Analysis & Opinions - TIME Magazine

The World's Newest Nation Is Unraveling

| Jan. 25, 2024

South Sudan, the world's newest nation, was once the great hope of the international community. Born in July 2011 out of the shadow of Africa's longest civil war, the fledgling nation in eastern Central Africa was celebrated and supported by America and the West. But less than 13 years since South Sudan's independence, the country is mired in endless political violence, unprecedented corruption, and a dire state of underdevelopment. Although the West has begun to turn its back on South Sudan, the U.S. and her allies should take the lead on getting the country back on track.

For nearly 22 years, the people of South Sudan waged a resilient battle against successive regimes in Sudan—resisting Khartoum and aspiring to establish a secular, democratic state. In 2005, with the mediation of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)—a regional organization composed of eastern African states backed by the U.S. and other Western powers—the civil war concluded with the promise of an independence referendum. This pivotal vote in January 2011 marked the birth of South Sudan six months later, raising global expectations for the new nation to fulfill its people's longstanding dream of constructing a democratic state.

Yet recent international rankings paint a grim picture of South Sudan. Freedom House's 2023 Freedom in the World report ranks South Sudan last among 210 countries and territories (alongside Tibet and Syria), describing it as "not free." The Fund for Peace’s 2023 Fragile States Index places South Sudan third among 179 countries in fragility, behind only Yemen and Somalia. Transparency International's 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks South Sudan near the bottom among 180 countries. Meanwhile, the World Bank identifies South Sudan as "among the poorest countries in the world," with four out of five South Sudanese living below the international poverty line.

This means that South Sudan, the world’s latest experiment in democracy, is well on its way to being another African basket case....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Ajak, Peter.“The World's Newest Nation Is Unraveling.” TIME Magazine, January 25, 2024.