French funded Community Violence Reduction Project in Western Bhar El Ghazal sensitizes combatants and community members on South Sudan’s Voluntary Civilian Disarmament Strategy

March 18, 2024

Combatants and Community members at the South Sudan Voluntary Civilian Disarmament Strategy training


On 12th -15th March 2024, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the South Sudan Bureau for Community, Security and Small Arms Control, and the South Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (DDRC) sensitized 29 Ex-combatants (11 women) and community members  in Wau and Jur River Counties on the South Sudan Voluntary Civilian Disarmament Strategy, the roles and functions of the BCSSAC,   the roles of the civilian population in voluntary civilian disarmament and the pre-condition for a voluntary civilian disarmament to take effect in South Sudan was also deliberated upon immensely. 

Wau and Jur River Counties, though mostly peaceful, often have cases of inter-communal conflict. The proliferation and misuse of firearms in Wau remains a fundamental threat to peace and security in Western Bharl El Gazal. Therefore, for ex-combatants to be reintegrated successfully with communities in Wau and Jur River, UNDP, the Government of France and the DDRC have committed to build the knowledge of 100 ex-combatants and community members on voluntary civilian disarmament approaches. This helps in the promotion of education for disarming the minds of ex-combatants and communities to facilitate peaceful coexistence.  

While the core objective of the sensitization effort is to enlighten CVR beneficiaries to understand the dangers of small arms proliferation, the national and state level strategies are also available for combating arms proliferation to disarm the minds of CVR beneficiaries. 

in Wau and Jur River Counties on the South Sudan Voluntary Civilian Disarmament Strategy


The 100 CVR beneficiaries (29 ex-combatants, 71 community members) who attended the training and gained knowledge on the voluntary civilian disarmament processes put forward to all stakeholders that the civilian disarmament processes should be planned and executed in discussion with authorities at national, state and county levels to ensure common understanding on the approaches. 

Many ex-combatants and community members sensitized argued that disarmament of civilians is not recommended during a period of intense inter-communal conflict as civilians fear they cannot defend themselves against their enemies. Therefore, the subject was viewed with suspicions, rather than with a lens to control illegal possession of firearms. 

Therefore, to facilitate peaceful co-existence between ex-combatants and community members in Wau and Jur River Counties, UNDP, BCSSAC, UNMISS and the DDR Commission have utilized a social cohesion approach, which involves all CVR beneficiaries working together towards the promotion of peaceful co-existence by using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and by not misusing firearms in their communities. 

Although the approach is limited to the misuse of firearms in possession of civilians, the idea was welcomed by all CVR beneficiaries, who acknowledged the negative impacts of arms in the communities. 

The community identified the linkages and smuggling from national stockpiles and borderlands, as key factors for arms proliferation in South Sudan. Further stating that revenge killing, insecurity, hunting purposes and lack of protection are other major drivers for the possession of illicit arms and ammunitions. 

However, they also noted that peaceful disarmament, weapon collection incentives, advocacy, rule of law and the use of alternative dispute mechanisms as ways to mitigate arms proliferation amongst civilians in Wau and Jur River Counties. 

The sensitization workshop  on voluntary civilian disarmament is therefore considered vital to the ex-combatants and community members of Wau and Jur River Counties as it signals the need for the enforcement of the rule of law, the engagement of men and women in governance, the role of chiefs in promoting customary laws that are aligned to the national laws and the effective engaging of the Ministry of Local Government in building the capacity of Boma and Payam level chiefs to implement nationally approved customary laws that promote peace, human rights and rule of law at the local level.