or not it would not matter but justice is what matter at the end of the day. Kiir and his accomplices can not stand trial until they are removed from power. This is the way of governing and those who disagree on Kiir stepping down are pretty much saying the country should not be govern according to the rule of law.

        You abu-cieth are part of why the war continue. People called for Kiir to step down and he said he will always be the leader of that country South Sudan. What does that means to you Mr Genius. Now how can you put this only on Nuers without considering the stand of others that are not Nuers involved in the conflict.


    • April 27, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      The matter is not online war neither or by telling who wer are, its who we be and what entails.


  2. April 27, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Those are Healthy vegetables foods,they are poor,but they Healthy than Riek Machar and Kiir because they don’t eat meats everyday,they fishes,drink milk and a lot of free fruits. Only violent is disturbing them,they have everything free of charge.


  3. April 27, 2015 at 2:03 am

    It is the government who can change all country to become civilized.It was very shamed when those of John Garang and his cronies treated village people as they Barefooted. They call them Dust-footed and Bare-footed,they said it openly,but those villages are very intelligent,they have fought the war and die for nothing and gain nothing,while SPLM where sleeping in luxurious Hotels.


  4. Ghol Chot
    April 27, 2015 at 2:31 am

    A lot of noises are aren’t to going to take us anywhere. Be they the noises from the rebels, the government and anybody else in between. The rebels were just parts of the same system that they claimed have failed the South Sudanese people, but they chose to take up arms and are ever without the slightest tinge of shame making a lot noises about the lack of progress in South Sudan as if South Sudanese people do not know who they were then and who they are now!

    The rebels are the contributing factor to food insecurity in the villages and they always try to blame others. Why are the Nuers refusing to come out of the so-called UN compounds and be farming like everybody else? Because they are comfortable with the UN hand-outs.

    For all l know, we are the laziest people in the world. All we want is to be employed by the government and then be importing our food from Uganda and Kenya and that is we all seem to need in life—-and that is honest fact with our people.

    Our people have never been food sufficient even in the best of times let alone in this situation. So these noises that Riek Machar and his mad crooks would offer anything different are nothing but pure jokes.

    Taban Deng Gai was a governor of Unity state until he was sacked just like several others and what has he to show to the people of Unity state? zilch!

    Riek Machar is now even creating new states and he has not tell his followers where the budget for those new states would come from. But his followers just flow with his rubbish, because they don’t know any better.

    We like to talk too much and do little. We like to apportion blames on others, but we failed to look ourselves in the mirror first before we blame others of corruptions and incompetence.

    Riek Machar rebellion which 99% Nuers think they will change the current government force, but they are not factoring in the fact that even if they succeed, but which l doubt it will ever happen.

    Then the so-called Dinka government will just take up arms and fight the Nuer government and we will see how many days the Nuers’ government will last with the Dinkas as their rebels! The honest truth is: Riek Machar and his Nuer tribe men armed rebellion isn’t going to go anywhere as far as l know.

    Salva Kiir is going to voted out through elections and not through aimless tribal armed rebellion and by people whom we all know are not any better than Salva Kiir, but bunches of sociopaths fighting South Sudanese people to get back their old positions back.


    • GatNor
      April 27, 2015 at 4:09 am

      “Riek Machar’s rebellion” and salva Kiir’s massacres. You are stupid if you cant see the law of causes and affect at play.


    • Gueto
      April 27, 2015 at 4:18 am

      Hi Pui,

      It is consequence of war, if it is true. I tell you war is not the solution at all to change rule party.
      Peace will come.


    • Lual Deng Gach
      April 27, 2015 at 4:58 am

      I believe you are far from true because in battle field never dinka defeated nuer before. Nuer occupied dinka lands history told us about that. you talk about this war ,but nuer did not start this war. Dinka army attacked nuer civilian in their house for no reason and what your government lie a bout coup the whole world knew that there was no coup, Salva Kirr government killed civilian for no reason and shame on dinka soldiers who killed unarm civilian nuer because they know very well face nuer soldier is must dangerous thing there they went to weak civilian. One thing you must know nuer will never give up no matter how long it will take and no matter how many people will loose .

      Liked by 1 person

  5. April 27, 2015 at 5:16 am

    Ghol Chot, where are Mathiang Anyor and Gwelweng whom were trained to carry out mass kiiling in Juba?, almost all of them were killed and remainder return back to their cattle camps. If Dinka are capable to fight Nuer why Kiir Run to hired Uganda and SPLM-N plus GEM? If you really mean what you say, withdraw UPDF and deploy Dinka if you will stand. Bor were captured by spears till UPDF interfere, Malakal and Bentiu were captured the same procedure untill Dinka elders advice Kiir to pay all Militia and Nuer wew to fight SPLA-IO. In Bentiu Bapiny Monytuel force and SPLA- N plus GEM are the one fighting SPLA-IO, in Malakal it is Gony Beliew, Nhial Batoang and Buay Rolnyang plus Olony force who are Fighting SPLA IO, In Bor it is UPDF fighting SPLA IO where are your forces? look Governor body guards which were 40 in number fight the whole Olony force for 24 hrs. If this goverment is overthraw no body will ever challenge Nuer in the whole region leave about Dinka or other tribe in South Sudan.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. April 27, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Ater and Ghol CHORT stop your nonsense, the hrs of your reign are numbered zero, what next? your tribal ill government had killed shilluk , where is father museveni? it is late to smell the alcohol of malakal, talk to your ppls in Bentiu now, all are perished, if you understand things like well informed people you better not to even appear in public media, but due your shamless ideal and objectives z s why you kill armless people,looting properties day and night! your stupidity driven mad among 64 tribes of S.sudan.


  7. April 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    It seems to me like there is no leave this world settle in peace for tomorrow in Nuer language and it is the same with Dolf Hilter because Hilter was like Nuer.


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