Deterritorialisation and Reconfigured Sovereignty in South Sudan

Posted: 22 Mar 2013

See all articles by Ole Frahm

Ole Frahm

Humboldt University of Berlin

Date Written: 2013


Delineation, demarcation and legal-nominal control over territory have been high on the South Sudanese government’s political agenda since signing the CPA in 2005. In reality, South Sudan’s international frontiers say very little about actual power relations and the scope and reach of government authority. Large swathes of territory are outside of the government’s reach, neither benefitting from positive government services like education, health care and infrastructure, nor falling under the purview of police or judiciary. Sudan’s SAF regularly cross the border, Uganda’s UPLF maintains a presence, rebel militias operate and the Ilemi Triangle is lawless territory. Conversely, the GoSS is also not constrained by borders as it supports the SPLM-N in Sudan. The focus on borders and territory is therefore better understood in the logic of internal and external political communication and legitimation than in actual interests or matters of control. For one, it is an attempt to rekindle the common bond and nationalist spirit of the anti-Northern struggle during the civil war (1983-2005) that has since given way to inter-tribal raiding, criminality and rebellion. Secondly, clearly defined external boundaries are essential for Juba’s interaction with the international community and its acceptance into the club of internationally recognized sovereign nation-states.

Suggested Citation

Frahm, Ole, Deterritorialisation and Reconfigured Sovereignty in South Sudan (2013). ASA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN:

Ole Frahm (Contact Author)

Humboldt University of Berlin ( email )

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