The Venture of Separatism: Lessons From the Secession of South Sudan

The Venture of Separatism: Lessons From the Secession of South Sudan
Posted on August 14, 2018 | Yasser Harrak | Written on August 9, 2018
Letter type:

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

This is a peer reviewed paper at the Social Science Research Network. Abstract is in the post. Full paper can be downloaded at the SSRN website following this link:

This study examines the extent to which separatism in South Sudan led the failure of the state and its institutions and aims to draw lessons from this experience. In order to do so, this qualitative case study uses an empirical inquiry on the real problems that engendered immature separatism and subsequently a failed state in South Sudan. The approach of this study is constructivist in the sense that it considers a multitude of factors explaining the failure of Southern Sudanese separatism in its statehood and nation building enterprise. This study finds that culture and identity alone do not justify separatism, and that when culturally based separatism turns into a state, the state fails. The paper also examines and refutes single-point analysis arguments trying to explain state failure in South Sudan by reducing the causes to a single problem. It rules out the validity and reliability of single-point analyses. It starts with building the argument against the culturalist approach that holds culture as justifier for independence. It continues to probe the statist argument that blames the failure of the state on the actions of other states. It also examines the validity of the internationalist argument that posits with confidence that the international community was able to make the South Sudanese state succeed but did not. The study finally probes the institutionalist argument that holds military professionalism and other societal institutions key to explain the problem and offer its solution in South Sudan. The paper argues that the failure of separatism in South Sudan has much to do with structural development and modernization of society and its institution, that is, if the south were socially and institutionally modern enough to embrace statehood - which is a modern concept, it would be ready for a mature separatist venture and a successful state building process.

About The Author

Yasser Harrak's picture

Alma mater: American Public University (MA, Grad Cert), Concordia University (BA). 


  • Member of the Order of the Sword & Shield for Homeland Security and Intelligence
  • Member... More