Reflections on the peace process in the Sudan and South Sudan from 2002 to 2015.

Endre Stiansen, Senior Policy and Research Advisior at the United Nations Development Program’s Oslo Governance Centre.

The Machakos Protocol – signed by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army—in July 2002 is the most important document in the modern history of the Sudan.  At one level it set in motion the political process that in July 2011 led to creation of the Republic of South Sudan. At a different level the Machakos Protocol was about addressing the root causes of the civil war in the Sudan and set in motion comprehensive reforms in the system of governance. 

The promise of the Machakos Protocol has not been fulfilled.  The Sudan has not been able to deal with tensions between the centre and the peripheries. 

In South Sudan the state and peace building project was fundamentally undermined when the SPLM imploded in December 2013 and ignited a civil war.  While the international community influenced the course of the CPA negotiations, that role changed during the interim period (2006-2011) and today the Sudan is quite insulated from international pressure. 

The recently concluded South Sudan negotiations demonstrated division in the international approach, and even close donors are reassessing their relations with the Juba Government.  Many in the leaders of the Sudan and South Sudan who accepted the compromises of 2002 are still in powerful positions; yet those negotiators closest associated with the key compromises are not any longer in key positions.  With the benefit of hindsight, and close to fifteen years after the signing of the Machakos Protocol, it is pertinent to ask the question “what was it all about?”


Endre Stiansen is Senior Policy and Research Advisior at the UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre.  Previously he has been a researcher and a diplomat, two year as Norway’s Special Envoy to the Sudan and South Sudan.  He took part in the CPA negotiations, initially as a researcher and later as a resource person seconded to the IGAD secretariat and responsible for coordinating the Wealth Sharing protocol.  He worked on many aspects of the implementation of the CPA, the Darfur Peace Agreement and most recently the peace agreement for South Sudan.  He holds a dr. philos. degree (history) from the University of Bergen.