In 2005, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement / Army concluded a peace agreement, formally ending the 22-year-old civil war. Following a referendum, South Sudan seceded; donors put billions toward the new state and Sudan’s recovery, supporting – amongst other things – the development of new state institutions for both countries. However, in December 2013, war broke out again in South Sudan.
Prevalent approaches to state building – such as those employed in Sudan and South Sudan from 2005 to 2013 – focus mainly on infrastructure and bureaucracy, based on the underlying assumption that service delivery fosters state legitimacy. Recent research, however, questions this assumption, arguing that it ignores the role that political structures, ideas and history play in legitimation or de-legitimation of the state.
This report uses South Sudan as an example to interrogate people’s perceptions of the state, asking what – if not service delivery – fosters state legitimacy.