State Fragility, Regime Survival and Spoilers in South Sudan

  • Samuel Adu-Gyamfi Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi
  • Ivan M. Ashaba University of Antwerp
  • Sebastian A. Paalo University of Queensland
Keywords: South Sudan, fragility, regime survival, spoilers, failed states


This paper draws on the notion of state fragility in three dimensions – Authority failures, Service delivery failures and Legitimacy failures as developed by Stewart and Brown. Using Stewart and Brown’s analysis of fragile states, the authors examine how recent events in South Sudan push the country into being the most fragile state. In furthering this three-dimensional approach, we attempt two important questions. How has South Sudan succumbed to fragility since attaining independence? Who influences peace in the country? The authors grapple with these questions by investigating events in South Sudan from the period of signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA 1 2005), independence in 2011, signing CPA 2 in 2015 up to present. The paper singles out the desire for regime survival as the major cause of fragility. The authors further argue that insecurity and instability are exacerbated by spoiling behaviour of certain powers and individuals, whose activities undermine state authority and creates disorder.


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Author Biographies

Samuel Adu-Gyamfi, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi

Samuel Adu-Gyamfi, PhD, lectures at the Department of History and Political Studies of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)- Kumasi-Ghana. His research focus is on evolutions in social and political development of Africa, evolutions in health, public health and health policy, environment, policy in science and technology, traditional and integrative medicine research and public opinion. He is also a member of Ghana Studies Association, Historical Society of Ghana among others. He is also the Head of Programmes, Research and Educational Facilitator for the Association of Global Citizens-Ghana and Deputy-Director for Action –Oriented Centre for Social and Environmental Awareness (ACSEA)-Ghana.  Again, he is also a member of the Research and Publications Committee of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). In addition, he is a member of Poverty Alleviation, Local Governance and Sustainable Development (CoPALGSD-Ghana) and International Society for Development and Sustainability (ISDS)-Japan. The others include Ghana Studies Association and Historical Society of Ghana. Dr. Adu-Gyamfi is a major discussant on socio-economic, political, cultural and religious issues on major media platforms and landscape in Ghana. He has equally made significant contributions in terms of research output and is equally available for collaborative research toward this end. He can be reached at:, or

Ivan M. Ashaba, University of Antwerp

Ivan M. Ashaba is a teaching assistant and Ph.D candidate at the Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp, Belgium. He holds an MA in Political Science (2012) and Msc. in Governance & Development (2016). Before joining IOB at the end of 2017, I worked at Uganda Christian University in the department of Public Administration and Governance since 2013. As a research and teaching assistant, he is actively involved in tutoring and facilitating the students’ overall learning process. His doctoral research looks at illegal wildlife trade and the nature of the Ugandan state. Outside his Ph.D work, he follows closely the politics in his home country Uganda and the East African region at large. He has written short pieces on Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya in African Arguments and Democracy in Africa. He can be reached at:

Sebastian A. Paalo, University of Queensland

Sebastian A. Paalo is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland (Australia).  His PhD project focuses on ‘Local Ownership in Peacebuilding in Africa’, with specific attention on the role of NGOs. Paalo holds MSc. in African Studies (focused on African politics, conflict and peace) from University of Oxford (UK) and MSc. Governance & Development from University of Antwerp (Belgium). Currently, he is the Policy, Networks and Partnerships Coordinator for YouthLED Africa (YOLA, an NGO). Some selected previous engagements of his include the following: a steering committee member of the Oxford network for Peace Studies (OxPeace) ; an affiliate of the Oxford student consultancy services ; and a Teaching/Research Assistant at Kwame Nkrumah university of Science and Technology (NUST- Ghana). Finally, Paalo’s research interest cuts across peacebuilding, conflict resolution, governance, political economy and state capacity with particular interest and expertise on Western and Eastern Africa.He can be reached at:


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