Purpose and New Developments: A General Analysis of Gender …

February 8th, 2024

By Ter Manyang Gatwech                                                          

Purpose and New Developments: A General Analysis of Gender within Terrorism and Violent Extremism Legal Frameworks in South Sudan  

In 2011, at the time of South Sudan’s independence, there were fears that the country would become a home to violent extremists.  However, there is consensus in the literature that levels of violent extremism (VE) in the country are low at present. It is however noteworthy that there are many definitions of extremism and violent extremism. For the purposes of this paper, emphasis is placed on extremism and terrorism in the context of the global threat of extremism and terrorism, rather than on ethnic or gender extremism in South Sudan. This is due to the difficulty of distinguishing genuine political grievances from extremist ideology, as the lines between the two are often blurred in South Sudan.  Support for faith-based violence in South Sudan appears to be higher among Muslim religious leaders than among Christian religious leaders. This is attributed to the fact that these Muslim religious leaders are likely to have received their training in Sudan (the north) before South Sudan seceded.  There are a limited number of initiatives and programmes to prevent violent extremism in South Sudan. To date these have included capacity building in the education sector and teaching anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing techniques.

KEYWORDS Counter terrorism; gender mainstreaming; security, development, nexus between gender and terrorism and violent extremism, IGAD; feminism, Preventing, Countering, violent Extremism (Gender)

Introduction

The connection between terrorism, violent extremism and gender in the context of South Sudan is not much a policy issue though in 2011, at the time of South Sudan’s independence, there were fears that the country would become a home to violent extremists.  This is because of the weaknesses with the system to control its borders and conduct of the citizens. However, there is consensus in the literature that levels of violent extremism (VE) in South Sudan are low at present.  In order for us to deal with this issue in the context of South Sudan, we must look at different definitions of extremism and violent extremism. For the purposes of this work, emphasis is placed on extremism and terrorism in the context of the global threat of extremism and terrorism, rather than on ethnic extremism in South Sudan. This is due to the difficulty of distinguishing genuine political grievances from extremist ideology, as the lines between the two are often blurred in South Sudan.

The key findings from the literature are that South Sudan appears to have become a place of transit for Islamists travelling from East Africa to North Africa. However, the extent to which this is the case is unclear. The only issue that is clear is the fact that South Sudan is on the ivory smuggling route used by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency (Van de Merwe, 2017).  In addition, support for faith-based violence in South Sudan appears to be higher among Muslim religious leaders than among Christian religious leaders. This is attributed to the fact that these Muslim religious leaders are likely to have received their training in Sudan (the north) before South Sudan seceded. At the level of government, there are a limited number of initiatives and programmes to prevent violent extremism in South Sudan. To date these have included capacity building in the education sector and teaching anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing techniques.

Background

South Sudan has been experiencing numerous challenges in the area of gender since her independence. This is because the concept of gender is basically misconstrued to focus mainly on women’s empowerment, which narrows down the policy issues and discussion on gender to look at the issue of gender as women’s issue that narrow down the focus of government on ensuring the equality between men and women without considering the larger aspect of South Sudanese patriarchal system and how it contributes to terrorism and violent extremism.

My paper will therefore examine the role of gender in hindering the reforms of the patriarchal system, which causes imbalance power relations that creates the seedbed of the gender terrorism and violent Extremism, which needs legal frameworks on counterterrorism in South Sudan. It is for this reason, I came up with this this paper entitled, the Purpose and New Developments: A General Analysis of Gender within Terrorism and Violent Extremism. Currently, there is no legal Frameworks on prevention of terrorism and violent extremism in South Sudan that should look at the ways of preventing and countering violent extremism in South Sudan.

The need for such legal framework is to help promote “holistic” gender policy approach towards counter terrorism, which involves elements of security and development programs. The global trend of securitized responses to violent extremism and militarized approaches continued to take priority over development and resilience approaches. In particular, the interlinkages and relevance of gender equality, women’s rights, to efforts of prevention of violent extremism remain largely undefined given the scarcity of evidence in South Sudan.   

The lack of legal framework on gender, terrorism and violent extremism has made it difficult for gender practitioners to make a compelling case for security actors to ensure that policies and programmatic interventions are gender sensitive and do contribute to promoting gender equality or to proactively address negative practices that may harm women’s rights or reinforce discriminatory practices.

In South Sudan as we see in our economic, social and cultural system, men have a greater power to control a disproportionate large share of social, economic, political and religious power under which the inheritance usually passes down the male line.  Viewing gender issues as only women’s sufferings has left men’s attitudes towards women unchecked. This makes them appear work for gender equality while in actual sense are expressing ambivalence and resistance concerning policy initiatives to improve women’s private lives and participation the public sphere.

Research Questions

What is the impact of Violent Extremism and Terrorism in South Sudan

  1. What is terrorism and violent extremism and in which way can South Sudan prevent them?
  2. Is possible to integrate perspective of terrorism and violent extremism in South Sudan legal framework?
  3. What is the nexus between gender, terrorism and violent extremism?
  4. What evidence and learning are there on—
  5.  the incidence of extremism, violent extremism, and terrorism in South Sudan; and
  6.  activity and lessons learned on work prevent violent extremism in South Sudan?

Methodology

The study will use both secondary and primary data. I collected the data from public opinions, articles, and private institutions and individuals in the South Sudan.

In summary, the methods will include, but not limited to:

  • Documents, reports and literature review;
  • Key informant interviews;
  • public opinions; and
  • Articles 

Review of literature on Extremism, Violent Extremism, and Terrorism (EVET)

There is a very limited body of literature on violent extremism and terrorism in South Sudan, especially in the context of the global threat of violent extremism. The literature does not mainstream gender. A peer-reviewed journal article on violent extremism in East Africa finds that violent extremism in South Sudan ‘is almost entirely absent.  The study finds only one statement by President Salva Kiir mentioning violent extremism and Ter Manyang Gatwech said “South Sudan Government to be alerted on terrorists in the country, Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) believes that they use vulnerability and weak security systems for them to enter to South Sudan through border”. The statement was reportedly made in response to perceptions that there was an increase in interreligious tension over land disputes. The original news article states that President Salva Kiir ordered the return of properties taken from Muslims.  It is however not clear from the article who is responsible for having appropriated these properties. The article also mentions the return of church lands that have been unlawfully appropriated.

The University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database lists 225 terrorist incidents in South

Sudan since January 2012.  The majority of entries list the perpetrator as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO). However, the SPLM-IO is not a designated terrorist organisation, and under the terms of the 2015 peace agreement, was part of the government, with its leader Dr.Riek Machar serving as First Vice President until fighting broke out between the SPLA (the armed wing of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement or SPLM), and the SPLA-IO (the armed wing of the SPLM-IO) in July 2016.  During the SPLM-IO split into two factions with the government now only recognising the faction led by current First Vice President Taban Deng Gai (US Department of State, 2017: 24). In 2016, the Islamic Movement for the Liberation of Raja may have carried out two terrorist attacks in the city of Wau in north western South Sudan. The attacks reportedly resulted in 84 deaths. There is very little information available about the group, and sources vary on whether the movement is confirmed as being the perpetrator of the attacks.  

International

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s approach to Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) is in line with UN Secretary General’s PVE Plan of Action. Broadly, UNESCO ‘will adopt a practical approach, and work with national stakeholders to strengthen capacities for PVE, encourage dialogue and messaging for PVE through its activities, engage communities to combat violent extremism, and empower youth and facilitate socioeconomic development to ensure PVE.’ PVE Initiatives to date include a ‘National Follow-up Capacity-building Workshop on the Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education (PVE-E)’ in October 2018, organised by UNESCO-International Centre for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) and the Hedayah Centre. Attendees were 31 Education Ministry personnel, teacher educators from two teacher-training colleges, and teachers from five secondary schools in South Sudan.

The policy makers, teacher educators, and teachers are called upon to develop and implement educational interventions and approaches that contribute, effectively and appropriately to the prevention of violent extremism through resilience building and the promotion of global citizenship in South Sudan.’

 According to UNESCO’s 2019-2021 Strategy document for South Sudan covers the activities of Prevent of Violent Extremism (PVE) such as raising awareness on media ethics, and challenges and opportunities posed by online media, including countering fake news and disinformation (UNESCO, 2018: 22), providing technical assistance to enable policies that strengthen PVE through youth empowerment (UNESCO, 2018: 23).

The Danish government has a programme focused on countering money laundering and terrorist financing in East Africa and Yemen. Denmark is continuing its efforts to build partnerships that teach anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance techniques to a number of East African governments, including South Sudan (US Department of State, 2017). 

Findings:  Legal frameworks in South Sudan

At national level, there is no comprehensive legal framework on terrorism, violent extremism and countering terrorism mechanisms. However, there are some laws such as the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Act, 2012, which establishes under section 6 the Financial Intelligence Unit that shall be an inter-ministerial department under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning whose responsibility shall be to receive, analyse and disseminate suspicious transaction reports and other information regarding potential money laundering or terrorist financing. Cyber Crime and Computer Misuse Provisional Order Act, 2021.

Sections 67 to 73 of the Penal Code Act, 2008 provides for the prevention and punishment of insurgency, banditry, Sabotage or Terrorism, Recruiting or Training Insurgents, Bandits, Saboteurs or Terrorists, training insurgent, bandit, saboteur or terrorist, supplying weaponry to insurgents, bandits, saboteurs or terrorists, possessing weaponry for insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism, possession of dangerous weapons, harbouring, concealing or failing to report an insurgent, bandit, saboteur or terrorist. All these terms are related to terrorism and violent extremism though one issue is not addressed in the laws of South Sudan. The issue the nexus between gender, terrorism and violent extremism.

As my argument is the narrow understanding the role gender plays in the issues of insecurity and violence in the community which is the cross-cutting issue has made the policy makers view the issue of gender problems as only the need for gender equality. However, in actual sense, the patriarchal nature of our society has created power imbalance that results into unequal distribution of resources that affect the women’s ability and their areas of control weak which affects men as well. This is why the attempt of policymakers to focus on gender equality has made to the real change of the social setting and instead as they try to ensure gender equality, they keep on expressing ambivalence and resistance against policy initiatives to improve women’s private lives and participation in the public sphere.

Hence, this is realized in South Sudan as we can see in the Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare that used to run a transition centre in Yambio, former Gbudue State. The centre provided interim care and support to children and mothers rescued from violent extremist organisations, including potential trafficking victims. However, in South Sudan, there are no organizations that have been designated as violent extremist organisations since there is no clear cut between violent extremists, terrorism, gender extremism and tribal conflict. Thus, it is not clear which definition of violent extremism can be applied in South Sudan. 

  South Sudan as a place of transit for violent extremists and terrorists

The US Department of State describes the threat of terrorism in South Sudan as ‘medium.’ This assessment is reportedly based on the fact that South Sudan has permeable borders with neighbouring countries that have ‘indigenous terrorist organisations manifested in cattle rustler youth. The Report states that there is no evidence to suggest that there are operational terrorist cells in South Sudan, but that the current existing weak border controls could allow terrorist groups to seek refuge in the country.

South Sudan is currently home of the largest Somalis and Sudanese communities and this possibly can make the country to be home of some Al-Shabaab. South Sudan is believed to be the transit of Al-Shabaab and possibly their safe haven.  There have been a number of arrests of suspected Islamists in South Sudan since 2017. For example, the Government of South Sudan reportedly arrested 76 suspected members of Al-Shabaab attempting to cross into Sudan through Northern Bahr el Ghazal state. 

Moreover, in May 2017, three Kenyans and a Somali were reportedly arrested in South Sudan on their way to join the Islamic State in Libya. The four men stated that they had been ‘assisted’ by the Magafe Network, which is a group of people smugglers operating from Libya that has recruiters in several countries in East Africa. The Magafe Network is primarily a criminal organisation that holds migrants’ captive enroute and then extorts money from their families. However, the Kenyan authorities also state that the Magafe Network is a key facilitator for Kenyans who wish to join the Islamic State.

Smuggling

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Konyi that has been fighting Uganda since 1980s with the aim of overthrowing the Ugandan government and ‘establish a multiparty democracy characterised by Acholi nationalism and the strict rule of the Ten Commandments heavily rely on the illegal ivory trade for funds. The route used by ivory smugglers starts from DRC and passing through South Sudan on their way to other destinations.

According to the US Department of State, the LRA had a ‘fairly constant presence’ in South Sudan in the past, but has in recent years been operating largely in northern DRC and eastern Central Africa Republic. However, they note that LRA incursions into South Sudan have increased. It is not clear whether the incursions they refer to are related to ivory smuggling. The literature search conducted for this work did not uncover any evidence of drug smuggling linked to violent extremism or terrorism in South Sudan.

Support for faith-based violence

A quantitative study published in a peer-reviewed journal finds that in terms of support for faith-based violence among religious leaders in South Sudan, those who embrace secularism and are tolerant of other faiths reject faith-based violence, with the opposite also holding true. However, interreligious activities do not decrease support for faith-based violence, but they do increase understanding for others engaging in peaceful protest. The study also finds that Muslim religious leaders seem more inclined to support faith-based violence.

The paper hypothesises that this is probably due to two factors:  Radical Islamism is prominent in Sudan, and most of the clerics have a Northern background; and Muslims constitute a minority in South Sudan, and minority status often leads to threat perceptions, which can in turn foster radical attitudes. The study emphasises that this finding is not due to Islam being ‘inherently violent.’ Broadly, the study finds that pro-violence attitudes among religious leaders are largely dependent upon personal convictions.

Extremist groups and Violent extremism among South Sudanese refugee communities

The “Nuer White Army” was formed in 1991 as a community-based organisation to defend the community when there is an attack. In 2013, White Army of Nuer was involved in the war between Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) known as South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) Sudan People Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO). The Nuer White Army, sometimes capitalised as the “white army”, is a semi-official name for a militant organisation formed by the Nuer people of central and eastern Greater Upper Nile in modern-day South Sudan as early as 1991.

The “Arrow Boys” are a militia operating Western Equatoria State region of South Sudan. The militia sprung up as a self- defense unit who get their name from their use of bows and arrows supposedly treated with poison, and other traditional weapons.  During the insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, the Arrow Boys were formed in Teso in the Eastern Equatoria Region as a self- defense militia. As the LRA fled Uganda into South Sudan, the militia spread there as well in order to defend against the Lord. Now they are extremist groups in the country and therefore, they are defending themselves from the Government of South Sudan.

There are a limited number of initiatives and programmes to prevent violent extremism in South Sudan. To date these have included capacity building in the education sector and teaching anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing techniques. Improving the policy and legal framework for gender equality and equitable land distribution is very important. The policymakers should establish the connection between gender, terrorism and violent extremism. Using a gender approach to ensure equal power relations can reduce the incidence of terrorism and violent extremism. Currently, there is no comprehensive legal framework on gender, terrorism and violent extremism. 

Conclusion

The lack of proper understanding of the nexus between gender, terrorism and violent extremism makes it hard to understand conditions that are conducive to violent extremism underlying political, social and economic inequalities, which provide a fertile ground for women and men to join violent extremist groups.

Main factors that force people into terrorism and violent extremism are—gender inequalities as well as gender and sexual-based violence, which are driven notably by conservative social-cultural norms. These are aggravated by the shrinking democratic space and human rights violations, which are threat to peace while freedom of expression, media and the role of human rights defenders, which are critical to preventing violent extremism are restricted.

Recommendations

In order to prevent terrorism and violent extremism, South Sudan should introduce and adopt legal framework that—

  • Ensure Counterterrorist or PVE laws and policies that are developed through transparent, inclusive and participatory processes that promote women’s participation in particular;
  • Guarantee the protection of women and women human rights defenders when consulting them on Counterterrorist or PVE responses;
  •  Increase the participation of young women in discussions and the development of PVE policies, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, as well as in the implementation of related programmes and practices;
  • Work with female governmental representatives to better mainstream gender-sensitivity into government activities around PVE;
  •  Ensure the adequate localization of PVE programmes by assisting governments in formulating laws and policies on PVE with deeper and genuine consultation with women and communities, as they are the ones doing the real front-line prevention in local communities;
  •  Ensure that policies on PVE address challenges to peacebuilding in contexts affected by the climate crisis;
  • Build strong networks with other CSOs and work towards a united advocacy front to ensure that gender is recognized as a key pillar in CT/PVE legislation, strategy and action plans;
  • Address culture, religion and customary practices that hinder women’s realisation of their full potential rights to equal and equitable distribution of land that can reduce power imbalance and gender inequality;
  • Strengthen inclusion in large scale land-based investments that gives women and men equal rights; and
  • Enhance capacities and coordination of line (ministries) institutions and actors on gender mainstreaming

REFERENCES

1.     Regional Paper on regional perspectives from Eastern and Southern Africa Civil Society’s Voices on Violent Extremism and Counter-terrorism Responses, 2020 by the UN Women, Women Peace and Security Team. Women, Peace and Security Section Un Women New York, December 2020.

2.     Basedau, M., & Koos, C. (2015). When do religious leaders support faith-based violence? Evidence from a survey poll in South Sudan. Political Research Quarterly, 68(4). pp. 760-772; https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912915603128.

3.     European Institute of Peace (2018). The Islamic State in East Africa. Brussels: European Institute.

4.     Mbiyozo, A.N. (2018). Fleeing terror, fighting terror: The truth about refugees and violent extremism. Nairobi: ISS. https://issafrica.s3.amazonaws.com/site/uploads/ear17-1.pdf.

5.     Romaniuk, P., Durner, T., Nonninger, L., & Schwartz, M. (2018). What drives violent extremism in East Africa and how should development actors respond? African Security, 11(2). pp. 160-180; https://doi.org/10.1080/19392206.2018.1488560.

6.     UNESCO (2018). UNESCO Country Strategy for the Republic of South Sudan 2019-2021. Paris: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/FIELD/juba/pdf/UCS_2019_2021.pdf.

7.     US Department of State (2017). South Sudan: 2017 Human Rights Report. Washington D.C.: US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.  https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/277293.pdf.

8.     Van de Merwe, T. (2017). Resource extraction and violent extremism in Africa (Policy Insight No. 44). Johannesburg: South African Institute of International Affairs. https://www.saiia.org.za/wpcontent/uploads/2017/05/saia_spi_44_van-der-merwe_20170509.pdf.

9.     Strachan, A.L. (2019). Violent extremism in South Sudan. K4D Helpdesk Report 533. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.

10.  Kopano Ratele (2014). Gender Equality in the Abstract and Practice.  Institute for Social and Health Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa. Men and Masculinities 2014, Vol. 17(5) 510-514. sagepub.com/journals DOI: 10.1177/1097184X14558236 jmm.sagepub.com

11. https://casebook.icrc.org/case-study/south-sudan-nuer-white-  

Leave a Reply

All Categories

Give them a helping hand

SPECIAL ADVISORS
Quis autem vel eum iure repreh ende

+0123 (456) 7899

contact@example.com